Japanese singer/songwriter MASUMI unveiled her new single “Run Baby, Run” on August 30th.
Written by MASUMI and produced by Marko Fazio, the indie pop/rock record offers an empowering and inspiring message.
‘In 2016, I received a life changing offer to be managed by a prestigious management team in Tokyo, Japan. I decided to walk away from this career-defining moment and chose to remain in the states to explore possibilities that were more aligned with the artist I wanted to grow into. But that brought a long depression and self doubt. I was confused if I made the right choice. A stranger popped in my life during that time and left me a message to “live with urgency” because “time is running out”, says MASUMI.
Along with the record, the Los Angeles-based artist reveals a powerful music video directed by Loic Zimmerman.
‘I had a vivid vision in my head, how I wanted the astronaut to portray the stranger I met who breathed motivation back into me,” expresses MASUMI.
“Run Baby, Run” is now available on all major streaming platforms.
Hi, my name is Masumi! I came from Tokyo, Japan to pursue my dream of being a Singer/songwriter and I’m now based in Los Angeles!
What’s your story?
I was just an ordinary girl going to a University in Japan, until the Tohoku Earthquake hit us in 2011. That was the catalyst that made me realize that I had a not so ordinary passion that I needed to follow. My epiphany came while I was trapped in an underground bar during the earthquake. The thought of being crushed and my life slipping away in seconds woke something inside me. Following the life changing event, I came to LA to pursue my dreams that I had been ignoring. Two months after the earthquake I had applied to a music school in Los Angeles and flew out once I knew I was accepted. That marked the beginning of my journey of being a singer/songwriter/artist in LA!
Tell us a little bit about your childhood. At what point did you realize music was something very special in your life?
I was born in Palos Verdes, CA. I moved back to Japan when I was three years old, and from then on I constantly moved between Japan and the U.S. (D.C, NYC, TX) for a while for my father’s work. Although I strongly feel I’m rooted in Japanese culture, I am definitely a bi-product of the two extremely different cultures (Japan & U.S). As a child I played Japanese Drums professionally for about 9 years, and also played piano for about the same length. But above all, I loved writing poems and creating my own songs. The problem was that I wasn’t so great at singing. When I was 14, I joined a choir group which unfortunately led to me injuring my vocal chords from singing without the proper technique. A huge polyp had formed that almost covered the airway in my throat. The doctor ordered me to refrain from making any sound for 9 months. I carried a notepad around my neck everyday to communicate with people. And in that 9 months of silence I realized how much singing meant to me, although I wasn’t very good at it. I still had to go under a surgery after the long 9 months, so I made a promise to myself that if my voice restores completely after the surgery , that I will take that as a sign to become a singer. There was no damage to my voice thankfully after the surgery, and I kept my promise.
Do you remember your early musical memories?
I started playing Japanese Drums when I was in 3rd grade. We played every festival in Japan and got to even travel to France to perform there. We were on the front page of the local newspaper and I was very proud of that!
What did you grow up listening to?
My brother, who is 10 years older than me, always had great taste and music and would play various genres of music but mainly R&B music like D’Angelo, Brian McNight, etc. My mother loved country like Dolly parton, Elvis Presley.. They both equally liked to blast their music loudly in the house. And although I didn’t care much for it when I was young, I realized the influence that it had on me when I started writing my own songs.
You released your first records in 2014. How did your sound and artistry evolve since then?
Music is interesting because it really reflects the growth of the artist I think. I was still so unsure about who I was as a person, and what it really meant to be a musician/artist. Over the years, I’ve grown more confident in my own skin, experienced life in different levels and I see the world and myself differently than I did in 2014. I value more about writing melodies and messages that resonates with me even if it doesn’t sound catchy. I’m bolder with my lyric choices and clearer in my vision of what I want to represent as an artist. I know who I am and who I’m not. I’m less apologetic about what I stand for and what I believe in. “Run Baby, Run” definitely showcases my growth as a singer songwriter and an artist in that way.
Could you tell us about your first experiences in the music industry? What did you learn from these experiences?
