Japanese Artists Abroad part 1

Sometimes people get sick of Japan and jump on the first boat they see. Others leave to find new and exciting opportunities abroad. Whatever the reasons, a number of Japanese expats have established their music careers outside Japan in a variety of countries.

Japanese music certainly has a different feel and sound than music produced in western countries; regardless of the genre. That’s likely why artists from a Japanese background make such interesting music in western countries. They combine the influences of Japan with the influences of their new surroundings to create something truly unique. Its also worth mentioning that this blog is VERY open to culturally mixed creations.

Here are a few examples of Japanese expat artists:

HIMIKO – Edmonton, Alberta CANADA


Born in Saitama Japan later moving to Michigan and then Edmonton for school, Himiko began her solo career performing a mix of sensual jazz, electronic and occasionally pop. However, she quickly began embracing harsh digital sounds to create a blender mixture of industrial metal and jazz with 2006’s Heavy Metal Wannabe & Electronic Jazz Cat. Her journey through harsh noises continually led to darker and heavier realms such as death metal to create the brutal digital nightmare that is 2014’s Victims of Greed. 2016 gave us a nasty combination of everything she’s experimented with in her entire career including her early electro-jazz material with Skin Removal. Finally, just last year she seems to have abandoned EVERYTHING that defined her previous efforts with the beautiful jazz/classical instrumental album, Love scream. Where HIMIKO will go next no one can really say. At this point I don’t think anything this Japanese-Canadian artist does will surprise us though.

Her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and bandcamp.

Maria Takeuchi/ÉMU – Brooklyn, USA


Maria Takeuchi is a true artist in every sense of the word. This Kansai raised, Brooklyn based audio-visual artist creates sounds and visuals that stimulate many human senses. Much of her music is released under the moniker ÉMU, so be sure to search her using that name, or else the search results will be dominated by the popular 70s/80s singer Mariya Takeuchi, causing lots of confusion among western listeners.
While her music career is based in the US, her Japanese roots still make up the base of her music; a kind of digital wabi sabi if you will. Her career up to this point includes three impressive ambient albums, one of them released earlier this year, and two remarkable visual audio collaborations, As.phyx.i.a in 2015 and Karma Train in 2012.
Her live shows are said to be quite remarkable as she incorporates visual mapping and unique visuals to support her music. You can also get a taste of her digital art on her Instagram page.

Her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and bandcamp.

Maria Takeuchi/ÉMU homepage

Kumisolo – Paris, FRANCE


Stylish, sophisticated, quirky, and cute. Kumisolo indeed checks off every expectation one would have with a Japanese-French art pop artist. On the other hand, do we really need more than that? Born in Chiba, Japan, Kumisolo became heavily influenced by French New Wave films as a teenager, and then later moving to France to pursue her dreams. Before becoming the solo artist known as Kumisolo she was a member of multiple French groups such as The Konki Duet, and Crazy Curl.

Often her music is reminiscent of old French film scores, but with modern indie pop sensibilities. Despite the majority of her songs being performed in French, Kumisolo’s music has no shortage of references to her Asian heritage (Kung-fu Boy, La femme japonaise). She even occasionally sings in her native language (see Kabuki Femme Fatale, Tadaima).

Her song Ping Pong Machine is featured in the new Showtime drama, Kidding (episode 5), starring Jim Carrey.

Her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and bandcamp.

Kumisolo homepage