Tokyo Weekender and More Than Music collaborate in a monthly interview series with the diverse musical performers on the Tokyo music scene. For this interview, we caught up with J’Nique Nicole. Don’t miss out on her live act at our TW’s July August issue party on August 6 in Aoyama.

J’Nique Nicole is a singer-songwriter based in Tokyo. She is widely known for her songwriting and vocal contributions to the award-winning video game from Square Enix called NieR: Automata and has also recorded music for the Netflix adaptation of the cult anime classic Cowboy Bebop.


How would you describe your music in one word of phrase?

Definitely something that can empower people and encourage people, no matter what walks of life they’ve taken.

You have recorded for the game NieR: Automata and Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop. Why do you like working on these kinds of projects?

I think the interesting thing about it is, the music doesn’t really fit in a specific genre. It incorporates a lot of different genres together. The way that the composer explores different things and puts them together is really beautiful. And of course, it tells a story in a refreshing way. Even the instruments themselves tell a story and I think that’s amazing, enjoyable and beautiful. People message me all the time and tell me how when they get to the end of the game and listen to the soundtrack, they cry.

What’s your favorite anime?

There was one anime that I fell in love with and I’m really sad that it ended. It’s called Carole & Tuesday. I thought it was cute. It’s about two girls who make music together and that resonates with me because I’m a singer-songwriter. Seeing their journey was really inspirational and I liked the music. I would love to work on something like that in the future.

What are your live performances like as opposed to studio recordings?

There’s a huge difference. For me, I feel like I’m better at performing than I am at recording, which is strange right? I think most people are better at recording. But I feel freer when I’m on stage. I can ad-lib, I can do whatever. Whereas with recording, you have to hit it perfectly, stop and record it over and over again. I’m not really a fan of that process because it feels tedious. But I’m learning to appreciate the process of recording as well.

Do you have a fun anecdote from a live performance or maybe a favorite unforgettable live performance?

I would have to say a NieR performance that I did. It was a concert during the pandemic, right when it started two years ago. It was really memorable for me just because there were supposed to be people in the audience, but we ended up having to livestream. When I got on Twitter in between songs, I saw the love that people were showing. People were so grateful and there just was an outpouring of support. That was my favorite.

What was it like to grow up in a musical family?

My parents always seemed so happy and I love listening to them rehearse when I was a kid. It made me realize that this is a passion that I have too. My grandfather was a singer as well and he was famous in the 1960s. So, he basically passed it down to my mom. Then my dad plays bass as well. My brother is a producer and every now and then, we would collaborate on music together. My sister is a great dancer and has an ear for music and gives me advice. My other sister is a graphic designer so I let her do all of my album covers, merchandise and design my logos. I have so much support in my family. It’s awesome.

Why have you decided to pursue a music career in Japan instead of the US?

It’s always been my dream to also pursue a music career in the States but my parents still live in Japan and still do music here as well. It’s really competitive in the States but my parents have connections in Japan where they can introduce me to the right people. I think I’ve had an easier time acclimating to the industry in Japan. That was part of it but I also just always wanted to go back to Japan. I never really truly got to live in Japan technically because I lived on the base. I wanted to experience the culture and prepared myself by taking Japanese classes in college. I kept telling myself, “I’m going to Japan after I graduate college. I’m going to Japan.”

If you weren’t doing music, what do you think would you be doing instead?

I think I would be a makeup artist. I love makeup and it’s crazy because before I got into the music industry, I didn’t think I liked makeup. I was that kind of girl that was like ‘I don’t need makeup.’ When I came to Japan, I realized there was no one that could do makeup for me, because I’m a black woman and dark-skinned. I had to get everything online and do it myself. So I just started experimenting, watching YouTube tutorial videos and I fell in love with it. I would love to do it for other people and enhance their beauty.

Dream guest artist, dead or alive to have a meal and drink with?

An artist called Lucky Daye and maybe Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston.

Check out J’Nique Nicole and her colorful makeup looks on Instagram.

You can see J’Nique Nicole perform live on Saturday, August 6 at our TW’s July August issue party in Aoyama.

TW readers get a 10% discount on the ticket by entering the code: TKYWD at check-out. The same code gets you a 50% discount on the first month of the membership fee as a trial. You can sign up for membership here.