Arts Interview Music Singapore

Music Is: Charlie Lim teams up with Japanese soul singer Miho Fukuhara for ‘Ashes’

Screenshot 2020-10-24 at 9.17.57 AM

Singaporean singer-songwriter Charlie Lim has teamed up with Japanese soul singer Miho Fukuhara to release a bilingual duet, titled ‘Ashes’. The collaboration started late last year when Miho was in Singapore, and they continued working on the song over the next few months, sending ideas back and forth online. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted everyone greatly. With travel restrictions and country lockdowns, Fukuhara who is based in Tokyo, Japan, was unable to visit her family interstate and overseas. “The thought about not knowing when the next time I could see them made me reflect a lot about being grateful for the ones we care about,” shares Fukuhara.

Lim was not able to attend a close relative’s funeral due to restrictions, just after having to return home early from an overseas stint in London due to the pandemic. “It’s difficult to make sense of a world that seems to be so chaotic and confusing,” Lim says. “This song became a eulogy of sorts, as a way to grieve, but also a reminder about what matters most.”

The collaborative single captures the feeling of longing and loneliness resulted from being forced to be at a distance from our loved ones. While it is a struggle to reconcile with loss and life’s ongoing changes, ‘Ashes’ serves to reignite one’s faith to hold on for the proverbial silver lining.

On the decision to collaborate together, Fukuhara says, “I had heard of Charlie some years ago and I was captivated by his kindness and charm as a person, which came through in his music.”

“While a lot of the subject matter we touched on was quite personal, the entire process felt really cathartic,” says Charlie. “Miho is such a gifted artist, and her voice has so much depth and nuance. It’s been a privilege to get to do a duet with her on a song that means a lot to both of us.”  

The song also features the sensitive piano and arrangement work of Chok Kerong, one of Lim’s frequent collaborators who also co-produced the track with him. “We wanted to keep the sounds organic; things that felt warm and inviting and meditative,” explains Lim. “But at the same time placing everything in a huge space, like a cave or a temple, where as if you could be alone with your thoughts.”

The cover artwork for ‘Ashes’ features the work of Kohei Kondo, who has worked with several Japanese artists including pop ambient duo Chocolat & Akito and Sapporo rock outfit sleepy.ab. “Kondo-san is an artist I have always wanted to work with,” Fukuhara shares. “When I shared ‘Ashes’ with him, he mentioned that he had lost his mother recently, and wanted to paint this particular piece as a tribute to her.”

Both Fukuhara and Lim will be working together in the upcoming weeks to release a series of online videos, including an online performance together on their respective social media accounts. More details will be shared to the media at a nearer date. 

Listen to Ashes on Spotify.

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