Japanese singer-songwriter Haru Nemuri is the next featured artist. billboard japanWomen in Music Interview Series. billboard japan launched its Women in Music initiative in 2022 to celebrate women in the music industry through several projects including this series. billboard japanWomen in music follow set example BoardAn event held since 2007 that has honored artists, producers and executives who have made significant contributions to the music industry and empowered women through their work.
Haru – her name stylized in Japanese order, surname first – has toured internationally and her music is highly acclaimed outside Japan. The 28-year-old artist has shared in past interviews that she writes her own unique style of music that screams anger and resentment “to save her from dying.” billboard japan sat down with the outspoken feminist who’s delivering her message through song and asked to elaborate on the inspirations and thoughts behind her music.
Are there any female artists who have influenced you?
Haru Nemuri: I tried to think of an answer to this question, but couldn’t come up with any in particular. My parents love Studio Ghibli’s animated films and I’ve seen their works since I was a kid, and remember liking Princess Mononoke, I liked the way she was honest about wanting to kill her enemies.
Did you idolize any particular female figure?
I try not to have too many ideals or philosophies about how things should be. The only ideal I have is to avoid holding in my mind allegorical motifs such as male or female figures.
When did you start realizing that such gender biases were symbolic?
I think it’s accurate after I started mine. I went to an all-girls school in junior high and high school, so I was surrounded by girls and didn’t really have the experience of becoming aware of my female identity. After my debut, I was referred to as a “female college student singer-songwriter”, which exposed me to being labeled as a “female”, “female artist”, and “female college student”. going. Male artists who attended college are almost never referred to as “male college student artists”, but women who meet the same criteria are often labeled as such.
You are absolutely right. No matter what their profession may be, being labeled as a “female college student” is something that occurs frequently in Japan and being assessed as such must be uncomfortable. Do you feel that being a woman affects your activities in any way?
Not necessary. When I am asked about my gender in the context of that definition, I say “cis female.” But if you ask me, “What percent of a woman are you feeling now,” my answer will vary from day to day. Someday I may feel like a little boy, and some other day I may not feel like a man. I think that any person’s self-identifying gender is never really fixed and is always fluid. But I think visibility is important, so for example, when I’m asked, “How do you feel about it as a female artist,” I have a responsibility to answer as a multiracial person. , that is, as a cis-gender. Woman, and I do this because I believe it is an act that I must do.
when did you start thinking that you should be taking that job?
About 3 or 4 years ago I think. To me “Haru Nemuri” is the kind of person I aspired to be when I was about 14 years old. So I think about the responsibilities I’d rather not see him take on, then find the roles that Haru Nemuri should fulfill and try to take on those roles myself.
What do you consider important when sending messages as a majority in terms of gender identity?
I try to ensure that the voices of the parties concerned are not lost in my words. I also try to consider every now and then whether the anger I’m feeling is really something I should be expressing. For example, when I feel angry about some of the harm caused by a misogynistic system, I feel I must speak up, but I cannot speak up about the harm caused by transgender discrimination because I am a party to it. Can’t become The mechanisms that cause my anger are the same, but if I’m not a party to the situation, I certainly can’t understand everything about the problem. That’s why I think it’s important to hear the voices of the parties involved.
But in order to bring about change, allies in the majority need to stand with the minority concerned, don’t you think?
Yes. There are certainly moments when solidarity is necessary, but this can also lead to overgeneralization. That’s why we should listen to each and every person. When you are listening to people’s voices like this, if your own voice becomes louder then the balance will be disturbed. But I have a platform as a musician so I have to take that risk as well. By taking this responsibility personally, I may be able to stop the overgeneralization.
I see, therefore, that you respect the voice of those directly concerned. How are you? Have you ever felt discriminated against or found it difficult to live as a cis woman?
It’s one thing to be subtly underestimated. For example, I write all my songs myself. Recently, I was asking my manager, a male, to stand in front of my computer and press the play/stop button during my live performance. Then after the show people would come up to him and say, “Those songs are really good.” He runs the computer behind me and I’m just singing with a microphone, so I guess I can’t blame people for thinking that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not why I write I have my own songs because I am a woman. Furthermore, people who say this to my manager speak politely to him, but use overly friendly language when addressing me.
I can see that happening. You are also active in the US and have given many interviews there. Do you notice any difference in the way female artists are treated in Japan and America?
I’m open about the fact that I’m a moderate feminist, so people who defend the opposite position don’t often approach me. In that sense, I’m not sure I can rely on my experience as a data point, but I’ve had several occasions (in the US) where I was treated with a sense of empowerment and respect. (Interviewer in the US) They are not surprised when I say I am a feminist, and in fact, they often ask me to speak in that context.
You have said in previous interviews that being a feminist is not accepted in Japan. Do you still feel the same way about him?
I think maybe more people are willing to listen to what I have to say now because they’ve read something or learned about it themselves. I expressed my messages very clearly in my second album, shunka risenAnd it seems that many people have read it.
What does songwriting do for you?
I didn’t become self-aware until much later and was completely unaware of my ego until I was about 18. It was between the ages of 18 and 21 when I realized what I didn’t want to do, and ran away from home because I didn’t want to take up a corporate job. I started writing songs from that point on, and I think I did it verbally, to feel and understand how I was feeling and what hurt me.
Did anything change when you started putting words to your sadness and anger?
At first I was really happy to be able to verbalize those thoughts and it felt liberating, but as I continued to do so, I was often faced with the feeling that I would die until I died. Nothing can be done until one knows what is causing that sadness and anger. So now it’s like, “What I’m doing is meaningless but I have to do it anyway.” But after majoring in philosophy at university, I began to think that one’s thoughts and actions can be separated, and I learned that they influence each other, so I guess that’s why I want to maintain that. I am able
I am sure many people are empowered by your music. Is it intentional on your part when you sing or write your music?
You know what, that’s not really my intention. they are for me; I write my songs out of desperation to survive. Desperation has energy in it, so people might get carried away with it, and I also believe that writing and performing songs is as violent an act as killing someone. I write and compose songs while feeling pain, with the thought that “it might be better for people not to know these kinds of things.” It’s almost like I’m experiencing life through pain.
,This interview by Ryo Hirai (SOW SWEET PUBLISHING) was first published on Billboard Japan.