Yuriko Makes a Devastating Debut on Her Own Terms

Photo By Harshvardhan Shah

“I began experimenting with different styles a couple years ago with some producers, but that turned out to be a bad idea for me, and the music didn’t feel authentic,” says Brooklyn singer/songwriter Yuriko Munir. “I decided to fire them and do things my way.” With the release of “Bullet,” her debut single as Yuriko, you can hear what “her way” sounds like. Here, it’s unabashed vulnerability, awash in acoustic guitar chords and sorrowful strings.

Munir says despite the lost time, working with producers taught her to trust herself and her artistic impulses.

“This experience really gave me the push I needed to ‘just do it’ and push aside anxieties like feeling overly concerned about why my songs sound so different from one another, whether I should tread carefully as a queer brown woman, and which genres I should or shouldn’t do. I just asked myself for the first time, ‘What do I honestly want?’ and went from there.”

Enter “Bullet,” where violins played by Nick Montopoli and Henya Rosen, along with cello by Bryan Wilson, combine with Munir’s vocals in a slow, cathartic swell. The verses are vivid in their evocation of violence and repression, but also abstract–they were written, after all, in a less-than-orderly everyday environment.

“I wrote the lyrics last fall in a spontaneous burst of inspiration inside this loud, pulsing, Bollywood-inspired chai cafe in Lower Manhattan. Pretty funky place to write such a sad song,” says Munir. “It’s inspired by one of the darkest experiences of my life–a very convoluted story–and writing it helped me realize how much I need balance and detached reflection to write something I actually feel good about, especially when it comes to the sad stuff.”

Like Bryan Wang’s steady strumming, her voice is composed and deliberate. There’s an emotional matter-of-factness to the way she sings, and while she doesn’t divulge the song’s subject specifically, she makes no secret of the devastation they’ve brought her.

“I wrote something like a mirror to that experience–my mind’s confrontation with the feelings of melancholy, injustice, paranoia, numbness, and resignation that I felt and couldn’t fully understand in the moment.”

Munir has another single and a music video on the way, all in advance of an eight-song album due for release this summer. There’s no telling yet what sounds those tracks will bring, but one thing is for sure–they’ll be hers.

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