For many musicians, dreams of success take the form of a big break: perhaps a major label record contract, a lucrative tour deal or a barnstorming festival set. However, a quick fix isn't the style of Tokyo indie quintet Chi-na, who is gradually growing in stature through a steady process of connecting with fans one by one.

"The important thing is having an environment where we can smoothly make our own music," says guitarist Shota "Leader" Nishiyori. "Sometimes signing with major labels can have the effect of shortening the band's life span. We don't think in terms of a border between major and indie, but instead we want to just advance one step at a time."

Without the pressures the music industry can place on bands, Chi-na has nevertheless continued to make progress. Gradually coalescing out of classically trained pianist and singer Kyoko Shiina's solo project ("Chi-na" is pronounced to rhyme with her surname), the band, completed by violinist Yukako Shiba, contrabass player Eri Hayashi and drummer Yuuto "Happy" Yuhara, is a frequently joyous mixture of styles from classical to alternative and post-rock — something the group was keen to explore on its latest mini-album, "Docci."