Interview: Cream with a K | Features - Music Crowns

Interview: Cream with a K

This week we caught up with singer-songwriter, Cream with a K, to discuss her decision to embark on her solo career. Originally from London, she has been living in Japan since she was 18-years-old where she began modelling. She quickly entered the world of J-pop and by 19, her band had been signed to Universal Japan. Seen as a link between the UK and Japan, she became a host on a Japanese Rock TV show. However, she’s now looking to focus on writing her own music and trying to establish herself in the UK and Europe. Cream with a K tells us about her musical inspirations, life in Japan and what the future holds for her.

 

  • Hey, what’s been going on this year? How is 2017 shaping up?
  • 2017 has been quite bizarre so far. I have already been to Mexico and Los Angeles, shot a music video, and reformed my live band. I have a feeling 2017 will be one of those years. Maybe best not to plan ahead this year and just see how it unfolds!
  • Can I get some background info? Where you’re from? Your age? The simple stuff.
  • Originally I’m from London but I moved to Tokyo at 18 and started out as a model. Music was always on the agenda for me. I got signed as a singer-songwriter at a large Japanese Pop management company at 19 where I began my career as a J-pop singer. I was unfortunately dropped a couple of years later and decided to start a J-pop band. Things happened quickly we won the EMI revolution rock competition for best live band and got signed to Universal Japan before joining the management of the J-pop icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. I’ve also written songs for some other J-pop artists in Japanese and English. I was lucky enough to experience hosting a Japanese Rock TV show on NHK. After 8 years of being in the scene, I started to think it was now or never if I was to try something abroad. I only got back to London last October.
  • Have you always played music?
  • Since forever I wanted to sing although I’m not really a great singer, so to speak. I always liked the idea of being a songwriter so I started teaching myself a few guitar chords to get by. It all elevated from there. I think music is more of a calling rather than a choice.
  • When did playing music go from being a hobby to something more serious?
  • I never thought of it as a hobby. It was the only thing I could imagine myself doing in life. The thought of doing anything else would bore me to tears.
  • You’re also a model and visual artist – can you tell us a bit more about that?
  • I would say that being a model and visual artist at the same time is the hardest thing. As a professional model, you can’t expect to have an opinion on anything. As I have experience doing creative direction for photo shoots behind the camera, sometimes keeping my mouth shut is hard. Being able to channel someone else’s vision is an art in itself. So I save everyone the stress now by only doing modelling work for people and brands I’m aligned with. I don’t think I can call myself a real model really!

In the UK I’m still a newbie and figuring out stuff, but I guess people are rowdier. They are not inclined to listen politely. Whether they like you or don’t like you, you’ll be sure to know either way.

  • You’re currently based between London and Tokyo. How long have you lived in Tokyo and what impact has it had on your songwriting and musical tastes?
  • I’ve lived there for eight years now. I feel like the music I write now still sounds a bit J-pop, although I make a profound effort to sound western. I think my view of western music has been slightly skewed now and sometimes I think I listen to western music the way a Japanese person does.
  • What are the main differences between playing live in Tokyo and the UK?
  • Tokyo is very polite and decided – they normally all stand and bob their heads together in time to the music. There are some certain socially acceptable dance moves that they might break into with a group of friends. In the UK I’m still a newbie and figuring out stuff, but I guess people are rowdier. They are not inclined to listen politely. Whether they like you or don’t like you, you’ll be sure to know either way. Cream with a K did a secret gig the end of last year with a full band. It was the most fun I have had playing live. I felt completely aligned in what I had come to this earth to do.
  • Why did you choose to make this your first English project? Will it be exclusively English or will you experiment with Japanese as well?
  • I had never written in English for myself before. It started out quite experimentally as an aid for writer’s block. I think I will break out the Japanese at some point when the urge takes me.
  • Why have you decided to focus more on Europe and the UK with this project?
  • Tokyo is lovely but I couldn’t fully do what I wanted under the ties of the label and management. I’d like to see what I’m fully capable of and I think Europe is a cool and inspiring place to be a musician right now.
  • How have you found playing and writing as a solo artist as opposed to a band, especially as you are currently doing the writing, recording, mixing, and the creative aspects of the videos?
  • In my previous band, I mostly wrote the songs and my partner would make the tracks. The hard part was it was like I was writing for a client. Whether I liked the song or not wasn’t as important as what the label and management thought. I felt a bit bullied into doing things I didn’t want to do, repeatedly. It was a bit too tiring. Even back then, I did the bands styling, creative direction, music videos, album art, merchandise design etc as well. It was a huge workload but again nothing was really my style, I never thought “this is awesome!”.
    So, I basically decided to hone in all those skills on my own project. The rule is I have to love everything I make. I just don’t have the capacity to care what people think anymore.
  • What is your songwriting process like? What works best for you?
  • I’m still figuring out a process. Every song comes up differently. It could be some chords, a bass line, a little rhythm or lyric. I feel like I’m digging holes for treasure; sometimes you hit gold, sometimes you dig and dig and waste a month on a dead end.
  • Who would you say is your biggest influence?
  • Rather than a person, I would say the 90s grunge rock scene. I feel like it was explosive.  A fleeting moment of great music, fashion and art culture. It’s was literally a life changing moment for a generation of kids.
  • Are there any musicians you would like to work with in the future?
  • I would have to say Beck and Frank Black for sure.
  • What can we expect to hear from you in 2017? Are you planning on releasing new material?
  • A big yes. I’m dying to get all these songs out. I’m trying out some stuff with different engineers and producers now. I’m trying to get the perfect final sheen on the songs. Hopefully, I’ll be able to release the EP in the spring/summer. But as I said, we might just need to wait and see how 2017 unfolds for Cream with a K.
Tayler Ross

At Music Crowns, Tayler’s role as Social Media Content Manager is to source, create and curate social content for new and existing viewers. It is her job to act as the eyes and ears for the team on what’s trending on social media and since joining, she has amassed a wealth of viral successes. Prior to training in social media and digital marketing, she has a history of playing in bands and has a degree in sound engineering.

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