Interview with DRFTR

This time I would like to introduce an artist not based in Japan, but an artist who loves Japanese and Asia culture as well and of course has a “link” to Japan. For those who have read my interview with PURUPURU knows that I do have a connection with model Miyu Ukiyo. Miyu’s life changed recently and this is part of her new road with her life in Germany… Please read the interview to know what this is all about.

—-Hello DRFTR, nice to meet you. Could you please introduce your music history briefly to your readers?

Hi. It all began with a punk band I was singing/playing guitar in, self-taught, not super good, but people liked us and therefore we played a lot. This was my school, I never studied. At the time I already started to do more studio work, started to write and produce songs for other people. My songs were mostly used for Idol-artists or casting bands, some TV and commercials.
Some tacks I wrote and produced/co-produced:
Neil Thomas – Close To Your Heart (official video) 
Kevin – She’s Got Moves  
熊貓堂ProducePandas【工具人 Tool-Man】練習室版 Dance Practice/Tutorial Version

(studio writing session in Trontheim )

I have been signed three times: SPV, Sony BMG and Universal Music. But I also did some side steps for money, f.e. I was working as a stunt-guy for the movies, as a nightwatch, I sold sport shoes, I was a camera guy for fashion, extra for film, I even helped burying a full-grown dead horse once for cash (digging a hole and using a car to pulling the horse into it with ropes)… and just before Corona I was kind of a Kpop-singer, singing Korean songs in embassies on behalf of the Korean ambassador in Germany. Lets say, my life never got boring and I learned a lot along the way. Thanks mostly to music.

— Why did you choose to cover the song “Lucky – ラッキー” of Supercar? Why this song?

I don’t know. It was somehow magic. I had this funding by GVL (German Music Organization) to try and connect Asian and European music culture. At first I only planned on one song with a Music video, a mixture of pop, metal, rap and a Chinese traditional song in an epic soundtrack-like production. But then I stumbled upon “Lucky” by “Supercar”. I don’t know. It was quite the opposite. For some reason I needed to listen to it over and over… for days. The melodies and all it felt so different. But at the same time so familiar. My background in Japanese-martial-arts (Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu) and growing up with Manga-culture probably helped me deciding to do this song too… and it turned out to be the chance for a person (who I didn’t know yet) to get a new life too. It actually became a real-life-manga-story in a way.

Why did you decide to team up with Miyu Ukiyo to make the cover and MV to the song  “Lucky – ラッキー” of Supercar?

For the project I decided to do duets, it seemed to me the perfect way for it. So it’s me singing with a girl from the very country; Japan and China.

I found Miyu on the internet and she sent me a video in which she sings. I thought I would give her a chance and she proved to be perfect at the first two practices, so we went right into the studio.

— Do you have any other “Japanese-culture” background with your music? 

Japanese music is unique in a way. I tried several times writing for and with Japanese artists. The melodies are tricky and not very repetitive, they change a lot. And the most interesting thing I found was, there are often no rhymes. The Japanese language itself forces the melodies and lyrics to be different. Coming from a Western musical mindset, this all was pretty new and exciting to work with. 

— Manga culture was/is really big in Germany. Why did you love(ed) it so much?

Dunno, isn’t it just really cool? Making the world a more of a fun place? I like that.

—- Are there any Japanese artists you would like to team up with?

Supercar, haha… To me music is a part of my life’s journey and becomes boring when you do the same all over again. So yes, I am really open to team up with anyone who is willing to go all-in to make sure we finish with the best we can at the time.

—- How did you actually meet Model Miyu Ukiyo?


DRFTR & Miyu Ukiyo
—- Were there any tricky encounters with recording Lucky?

I met singer Miyu Ukiyo a few times for practice and recording. She was great but I felt that something was off. Not long after, she told me her story of an abusive relationship in which she’s stuck, domestic violence and a dangerously narcissistic ex-husband. She had nowhere to go, no close contacts in the city and an ex-husband controlling every step of her steps. He wasn’t taking the project (nor me) very seriously so she actually was allowed to participate in the song.

— What “allowed?!”

Yes, correct.. she was allowed.
That is how deep her ex-guys manipulation tactics were already hardwired in Miyu’s brain. It’s been solid grooming going on. Miyu’s mind was this narcissist’s playground for more than 2 years.

— That’s awful, any reason why you decided to help her no matter what?

