その実力を全米で認められた少女、「當山 みれい」インタビュー Taking on the world:Japanese R&B Goddess, Mirei Touyama

FISHBOYさんがメンバーの一員でもあるRADIO FISHとコラボレーションした曲「GOLDEN TOWER」も話題になっています。中学生時代に全米デビューも果たし、現役高校生ながら歌手業をこなす當山みれい。自身の音楽や、作詞のインスピレーションの素など聞いてみた。

Popular Japanese singer Mirei Touyama is not a stranger to the media spotlight. After debuting in America as a middle school student, she already has a lifetime’s worth of experience under her belt.
However, with her latest release (a collaboration with none other than super popular band ‘RADIO FISH’) she has proven that she’s only just getting started in her home country of Japan. We sat down to quiz her on what brought her to this point.

Q.音楽に興味をきっかけは何かあったのでしょうか?What made you interested in music?


My parents had a lot of influence. They loved music, so when I was young there was always something on in the background. Our most cherished appliance was the CD player - we all felt like music was a big part of our lives.

Q.当時はどのような音楽を聞いていたのですか?What kind of stuff did you listen to?


It was mainly American Billboard chart stuff - MTV had a big presence in our house. I was particularly obsessed with Britney Spears. I thought she was the perfect pop idol. Also Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. Rihanna especially is the one person I’ve been listening to non-stop since then. I’ve respected her ever since I was in elementary school. Her cool and sexy vibe totally compliments her amazing voice, and I love her lifestyle and attitude. She totally inspired me to be a singer.

Q.歌手になる夢が叶った感想は?Do you feel like your dreams as a singer have been realised?


Actually, I always knew that I would be a singer. When I was a kid, music class was always my most favourite time of the day. When I told my parents that I wanted to be a singer they supported me whole-heartedly. They built an environment for me where it was possible to follow that road without distractions and realise that dream by myself.

It’s known that you were lead singer of a gospel team in the US during your middle school years. How was it?

小さい時から舞台で歌ったりするのが好きでした。ゴスペルチーム「Gospel for Teens」のオーディションでは、チャンスを掴み取らなきゃという思いが通じたのか、私の出番が終わるとスタンディングオーベーションがおき、講師の方から、「じゃあ、君リードボーカルね」と指名して頂けました。本場の環境に身を置いた時に、言葉の壁はもちろんあったのですが、歌を通して気持ちが通じることは楽しかったです。ゴスペルはみんなでハーモニーを作り上げていくものですので、そこには人種も何もかも関係なく、分かり合えるものがあると感じました。

I’d always been one of those kids that liked being on stage. I took a chance by auditioning for ‘Gospel for Teens’ and somehow got a standing ovation and was chosen then and there for lead vocal. Of course there was a language barrier, but by expressing my emotions through song I found a fun way to communicate. Gospel is all about harmonies - not just in the songs, but with the people too - it doesn’t discriminate against race or gender. It was a really cool experience.

Q.滞在中に全米デビューをしていますが、決まった時の心境はどのようなものでしたか?Your records debuted throughout the whole of the US - how did you feel embarking on such a big mission?


My host father recorded my singing and took the tape to loads of record companies for me. There happened to be one company that had an interest in me, and so I was signed. But it felt really weird. I still hadn’t debuted in my home country of Japan, yet to be given such an opportunity in the US was really amazing and humbling. I was young, so the petrified feeling that I may have had doing the same thing now was actually replaced by this naïve nervous excitement. My debut song ‘Tattoo’ could only be used if I won a singing competition, so when I heard the news that I had been chosen I was so happy.

Q.作詞・作曲のインスピレーションのもとは?What was the inspiration for the music and lyrics?


It was all about real, everyday experiences. I was still a student, so stuff like conversations with classmates really influenced what I wrote about. I also used news stories and other information that caught my eye. I’d write notes down and turn them into songs.

Q.日本デビュー時と雰囲気がガラッと変わったと思います。イメチェンするきっかけはあったんですか?Your debut in Japan has taken on a whole different vibe - what was the reason behind your image change?


My true musical soul was always about hip-hop and R&B, so I wanted to find a way to express that side of myself more. I tried to find my real essence and come face to face with my true self, so rather than an image change, it’s more like I’m showing a more natural side of my creative.

Q.最後に今後、どのような曲を作っていきたいですか?また、チャレンジしてみたいことはありますか?What kind of music do you want to make from now on? Do you ever think you would want to try another style?


I just turned eighteen, so I’d like to experiment with more adult-sounding songs. I’d like to express maturity through my singing and performance style. Also, I would like to try a one-man live show - I’ve never done one before. Scheduling the entire thing and thinking up the whole set by myself sounds like a fun challenge, and I’d love to see how my fans react.


Although just eighteen years old, Mirei is sharp and attentive, answering any question thrown at her with ease and precision. She’s one of a rare kind who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. Japan will certainly be waiting with bated breath to see what the multi-talented singer/dancers next move will be.

當山 みれいMirei Touyama

2013年夏まで全米トップの名門ゴスペルチーム“Gospel For Teens”に所属し、唯一のアジア人として異例のリードヴォーカル抜擢。2013年6月にシングル「TATTOO」で全米デビューも果たしたほか、シリーズ累計75万ヒットを記録するDJ和のコンピレーションアルバムのために「Hysteric Girl」「I Wanna No feat. SHUN」をそれぞれ書き下ろすなど、デビュー前の新人として異例の大抜擢を受け業界内でも話題になる。2016年7月27日、1stFull Album「My Way」で再び牙を剥く、本格派R&Bシンガー。ニューシングル「君のとなり」11月23日発売

Born 27th July 1998 (18 years old). One of the standout talents of generation Z, in 2013 Mirei took the part of lead vocal in America’s top gospel choir ‘Gospel for Teens’ - the first time an Asian singer has taken on the role. In June 2013 her debut single ‘Tattoo’ was released across the US, resulting in a successful compilation album. Her first full album ‘My Way’ was released in Japan in July 2016, marking her Japanese debut as an R&B Goddess.NEW SINGLE: "Kimi No Tonari" Nov. 23 (Wed) Release


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