I had to grow a tougher skin. I’m truly blessed that I’ve always had genuine kind people around me who always supported me when times were hard. Navigating the music industry was initially very overwhelming and sometimes felt aimless. There is no one right way to start out in the industry, you just kind of dive head in first. Sort of like trial by fire. Along the way, I was blessed to meet some truly amazing, genuine people in the industry. They are people who have always supported me when times were hard. Those are the people you want to keep around you; to help keep you grounded and strong.
You’ve just released the music video for "Run Baby, Run”. What can you tell us about this record? Who wrote/produced the record?
Music and Lyrics are written by myself, and Marko Fazio is the producer of this song. He relentlessly worked on this song to really bring the emotion and the message I wanted to convey through this song. In 2016, I received a life changing offer to be managed by a prestigious management team in Japan. I decided to walk away from this career-defining moment and chose to remain in the states to explore possibilities that were more aligned with the artist I wanted to grow into. But that brought a dark period of depression and self doubt. I was confused if I made the right choice. A stranger popped in my life during that time, and left me a message to “live with urgency” because “time is running out”. It slapped me awake. It was my 2nd awakening since the earthquake. And helped me get back in to motion again. “Run Baby, Run” is a fight song, and it tells the story of finding the warrior within us and letting our strength guide us to our authentic selves. The astronaut in this music video represents the stranger who blew life back into me. I was incredibly fortunate to have Loic Zimmerman, who worked in films like: Ghost in the Shell, Guardians of the Galaxy, Harry Potter, True Grit, Prisoners, to work for my Music Video. He beautifully captured the visions I had using the astronaut and the story I wanted to tell. Marko brought the emotion of the song to the ears, and Loic brought the emotion of the message to the eyes and together it creates a visceral experience. I can’t be more grateful for the people who were involved with the making.
What message do you want to deliver through this music video?
There’s a Japanese tag line in the chorus that says「爪痕残せよ」"Tsumeato Nokoseyo”. The direct translation is “leave your nail mark”, but it means to “leave your legacy”. I wrote this song to remember how I felt when the stranger motivated me to reignite the warrior within myself and told me to run with purpose. I hope that this song can also serve the listeners as a fight song, for we all experience dark times throughout our lives, but within us exists strength that can fight through any adversity.
You are originally from Japan. How would you define this country?
It’s a country with a lot of culture and old tradition, sometimes in a very rigid manner and I even felt limited at times. But now when I think of my country, I think of integrity. I think of the respect towards humility and the depth of beauty that comes about from all of that mixed together. It’s hard to define my country in one word, but I’m proud to be Japanese and to represent my country in America.
How’s the music scene in Japan?
Super creative and innovative! I’m always inspired by the new up and coming talents and their creativity.
What does it mean for you to be an artist?
To believe that your truthful art expression has power to serve the people for the good. Like doctors and nurses that are working in the filed of saving lives, I believe that artists are expressionists who bring healing through their art. That’s what it means to be an artist to me!
As a creative person, how does LA help you shape your artistry?
The town is overflowing with talent, pouring in from all around the world. Inspiration is everywhere and people are not shy to express their authentic art! There’s always opportunities to connect with incredible artists, and it pushes me to keep working on my skills.
What are the things you are the most proud of?
My honesty, work ethic, and commitment to my artist integrity.
Any upcoming project?
Two things: I’m going to Japan in September to release the song to my Japanese fans. I also started recording my next single that is in alignment with the message of “empowering your self/voice”. It took me a while to get to a place where I felt like I was building something. And now I fee like I’m starting to create a foundation that I can build up on.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
Kindness out of love, acceptance out of love, forgiveness out of love. In my head, we are all a single note in a piece of a masterful song, and each of us has a part to play, but together we create a beautifully complex tune. There’s no competition or separation because we are all in a song together to co-create this beautiful tune. Every different note and quirks adds beauty to the song. If we can see that maybe we will treat each other and ourselves with more kindness.
What’s your purpose?
To bring hope and healing through the art of music! And inspire and motivate people through my journey as an Artist.
Connect with MASUMI: