travlinlight: (// no. 2)
2022-10-17 09:44 am

// easy living

Shiori Enomoto (榎本栞, Enomoto Shiori), better known under her stage name Shiori, is a 28-year-old jazz singer and songwriter from Osaka, Japan, who achieved national fame after releasing her debut album "10 Postcards From My Holiday" with her first band, To A Lovely Tune. Perhaps because they had, in the years prior, primarily done recurring live performances at various luxury hotels spread across Asia, their studio recording was praised as rich in polish and smoothness. With her new band, Shiori has put out singles featuring well-known jazz standards plus a couple of her own songs as B-sides.

Solo, she has performed at a selection of jazz festivals in Europe, among those some major gigs in England as well as France. Although she grew up in Osaka, she has lived most of her adult life in Tokyo, before staying more briefly in first London, then Paris. Currently, she resides in Luxembourg, where she sings lead vocals in the internationally-assembled jazz band, Tramway Tracks United, a band consisting of LGBT-women only. Although she has yet to officially come out, many see her affiliation with the band as a silent confirmation of rumours which have been buzzing, ever since her break with To A Lovely Tune.

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travlinlight: (// no. 7)
2017-05-23 08:51 am

// rhapsody in some shade of blue (part two)

Paris, 2009.

If she hadn’t strayed so endlessly far from home, she thought and introduced the final song of the night with a small, glued-on smile and a throw of her head, she’d naturally never have seen her name written in gold letters beneath the great Edith Piaf’s on the posters that Yvette had spread out over all of the 9th arrondissement to announce their weekly events. She’d never have sung a single song in French, she’d never have known how you can long so horribly for the sound of your native language and she’d never have learned to hate her own hodgepodge of accent and difficulty when she sang Milord or Padam Padam. Shiori’s French was still, after almost two years in the city of light and love, a mostly moderate affair. She could sing the words and she might even understand the meaning of each one, but the feeling was gone - and sound without feeling was, when all came down to it, just sound. Her voice wasn’t grander or more unique than that.

At L’Ombre de Palais, however, they regularly failed to care about her accent or her artistic reservations. The club which had become the golden age band’s usual venue was a pseudo-authentic hotpot, they harvested from the popularity of the location and most of the guests were tourists, as to be expected, who themselves spoke a pronounced tourist-French, if they spoke the language at all. Shiori had taught herself to care for their pretentious manner, but she sometimes did miss the guys from London and the UK’s darker grit. Not that she ever regretted her move, it had been time.

The final number of the evening was an extended version of La Foule which Shiori herself had worked on, for months actually, woven fragments of her own Japanese translation into the original lyrics and put their trumpeter to work with a riff or two, depending on how the audience responded. It was one of the few songs in their repertoire that she felt 100 percent comfortable singing, that she knew she could squeeze every single drop out of and at the same time, it had proven surprisingly popular. Tonight was no exception, it received the biggest applause of the evening. Maybe people simply clapped, because the show was finally over, she was past the point of preventing herself from thinking in a fortunately brief, but still cold moment, before the spotlight flickered back in her face and she almost felt too hot in her little, black dress.

Usually the bar was open another couple of hours after the end of their concerts, so Shiori descended the round stage, left the cleaning-up for the others with a vague promise of returning in a moment and sat down at the first, free barstool she could find. Ordered a coke on the rocks.

“I liked you better in London,” a woman’s voice sounded behind her and the words were in English, British English. The voice was slightly hoarse and slightly dark, reminded her of marzipan coated in chocolate, offhand. She didn’t even have time to turn around, before the stranger slid into the seat next to her, as if the stool were a throne. She wedged her needle sharp stiletto into place against the foot rest’s metal. Shiori observed her curiously. She couldn't recall ever having seen her before and that hair… Oh, it was beautiful, that hair she wouldn’t forget so easily. Orange-golden, the exact same color as the sunset, just as shiny, just as nuanced.

“I think I might have liked me better in London, too,” she laughed in reply, likewise in English. Her stomach fluttered and she wasn’t sure it was a welcome sensation. Either it was too old or she herself was. Too old. Now. A bit uneasily, she pushed forward in her seat and disturbed the ice cubes in her glass with her straw.

