Sarina is a Tokyo-based, bilingual singer-songwriter fluent in English and Japanese. She weaves a compelling narrative with thoughtful, vivid lyrics and captivates audiences with her attractive mezzo-soprano voice.
Sarina is highly regarded as a composer, writing and performing her own lyrics and music. She breathes life into her performances through the use of her expressive voice, expert singing technique and self-accompaniment. She is equally capable of playing the ukulele, guitar, or piano while singing, and her multi-instrumental talents also include the drums and violin.
Sarina recently released her lastest single, ‘Melancholy Roads(No More)’, which shows a counterpart view to her previous single “Yuu-utsu na Michi” and features a melody of classical instruments.
Congrats on the release of your latest track “Melancholy Roads(No More)” Would you like to tell us more about the song?
Thank you! ‘Melancholy Roads (No More)’ is the answer song to another song called ‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’ (Translated: Melancholy Roads). Where ‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’ was an upbeat J-pop track talking about persevering in the face of loneliness, ‘Melancholy Roads (No More)’ is a culmination of the years it took me to realise that even when I felt so alone, walking on this bittersweet path, I never was. It was me opening my eyes and suddenly finding so many people who are full of love and light and that, in turn, filled me with hope. It’s also the first ballad I’ve released, and I think that that is fitting because it’s probably my most vulnerable song so far.
“Melancholy Roads(No More)” is apparently the continuation of “Yuu-utsu na Michi”, can you explain more about this?
‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’ is about following your dreams and pursuing your passions no matter how lonely you feel or how isolated it makes you. I think, honestly, I was lying to myself a lot, saying that I didn’t need friends or relationships as long as I had music. In reality, I was lonely, and hurting, and I masked that by thinking “Look how passionate I am. I am an artist first and foremost and this suffering is validating.” Now I know that that is not true. You do not need to suffer to be an artist. You do not need to be in pain to create. I opened my eyes to the truth of life: Hope, Love, and Community. That is what inspires.
On a more technical note: ‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’ is probably my most synthesized song. It features a lot of “mechanic” sounds like the sound of clanging metal and the sort of techno instruments making up the main hook. Even a couple filters and distortions on the harmonies make it sound a little robotic and unreal. It was supposed to sound artificial in the sense of machinery. ‘Melancholy Roads (No More)’ is the complete opposite. It’s slow, soft. The arrangement consists of only a few instruments, all of which are considered “classical” i.e. Violin, Cello, Viola and of course, Piano. It was heavily reliant on the lilting melody, almost like a lullaby, and the lyrics. In a lot of ways, it is the complete opposite of ‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’, as intended. The music box at the beginning and end of the song are a sort of callback to ‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’, even re-playing the main hook of the song, almost like saying “I remember you, I know your beauty, but now it is time for this song to end.”
The music video overall had a very personal and intimate vibe, what are your thoughts on the direction of the music video?
I’m very proud of the music video. I think it has, as you said, a very intimate and personal feel to it. I love how genuine it came out! Even used some of the takes where I legitimately got choked up and cried. I love when that happens! My favorite part of my first music video ‘Identity’ is also when I got a very real shot of a sort of ‘breakdown’ moment where I was in tears and hyperventilating. It wasn’t pretty but that’s what I loved. In a similar sense, ‘Melancholy Roads (No More)’ captured the overwhelming gratitude and joy and hope that came in the form of stuttered breaths and teary eyes. I really loved that. I knew what I wanted for the music video once I wrote the song. It was always intended to be a coin flip from ‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’. The old dilapidated concert hall, once obviously a place of grandeur but forgotten with time, is definitely a purposeful location meant to set the tone. It is old, it may have been forgotten, but I still see how beautiful it is. I still love the way the sound echoes in the vast space. As the song continues, we see multiple shots of people filtering in, eventually leading to a full audience. I don’t notice the people until the very end, at which point I get teary in shock of the love and the support. In a lot of ways that was my journey. It was opening my eyes and suddenly seeing this whole crowd of people and being so moved, so touched by it that it changed me for the better.
Were there any memorable or funny moments while filming the music video?
The shoot was fun! Similar to ‘Yuu-utsu na Michi’, we filmed the entire thing with a green screen. Even the running scene! Running on the room runner is very difficult, it made me feel like I was a newborn calf struggling to understand how legs work. I had a lot of fun doing the acting portions. My mother was a huge help in coaching me through some of the shots. She’s also an actress and incredibly talented so it was a blessing to get her guidance. For those that watched the BTS of ‘Sometimes I Wanna Cry :(‘,you all will also know some of the guidance tips she provides. I was in charge of storyboarding some of the project and it was very satisfying and fulfilling to go from the 6 square panels to the shots we got in the final product. We also worked with an amazing CGI artist, Andre, who’s from Ukraine and he had some amazing insights to the details of the concert hall.
I’ve noticed that you’ve been writing lyrics for all of your songs, for the most part, do you sometimes find it difficult to convey what you want to say in a song?
I do write all my own lyrics! I’ve always loved words and reading and writing. From a young age I would devour novels like a starved man at a feast. I guess after being so ingrained in the world of these words and, honestly, not having many opportunities to talk with people, I poured all those thoughts and beautiful words and phrases into my songwriting. The first songs I wrote were all rather poetic, I loved using plenty of phrases and similes to describe a concept or feeling. I think with ‘Melancholy Roads (No More)’ I went back to those instincts, heavily relying on likening one thing to another, I.e. “Languid like a lucid dream but swift in brutal taking.”
Do you know how to play any instrument and if so. Which?
Yeah, I guess you could say I play a couple! Piano was my first love from around 2 years old, and then from around 12 I started on the acoustic guitar and ukulele! A few years ago, I got into the drums and now I’m sorely attempting bass and violin, but the violin is not looking to be a strong suit any time soon. I honestly love playing instruments, I even compose a lot of my own music. In ‘Identity’, I played all the instruments for the final cut (aside from the violin.)
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to pursue a career in music?
Never let anything take the joy of creation out of you. Music should always be a source of joy, regardless if you are writing a sad song or not, there are still feelings of pride, motivation, devotion, and satisfaction. Music, ultimately, should be a source of joy. Never forget that the music you make needs to be music you make for yourself first and foremost. Write the songs you want to sing!
Where do you see yourself in the next five years as an artist?
I hope that I can elevate what I’ve been creating. I think that that is honestly what I really hope for. More so than any awards or big collaborations, I hope that as I grow as an artist and as a person, what I make will grow with me. I always try to elevate what I do, especially with music videos and concepts, and I envision continuing that journey. I want my music to be the soundtrack of your life. That’s what music is! It’s the soundtrack of your life. I hope that what I make will inspire people and I hope that, if I am lucky, it will outlive me. I find it hard to think of the future in concrete terms. I tend to go one day at a time, one goal at a time, and one step at a time. It’s less “In five years from now I need this and this.” and more “I hope I can do the things I love, and connect with every corner of these people’s hearts.” It would be my honor to have you all join me on this journey.