Japan’s Tokimeki Records finds new city pop muse in Filipina singer-songwriter syd hartha


After gaining prominence with some notable pop classics, Japanese music project Tokimeki Records brings boogie and ‘80s retro sounds back to the dancefloor with a reimagining of The Cardigans’ “Carnival.”

Featuring Filipina singer-songwriter syd hartha on vocals, the new version of “Carnival” evokes pre-pandemic Tokyo where neon pulses through the towering skyscrapers and a random stroll downtown offers the best form of therapeutic escape. Trading the ‘90s twee-pop sound of the original for a more lighthearted disco-pop affair, electronic music producer Yutaka Takanami of Tokimeki Records embraces the carefree bliss that has come to define his previous releases, while infusing spacious production and sticky-sweet, synthesizer melodies to the mix. 

“One of the most influential western pop songs of the 1990s for me was Carnival,” Tokimeki Records’ very own Yutaka Takanami shares. “It was also played on TV at the time, but it was also played and covered in the Japanese club scene. I've been wanting to get an Asian singer to sing this song, and I was hoping that syd would sing it for me. It was a dream came true.”

According to Yutaka Takanami, he found out about syd hartha from Kevin Foo, the former label owner of Singapore-based Umami Records and currently the General Manager of Sony Music Taiwan. “I also checked out her YouTube page, and after watching her sing cute but mature songs, I fell in love with her all over again.”

Elevating the track’s uniquely nostalgic vibe with effortless subtlety and grace, syd hartha delivers a sophisticated performance that is quite different from anything that she’s released in her folk-pop catalog. The award-winning Sony Music artist is eternally grateful to explore other opportunities with Tokimeki Records, including the honor to get handpicked to represent the country in this prestigious project. 

“It’s fulfilling to try new things, and succeed in going out of your comfort zone as a musician,” the 20-year-old singer-songwriter admits. “I’m really happy that I was able to put my own take on a beloved ‘90s tune and work with a globally renowned producer like Namy for this track.”

“Carnival” is the first release under Yutaka Takanami’s new label, “Namy&” and is part of Tokimeki Records’ efforts to “express the old, nostalgic atmosphere and worldview in the modern age” and bring nostalgic sounds to pop consciousness.

Pre-Save and listen “Carnival” here: https://tokimeki.lnk.to/Carnival

About Tokimeki Records

When the night falls on the city, Tokimeki Records take the stage to bring you the nostalgic sounds.  When the summer was nearing its end in 2019, a musical project was launched to cover 80’s-90’s hit songs of Japan and abroad.  Electro-boogie sounds highlighted by synthesizers are infused with the singer’s soulful & sensual voice to tell stories of sophisticated, mellow and sultry evenings.

About Yutaka Takanami

Yutaka Takanami was born and raised in Japan's snow country, Niigata Prefecture, where nature abounds.  As a traveling sound selector, he sometimes creates and sometimes selects music with musicians from Japan and abroad to accompany scenes and people.

As a traveling sound selector, he works with musicians from Japan and abroad, sometimes creating and sometimes selecting music that is close to the scene and people, and enjoys his daily activities.

 He is also a producer of AmPm, a masked project with over 70 million plays on Spotify.

When AmPm released "Best Part of Us" as a limited distribution in March 2017, it ranked #38 on Spotify's global viral chart and #6 on the US viral chart. It was an unprecedented hit for an indie Japanese artist (total views as of April 2018: 12.2 million).

In 2017, he represented Japan at his first live performance at "Spotify On Stage" hosted by Spotify in Indonesia in front of an audience of about 10,000 people.

In February 2018, he became the first Japanese artist to officially remix one of the world's leading EDM artists, Afrojack. In March, he was invited to perform at the 20th anniversary of the world's largest dance music festival, Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

He has become a household name in Japan and around the world at an exceptionally fast pace. He has also been involved in various other music projects, and has released 10 original albums under the name Namy, as well as selecting BGM for "TRUNK (HOTEL)" and "STARFLYER".

With his music project Namy, "I Can't Wait" and "Not This Time" debuted at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart in the Breakout category for the second consecutive year.

About syd hartha

syd hartha broke through the public consciousness with songs that are intensely personal in nature, but universal in a way that it captures volume and vigor beyond words. While her contemporaries are busy chasing algorithm-driven trends, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Manila finds beauty in ruins and self-reflection, showcasing unguarded moments of vulnerability with captivating rawness.

After making rounds in the gig circuit, syd caught the interest of Sony Music Philippines, which eventually signed her as one of its esteemed rosters. It was with her involvement with the international record label that syd started to polish her sound with understated grace and newfound maturity. She wrote empowering anthems such as “ayaw,” which affirms her stand against sexual harassment and abuse towards women in general, and the assertive “paruparo,” an earthy but compelling affair that features her current backing band for the first time: Raisa Racelis on bass, Pat Sarabia on drums, and Bea Fabros on guitars on percussions. Both songs topped Jam 88.3’s top 10 countdown—a weekly roundup of the biggest hits on the Philippines’ only alternative rock station.

The following year, syd hartha proved to be a vital force in several award-giving bodies in music. The multi-talented artist earned her first nomination for New Artist of the Year at the 2020 MYX Awards 2020 and another one for Wish Contemporary Folk Song of the Year at the 5th Wish 107.5 Music Awards. A few months after, the young singer-songwriter bagged her first win for Best Folk Recording at the 33rd Awit Awards, the country’s equivalent of the Grammys. 

To date, syd has racked up more than 10 million streams on Spotify alone—a testament to her growing fanbase. She has recently released songs that pivot towards radio-friendly territory—from the rap-inflected “Hiwaga” to the electronic pop jam “All My Sins,” which features Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Sarah Barrios.

 The Hiwaga songstress is also slated to release her up-and-coming debut record next year under Sony Music Philippines. 

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