“My name is Michelle Adkins,” the woman introduced herself finally and smiled. She had narrow lips, but completely white teeth. A true Colgate smile. “I play the piano and might be on the hunt for vocals just like yours, Shiori Enomoto.”

She pronounced Shiori’s family name in a wonderfully cute manner, where the E almost disappeared, sounding instead like a deep, elongated I-sound. Shiori couldn’t help smiling, she’d never in this very special way been headhunted before. So focused. So direct. With Yvette’s band, she was still in a sort of test period. She’d been so for a year already and the result never seemed to change, it felt. They played, she sang, but she remained a foreign element. In reality, she probably missed the feeling of being part of something. Of someone.

“Shiori, are you coming,” someone yelled from up on the stage and Shiori sighed. Searched through her purse in the hunt for a pen, while Michelle tore a piece of paper out of her calendar to scribble her number down on and as such, they exchanged their info in an efficient silence.

“You’ll hear from me,” Michelle promised and leaned in to kiss her airily by each cheek in a truly French fashion. Her perfume clung to Shiori’s hair in the waves of their brief intimacy, held a heavy and sharp scent. Their intimacy, their… Quickly, she stopped herself and instead stood up, even when Michelle remained seated next to the sad remains of Shiori’s coke, although Shiori straightened up to her fullest height, Michelle was almost taller than her. Almost.

“I’d appreciate that,” she answered and managed just barely to smile, just as she managed just barely to avoid stumbling, when she turned away and walked back towards the stage and her work, however much of a foreign worker she really was, when all came down to it.

And as such, they met each other both as strangers and as two familiar with each other, did Michelle and Shiori, because Shiori would no doubt have remembered Michelle’s red hair wherever she went afterwards, had she noticed her back in good old London Town - who knew, maybe she’d never have left for Paris in the first place, had she met Michelle back then. Later, on her way home along Boulevard des Capucines, it was Michelle’s hair she remembered most clearly, as well as her marzipan-darkened voice and her words. Her words… Maybe she was on the hunt for someone exactly like Shiori, she’d said. Maybe she was on the hunt. Maybe Shiori was once more desired and in demand. Wouldn’t it be for the first time in a decade?

Time was up. Maybe she could be daring. Again.

travlinlight: (// no. 12)
2017-05-22 12:48 pm

// visualosities

●●●○○ LuxPhone19:21
Vocals, Tramway Tracks United, Luxembourg. Song is its own language, perhaps the only one I speak fluently.

A point of #intersection.

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Eternal #muse and #inspiration #billieholiday.

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Home is wherever the #sakura are blossoming.

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Self-portrait I, a #selfie. Tongue in cheek.

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No day is ever complete without #music and #tea.

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Some daily #truthfulness.

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Self-portrait II, a #selfie. Celebrated.

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There's a story to the #piano. Mine.

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Recollections of another time #lounge #atmosphere #hotel.

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Us, #you and me.

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Self-portrait III, a #selfie. Freedom.

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Desperate #homesickness.

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#heroines of my youth.

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My #heart in a box.

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#paris #impressions.

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Self-portrait IV, a #selfie. Style.

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#paris #thirdhome.

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Inspired by a #muse #billieholiday.

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travlinlight: (// no. 13)
2017-05-21 11:42 pm

// unsaid

“I didn’t know that Luxembourg had established itself as a great jazz nation,” Mother said and sent a both piercing, yet already knowing look in Shiori’s direction. Next to her, Father took another picture of the Grand Ducal Palace through his lens and with his heavy, half-professional and thoroughly expensive camera hanging in a strap around his neck. In every possible way he looked like the classic, Japanese tourist as the Europeans thought they knew them best. He showed no interest in their conversation.

“It hasn’t,” Shiori answered, because there was no reason to lie or come up with even just the quarter of a truth around her mother.

Meanwhile, Father had spotted the chocolate café on the other side of the square and turned towards it enthusiastically in order to snap another row of photos that he’d be able to proudly present to his friends over their after-work beers back home. My daughter performs in Luxembourg, this is Luxembourg City, it’s very old and everybody there has such a sense of style, it’s the perfect place for her.

