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Rin' - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

A Journey Towards The Inland Sea With Rin'

July 2006

As music consistently travels all corners of the world, our planet feels smaller as multiple boundaries dissolve. Music has connected people and cultures. Falco and Nina were just some of the pop stars who sung in languages other than English and still had smash hits in the United States. Countless foreign artists have adapted musical styles from other countries and created their own signature sound.

Rin' is a Japanese trio consisting of 3 adorable women who play instruments that most people have never of, outside Asia. Signed to Domo Records, Rin' creates elegant, ethereal, and poignant music. They mix their signature Japanese style with an American pop sensibility. The three ladies of Rin' (Mana, Tomoca, and Chie) are scholars of Japanese music. They have studied in some of the most respected schools in their home country. As a trio, they bring their culture and personality into the world of pop music.

"Inland Sea", the debut album by Rin', displays a maturity and respect for both Japanese culture and pop music. Released on Domo Records, "Inland Sea" is a diverse collection of songs that mix the beautiful ethereal atmosphere of Enya with the pop sensibility of All Saints. Some of the tracks are extremely wispy, catchy, and commercially appealing. Other song sound like film scores as they create magnificent soundscapes in foreign lands. Guest vocalists on "Inland Sea" include Lisa Loeb and Leigh Nash (of Sixpence None The Richer). The romantic epiphany of "Never Knew What Love Meant" is for those of us who have truly found the love of their lives. "New Day Rising" is an anthem for the heartbroken lover who is ready to move forward. "Solemn" is a dark, yet beautiful score that the listener can mentally picture the setting sun. Diverse yet original, "Inland Sea" by Rin' can be an album that bridges the gap between Japanese and American culture.

MVRemix: What goes on?

Mana: Live performances and writing new songs for our next album.

MVRemix: Tell us about your debut album called, 'Inland Sea'.

Mana: This is a new style of music with Japanese traditional instruments, assimilated with western style. It was put together with the help of our producer, Jimmy Harry. This is the borderless music.

MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title, 'Inland Sea'?

Mana: When we had the first meeting with Jimmy, we had a demo of the song 'Inland Sea'. He helped us record it and that's how we connected with him in a special way. We wanted to name the album 'Inland Sea' because it is one of our precious memories on this album.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the 'Inland Sea' LP?

Mana: It is hard to pick up one song. I would say 'Anti Hero', 'New Day Rising', and 'Solemn'.

Tomoca: 'New Day Rising'.

Chie: 'New Day Rising', 'Never Knew What Love Meant', 'Anti Hero', and 'Sea of Tranquility'.

MVRemix: Since this is your debut LP, what kind of emotions did you have while recording the album?

Mana: I tried to understand the English lyrics with my heart. It is very important to me to understand them before I play them. Improvisation was also important for this album. It was very fun for me.

Tomoca: In Japan, our arranger gives us scores. Then, we record those songs. But, we could play whatever we wanted this time, so it was really fun to make each song.

Chie: Overall, we were relaxed during this recording. I was so comfortable that I could put much of my soul to the songs, especially 'Sea of Tranquility' and 'Past Imperfect'.

MVRemix: What song took you the longest to complete? Why?

Mana: 'What the Rain Said'. This song used a style of Koto, called Toremoro. I overdubbed many times, so much that Jimmy said we should name this song, 'Mana Orchestra'.

Chie: 'Solemn'. This song was like a puzzle. It had 17 strings involved in the melody, so it took time to record. We also had to work with the lyrics, so it also took time to overdub the song.

MVRemix: The shortest? Why?

Mana: 'Sea of Tranquility'. We played whatever melodies would come to our minds, so it was so quick to record this song.

Tomoca: 'Moss Garden'. It was easy to imagine scenes for the song. It took just an hour to record. It was so natural to record the song.

MVRemix: How did all three of your meet and eventually form RIN'?

Tomoca: We were all classmates at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. After graduating, Mana and I started performing together, and then Chie joined the group. This is our third year together as Rin'.

MVRemix: Does the name Rin' have a special meaning?

Mana: Rin', in Japanese, means 'clear-cut' and 'cool and crisp'. It has a similar pronunciation like 'Ring' in English. While 'Ring' is 'Wa' in Japanese, 'Wa' has multiple meanings as 'peace' and 'harmony'. Rin's objective is to form a ring through music, hence the name.

MVRemix: Many of the instruments are unknown to other parts of the world. What are some of the instruments you play? Why did you like these?