Coming from a background of a narcissistic family myself, having had 4 years of psychological treatment helping me to break free from a pre-programmed, self-loathing, demon-infested, downward-spiralling mindset,… I just couldn’t look away, nor leave Miyu to her fate.

— So Miyu was verbally abused, right? I mean, her ex-husband didn’t hit her as well?

She has never been hit, no. But that is also the general misconception of “domestic violence“. I would even go so far to say that subtle mental abuse over a long time is sometimes harder than just being hit once or twice. It is the slow killing of your soul from a close person. Plus, no one believes you 100%. With a blue eye or a broken nose the situation is clear to everyone. Mental abuse and narcissistic behaviour just eats you up, makes you forget about yourself and keeps you in a weak state. I have seen Miyu change 180 degrees within weeks afterwards, like a blooming flower. 

When was the day that you started to help Miyu?

On the day the Ukraine war started, I remember the sun was coming out in Berlin city after a long dragging Corona-winter. This was the day Miyu took only little things and fled into her new unknown life, only with the belief that nothing is better than what she leaves behind.

Paying for airbnb forever wasn’t an option so I got Miyu an apartment. A tiny flat in a student house, illegally sublet. Cash payment, no contract,.. but now she had a safe place of her own. I kind of understood the narcissist’s manipulation tactics and could help her handle the massive amount of message-attacks and tricks he tried to make her meet him. But meeting wasn’t an option. She really was afraid.

— How did you get her stuff out of his dangerous home?

He owned four sharp guns and one small rifle and stored them in his house. His hobby is shooting,.. Great!!
I never needed to call the police before, but I didn’t know what to expect and the wonderful advisers and lawyers from “Frauenhilfe Neukölln” (Women help) suggested that we should not go there alone. The policeman at the police-office needed 2 hours of detective work about the ex-husband. When he was done, he decided that a SWAT-team might not be needed. I was like.. “ohhhkay”… We went instead with only eight spartan-like cops. No helicopters, no abseiling window breaking special units. Haha

— Eight spartan-like cops. That’s a nice unit of policemen as well. Anyway, but why didn’t you pick up Miyu’s stuff at a moment when her ex-husband wasn’t around?

To be fair, Miyu was messaging her ex-husband three times before, asking for a possibility to pick up her stuff without meeting. But he declined and wanted to meet only in person, probably hoping to talk her out of leaving.
He didn’t expect Miyu would pull it off and come with the police. He was shocked, shaking, almost crying, talking about her being the crazy one. Trying to talk himself out, playing the victim. Trying to talk to me, to the police… but no one listened. 
Now, I was shocked…

—- Shocked, why?

I actually did read the messages he wrote to Miyu and they sounded like they were from another person. A may-or-may-not-be-dangerous sort of. Now this? This is the “same” guy?

—- Yes, people can sound totally different in text-messages…but please continue.

He didn’t hand out all of Miyu’s stuff. So we needed to go back a second time. Guns or not, this time we could do it alone. On this day, this guy was sitting inside his dark flat during the sunniest of days, trying not to make any noise when he heard Miyu ringing and trying to unlock the door. Key didn’t work anymore, so he changed the lock. So, yes.. the police were called again. (facepalm)

—- How is Miyu doing now? 

Miyu is doing great. She moved to another apartment in a better district, a legal one, got a 3-years working Visa for Germany, everything super official and built up her new life.

DRFTR & Miyu Ukiyo
—- Should feel good that the sponsored money has been spent wonderfully with creating such a song?

Yeah, better than just another song in the cloud. Haha.. It helped a beautiful soul being found before drowning, washing her ashore to a new and free life.

—- Actually it’s not easy to know when you are verbally abused, usually someone drowns in a dark circle for years without knowing it’s not their own fault. From your own point of view, what can be the turning point in knowing your “loved” one “uses” you?

The narcissist’s tools are diverse but limited. The narcissist mostly will be quite an intelligent and charismatic person, can make you feel really good in one moment and really bad in the other. Supersubtle mostly. But if you understand the tools being used, you can protect yourself. It is worth a library of books about the details but there are patterns…

Let’s say the narcissist wants you to do something. First, telling of how much better you would feel with doing it, promoting it somehow. You decline, Second.. please do it for me, a friend, touching your human heart. Yeah, you learnt, declined. Third, Will tell you about how you missed out on something or about the damage you’ve done with your behavior of not doing it. Make you feel bad.. Okay, that one worked, that put you down…Then comes the understanding phase… the narcissist’s picking you up again, you know,.. everything will be fine, trust me. Do you see the loop, the unnecessary self-made drama, the breaking and gluing back together? Endlessly?