She could almost hear him. Almost. Such a long time had passed now.

“What are you really doing here, Shiori?”

Mother never sounded angry or frustrated or irritated, even when it was obvious that she’d have to be somewhere on that emotional spectrum. Shiori bit her lip, tried not to think of Michelle who had lounged up her back that same morning with her big, soft breasts pressing against her shoulder blades, because Shiori was petite and Michelle was grander than life itself. Greater than any inspiration, greater than any muse Shiori had ever had before.

“There’s a market here, for a niche,” she replied. Instead. Spoke directly to Mother’s business sense, besides - it wasn’t exactly a lie.

The most important thing was naturally that she’d never, ever lied to her parents. No matter how angry Michelle got, because Shiori wouldn’t let her meet them now when they were finally visiting. Shiori’s new harbour, her new home, another one in the lineup. She had never told them anything untrue.

“As my talented daughter would know, of course,” Mother commented and that was the end of the discussion. Only then did Father return, turning away from the old fronts, leaving the camera to hang down his chest as he moved over to slip an arm around Shiori’s shoulders, squeezed her lightly. My big girl, she could almost hear him say. Almost.

As such, so many things remained unsaid.

travlinlight: (// no. 1)
2017-05-21 08:29 pm

// playlist

East of the Sun
- Billie Holiday

Good Morning Heartache
- Akiko

You Yes You
- Carte Blanche

- Kaori Kobayashi

- Katie Melua

Galaxy's Skirt
- Emi Meyer

- Avalon Jazz Band

Sous le Ciel de Paris
- Jolie Môme

La Foule
- Edith Piaf

It Don't Mean a Thing
- Karen Aoki

- The Beatles

That's Life
- Frank Sinatra

Trav'lin' Light
- Billie Holiday

travlinlight: (// no. 14)
2017-05-19 03:04 pm

// rhapsody in some shade of blue (part one)

Tokyo, 2004.

Without Yamaguchi-sensei’s exhaustive and exhausting criticism of her thrumming approach on the piano, she might never have met Nagisa. They weren’t in the same year and didn’t attend any classes together, but during those initial evaluation sessions in her second semester’s piano module, Yamaguchi-sensei happened to have addressed her technique so vehemently that Shiori, somewhat deterred, had agreed to drop by at least a couple of the university’s free student concerts, in the name of inspiration. It had been one of those days when she had solemnly sworn never again to touch the instrument. Ever. Finally satisfied with her attitude, Yamaguchi-sensei had noted down a list of the composers on the billboard, had asked her to pick whatever was to her taste, because she wouldn't improve without passion, after which he had sent her off to lunch early. Over one of the cafeteria’s pre-packed sushi boxes, she swallowed down her gut reaction of severe disappointment along with her highly wounded pride, choosing instead to study the names she’d been given, mostly out of obligation.

Two weeks later, a couple of days into February, a to her still unknown Ihara Nagisa was to play a Gershwin medley and seeing how one could never fail with Gershwin, if you asked Shiori, she had hesitantly found her way into the Music Institute’s smallest concert hall, just in time and as one of the few, she could tell when looking around. She claimed a seat on the front row, next to a young man she would later come to know almost as intimately as Nagisa, waiting for the performance to start.

The ironic part was how, as soon as Nagisa began to play, Shiori quickly stopped listening to the music completely. Not because she played it poorly, rather the opposite - and suddenly Shiori fully understood why Yamaguchi-sensei called her own playing some basic thrumming. In comparison. Nagisa played with a great freedom and a great strength, her sound was deep and all-consuming, resonating like a huge temple bell and blowing Shiori off her feet, despite the fact that she, naturally, remained right there in her seat with her back straight and her hands in her lap. This was all she could think of Gershwin as Nagisa played him, because never before had Gershwin sounded so incredible and instead of focusing on the music, she focused acutely on Nagisa’s fingers flying across the keys, reaching wide and hitting hard. They were slender and long, the truest definition of piano fingers Shiori ever found. She wanted to kiss them. Worship and adore them. Those fingers.

