Ayase and Rira Ikuta: the YOASOBI Members’ Careers and Songs | J-Pop
YOASOBI is a two-piece group consisting of American-born vocalist Rira Ikuta and lyricist, composer, arranger, and keyboardist Ayase. They became popular in Japan through their single “Racing into the Night” and album “The Book.” Not only that, but they are also gaining popularity overseas, especially in East and Southeast Asian countries.
YOASOBI “Yoru ni Kakeru”
YOASOBI “Into the Night“
YOASOBI has been using nothing but Japanese in their lyrics for a while. However, because of the release of “Into the Night” or “Racing into the Night (English Ver.),” they would be expanding their global activities even further. YOASOBI is a band with such momentum.
But how did YOASOBI become so popular? What is the nature of YOASOBI? What experience have the members of YOASOBI had?
This article introduces the music and careers of the two members of YOASOBI, Ayase and Rira Ikuta, and explores its nature. In the course of doing so, it is emphasized that Ayase and Ikuta have been involved in music in a variety of ways, and both of them can sing, compose, and write lyrics.
Rira Ikuta’s Career and Songs
In addition to being a member of YOASOBI, Rira Ikuta has (1) a career as a singer-songwriter and (2) a career as a member of Plusonica.
(1) Rira Ikuta as a Singer-Songwriter
Rira Ikuta had been involved in music as a singer-songwriter for four years before forming YOASOBI.
Rira Ikuta “Untitled”
This video is of an untitled original song created by Rira Ikuta when she was 15 years old. It gives a sense that her success as a performer of YOASOBI is only possible because of her activities since that time.
Rira Ikuta “Answer”
Rira Ikuta “Romance no Yakusoku”
The songs by Rira Ikuta, as a singer-songwriter, are different from the works by Ayase in that Ikuta’s are typical J-Pop songs, which are not groovy.
Rira Ikuta as a Member of Plusonica
Before Yoasobi’s international foray with “Into the Night,” Rira Ikuta was a member of Plusonica, an ensemble that has uploaded many cover videos to YouTube.
These are the covers of Hikaru Utada’s “Anata” and “Hatsukoi” by Plusonica. While the instrumental performances by Plusonica are generally bland, Rira Ikuta’s sorrowful yet solid voice and precise tremolo technique are outstanding.
Appendix. Hikaru Utada “Anata”
Appendix. Hikaru Utada “Hatsukoi”
These are the original songs, which are covered by Plusonica.
Ayase’s Career and Songs
In addition to being a member of YOASOBI, Ayase has four other careers: (1) as the vocalist of the band Davinci, (2) as a Vocaloid producer, (3) as a solo singer, and (4) as a songwriter.
(1) Ayase as the Vocalist of the Band Davinci
When Ayase was in high school in Yamaguchi prefecture, he formed a band called Davinci and participated as a vocalist under the name “Keiichiro.” After that, he shifted Davinci’s base to Tokyo and performed in it for nearly 10 years. The band’s popularity never really took off, and they eventually broke up due to Ayase’s disease.
Davinci “The Bloom“
In Davinci’s songs, as in the case of YOASOBI’s, Ayase’s talent as a melody maker shines through. What is even more surprising is that Ayase, who does not sing in YOASOBI, was the vocalist of that band. In these songs, you can enjoy Ayase’s deep vocals.
Meanwhile, it can be recognized the taste of Ayase’s current works is different from that of Davinci’s music. His contemporaneous sense of composition would be more in line with the recent trends of electronic music in Japan and abroad, rather than J-rock. This would be the reason why he and YOASOBI are accepted to a great extent.
(2) Ayase as a Vocaloid Producer
Ayase was left alone after the band of which he had been a member for about ten years broke up. He could have given up on his music career. Nevertheless, Ayase decided to continue his music activities on his own by using voice synthesis software to edit stock voice data (from sound sources such as Miku Hatsune) and make the computer sing along with the accompaniment that he had arranged and composed. In other words, he became a Vocaloid Producer (Vocalo P).
Miku Hatsune “Ghost City Tokyo”
Miku Hatsune “Agate Caressing the Night”
These are works by Ayase as a Vocaloid producer. Hatsune Miku’s “Ghost City Tokyo” has a catchy melody and a lively rhythm section, as with YOASOBI’s songs. Hatsune Miku’s “Agate Caressing the Night” is arranged in a minimalistic way using simple tones, but that still reveals Ayase’s unique aesthetics of rhythm and composition.
(3) Ayase as a Solo Singer
Ayase has been working as a Vocaloid producer, and has self-covered his own Vocaloid songs as a solo singer.
Ayase “Ghost City Tokyo”
Ayase “Agate Caressing the Night”
Ayase’s vocalizing on these songs is and calm, humble, and unobtrusive, but sexy. Many people may find these self-covers more appealing than the versions using kind of text-to-speech software. In fact, these versions have more views on YouTube.
(4) Ayase as a Songwriter
Appendix. LiSA “Gurenge”
Appendix. Uru “Anata ga Iru Koto de”
Ayase has provided the song “Saikai” to LiSA (famous for “Gurenge”, the theme song of the anime “Kimetsu no Yaiba”) and Uru (famous for “Anata ga Iru Koto De”, the theme song of the drama “Ship of Theseus”). The beginning of YOASOBI is when Ayase asked Rira Ikuta to sing his songs, so it can be said that Ayase is participating in YOASOBI as a songwriter.
What’s the Nature of YOASOBI?
Rira Ikuta has experience as a singer-songwriter and a member of Plusonica who sings existing songs. Ayase writes lyrics and composes music, drawing on his experience as a band member and a Vocaloid producer. Moreover, both of them can sing, compose music and write lyrics, so they understand what each other is looking for. And they are outstanding yet humble, and have revealed their potential by combining their strengths as a vocal and a producer. Such a group is YOASOBI. From this, we can understand the main reason why it is so popular. Its success is based on solid effort, groundwork, and talent that lead to results.