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It's natural for a music-obsessed teenage Japanese girl to dream of living in London, going to lots of gigs and may be forming a band one day.
But for Mayumi it was different - instead of just dreaming - well, she did them all.
At school she'd played keyboards and synthesizers in a few covers bands - a natural choice as she played classical piano - but the turning point came when she heard 'You Made Me Realize' by My Bloody Valentine while studying Art at Goldsmiths' College, London University (she has a Master's degree in Art History). 'Their music made me want to explore the possibilities of guitar sounds and of making music you can truly lose yourself in.' (Mayumi).
After buying an old Fender Strat from a session musician, she started playing in bands as singer-guitarist, 'even before I could sing and play the guitar really'- somehow gaining a reputation for sounding like Cocteau Twins - a band she had hardly heard of. But it was the unorthodox music making method of her first band that was to leave a lasting impact on her. 'It was a 3 piece but the other two would play bass, guitar or programme the drum machin as inspired, there were no set roles - I was intrigued. Oh, by the way they used to call me a guitar monster'. One day they left their bass and drum machine in her place and out of curiosity she started playing with them. 'I think the idea of playing all the instruments by yourself really came from that experience'.
- Mayumi's second band formed by her, attracted interest from Rough Trade & One Little Indian -
Her first solo recording she made while she was inbetween bands led to a deal with Pale Blue Records. 'The engineer really liked the recordings and he handed in the tape to his German mate who owned the label. He decided to release a single immediately'.New EP will be out Oct 07
Her debut EP Platinum (97, Maxi CD), filled with haunting vocals and effect-laden hard guitars, went fairly unnoticed. But thanks to the smart distribution, a few airplay and a mini UK tour, it was enough to build a small fanbase.
The next EP Crystallize (98) was a big step forward - a triumphant post-gothic guitar pop with dreamy vocals. A few zines described her as 'a future star'and it was airplayed at more than 40 college/alternative radio stations across the UK as well as some in Europe and USA. The slow tracks 'Our Summer' and 'Promise' attracted attention too. It was a 'beautiful, luxurious' EP, and sold 5 times more than Platinum. It seemed everyone compared the track to their own favourite band, receiving a record number of compared acts - Bjork, Ride, St Etienne, Lush,Smith, Joy Division, Stereolab, Levitation, MBV - a real crossover!
In the meantime, the label boss announced that he was packing in and going back to Germany. Mayumi decided to take over to continue to release her music and next came an EP Endless(98). It was a dark, dancy and 'hypnotizing EP with an icy vibe' and 'Mayumi's lush, beautiful voice wound around Cure-like guitars and melodies'.It received the same amount of reviews and airplay as Crystallize, but many thought the EP was less accessible. Although it also included a blissful highlight 'Glinding in the Wind', the overall response was less enthusiastic.
The next EP Unknown Chain was 'a beautiful abstraction'. It included the live favourite 'Reverberate' that was 'deemed for head-banging in elegance' and Mayumi's favourite 'Daze Me'carried a soaring, wistful tune. It was duly manufactured for release in 2000 when Mayumi decieded to call it a day.
'I wasn't enjoying it anymore. I'd been obsessed with music since 15 and it had dominated my life up to that point. But I don't know, something changed in me. Something'd reached a certain point and all I wanted to do was forget it'.
It wasn't the first time she tried to give up music. Friends always encouraged and told her not to give up. But this time it was different and nothing really moved her. She folded her mike stand she used to use for practice in her room. At first it wouldn't fold as it'd been held in the same position for years, which hurt a little. But by the time she put her guitars in the hard cases and locked them, she was very sure.
Indeed she did not touch her instruments for a long time. 'I always had ideas in my head but to get up and play music, you must have a desire - an inexplicable drive'. But it wasn't the end - the passion hadn't gone completely. She was moved when people bidded for her CDs on eBay. 'It meant a lot to me. It wasn't all nothing'.
When the site announced her come back, old fans emailed to wish her well. 'Before, to me music was all or nothing. But now I would like to endure in a different sense. I'm really grateful for the people who have remembered my music and I'm glad I'm still releasing something....well, I'm here'
Feb 2006 saw the release of the latest single 'Myriad Luminescent', originally planned for November 05 release. 'I got some interest from Loog Records so things had to wait'.
'A beautiful trip to an ideal point between chaotic noise control and delicacy', it was a collection of 3 songs which were 'magic acts of some kind of sounds that come back like magic' and a college radio DJ said 'it would be great to give our radio a bit more quality music'. Though discontent with the seemingly never-ending comparison with Cocteau Twins and Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine, Mayumi breathed a sigh of relief as the initial copies sold out.
She plans to play music for a few more years.