Meet Yuka, J-pop’s Rising Star Behind The Viral Hit, ‘Baby You’

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Time to add Yuka to your playlist.

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Behind every viral song on social media is a story. It’s not just a dance challenge, trend, or sped-up audio, there are people behind it who hoped but never expected their song to become everyone’s new favorite audio. Such is the case with J-pop singer-songwriter Yuka. 

Growing up, Yuka learned how to play classical piano before eventually branching out to writing her own songs after a suggestion by a judge during one of her auditions. And while she did make a name for herself in her native Japan, her music wasn’t reaching other shores, that is until she dropped Baby you in January 2023. As her debut under a major label, Yuka was entering a new era of her career, but she probably didn’t foresee Baby you becoming a runaway hit on TikTok, being used in millions of videos, landing the musician in charts around the world, and introducing the world to her take on lovey dovey pop tunes that won’t be leading the head anytime soon.  

It’s a big moment for Yuka, and she’s just getting started. We recently got the chance to sit down with the Japanese artist for one of her first English interviews as she opened up about her artistry, going viral, her new single Darling Darling, and more. Read on below for the full interview. 

How would you describe who Yuka is as an artist?

I would like to be an artist like the sun, which shines on everyone around them and brightens their day.

Is being a musician something you always wanted to do?

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a singer. I have been familiar with music and singing since I was a child, taking classical piano lessons and participating in choirs. It was in my third year of high school that I decided to become a singer/songwriter in earnest. When I auditioned as a singer, one of the judges suggested, “If you can play the piano, why don’t you write a song? That was the beginning of my career as a singer-songwriter.

I had never written a song before because I wanted to be a singer. So I started by simply writing for one person. The first song I wrote was a letter to a friend. I also wrote a song for my best friend when she was dumped by her older boyfriend and a song for everyone at my high school graduation ceremony. That feeling hasn’t changed. I only write songs for myself or for one person.”

After graduating from high school, I began performing live while attending a music college. The first turning point came in 2015. Using Instagram, which had launched its Japanese-language version the previous year, I began uploading videos of myself playing and narrating songs.

At first I could only upload 15-second videos, but then the time increased to 30 seconds and then to one minute. I kept uploading covers of my favorite songs, including songs by my all-time favorite Ayaka, both Western and Japanese, as well as my original songs.

I was worried that people thought of me as an ‘Instagrammer’ rather than a singer-songwriter,” but I continued to perform live on Instagram, I decided once again to “do music for the people who support me.

How did “Baby you” come about?

“Baby you” is my major-label debut single, co-produced with Takahito Uchisawa from the Japanese rock band Androp. The music was composed by Uchisawa himself. When I was struggling with how to sing it, he told me, “Since it’s Yuka’s song, you can sing it however you like.” That was the boost I needed to make the song my own.

When you were making “Baby you”, what did you envision the song to be?

I created this song to brightly express heartfelt emotions of unrequited love. While it carries a cheerful tone, I also incorporated realistic feelings into the lyrics. I would be delighted if you could pay attention to that aspect as well.

When did you first realize that “Baby you” was going viral on TikTok?

It was about a month after the song was released on streaming platforms. When I woke up in the morning one day, I was surprised to see a tremendous increase in TikTok posts related to and featuring the song. After that, a TikToker with millions of followers in Indonesia posted a video that got over a million views in one day, and at the end of March, a member of the K-Pop group TREASURE posted a video as well using “Baby you.” I feel like the song just kept gaining momentum, and has kept going since.

Whatʼs your reaction to seeing “Baby you” become the viral sensation that it is on social media?

What I honestly felt at first was “Thank God!”. It was my major label debut song, so I was really happy to know that so many people were listening to it

“Baby you” is about you trying to get the attention of someone you have feelings for. What  advice would you give to people who also want to let that special someone know that they have  feelings for them?

I hope you can convey your feelings without any regrets. It would be great if “Baby you” played in your head while confessing your feelings to that special someone. [Haha.]

You just dropped your new single on July 5. Whatʼs it about?

The song is titled “Darling Darling.” This song is a declaration of war against a love rival, expressing a strong desire of ‘Look at me too, more than that person!’ It carries a powerful emotional sentiment, if I say so myself.

Considering how itʼs your first single since the breakthrough success of “Baby you”, are you  nervous to meet expectations?

I’m not saying that I’m not nervous, but I’m happy if this song can give energy and power to anyone who hears it.

A lot of people see you as one of the new generations of Japanese pop stars to watch out  for. Does that distinction also come with pressure? And if so, how do you deal with it?

No pressure. I have been trying to make my own music reach as many people as possible, and I feel that it is gradually coming true. I am happy to have continued creating and sharing music.

For people who got curious to know more about you after listening to “Baby you”, what  other songs of yours would you recommend they check?

I hope you will listen to this new song and check out our other love songs ,which I’ve  written many of. Those include Partner and Happy date.

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