Exposing different cultures through music with R&B singer Elesia Iimura
Singer, songwriter, producer and actress Elesia Iimura leads the way of new up and coming female artists; having a fresh take on pop/R&B, her recent single, ‘Believe’ is rapidly gaining popularity and airplay. Having idolised her Japanese rock musician father growing up as well as listening to a wide range of music from classical to world, she eventually fell in love with hip hop. Taking her music to the global stage is the next step for Elesia, who is also planning her next music video to be set in Jamaica.
We chat to Elesia about her recent single, ‘Believe,’ her recent performance at Sydney’s iconic Marquee nightclub, how it was to open for Boyz II Men and K-Ci & Jo Jo during their Australian tour, as well as about her Japanese influence. Adam Lunn writes.
Tell us a little bit about how ‘Believe’ came about how surprised have you been with its success!
It was around 3am to be exact, I was lying in bed when the words "if you just believe" accompanied by a sweet, angelic melody reminiscent of the beautiful 'Aaliyah', started playing over in my head. I recorded this to my phone from which the rest of the song evolved.
The production was a collaboration with the very talented Travis Lee and went through quite a creative journey before coming to where it is now. As we were coming close to the final product with the help of K.Rasta Studios for the mixing and mastering of the track, I knew we were onto something meant for the world to hear. In saying that, I had no idea it would reach so many with the help of all radio stations, blog sites and supporters.
You recently performed at Marquee in Sydney. How was the night?
Performing at Marquee Boom Box in the same intimate setting as the some of the current hip-hop and R&B greats was an honour. The energy was buzzing and we were so well received. So many people came out to support and made it a night to remember!
What influences your musical style and image?
There is a definite world influence in my overall style having been exposed to so many cultures including my Japanese side from an early age, but I was always naturally very drawn to hip-hop and R&B culture and style.
My musical inspiration is constantly drawn from a combination of internal and external stimulation, be that; emotional experiences of myself or others, the music and sounds I hear around me or watching and observing other talented artists.
Who were you listening to while you were growing up?
It may sound funny but I idolised my father. He was an incredibly talented Japanese rock musician back in his heyday that could play Jimi Hendrix style electric guitar effortlessly behind his head. I loved hearing him play. He helped establish a deep love and respect for Jimi, Michael Jackson and the blues. My mother put me into Suzuki piano lessons and exposed me to the most diverse range of music from classical Bach to Middle Eastern & Tribal African music, from Cat Stevens to Otis Reading, Madonna and Prince etc. Eventually I acquired my own liking for rap music starting with some of the original female MC’s, Salt n Pepa. This love soon got me onto Boys II Men, 2Pac, Notorious BIG, Junior Mafia, Ice Cube just to mention a few, which grew me into a lover of hip-hop and R&B.
How did it feel to share the same stage as Boyz II Men and K-Ci & Jo Jo during their Australian tour?
Considering Boyz II Men were childhood idols of mine, I was in this nerve-ridden state of heaven if that makes sense. I was ecstatic and terrified all in one! It was a dream come true.
Wanye actually did a drop for a track I had sung on the tour called 'Taste of this Lovin'.
Who would be your dream collaboration and why?
That's a very close call between Will.i.am and Drake. Collaboration is about two people coming together and creatively bringing out the very best in each other and pushing the boundaries. I feel both these two would take me places I've never been.
What’s in the works for you?
We are currently in talks with Jamaica for the filming of my second single, which is going to be in Kingston. It's another dream coming into fruition, which still feels surreal. Stay tuned for more updates!
What stimulates your soul?
On a deep fundamental level, good positive frequency from the universe, others and from within. On a musical level, darker tones and heavy beats. Soaring, passionate, emotive & angelic vocals. A raw, earthy sense of rhythm that makes it irresistible to move. The four elements: Fire, Earth, Water and Wind, all of which feature in my music video for ‘Believe.’