I think it is a sickness which is not yet fully understood and probably accepted in our society in a way. It is a good skill to have in our world I guess. These people, the narcissists, can’t act differently. They are victims to their own reflexes, slaves to their own thoughts. Addicted to control, superiority and good reputation because deep inside, they are probably weak and maybe hate themselves in a way.

So first,.. break control,… by second,… remembering there is no superiors to you, you are a free human being, you’re born and you’ll die,.. no-one should fucking interrupt your spiritual development, that is your holy ground,.. third… the reputation, their weak spot. Choose to speak and act or just get out fast and silently.

I can write books about this, it is super complex. But this is why we chose to put a lot of police-scenes into the video. If her ex sees it, he should be reminded because he was really scared at the moment she showed up with them. This was breaking control, taking his superiority and taking his reputation because all neighbors were watching.

— Actually I didn’t know that there was an activist protest in Berlin on the day you shot the video. But I think it was a real good conscience as well to shoot a great video to this song, right?

With the stress of problem-solving for Miyu and planning the Chinese video shoot, the preparation time for this project became almost zero. Everything’s crazy, everyone emotionally exhausted,… but we needed to do something,… we needed to act.

I thought why not shoot on the day of “revolutionary 1st of May demonstrations“. There must be good images to find when we just keep pushing ourselves enough. Our minds at that time were already at their limits, so what to lose. We literally shot until Ewa Wikiel, the director and dop was pushed to the ground by police rushing in,… they wanted to catch demonstrators. Explosions started, tear gas, Miyu super afraid, Ewa holding together the 3-piece-party of ours. Slowly and carefully we were maneuvering ourselves out of the riots. It was so matching with the time and backstory. Highly emotional, like a manga.

— For people in Germany, what’s the hotline they can call or a website they can use to seek help?

There are many. In the worst case call the police dial 110. In lesser hurry look for “Frauenhilfe” (women help). There are several in many regions. Really nice people. Take notes because they are understaffed, use the short time you’re given, for collecting as much info as you can. Talk to friends, even only on the internet. With a narcissist it is a mind game mostly, so make sure your mind stays focused on what is really going on, not what is told to be going on. Manipulate the manipulator by acting as if everything is normal, keep them narcissists believe they are in control, but build your secret plan of action, build up your safe place and take back control of your life… and then act!!! The storm must come surprisingly. So fast and strong that the narcissists can not use any of their tools, it is just too late. The train is already moving, no stopping. 

— Let’s talk about the Chinese song, what can people expect?

The Chinese song story is not that spectacular, but the song will be super different and I am interested to see how people will react to a mixture of Chinese traditional, modern pop, rap and epic soundtrack.

(screenshot of “A laugh in the blue sea” MV, coming up soon)
— I see, could you already tell us something about the Chinese artist you will team up with? Who is this person?

No, it’s still a secret.

— So your Chinese song won’t have any strong statement? Or do you might consider to put something in slightly? 

In a way it has, but you know China and censorship so I concentrated on subtle visual messages. Now, with the world fearing Taiwan being attacked by China, it is very tricky to find the right voice. I decided on the message “we can be friends maybe“, although we are so difficult we can try to accept each other’s diversity. People want to dance, not march. They want to hug, not fight. I think that is universal.

— Any other project you are busy with currently, which everyone needs to check out?

I have only one more video on my channel. Haha… But I see this as a start to do more content. 

— Please leave a final message to your readers.

Life will be tough, but always remember, it is mostly just a human drama theatre play. In it, we are the actors and scriptwriters at the same time. So write your own reality and have fun playing with it.

— Any other people you want to thank also?

Thanks to the social workers who are helping people suffering from domestic abuse. 
Thanks to the advisers for immigration problems.
Thanks to the service of the police
Thanks to GVL and Neustart Kultur for believing that I could pull it off. 
Thanks to Stephan Mühl for excellent drumming. 
Thanks to Matthias Schilling for a great mix and master. 
Thanks to Owen Marrett for additional guitars.
And last but not least, thanks to Ewa Wikiel who filmed us running through revolutionary Berlin. 

If you don’t live in Germany, but if you are in a similar situation or if you know someone who needs to get help, don’t be afraid to seek and get help. Whenever it’s just verbal abuse and not physical abuse, seek help. Because nobody has the right to verbal abuse you in any way.