Garry’s “Things I Actually Liked” 2015

Muto Ayami


I’m sure a few of you are familiar with Muto Ayami, but in case you’re not I guess a brief history lesson is in order here. While only 19 years of age, Ayami has been in the entertainment industry for 11 years at this point. That’s a pretty decent career by anyone’s standards, especially for someone so young.

From humble beginnings as a magazine model in 2004, Muto first got a taste of the music industry in 2008 when she joined the group Karen Girl’s. This was to be short lived though, as the group would end up disbanding just a year later in 2009. If Karen Girl’s sounds familiar to you, it was also the group that featured Babymetal’s Nakamoto Suzuka.

After her brief stint in Karen Girl’s, Muto then joined Sakura Gakuin, a name that I’m sure will be much more familiar to a lot of you. She would end up serving as their leader until she graduated the group in spring of 2012, as per their school structure. Although her tenure as leader was perhaps not as memorable as Nakamoto’s due to various factors, she was undoubtedly an important player in the early days of the group.

All was quiet for over a year, until it was announced that Ayami would be debuting as a solo artist. Starting off with two cover albums in July of 2013, she eventually released a full original album titled “Eien to Shunkan” in April 2014. It played heavy on elements of electronica and the few people in my circle of acquaintances who gave it a try had nothing but praise for the release. That being said, it did feel like it flew under a lot of people’s’ radars.

The remainder of 2014 was spent touring and promoting the album to increasingly larger crowds. Muto definitely had some nice momentum coming into 2015 and I was interested to see where her career would go next.

Next would be the release of a second album in February titled “I-Pop”. It featured a similar style of sound to “Eien to Shunkan” but each song did something a little different from the last. For me personally, there’s always a danger with electronic music albums that things can tend to run together and sound the same. Not so in this case.

The lead song from “I-Pop” ended up being the fantastic “Parallel World”. Then, as if the song wasn’t good enough on its own, they had to go and shoot one of the most visually and technically impressive PVs I’ve personally ever seen. Do yourselves a favor and if nothing else, at least watch video for yourselves.

Much like in 2014, the remainder of 2015 saw Ayami promoting her album and playing more shows. I’m not sure you can have much more of an honest career as a musical act while still operating in the idol spectrum, but perhaps in the end that wasn’t enough. You see, about a week before you’re reading this, Muto announced her indefinite hiatus citing a need to rediscover and improve herself before she returns to the stage.

In an industry that’s pretty much devoid of notable soloists, this news is particularly disappointing. However, after being in the business for more than half of her life, I can definitely appreciate the need to take a break and take stock of where you are in life and where you want to go in the future. I just selfishly hope that she does end up deciding to return to music in some way if/when she feels ready.

As an aside, something I found interesting is that Muto has never released an actual single. All of her works thus far have been EPs or albums, accompanied typically by a single music video. It’s an interesting marketing strategy and I can’t help but feel that perhaps an album (and the greater cost of purchase) presents a more intimidating barrier to entry. Just a thought I considered while working on this write-up.

Well, this ended on a bit of a downer didn’t it? That being said, Ayami might be on hiatus right now but that doesn’t mean her albums aren’t great anymore. I’d definitely recommend checking both of her original works out if you have the chance and anything you’ve seen/read her has sparked your interest.

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

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