She’s edgy, she’s passionate, she’s a rockstar — Los Angeles-based singer, composer and songwriter Rayko is redefining what it means to be a Japanese woman in the music industry.
Born and raised in Tokyo, Rayko knew that she wanted to become a musician since she was five years old.
“With my grandfather as my captivated audience, I knew from the very beginning this is what I wanted” she states.
Following her passion, she decided to move to the United States at a very young age to pursue her dreams.
Rayko’s eclectic vocals and mesmerizing instrumentals have been influenced by her family’s interest in a diverse range of music. While her sister exposed her to rock and pop music from the United States and Europe, her parents influenced her love for Jazz. Her main musical inspirations, however, are musicians from famous rock bands — Muse, Rage Against the Machine, and Queen being her favorites.
Rayko’s music career began to blossom after finding the bilingual rock band Lolita Dark in 2012. Rayko incorporates her Japanese origins into Lolita Dark’s music, describing it as “the soundtrack and visuals of a world where light intersects dark, east meets west, and the past overlaps the present, depicting the seemingly redundant circles of our lives and universe” — according to the band’s Facebook page.
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Headlining Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival! Sunday 3/18 @ 4:30pm! Free/AllAges/ton of food trucks/1000s of fun loving people/awesome live entertainments throughout the day! Lolita Dark ft. @hollywoodlightorchestra welcome! https://www.facebook.com/events/1001127696703329 #festival #anime #cosplay #food #music #desserts #sweetsweat #rock #symphonicrock #love #cherryblossom #livemusic
Lolita Dark is also highly recognized by the Anime community. After releasing their debut album Tokyo Status in 2012, the band was given the opportunity to perform at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles — the flagship Anime convention in the United States. Her band has also performed at other Anime conventions across America.
When I asked Rayko how the Anime community has influenced her music, she explains how the personal experiences of those in the community have inspired her writing.
“By being very close to the Anime, comic, and gaming community for years, I learned just how many kids and adults are suppressed and breathing depression and despair on a daily basis,” Rayko states. “Some cosplays just want to belong somewhere and/or hide behind their own mask. So it’s the stories of people in this community that inspire me to write”.
In addition to Lolita Dark, Rayko is pursuing a personal side project under her first name. Rayko’s latest single, Gender Genocide, is a response to #MeToo, a movement where victims of sexual assault are now coming out of the shadows to share their stories. The song’s loud, shrill sounds and bold lyrics are a personification of how sexual assault survivors are not afraid to speak their minds anymore. When asked what Gender Genocide means to her, Rayko states that “Everything starts with one voice, when voices unite it becomes a roar we can’t ignore”.
While Gender Genocide is meant to empower women who have been sexually assaulted, its lyrics have also influenced by her own experience as a woman in the entertainment industry.
“I probably wrote a ton of “Me Too songs” since I can remember” she states. “I never said yes to any tainted proposals, even to ones that I could almost taste the fame for. And since sexual harassment, both verbally and physically, happened so often, I became numb to it until all fellow humans, both men, and women, started speaking up”.
Rayko continues her thought by sharing the racism she’s faced in the industry.
“Because of my appearance, I was blamed for Pearl Harbor,” she states. “People also assumed I’m a pop singer who has everything written out for me to sing. My biggest let down is not being recognized as a writer”.
But despite these negative experiences, Rayko remains strong and resilient, using her wounds as a way to create more powerful, meaningful music. “I learned to turn all negatives as positive motivations,” she expresses.
So if you are as obsessed with Lolita Dark and Rayko’s personal project as I am, there is plenty of new music to look forward to!
“I write so much that I cannot catch up on recording” she states. “Currently there are 11 songs waiting to be recorded, tomorrow it will be 13!”
On top of her new songs, Rayko is also collaborating with producer Frank Kilpatrick and Grammy Award winner Alex Wand on a project called Gratitude, a song and video series that combines elements of classical music and techno beats with stunning visuals.
Finally, if new music and video projects aren’t enough, be on the lookout for Stay Alive — a suicide prevention podcast that Rayko and Frank are working on alongside with psychiatrist Dr. Mark Goulston.
Here is a sneak peek of Mother Nature, a song that will be featured in Gratitude.
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