Exclusive interview with rising Japanese R&B singer, Risa Kumon

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Risa Kumon is a Japanese singer-songwriter and media personality. She’s originally from Nagasaki but now residesin Tokyo, Japan. She sings a variety of genres but mainly specializes in R&B, Jazz, and Soul. At the age of three, She learned how to play the piano after she lost her eyesight due to being infected with measles. Luckily enough, she recovered her visual acuity. However, she had an intractable disease called secondary Retinitis Pigmentosa assequelae. She says learning to play the piano sparked her love for music.

As a teenager, Risa became drawn to R&B after watching “Sister Act 2”. She found early inspiration in Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston, as well as the Jazz music that her father would play. Her previous projects include a Jazz EP, a project of Christmas covers, collaboration on multiple tracks, an album with Artist/Producer Roro, and her newest single, FREE.

Besides being a singer-songwriter, Risa is a notable media name as a multilingual Radio personality whointerviews celebrities and other entertainers on their visits to Japan. She has previously interviewed Kirk Franklin,Corinne Bailey Rae, Brian McKnight, and many more. Having also performed at some of the largest music festivalsin Japan and charting multiple times in her career already, there is no telling how fast Risa Kumon will continue torise.

When did you first know you were an artist?

I don’t think there was ever a moment where I felt, “Hey, I’m an artist now”. I think I have always been an artist since a young age. I was always singing, but maybe when I had my first solo singing performance on stage as a teenager, I think that is when I decided that being an artist was something I wanted to take more seriously.

What was the first instrument you picked up?

The piano was the first, but I also played drums, alto saxophone, trombone, a little bit of the harp, Okinawa Shamisen, and the most used instrument for me, my voice.

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What made you gravitate towards R&B/soul music?

Well, it was seeing Lauryn Hill in sisters act 2 but, I just liked the rhythm, grooviness of the music, and feeling of freedom that singing soul music gave me. I come from a classical background, so everything is by the book, and you have to follow the score just as it’s written. I love classical music, but what I loved about R&B/ soul is the freedom to be me and show my individuality through singing. Classical music is played as a group which is good, but when

discovering myself as an artist and individual, R&B helped alot with that. I think it’s important to find a style of musicthat shows your true colors, and that is what Rnb/ soul music did for me.

Do you think you fit the Japanese music scene or the American music scene more, and why?

I could fit into both, but my personal preference fits with the American music scene more. In my opinion, the American music scene encourages you to show who you are, whereas in the Japanese music scene, it’s somewhat normal to follow everyone else and stay in one line. I think my music speaks to a worldwide audience, and since America is a melting pot of different cultures, people and music I think it fits me more. I never put my music in a box, so I think no matter the scene or location, I will be me where ever I am.

In your bio, you mentioned living in L.A for some years. How was your time then?

My time living in L.A. was amazing. I was Working and collaborating with different artists, recording my demo, soaking up the sun, and just learning. I was learning new cultures that I never experienced before growing up in Japan. I also learned to speak English better. I think it was a life-changing experience, and I’m always thankful for my time living in Los Angeles.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

Not even sure because I cannot imagine myself doing anything other than this. Music is my life, and if I wasn’t singing, it would probably be something that has to do with music and entertainment. I cannot see it no other way.

Do you plan on performing in the USA?

Yes, of course! When the time comes, I plan to perform all around the world. I’ve been focusing more on the musiccreation side of things, but soon I plan to perform again. I was performing in many places pre-pandemic, and since everything is starting to open back up, I’m looking forward to getting back on stage and sharing my livemusic with the world.

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You’re based in Tokyo; How is the music scene out there?

I think the music scene here is still growing. Tokyo sees many different cultures and grows with them. There was a time when I felt many artist tried to chase the sound of other places like America and Europe. Now, I think many artists are expressing themselves, and it’s great to see. I’ve always thought being an artist is expressing one’s true self, and more people are doing that here.

Tell us about your shows R2 Radio and Risa’s Select.

Both shows (R2 Radio & Risa’s Select) are produced by R2 Recordz, but they are different in style and content.Risa’s Select introduces various topics that I would like to recommend personally, and R2 Radio is a bilingual musicprogram

produced with my partner Rolandis “RORO” Ramsey. R2 Radio is an   international program that invites and interviews guests in the world of entertainment. The show focuses on music, art, culture, trends, and is distributed to a global audience with subtitles in Japanese and English. [Past guests include: The Pharcyde, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Kirk Franklin, DJ Krush, Drum Tao, Brian McKnight, Corrine Bailey Rae, Maxi Priest, Take 6, andmore.]

Both are shows that I want people to watch because not only are they entertaining, but they show a side of arts,culture, and entertainment that many people probably aren’t used to seeing. Each episode is produced specifically around the topic or entertainer so you’re always getting something fresh and exciting. Most of our episode streams via Pharcyde Tv, a network created by the Hiphop group The Pharcyde. Some of our past episodes have been published on YouTube, so please take a look r2radiojp.com

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Tell us about the new single “FREE”

For this single, FREE. My producer (Rolandis “Roro” Ramsey) and I did this song because we feel it not only connectswith me, but with the world. At the time of recording this song, the world was going through a pandemic and music was one thing I could do to feel free. The message of the song has always resonated deeply with me, so Ifelt it was the right time to bring these lyrics to a new age and audience. I believe in the circle of life and always letting go of things that do not serve us. I want to urge the listeners to seek beauty in everything and plant theseeds for a fruitful future. Ultimately, the concept and song’s message preaches one thing: FREEDOM.

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What is the concept for your music video “FREE”?

The concept was “connection with life beyond dimensions” The keyword of the world that I imagined true freedom was “creation, connection with life, the meaning of existence”. I also wanted to express my identity as a Japanese person, so I incorporated the symbol Mt. Fuji and the Japanese red dress,  which is the color of the national flag, to reflect the beautiful nature of Japan. And the creation part is designed so that the person watching the video can create their storyline. We want you to watch the video and create a story, and meaning from your own perspective.

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Any last words?

My single “FREE” is out now everywhere. Watch or listen to it, and if you like it, please share it with your friends and family. It would be amazing if my Music could brighten up someone’s day.

Music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu3ZRsKWCB8 Streaming: https://lnk.to/RISAKUMONFREE

Website: https://risakumon.com Instagram: @RisaKumon

FB: @RisaKumonofficial TW: @RisaKumon

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