SIRUP, the R&B, neo-soul, and hip hop artist from Japan twice came to Thailand to perform different leading music festivals, will come back again this year for Japan Expo, 4 February 2024 at Central World. And The COSMOS would like to introduce you to him more in this interview. Scroll down!
How do you feel about the last couple of shows in Thailand?
I’ve always loved Thailand. Once I knew there are Thai audiences who know my music, that is beyond grateful. My first time performing in Bangkok was at VERY Festival in 2022 with brb.. Then I came to Thailand again for the Big Mountain Music Festival last year which I was looking forward to playing my solo performance for the first time. I stroll around the festival and find the atmosphere was completely different from Japan. With variety booths and vendors, it looks more like a fun fair than a music event, so it was so much fun.
And how was the crowd? Did you get stage fright?
I’m that kind of person who finds the first-time-ever show fun, so the answer is ‘no’. I wasn’t excited at all. And to me, the crowd at BMMF was pretty straightforward. If they didn’t want to see this artist, they would just move to the other stages to see their favorite instead. But I was impressed by so many Thai people who came to my show and I did well, and it was great I could closely participate with them.
What do you like about Thailand? Can you speak some Thai words?
When I came here with brb., we traveled to places and it was fun. I really like Thai food; Pad Kaprao and Hainanese Chicken Rice are my favorite. Sometimes I had chicken rice 4 times a week. And for some Thai, I’ve learned a few. Let me show you; Sa-Nook-Mai (Did you have fun?), A-Roi-Mak (So delicious), Took-Kon-Sa-Nook-Mai-Krub (Does everyone have a good time?), Pom-Chue-SIRUP (My name is SIRUP)
You’ve been playing in so many countries. Does it give you a similar or different experience from playing in your hometown?
Playing in different places, you get different audiences; cultures and languages are different, so you definitely get different experiences. I like to see people’s reactions. As they interact differently, I can use this as a reference to design the show to impress them. Japanese likes to wave their hands while enjoying the show, Korean doesn’t do much, Taiwanese half-half. Standing position at the show affects how they react, too. In the meantime, as an artist, seeing audiences interact with me shows that they like the music and that makes me happy, too.
Your music is often described as neo-soul, R&B and hip hop. How did you develop this unique sound, and which artists or genres have influenced you the most?
I’ve listened to J-Pop since junior high. Actually J-pop sometimes fuses other genres such as R&B in it, too, like the famous Utada Hikaru whom I also listened to. Then I started listening to more genres when I turned 16; Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Chance the Rapper, those Black music from soul, neo-soul to hip hop. I really respect what they’ve made for the world, so I use the elements from these roots in my music and create my own style. As a Japanese, that’s why I wrote lyrics in Japanese. But when I have collaboration, I’d prefer using their languages because, as I said, different countries have different cultures and styles in their sounds, too. I’d like to blend everything altogether to invent something new.
Collaborating with CODY JON in ‘2MANYTIMES’ brought together your classic R&B style and Cody’s Y2K-inspired mood. How did the collaboration come about, and what was the creative process like in merging these distinct musical elements?
There’re many artists who try to resurrect the 90-2000s music and Y2K aesthetic. I’m also influenced by music from that era and CODY JON himself is a part of that generation. Personally I’m a fan of his works, and I know the producer Taka Perry, so I asked the agency to connect everyone so we made this happen. I wrote this song and sent the file to Cody via emails, then we wrote lyrics together and here it comes the classic R&B inspired track from us.
The lyrics of ‘2MANYTIMES’ explore the theme of escapism and the frustration of feeling stuck in a never-ending loop. Can you share the inspiration behind the lyrics and how you approached conveying this message through the music?
Since debut, I rarely have time to rest. It feels like I’m stuck in this loop over and over so it’s super exhausting. Also nowadays there’re many social media platforms and we receive an overload of information. No matter how young you are, as internet users, these are so tiring. And it’s difficult already to get through each day in this kind of society. So the message in this song is to cheer up everyone and say ‘I feel you’. This may sound negative, but if you can’t take it anymore, it’s okay to escape. It’s good if you can hold on, but please do not be too hard on yourself.
Your songs often tell a story or convey a message. What is the story or message you most want your fans to take away from your music?
There’re 3 topics I always convey in my lyrics; to be yourself, live the life you want to be, and always let yourself come first. I’d love to see people being confident, having self-esteem. This world is full of problem; there’re international conflicts, Japan also has social and political issues, so I understand that living in this situation is not easy for anyone. People get stressed out, nervous, anxious, so it would be great if sometimes we can let loose and take care of ourselves more.
What are the challenging things as an artist nowadays for SIRUP?
Being an artist has never been easy, especially at this time that anyone can be an artist as there’re music streaming, online distributors, so we need to strive more. I need to do something a lot of people don’t like to do, such as, learn how to promote songs, study the market and target audience so I can approach more to the right listeners. However, it sounds so challenging, but if you can make your own music, with your own pacing, your funding, and make a living from that, I think this is how success looks like to me.
Which SIRUP songs would you recommend to Thai fans to get a better understanding of your musical style?
I’ve an opportunity to perform at the same festival with HYBS and Yented, so I guess Thai audiences love chill and smooth tunes? I’d like you to try ‘Loop’,
Or with the party vibes, try ‘Do Well’,
And for a smooth R&B track, I suggest ‘Need You Bad’.
Will you release any albums in 2024?
I don’t think so. I’ve prepared a few singles for the first half of this year, but no album for sure. Maybe a little down time for me.
What do you find special about performing at the upcoming Japan Expo?
I think the Japan Expo will be fun and interesting because you’ll see other Japanese culture, like anime and J-pop, which I’m eager to see who’ll come to my show. I didn’t have much time to prepare for the show at Big Mountain, but this time I’m more than ready. It would be great if I could interact more with people, so I hope they’ll have a good time. I’m so happy to be back soon.
Please say something to Thai fans.
EP ‘Blue Blur’ was released last year, please check it out. I’d love to come to Thailand often as performing in other countries is always fun and intriguing to me. I hope one day I’ll have my solo show in Bangkok so please continue supporting SIRUP. As an artist, I hope you enjoy my music and have hope in your heart. Either you listen to the records or live, if you like them, it’s more than grateful to me, and that’s made me come to this point of my life.