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Sayulee... crossing the cultural chasm

When you think of Japan and New Zealand you don’t automatically think music. But when you combine the Japanese passion for all kinds of entertainment with the angelic vocal chords of Kiwi ancestry you end up with Sayulee.


Aside from her song-writing and singing abilities, Sayulee is also fluent in Japanese and English. Her songs are in either language or a mixture of both and also have a very laid-back gospel feel. The content is always positive and encouraging – which is a pleasant diversion from a lot of the harsh subject matter that is predominant in the music industry these days.

But make no mistake, Sayulee’s vocals are strong and her range is very impressive. Her low tones are very warm and her high’s rival Maria Carey. Read more of her biography and background on her Facebook.

Interestingly, she decided to set herself a challenge: One song every day for 365 days – Sayulee 365.

There she recorded a mixture of originals and covers that ranged from “Sobakasu” (a popular Anime intro from an older Japanese band called Judy and Mary) through to classic Beatles numbers and even her own rendition of Kyari Pamyu Pamyu’s “Pon Pon Pon”. You can find all these and more on her YouTube channel.


Sayulee announced her short trip to Nagoya and Osaka on her YouTube channel. So my partner and I decided to head into the Bodaiju Café in Osaka on the 10th of September 2012 and check out Sayulee live.

The cover charge (in this case 1800 JPY pre-ordered or 2300 JPY on the door) got you one free drink. For a Monday night, the venue was almost packed but we managed to get 2nd row centre seats.

The atmosphere was very relaxed and the venue design meant that Sayulee was in close proximity to the audience. This also meant she was able to get the audience to participate by providing beats by clapping as well as providing some impromptu backup vocals (the “woah, woah, woah” type). This really brought an intimacy to the performance especially during her own composition “You’re Not Alone” for which she has recently released a YouTube Music Video.

Who does she sound like?

Well, if you are referencing Japanese artists, I would say she is somewhat like Ayaka. If we are talking about Western artists, maybe Jewel would be a similar sound. But, in reality, Sayulee is unique and you really have to take some time to listen to the variety her influences have produced in her personal song-writing and singing styles. It is a mixture that just works and I for one want to hear more.


Not only that, her personality is infectious as you listen to her speak or write in her videos and written journals in both Japanese and English. Check out Sayulee with the links below.


"You're Not Alone" Music Video

Gary Menzel
My daytime job is as a architect in Information Technology systems buy my hobbies cover Music, Theatre and Art. I am a native Australian but spent time in Japan (Osaka) several times and travel there often. Read more ยป