Music

UQiYO Captivates with Complex Layers of Art Pop on "RA!!i!!NY" (premiere)

Photo courtesy of the artist

Tokyo duo UQiYO present what may be their most multi-sided composition to date in the form of "RA!!i!!NY", a track inspired by metropolitan culture and an ephemeral romance.

Less than a month after appearing on celebrated J-pop outfit Monkey Majik's latest album, COLLABORATED, rising duo UQiYO is aiming to make waves again with the release of a new single. The colorfully-titled "RA!!i!!NY" is UQiYO's latest offering and–much like the J-pop project's overarching pitch–is inspired by the city lights and expressive artfulness of Tokyo culture. Sonically, the band's Yuqi Kato (vocals, guitar, keys, composition) and Sima (drums, percussion) verge in the direction of crafty art pop, recalling imagery of rainy days in a bustling city landscape with its ethereal sound. Inundated by tempo changes, textured synth, and Kato's lilting vocals, UQiYO's latest is a relaxed reflection on drizzly Tokyo nights.

A collaboration with Canadian director Patrick Shannon, the music video accompaniment for the song features a more literal interpretation of the aforementioned. Shots of UQiYO wandering Tokyo streets amidst subtle showers set the scene for a coolly meditative take on showcasing the bustling city, lending warmth to the song's underlying story and themes. Featuring lyrics in English and Japanese, Kato depicts "RA!!i!!NY" as sectioned off into three separate acts, defined by each major shift in tempo. Elaborated into laypeople's terms, each act presented to the listener depicts separate portions of a wistful romance come and gone, ending with the narrator questioning its dreamlike quality.

As Kato puts it, "The main character first longs for a love that he knows he can't have. The first layer of the dream is where he is right next to the real world–still pretty 'real'–and is aware of his love for someone that he will never be able to meet or touch. As the chorus hits and the song progresses, he goes deeper into this psychedelic layer of the dream ,where not only the soundscape but also the rhythmic changes are supposed to give off a 'morphed reality' feel."

"The morphed reality begins before the chorus as a blurred, sped-up vision, almost like running through the streets of Tokyo on a rainy day. The second part of the song is him in his dream, suddenly next to her and falling in love with her–less aware that this is still a dream, but still aware that she is just an image. He's having the time of his life with her, but is pained because he knows that it's not real (hence the line, 'love is bittersweet'). The song continues, things get more surreal, and ends with him drowsing off. Maybe it was a dream, maybe it was reality. It's all very ambiguous, and the layers I put on the vocals express the colors all bleeding together."

Beyond its complex narrative story, UQiYO also establish a call to several staples of Japanese themes in their latest composition. Incorporating traditional haiku to accentuate seasonal changes beside an introduction that refers to Tokyo's classic train station jingles. "RA!!i!!NY" is out now and will soon be used as the theme song to a yet to be announced History Channel documentary distributed throughout Japan and Southeast Asia.

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