To those who are unfamiliar with Japanese Pop outift, UQiYOウキヨ, the music project takes its name from the word ‘浮世’ (pronounced ‘ukiyo’) —a fleeting, transient world describing an urban lifestyle of pleasure-seeking aspects, and in this case music. UQiYO is known for creating music that blends in everyday life, while transporting listeners to the extraordinary with its comfort of sound and method of delivery. To expand the possibilities and creativity of sounds they create, UQiYO are big on collaborating with outstanding creators from different art industries and performing in various spaces.
This time, UQiYO recently released a dream pop single, ‘lo V er’ with Singaporean artist MARICELLE and we’re absolutely in love with how this track feels as though 2 lovers are transcending through space and time.
We caught up with front man of UQiYO, Yuqi Kato, to chat on ‘lo V er’, and of their upcoming 2021 plans.
Hey Yuqi-san, thank you for taking the time to chat with Popwire!
– What was the inspiration behind the single, ‘lo V er’?
It all started with the key word ‘isolation’, but I feel it also gets into the fields of space-time and quantum physics. The latest science research is beginning to prove the ideas that were conventionally considered insane or occult, like parallel worlds. Two worlds that would never have met might be able merge by transcending the law of known physics. I think the theme of an isolated world is of blending together in a beautiful harmony; meaning the Left and Right channels of this song were able to express it beautifully. The distinct and somewhat soothing first 10 seconds of the song is made possible because of the disparate sounds in disparate phases, which should actually come out unpleasant, but it comes in through both ears and somehow mixes into a magically balanced harmony inside your brain.
– We know that ‘lo V er’ was part of an old loop track. Tell us how did the collaboration with MARICELLE come about and what was the recording process like?
We met in Tokyo just before the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. She came with her label rep from Singapore whom I had made plans to meet with. MARICELLE knew about UQiYO and asked me many pleasant questions. She seemed very intelligent and good hearted, so we got together in my home studio the next day and had a chat and sang a bit to each other. I fell in love with her voice right there, and it all started from there.
In session, we used one of my unfinished loop tracks, and both of us sang at the same time, in separate rooms without seeing each other’s faces. This was to really try to enact the separation and the miracle of music that bonds the two performances into a melody as a whole. We were on a roll with lots of ideas, interesting takes, and lots of laughs, and ended up with about 40min worth of vocal ideas of each part. Later, I cut and pasted and compiled the ideas into one song and started the mixing process.
– We read that when you were working with MARICELLE, you wondered what colour would come out of the track. Now that it’s done and released, any thoughts on what colour this track is and why? Space gray. Because It was a black and ghostly track with ghostly vocal loops at first. MARICELLE brought in the light to this track, and it all ended up with a sci-fi space-time transcending soundscape.
– We find the title of the single so interesting, in how it was specifically 2 spaces between the letter V. Was there a reason why it was titled this way?
It valiantly expresses the theme ‘isolation’. The V separates the ‘lo’ and ‘er’. The two are in love and they are isolated, but they still spell out as the word ‘lover’.
You may know that Japanese letters are hieroglyphic, where the shapes of the letters themselves have meaning. Since Spotify and other media became the mainstream and the design of the letters on the album cover became less and less significant, I began to enjoy expressing with the arrangement and positioning of the printed letters.
– We did some research and saw some photos of you in the mountains recently. Where was this and was this an inspirational road trip or a recording session?
It was Takachiho, an area in Kyushu Island of Japan, said to be an ancient origin of Japan, and being able to consume time and space in a world of mountains, shrines and gods was huge. When I encountered the world above the sea of clouds on top of Kunimigaoka Mountain, I felt like a servant of the founding gods of Japan. It was definitely an inspirational road trip, and I made a few songs there which might be released in the future.
– We also heard that you have some upcoming collaboration singles coming up after this, including one with Malaysian songstress sweetheart, Froya. Exciting! Would you be able to share more on what’s coming up in the new year? Perhaps a new album of sorts?
Before the awesome collab track with Froya, I also have an unbelievably powerful song coming up in December which is co-written with a Taiwanese artist. I am very excited for the release of this song. I will have an album out early next year which will mark UQiYO’s 11th anniversary. I will also be doing a sequel to the solo live performance “impromptu” which will be about the sound of the land.
– Also, if there is an album coming up, and with the world eventually opening up next year, where do you have plans on touring to promote the album?
I am wishing to tour through Asian countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and China.
You can check out UQiYO’s first livestream ‘impromptu_雪’ session here: