Tokyo Soulchild Chiara Noriko Knows Your Big City Woes

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Over the past two years, singer/songwriter Chiara Noriko has been low-key putting out some ridiculously good progressive soul and R&B. Last week, after six months of radio silence, she dropped a fantastic cover of PARTYNEXTDOOR‘s “Persian Rugs,” where the singer flexes her tight vocal prowess.

(In the description for Chiara’s most recently uploaded effort, she explained how frustration over her landlord fueled the recording. “nothing mixed up or anything, just me and my mic and broken laptop and my headphones broke too while recording,” she wrote, “but at least no bedbugs anymore. just kidding i’m a 100% sure they are everywhere.”)

Currently based in London after relocating from Berlin, Chiara Noriko (pronounced “kiara nóriko”) returns to her hometown of Tokyo every summer to visit family. I first discovered the classically trained singer during a week-long Music Soulchild bender. She’d covered his early 2000s hit “Just Friends,” and even though her voice was very poorly mic’d, I was quickly drawn in by the roundness and warmth of her tone and the dexterous nature of her chops. About a year later, she shared a stunning, pronoun-swapping, two-minute rendition of Soulchild’s “So Beautiful,” retitled “Don’t You Know.”

Following the pair of Soulchild covers, Chiara broadened the range of her source material by working off of looped jazz samples, Dilla beats, and collabs with up-and-coming acts like Teklife’s Tripletrain. Throughout 2015, she showcased her clear growth as a vocalist in addition to her incredible knack for songwriting. Her skills might be distilled best on the one-take acoustic guitar ballad, “Visions.”

In the time since Chiara Noriko’s move from Berlin to London, her creative flow has been stifled. In a recent Facebook post, she talked about the absurdly expensive cost of living a large, developed city like London and how it’s effected her ability to be make music.

4:58AM
when i think about the reason i’m in london, i feel so depressed putting all my energy into a waitress job to survive. i’m trying to remember how it feels to relax and not to constantly worry. and i need to work way harder to get what i want. as an artist, i should always be able to write and record. but at times i’d rather not touch my pen than making up and writing down random bullshit i’m not feeling. my life is everything but calm and laid back, i’ve been gaining a lot of experience and i try to accept and observe everything that happens the way it happens without putting myself under pressure. i try to keep myself motivated. everyday i wake up and go to bed knowing that all i need in my life and all i live for is music. the thought sometimes motivates me, but a lot of times it makes me feel bad since i see myself putting my energy into things i don’t care about, to survive. but after all, i am the person i have the most trust in and that’s what matters.

The struggle is clear and real, but Chiara appears to be handling it quite well, combating the temptation to wallow in melancholy and big city woes by “Working On Excellence.” (hah)

Watch Chiara Noriko cover Kendrick’s “Swimming Pools” in a video from January 2013.

Angel E. Fraden

Head Editor | Photographer | angel@indiecurrent.com View all post →