Photo: The Straits Times/ Mode Productions
Mandopop tracks Sunrise by Joi Chua, Insomnia by Fish Leong and Butterfly by Cyndi Wang have one thing in common. They are all covers of Japanese songs performed by Rimi Natsukawa.
In particular, Sunrise is a remake of the Japanese singer’s best- known 2001 hit Nada Sou Sou (Great Tears Are Spilling), which was first released by folk and jazz singer Ryoko Moriyama in 1998.
Natsukawa’s gently heart-tugging version charted consistently on Japan’s Oricon charts from May 2002 to November 2007 and has inspired television dramas and even a 2006 movie of the same name.
No doubt, fans will be looking forward to hearing it at her first concert in Singapore on Saturday.
Natsukawa, 43, was born in Ishigaki in Okinawa prefecture and picked up a love of local folk songs from her father.
She is known for her renditions in that genre as well as for performing original songs such as Sayonara Arigatou (Goodbye, Thank You). She also released a bilingual Japanese and Chinese record of covers with Uta Sagashi: Asia No Kaze (Song Search: Wind Of Asia) in 2010.
She is married to a percussionist and they have a son, who turns seven this year.
1 HOW DID YOU GET INTO SINGING?
My teacher for singing was my father. From second grade to eighth grade, he held a few hours of lessons every day.
My foundation of singing was taught by my father. I feel very grateful for that.
2 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT OKINAWAN FOLK SONGS?
As you listen to them more and more, and as you sing them, you are able to feel the wind of Okinawa.
3 AFTER WINNING THE NAGASAKI KAYOUSAI (NAGASAKI SONG FESTIVAL) AT THE AGE OF 12, YOU MOVED TO TOKYO. WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING IN TOKYO PREPARING FOR YOUR DEBUT ALBUM AT THAT AGE?
I was thinking only of living as a singer, I felt very grateful. I still feel the same.
4 YOUR BEST-KNOWN SONG IS NADA SOU SOU. DO YOU REMEMBER HOW YOU FELT WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD IT?
I listened to the song for the first time when a band from Ishigaki, called Begin, sang the song on television.
I immediately felt strongly: “I want to sing the song like this.”
At my concert, I would want the listeners to enjoy Japanese songs and hope they would be able to feel the wind of Okinawa, my hometown.
5 WHAT IS THE SECRET TO DOING A COVER SONG WELL?
The most important thing is to love the song you are going to make a cover of.
When I do a cover, I try to deliver the image of the song to the listeners.
When I record an original song, I try to sing as if I am nurturing the song with the listeners.
6 YOU HAVE RECORDED SONGS IN MANDARIN AS WELL. HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THAT?
There are many accents which are not available in Japanese, so it was very difficult.
Actually, my Chinese teacher, Jiang Xiaoqing, who is from Beijing, will be playing the guzheng (Chinese zither) at the upcoming concert in Singapore.
7 YOU STARTED PRACTISING SINGING FROM THE AGE OF SEVEN. DOES YOUR SON, WHO TURNS SEVEN THIS YEAR, HAVE ANY INTEREST IN MUSIC AND SINGING?
Yes. He is always singing. His favourite artist was the American rock band Kiss, but now he is into Michael Jackson.
8 HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED?
I hope that the people who listen to my songs would feel good and revived even in the slightest degree.
BOOK IT / BEST OF RIMI NATSUKAWA LIVE IN SINGAPORE
WHERE: The Star Theatre, 04-01 The Star Performing Arts Centre, 1 Vista Exchange Green
WHEN: Saturday, 8pm
ADMISSION: $98 to $168 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
This story was originally published in The Straits Times on April 17, 2017.