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WPGM Commentary: MIREI Feels Stuck In The Middle On ‘1998’

When you hear the year “1998“, what do you think? Does it feel like it’s a long time ago or do you feel like it was the other day? My name is MIREI and for me, it’s the year that I was born and it represents a huge part of me.

I’m 23 years old now, and this song is about being stuck in the middle, feeling old and young at the same time, as a zillennial. The babies who were born in the early ‘90s are millennials and the babies who were born after 1997 are Gen Z. So, where do I belong? Both or neither? These kinds of questions always linger in my mind.

In 2021, we’re overloaded with lots of information online from all generations. The smartphone is a necessity and I personally spend way too many hours using it. When I’m online and browsing my socials, I see so many teens who were born in the late 2000s and they’re calling ‘90s babies “aunties” and “grandmas”.

At the same time, when I meet somebody and tell them I was born in 1998, they’ll say “you’re so young, you can do whatever you want!” It always confuses me about what generation I can identify with and where I’m at in my life.

So, during the pandemic, my friend DJ Shiftee sent me a bunch of tracks. When I listened, these chaotic thoughts of confusion came to me and we knew we had to write about it. I wrote a draft demo and sent it to him and my friend Zak Leever.

We had a Zoom session, as we always do since we write songs together from different parts of the world – it’s our new way of collaborating that became normal during lockdown. It started at 10am for me, 6pm for Zak, and 9pm for Shiftee.

Although the theme was serious, our session was filled with fun stories and laughter. While we brainstormed the verses, we started looking back at tons of memories, talking about all the things we loved from the ‘90s from Tamagotchi to double-denim to mixtape cassettes and VHS to Super Smash on Nintendo.

I wish I could show you the memo of our ideas, it’s filled with pure nostalgia. A bunch of people on TikTok even made videos using this song, talking about their childhood memories, just like myself, Shiftee, and Zak did when we wrote it. I’m really glad that it became an opportunity for them to look back with us.

I recorded my vocals myself with some new high-tech software I got, while connecting on Zoom with them so that they can hear me singing and give me ideas simultaneously. After the session, I sent all of the files to Shiftee to mix, and Zak to add more production.

For this song, Shiftee added some nice sound effects that remind us of the things we loved back in the day. My personal favorite are the “super-smashy” effects – it instantly reminds me of when I was so into playing video games with my friends.

For the music video, we shot it all on a green screen. That was my first time filming this way and it was so much fun acting with objects that weren’t really there. The video takes these nostalgic memories in the song and brings them to life with today’s innovative cutting edge technology. I love how we combine the two because I feel like that’s just how 1998-babies would do it – a little bit of something classic fused with something brand new.

I shared some of my ideas and images with my video director Mr. Nomura, but I was so amazed by how he synthesized his vision and mine together. All the graffiti in the video was drawn by him. I actually had no idea he could draw such awesome illustrations, so it was a pleasant surprise that he could design images that just fit perfectly with the song’s story.

It’s been so amazing working with Shiftee and Zak over the years and it’s an awesome thing to be able to share my feelings that transform into a song. I’ve been working with my team since my first English-language album, but while we were making 1998 we learned so many new things about each other. Through honest collaboration, 1998 became a page out of our journals.

I’m still not sure where I belong but “1998” is something that will always be mine.

Watch the video below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by MIREI // Follow her on Twitter + Instagram

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