J!-ENT INTERVIEW: Singer-guitarist from Japan, Rei prepares for her US live debut at SXSW

February 28, 2016 by  


J!-ENT Interview with Rei by Dennis A. Amith

Inspired by blues music in the United States at the age of five, Rei, a singer-guitarist from Hyogo, Japan will be performing at SXSW and live performances slated for March in Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California.

J!-ENT recently had the chance to interview Rei about her music before her US live debut at Japan Nite at SXSW on March 18th.

J!-ENT: You learned how to play the guitar at the age of four, but I’m curious how you became fascinated with blues music at a young age. Was it through your parents? And what was the first blues song you ever learned to sing and play on you guitar completely?

REI: I met blues music through joining the school’s big band when I was living in New York during kindergarten. I had started classical guitar, but did not know how to improvise. My music teacher who recognized me playing guitar, invited me into playing contemporary music styles through classic jazz blues tunes such as “Freddie Freeloader” by Miles Davis, which answers the question to my first blues song that I learned how to play.  Making up the melody at the very moment, was exciting since I had only known how to read pre-written music.


J!-ENT: Having grown up in New York, before moving back to Japan, because of your interest in blues music, did you try to inspire friends in Japan to listen to blues music? Or did you feel your interest in blues music made you a bit different in terms of your musical tastes with Japanese you grew up with?

REI: Because I went to an international school with kids from various cultures, it was natural for us to embrace the differences we had in musical tastes. Everyone was weird in his or her own little way, as I recall. Either way, I was a shy kid and didn’t like forcing things on people, so I’d be happy talking about 2000’s Pop Punk bands at school with my peers while enjoying my time at home alone with Blind Blake.


J!-ENT: You released your first mini album “BLU” and several months ago, released “UNO”.  What is the primary difference between both albums musically and production-wise?

REI: “BLU” was my debut album, so it was important for me to introduce who I was; as a person, and as a musician. It’s more like “the country where I’m from” type of thing, whereas “UNO” is more adventurous. A kid from the countryside glittering her eyes to the night lights of the city. I tried to express a more humorous, quirky side of myself through the instrumentation and the lyrics.


J!-ENT: Having grown up in America, is it a dream come true to perform at such a major event such as SXSW and also at a well-known music store such as Amoeba San Francisco?

REI: I haven’t lived long enough to say, “I’ve grown up in America”… but was heavily influenced by the western culture and of course the music. It is an honor to have the opportunity to join in such an event and I’d like to make it a meaningful experience.


J!-ENT: You are sure to have new fans of your musical work after this performance in America.  What words would you like to leave with your new American fans?

REI: I’m excited to see you at the shows in America! Please listen to my music and share it! Blues on!

Rei’s Live Performance US Schedule (March 2016):

Rei @ Elephant Room
WHEN: Wednesday, 16 March, 2016 Show: 18:00 (CST)

Japan Preview Day Show
WHEN: Thursday, 17 March, 2016 Show: TBA

SXSW Japan Nite @SXSW
WHEN: Friday, 18 March, 2016 Show: 23:00 (CST)

Amoeba Music in-store @ Amoeba San Francisco
WHEN: Sunday, 20 March, 2016 Show: 14:00

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