Where Japanese musicians used to move to Tokyo for a shot at the big time, these days it feels like increasing numbers of them are heading to Berlin instead. Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi, better known by her dream-pop alias Cuushe, was one of them. In 2012, the Kyoto native embarked on a yearlong working holiday in the German capital, where she got a taste for the city's famous nightlife while producing her second album, "Butterfly Case."
The experience seemed to have a galvanizing effect on her music: where Cuushe's songs had once been dreamy to the point of soporific, "Butterfly Case" was considerably more focused, all shimmering synthesizers and loping four-four beats. In a few instances, notably on lead single "I Love You," it sounded positively euphoric.
"It was originally supposed to be a downtempo album," Cuushe says, over green tea and wagashi sweets at a traditional confectioner in Tokyo. "When I went to Berlin, I was going to clubs and stuff, and the influence rubbed off on my music — it ended up becoming more uptempo."