To understand what makes Japanese artist and producer Cuushe's 2020 album, WAKEN, such a triumph, it's important to understand the tragedy that preceded it.

In 2018, Cuushe publicly spoke out about her experience being stalked and harassed for over a year by another Japanese electronic producer. In a lengthy Facebook post, she detailed the ordeal which began as an online harassment campaign targeted at her and other members of Japanese label Flau that eventually escalated into this artist breaking into her apartment and stealing music equipment, clothing, her computer and hard drives that contained years of her work, as well as compromising photos that her abuser then posted online. He would later be apprehended after burglarizing her apartment for the second time and promised in court that he would not return to the music industry only to be appear on a major festival lineup under a pseudonym just a short while later.

Without dwelling too much on trauma, the incident had understandably left Cuushe shaken and took its toll on her peace of mind. In a recent interview, she recalled during this period that "I had lost my confidence in making music and in myself" and later even admitted she's not sure if she will actually make a return to playing live shows. Derailed and destabilized, there was some uncertainty about whether or not we would hear from Cuushe anytime soon, but thankfully that wasn't the case and last year she reemerged with one of her strongest bodies of work date.

An artist best known for her airy vocals and gossamer touch, Cuushe's WAKEN was grounded in dancefloor-primed rhythms, vivid melodies, and a palpable confidence and sense of conviction. Racing breaks and pulsating house beats firm up the edges around billowing clouds of shimmering pastel synths, bringing the amorphous dream pop haze into sharp focus. Each track on the album feels incredibly expansive and lush in detail, whether it's the brassy drawn out horns that intermingle with the urgent flurry of percussion on "Not to Blame" or the crystalline chimes that permeate melancholic beauty of "Magic."

By addressing societal injustices and unpacking her own trauma, WAKEN serves as not only a testament to Cuushe's resilience but a beacon of personal hope. Throughout the record, Cuushe's voice stands firmly at the forefront, unapologetic and fully in control of her own narrative. It's inspiring to behold and has us looking forward to whatever this new chapter may bring for the artist.

For her PAPER Mix, Cuushe has curated a dreamy hour of sparkling hidden gems, drawing on everything from '80s city pop to '90s J-pop that's interwoven with experimental moments, atmospheric electronics and music from her own network of friends.

Listen to Cuushe's PAPER Mix and check out the tracklist, below:

Tracklist

Haco - Tidal
Nav Katze - Wild Horse (Global Mix Communication)
Nanaco - Lick Your Footsteps to Clean My Room
Anomie Belle - Unwind (Cuushe Remix)
浜崎あゆみ - Happy Ending x Mad Professor
Spank Happy - I Love Youの逆襲
岩本千春 - キス
矢吹紫帆 - Whiper of Air
嶺川貴子 - Pop up Squirrels
Moskitoo - Tarantella
Cuushe - Swimming in the Room (Julia Holter Remix)
朝日美穂 - Conversation
Sawako - Uta Pane
岡村みどり - きずねこ
椎名林檎 - ポルターガイスト
土岐麻子 - 私のお気に入り
長谷川白紙 - LOVEずっきゅん
G.Rina - Rocket
Pr3k - +997 Landline ft. Cuushe
にせんねんもんだい - B1 (You Ishihara Mix)
Mar-Pa - Millenium
清水靖晃 - Pattern
ミナクマリ - 夕空と雲
加藤訓子 - Electric Counterpoint
マリマリ - Night Birdy
橋本一子 - La, La maladie du sommeil
Seahawks - Drifting ft. Indra Dunis of Peaking Lights (Sapphire Slows Remix)
Iglooghost - Gold Coast ft. Cuushe
島田奈美 - Tokyo Refresh
Gabriela Robin - Cat on Mars (DMX Krew Remix)
Her Ghost Friend - たぶんわたしがゆうれいだったら
Et Aliae - Feel Me ft. Cuushe
小川美潮 - 花の子供
原マスミ - 海で暮らす
宇多田ヒカル ft. KOHH - 忘却
坂本昌之 - 妖精 プシケイ
Marucoporoporo - Never Let Me Go
田中茉裕 - ゆるして
Cuushe - Strange Animal (Pawn Remix)
34423 - Echoco
Mkwaju Ensemble - Mkwaju Suite - Tira Rain
Kumisolo - Pico Pico Womanずっと真夜中でいいのに - 彷徨い温度
藤井むつ子 - ラサ・サヤ
石橋英子 - Gastank

Photo courtesy of Cuushe

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