Not until Nagisa got to her own arrangement of the Funny Face Overture, at the very end of the already 30 minute long program, did Shiori realize that she was in love with the girl. The girl at the piano. The girl with the perfect hands and the expression of an almost melancholy focus. Not until that point did she realize that she wanted to run her fingers through Nagisa’s neatly styled hair, just to see the long, black locks come tumbling down around her shoulders, as freely as her sound and that was before Shiori had even heard the other woman speak a single word, but she felt that she nevertheless knew what kind of voice Nagisa would have. Light and maybe just slightly shrill, the kind of voice that could reach across distances and travel around any given room. The kind of voice that turned lighter than air when she moaned.

She tried desperately to breathe normally.

“She’s sublime, don’t you think,” the guy next to her asked when Nagisa had taken her bows in front of the still meagre audience and descended the stairs at the front of the stage. Shiori stared at her, couldn't possibly look away, she could feel her palms getting sweaty. Would the girl disappear back into the crowd now?

“Sublime,” she repeated somewhat breathlessly, allowed herself to be so impolite as not to turn towards him. He laughed and held up one hand, waving Nagisa over and an overwhelming nausea built up in Shiori’s throat when she understood that they already knew each other. Please, let them not be dating, please, please, let them not be dating…

“You’ve gained a new admirer,” he told Nagisa, the guy Shiori would soon come to know as Jun, and stood up so slowly that it was pure nonchalance, while she paused next to them. The girl. Nagisa. Shiori got to her feet as well, stepped a bit nervously from one foot to the other. Over and over, until she remembered how stupid she would have to look and stopped herself. Nagisa smiled in a wholly understated and wholly sexy manner, observed Shiori in silence for a long moment before speaking in the exact type of voice Shiori had imagined all along that she’d have, light and slightly shrill, lighter than air if you could make her moan, she felt sure.

“Thank you for coming,” she said. So simple.

And like this, it was actually because Shiori wasn’t an amazing pianist, because Yamaguchi-sensei didn’t pretend that she were that she met Nagisa who was amazing and sublime and altogether perfect. That she met and fell in love with Nagisa’s fingers, with her voice and with her hair. That she met and fell in love with everything Nagisa was. Like this, Shiori finally went from thinking she’d most likely never find a man to live with which was okay, too, she could handle her own loneliness - to believing and knowing with the greatest certainty that she’d die, if she couldn’t one day be allowed to kiss Nagisa’s lips, one pair or the other, maybe both. Like this, Shiori fell in love for real and also for the first time, still happily ignorant about the way this love would send her in exile for the rest of her life.

travlinlight: (// no. 4)
2017-02-27 03:13 pm

// foreigners

"A cafe latte for Shirley, I've got a cafe latte for Shirley!"

Starbucks was otherwise always a hub of effectivity, but today it had nevertheless taken them seven whole minutes to prepare her coffee, long enough time that she had managed to write down the other woman's name on paper, in her favourite pen that could be neatly erased in case of errors, but it simply said Michelle right now in block capitals - like a temporary title sheet, until she came up with something better, something that weren't already taken.

In every way.

Shiori got to her feet, while Michelle who was sitting in a large armchair on the other side of the table glanced up from the jazz magazine she'd been in the middle of reading. "Wait, they said for Shirley," she hurried to tell her in English, as if trying to translate the barista's words to a more accessible language, knowing full well that Shiori still struggled with French, even after three years at its mercy.

"I'm Shirley," answered Shiori with a half-laugh. Wandered up to the counter and picked up her cafe latte which had a failed tree dripped into the foam. Had it been at a coffee shop in Tokyo, they'd have apologized wholeheartedly, regretted even this minor mistake. In Luxembourg City, however, the barista only raised an eyebrow at her, because Shiori clearly didn't look like someone by the name of Shirley.

"Shirley," Michelle repeated inquiringly when Shiori once again sunk into her own seat. In that one question, she undoubtedly sounded like the westener with the most Western name in the whole wide world.

"No one here can spell Shiori anyway."

