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Cuushe’s new EP is a long, lonely night in Tokyo

Japanese singer and multi-instrumentalist Cuushe's dream pop plays exclusively on Dazed

When it comes to Japanese singer and multi-instrumentalist Cuushe, you can take the term “dream pop” pretty literally. Meshing recordings of long-forgotten animations and passing trains with languid beats from producer aus and vocals that drift in and out of reach, the songs of her first two records Red Rocket Telepathy and Butterfly Case are as restless and as enchanting as a deep REM adventure.

Her latest offering, the Night Lines EP, is one of her most otherworldly and nocturnal yet: she says the four-track release is inextricably tied to her 24 hour lifestyle in Tokyo, and the loneliness she feels there, with the “lines” of the title being both literal (the Tokyo skyline) and figurative (“someone's shadow in your heart”). Stream the whole EP ahead of its release on US label Cascine next week, and read what Cuushe had to say on the healing power of music, her gloomy personality and the “noir storybook” of Night Lines.

What’s the story of Night Lines?

Cuushe: Night Lines is the story about nights in Tokyo for me. Tokyo is a big city, so I can see people anytime, even at midnight. A lot of things happen. Many parties are held, where people are connected but unconnected. It’s easy to feel alone, [but] feeling lonely makes me stronger. Night Lines tells a story of loneliness, instability and strength.

In what ways is this EP like a “noir storybook,” as the press release describes it?

Cuushe: The EP consists of four stories that convey all kinds of “lines” in Tokyo. Lines can be the connection between people, someone's shadow in your heart, or the dazzling neon lights of Tokyo. I noticed myself being left alone, feeling insecure. All I have to do is focus on getting myself together and moving forward. I guess I'm not the only one who spends days feeling like this. I wasn't particularly trying to create a storybook, but it turned out that there were four stories about nighttime Tokyo.

How does the EP fit into the wider story of your work so far?

Cuushe: Since I finished Butterfly Case I had been thinking about making songs with more beats. I was initially making brighter, glittery tracks but they became dark and upbeat. Maybe because I work on music in the evening or my personality is kind of gloomy. “Daze” has the fastest BPM among any of my songs, so my goal was accomplished. 

What drew you to Cascine?

Cuushe: When I released my first EP in 2012, aus told me that he got a message from a cool label, which was Cascine...I got offers from some other labels too, but Cascine was the one who showed patience and waited for my next release. I wasn't very productive for a long time during that period but [Cascine were] still excited for my new work. I'm so excited about finally releasing Night Lines from from the label and would like to send my gratitude and love to Jeff, Sandra and Andi.

What was going on in your life while making this EP? 

Cuushe: After releasing Butterfly Case, it took almost a year for me to finish Night Lines. In the meantime I moved to Tokyo from Berlin and caught up with my old friends, met new people and discovered new music. That time was a year of self-awareness.

You’ve lived in a few different cities. Do you feel like this EP has a sound particularly resonant of any of those places?

Cuushe: Night Lines is definitely inspired by Tokyo since I was living there while working on it. The previous album was greatly inspired by Berlin. 

What are the main themes of this record?

Cuushe: I sing emotions that I feel in the glittery city at night. The things that influence me are the environment I’m in, my relationships with my partner, friends and family, and emotions in the process of change. I think I can create good music when I'm hurt because I create music to heal my wounds. Even when I feel devastated and am not capable of doing anything, I always have the energy to make music. It’s like magic.

Cascine will release Night Lines on April 7