Mana: Koto. Koto is stringed instrument, and there are 13 strings. The instrument has a few hundreds years of history. I attach a special nail-like pick for each finger, called Tsume. I change the key to hold strings using the left hand. I do tuning by moving the bridge, called Hashira. Shamisen has three strings. I use a big pick, called Bachi. I hold strings using my left hand to change keys. It looks much like a guitar. I've played those instruments when I was a kid. I can describe how I feel using them. Those instruments are the other self of me. I love the instruments' beautiful melody. I believe these two have more potential for musical sense. They are made by natural wood and make beautiful sounds.

Tomoca: I play Biwa and Shakuhachi. Biwa has five strings and I use a big pick, called Bachi. The shape of Bachi is like a fan. Biwa is made from Mulberry trees and is a hard wood, so sometimes I played it percussively. It looks like a Japanese guitar. Shakuhachi is made by bamboo and there are five holes. It looks like a Japanese flute. I started to play those instruments when I was ten years old.

Chie: I play the 17 string Koto. Michio Miyagi, creator of the school we attended, made it about 100 years ago. I love this bass sound very much.

MVRemix: When making songs, do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there? What is the creative process like?

Mana: We create the main melody first. Then, we overdub our instruments around it.

MVRemix: Musically, who are you major influences?

Mana: Yo-Yo Ma, Sissel, Yang Xin Xin, and Kunie Fujii.

Tomoca: Goro Yamaguchi, Hibari Misora, The Beatles, Carpenters, TLC, and Destiny's Child.

Chie: FayRay and Destiny's Child.

MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show?

Mana: We like seeing the music expand in real time, the sensitivity of our instruments, blending with our present feelings, and spreading to the audience. There's nothing better than living in the moment and taking in the smiles among our listeners.

MVRemix: How has your live show evolved?

Mana: We would like to be influential in making the Japanese instruments accessible to the American ear. The thousand-year spirit in our instruments has a soul that needs be heard.

MVRemix: You worked with Lisa Loeb on 'Anti-Hero'. How did this happen? What was it like working with her?

Mana: We were looking forward to having guest vocalists on our album. We think that it expanded the Rin' world. The harmony created between the instruments and vocals formed a new ring and united our Japanese spirit with Western spirit. We were very glad to play with her. It was so very exciting to record with her.

MVRemix: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Mana: I would like to collaborate with R&B and Hip Hop musicians.

Tomoca: Madonna.

Chie: Enya.

MVRemix: Can you explain the song 'Superflat (Part II)'? That is one of my favorites. Does this have anything to do with the art exhibit of the same name?

Mana: Yes, Jimmy was inspiration for the title from the art exhibit. We all sung the chorus in this song. We played Koto and Biwa, mostly in unison. There are a lot of changing moods in this song.

MVRemix: You also worked Leigh Nash on some songs. Which one do you like the best? Why? MANA: "I love 'New Day Rising' because of how Leigh's vocals blend with our instruments.

Tomoca: I love 'New Day Rising' but also I love 'Sea of Tranquility'. The lyrics in this song give me ease and peace.

Chie: I love 'Never Knew What Love Meant'. The song is bright, fresh, and a match with her cute voice. I love her voice very much.

MVRemix: How did this happen? What was it like working with Leigh Nash?

Mana: We love her voice and her bright character. We felt a strong unity through her voice, as we did with Lisa Loeb, when we played live performances together. I love her thick and low sounding voice.

MVRemix: Can you explain the song 'Past Imperfect'?

Chie: We used 'Jiuta', which is a Japanese classic style, to this song.

MVRemix: How are audiences from other countries different from Japanese audiences?

Mana: We feel audiences from other countries are more active, with cheers and clapping. Sometimes, they are dancing while we are playing. We have much fun by their reaction.

MVRemix: If you could re-make any other song, what would it be?

Mana: We want to play Christmas Songs with traditional Japanese instruments.

Chie: Ave Maria.

MVRemix: Will there ever be solo albums?

Tomoca: We would like to make more music as Rin' right now, so we don't think about solo albums.

MVRemix: What is next in the future for Rin?

Mana: We are going to do U.S. tour in the fall. We want to play to as many places and to as many people as possible.

MVRemix: Any final words?

Mana: Thank you!

Tomoca: Thank you!

Chie: Thank you!

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"Rin', in Japanese, means 'clear-cut' and 'cool and crisp'. It has a similar pronunciation like 'Ring' in English. While 'Ring' is 'Wa' in Japanese, 'Wa' has multiple meanings as 'peace' and 'harmony'. Rin's objective is to form a ring through music, hence the name."