Even as the Japanese baristas wrote her name in hiragana, although strictly it should be in kanji, simply because hiragana was easier to read aloud correctly, there was a homeliness to the characters, to the lines and the pressure of the pen that reminded her of Father's eggplant dishes on a Friday evening or Mother's muted conversations over the phone from inside her office at all times. Shirley, on the other hand, had been scribbled across the side of the cup in block capitals no prettier than Shiori's own and reminded her of nothing but the fact that she had a sloppy handwriting.

"I'd never thought about that, must have seen your name on the billboards too often." Michelle returned to her magazine. Only briefly did Shiori smile at her, at her eyes that were focused elsewhere, before she put down her coffee and leaned in over her notepad again. Politely refrained from commenting on how Michelle still pronounced her family name with the most marked, I-like sound you could imagine, despite the indubitably plenty of times she'd seen it in writing, despite all the time they'd known each other. Shiori Enomoto, she wrote, slowly and carefully beneath Michelle's already noted name. As a sort of reminder.

Like a schoolgirl's heartache in blue ink.

Still, it didn't look right, neither did it sound the way it should. The way it was supposed to.

She erased Michelle, was left with her own name, written in the lonesome and in reverse, along an uneven line of Latin letters. She sighed.

Supposedly, she'd have to start over, one more time.

travlinlight: (// no. 12)
2017-02-20 02:17 pm

// i picked you up on the way

I Picked You Up On the Way

You were no sight for sore eyes
But my heart is blind
And my soul needed the relief
So I picked you up
On the way
Home to my mom and dad's house
Where I lived then
For rent

The way home was long and winding
And my feet grew tired as we went
I was completely beside myself
Until you picked me up
On the way
You took my hand
You helped my steps along
Out into the world

Out into the wide
Out into the unknown

I first picked you up on the way
But you picked up me
At the end

( Translated from the Japanese )

travlinlight: (// no. 11)
2017-02-20 02:14 pm

// the sunny girl

The Sunny Girl

The sun has set on my heart
The sun has set in your hair
The sun drips down your cheeks
The sun rises upon your face
When you smile at me
And say the secret words
I love you
I love you
I love you

( Translated from the Japanese )

travlinlight: (// no. 14)
2017-02-20 02:07 pm

// died down

Died Down

All the songs I wrote
To you I hid
In a drawer
In my heart

I rediscovered them

I sang one for the entire world
Now the last word
Has disappeared
The last note
Has died down

You are long gone now
Light covers years
Sound echoes and dies

You are too far away now
To hear me sing
The songs I wrote
To you

( Translated from the Japanese )

travlinlight: (// default // trav'lin' light)
2016-10-19 01:22 pm

// trav'lin' light

Trav'lin' Light

I’m trav’lin’ light
Because my girl has gone
So from now on
I’m trav’lin’ light
She said goodbye
And took my heart away
So from today
I’m trav’lin’ light

No one to see
I’m free as the breeze
No one but me
And my memories
Some lucky night
She may come back again
So until then
I’m trav’lin’ light

No one to see
I’m free as the breeze
No one but me
And my memories
Some lucky night
She may come back again
So until then
I’m trav’lin’ light

travlinlight: (// no. 7)
2016-10-18 05:27 pm

// let me in

Let Me In

Can't you hear my heart beating
On your door? Three times, hard

Why don't you open up?

It's the fourth time my heart beats
In vain. The fourth time you shut me out

Why don't you open up?

Let me in, let me in!
The wind is cold, winter is coming
Let me in, I cry

Before winter is at your doorstep
Let me in, I cry
I cry

( Translated from the Japanese )

travlinlight: (// no. 5)
2016-10-17 10:05 am

// overseas blues

Overseas Blues

Word vessels full of sharp corners
Sailing about a country void of a sea
The night quietens nothing

Even the light is a sound
And every foreign noise in this city
Will simply be part of your new melody

Play it louder
Love it unconditionally
As a babe loves his mother
As a mother loves her babe

Even your homesickness sings
And every foreign note in this city
Will simply be part of your new melody

Dance wild
Dance free
Don't be afraid to fall
It's just a little overseas blues

Dance wild
Dance free
Don't be afraid to fly
It's just a little overseas blues

( Translated from the Japanese )