Japanese artist MIREI is back with her newest single 1998, which takes the Millennial generation on a stroll down memory lane.

MIREI has experimented with various genres, ultimately starting out in the Gospel space. Since then, she’s toyed around in pop and dance and has finally landed on chill electronic and R&B as her calling. Selfishly, I think she choose right seeing that it comes to her so effortlessly.

Last year she released her first English album titled Take Me Away, which grabbed coverage from top publications (Teen Vogue, Ladygunn, Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, and many more). Led by hit single “Lonely In Tokyo,” (3.5M streams) the project focuses on her transition into a more Americanized-style of R&B music. ‘1998’ is no different and has positioned MIREI to erupt in this new-found genre.

We wanted to know more about the background of “1998,” which MIREI kindly obliged.

What drew you to make music in the first place?

I grew up in a music loving family, so it’s natural that I’ve had a close relationship with music my whole life and am pursuing it now. Music was everywhere from long drives, going to karaoke all night long, and learning to dance in the studio. I don’t remember when and why I started to sing, but it’s always been with me honestly. I definitely remember why I started to make music and I can thank Lady Gaga for that! One day, when I was in the 4th or 5gh grade, her song “Born This Way” was playing on MTV with Japanese translations – I was shocked at how evolutional and pivotal her message was, singing about diversity of races, sexualities, and religions. It was an inspiration! I wanted to be just like that and I wanted to help people just the way she did. That’s the moment when I decided to make my own music and wanted to make music that spoke up for what’s right.

In what ways does your song “1998” define our generation?

First off I want to say that I feel like this Gen Z generation is fighting the good fight and at a pivotal moment where true change is happening, especially with the power of the internet! There are so many inequalities, so many controversies and issues that have been ignored. for a long time, but this generation is not standing for it and breaking those rules and outdated traditions. Look at what we’ve experienced because of Millenials and Gen Z activists – the BLM movement, Me Too, Time’s Up and so much more. I’ve lived for 23 years but I’ve never felt the world was changing as much as it is now and that’s because of the current generation’s work towards the greater good.  I belong to the younger Millennial generation and am on the cusp of Gen Z.

As someone who was born between these contrasting generations, I felt like I was stuck in between. That’s why I’m singing, “am I young or am I old?” Like, am I too young to settle down? Or am I too old to take risks? While I’m stuck in my house due to the pandemic, I wrote this song like a journal entry. I decided to release this hoping there’s many 1998 babies who feel the same way as me, especially as we all face these transitions and revolutionary moments in life.

How does experimenting with different genres help you grow as an artist?

Collaborating with different artists and especially artists in different genres helps me not only learn more about the world and find confidence in myself, but also helps create new safe spaces for fans and listeners. For example, when I collaborated with Japanese reggae musicians for the first time years ago, I learned how to bond with my fans strongly. The unity in the genre is always amazing and changed the way I viewed the artist-to-fan and fan-to-artist experience. Although I was an outsider, they were so welcoming. It was such an inspirational moment for me that I’ll never forget. I learned how to have pride and respect, and to take risks.

MIREI’s 1998 is out on all streaming platforms now so go have a listen. Taking a ride through the rest of her catalog is also a fun journey. Stay tuned for more MIREI; she has a lot up her sleeve in the coming months.