Think of TORIENA as a sort of retroactive manufacturer of your childhood. Internationally renowned for her innovative, intricate, and just plain fun chiptune compositions, TORIENA takes chiptune, the kind of synthesized electronic music that made up the soundtrack of most early console games and uses it to create driving, compelling compositions.
She’s teamed up with Moe Shop, Yunomi, and even Jun Senoue, the man behind the famed “Live and Learn” and most of the early 2000’s era Sonic games music, to provide tracks for the Team Sonic Racing soundtrack. Not surprising, considering her background.
If that weren’t impressive enough, she launched Japan’s first-ever chiptune label, MADMILKEY records, and co-owns a label with another famed chiptune producer, NNNNNNNNNN. From Soundcloud to working on video games directly, TORIENA shows there’s really no limits to what can be done in this world with some imagination (and a good composing software).
Background and Influences
She got exposure to music equipment and the diverse early on, her dad was a reggae DJ – probably one of the coolest jobs for your parents to have, in my opinion.
The reggae influence can be heard in songs like Time Capsule from her 2018 album SIXTHSENSE RIOT – there’s a few reggae drums before the drop, in an otherwise trap-esque, future bass sound.
Some of her brass band influence can be heard if you listen close enough. But she’s always been in tune with all kinds of music; punk rock, American pop music, drums n’ bass, electronica, techno, experimental, you name it.
Naturally, she’s taken inspiration from video games, citing Kirby, Pokemon, and MOTHER 2 as her favorites.
A.I. Complex Reveals TORIENA’s Innovative Complexity
Her 2014 album A.I. Complex and the titular track is pretty much the best of all worlds and the go to TORIENA sampler.
The track itself is lush, but no moment is the same; it starts off with a nice buildup and a clear sense of rock structure, then takes some turns into future bass/dubstep elements, while discordant elements in the background add a touch of unreality amidst dynamic dance percussion, funk, and key changes.
The music video for Pulse Fighter is less that and more like an intro screen for a video game, specifically a platformer/side scroller type of deal. It definitely looks like a game I’d want to play.
We follow TORIENA’s avatar, donned clown-esque makeup, colored hair, and costume, (think Baby from Sister Location), as she leaps from platform to platform and fights off small enemies and bosses, at one point making modern-day references to Amazon via “kumazon” and calling in some help.
The music itself feels like a stage and boss fight all at once, but awesome nonetheless.
Moe Shop, Yunomi, and Other Collabs
Composition isn’t all she does – she sings and draws, too. Her collaboration with Moe Shop on Notice moe shop – notice (w/ toriena) is a funky, groove, disco dance beat, with fat, solid bass atop TORIENA’s light, cutesy rap about waiting on a text response, with pleas of “Please senpai, notice me” throughout.
It’s a bit of tongue in cheek throwback in a way that feels very modern and sleek. DJ Yunomi, known for collaborations with vocalists and other artists, yunomi – wakusei rabbit (ft. toriena) has a more standard structure with modern dubstep elements against a backdrop of digital bell sounds, with random drops in the middle of an otherwise light, cutesy, song featuring TORIENA’s vocals.
Her most notable collaboration, of course, has to be her contribution to the Team Sonic Racing soundtrack along video game rock legend Jun Senoue. He enlisted her help in bringing a more electronic, retro sound to the racing game.
TORIENA Follows Her Bliss to Authentic Stardom
TORIENA may not think her looks, songs, and fashion are iconic enough for Idol status, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t made her mark being exactly who she is.
On her Instagram, you’ll find colorful original art that almost looks vaporwave-inspired, pastel hair color changes, grunge fashion, and hoodies. Lots and lots of hoodies.
To be TORIENA is to accept all the bits and pieces of oneself and combine them into an interesting whole, and her music follows suit.
What might be the dopest thing about TORIENA is her authenticity and honesty. She’s all about people pursuing their music dreams, just as long as they’re clear about what they want and going for it.
From there, musical authenticity is almost guaranteed, in her opinion. She’s also humble about her success, still growing into her own authentic style.
That kind of mindset is not only inspiring, but shows that the best is yet to come from TORIENA.