“It is time to say goodbye / Don’t cry… Soon I will meet you again… “Find the lost back to life again” / Deep inside / PLEASE REMEMBER ME”: these are the lyrics that conclude Saeko’s last album, “Life” (2006). Now, after 11 years of silence, Saeko’s comeback, foreshadowed by those lyrics, has become true.
Saeko has many interesting stories to share about her life: from the beginning of her career in Japan, when she first thought she wanted to do metal music, to the incredible milestone of being the first Asian female artist to perform a solo act at Wacken Open Air in Germany, while supporting none other than Doro on her European tour.
The chance to write this article came with the release of her music video for “SA-KU-RA” (which among the credit we can count the renowned Italian producer Alessandro Del Vecchio), a requiem for those who died in war inspired by a historical event. This music video anticipates Saeko’s return to the metal scene after 11 years.
Saeko has in fact lived for quite a few years in Europe, fighting with all her might and passion to make music, and studying at university at a later time. Saeko’s list of collaborators is top-notch: from Metalium’s Henning Basse and Lars Ratz, to Michael Ehre (Metalium, Gamma Ray etc.), Herman Frank (Accept, Victory etc.) and Sven Luedke (Mob Rules). During these years she released two albums – “Above Heaven, Below Heaven” and “Life” – and toured with Doro.
But Saeko’s story is also one of hardships and obstacles to overcome. As someone who lived through similar things, though to a much smaller extent, I related to her recount of moving to a foreign country all alone, of building her career and her future out of her own hard work and profound passion for her craft. Despite this, after releasing two amazing albums in Germany, Saeko had to return to Japan and give up on music mainly due to barriers of language and culture. However, Saeko’s restless passion for music led her to vow to break down those barriers, and consequently obtain a Master’s degree in English Language and Culture from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Saeko later established Office Shinpuh in Japan, where she provides English lyric writing services for fellow Japanese artists who wish to communicate their music in English.
It’s been 11 years since Saeko had to put her music career on hold, and as we chat I can see that still has the same passion for heavy metal as when she first started handing out fliers to start her band. After such a long break, Saeko has decided to start making music again, by releasing two new singles and opening a crowdfunding campaign. These two singles, rearranged with award-winning jazz pianist Sakiko Matsuda, who was top of the graduating class in Jazz Composition at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, offer a new take on two classics from Saeko’s career: “Sa-Ku-Ra” and “Sins For the Gods” (re-labeled “No More Sins For the Gods” in this new version).
Saeko’s music offers a different perspective on metal music, while still retaining all the distinctive elements of the genre. What really stands out, across her whole discography and even in her two latest singles, is her voice. Each word Saeko sings in her songs is full of the determination and ambition she told me about during our meeting in Japan. It’s a kind of energy that is very rare to find in an artist, but Saeko sounds literally unstoppable.
Now she’s planning to fly to Europe again. To make a FULL come-back with a heavy metal band, she’ll look for band members there: “Please re-member me (join and support me) and make this dream come true together, walking on to our glorious days!” (Saeko Kitamae)
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