Russell Spurlock is the co-composer of the song for Humor Me. He was searching for someone who could supply the authenticity that he required. Though he was already an integral part of the film, Spurlock was not fluent in Japanese and as well versed in J-pop as someone like Jin. He comments, “When the producers reached out to us asking if we could create a traditional sounding Japanese track in a certain style, I knew Eiko was our only chance of pulling it off. Eiko possesses the rare ability to sing in nearly any style and multiple languages. We sent her the brief and within a few days she’d researched the specific style, composed the lyrics and melody, and recorded her parts perfectly. As a result of Eiko’s talents and professionalism, HMX was able to deliver the track very quickly and the client was thrilled. Eiko is a rare talent with a unique skill set that makes her a valuable asset to the music business. She is one of the best we have worked with. Eiko’s unique skills as a composer and singer made the Humor Me film job possible for us.
Humor Me is a film created by writer-director Sam Hoffman. It centers around a group of retirees at the Cranberry Bog retirement home. Elliott Gould appears as Bob, the father of Nate (played by Jemaine Clement), a struggling playwright who has recently moved in with his father due to marital woes. Nate takes on coaching a group of women in the community who are attempting to put on a production of the “Mikado.” In one particularly hilarious scene, Le Clanche du Rand attempts to seduce Nate. It is during this scene that du Rand opens the door in her kimono, and the song sung by Jin is the vinyl background. The character is surrounded by Japanese elements such as a kimono, hairstyle, and sake. The music needed to be Japanese to be congruent with the seduction plan.
Spurlock had created the instrumental track but left it to Eiko to create the melody and lyrics that would shape it into the perfect song for the filmmaker’s desire. Russell went to great pains to match the music to the J-pop of the 50’s era, which expedited Jin’s work. Because Japanese is not Eiko’s native language, it took slightly more time for her than she would have liked. She comments, “It has to be heard as a poem/lyrics. The J-pop songs of that era are all in a very slow tempo and minor key. All the singers’ voices are recorded very thin, almost as thin as possible. Most of the themes are about missing family, missing the love of their life, singing about their tragic life, singing about general sadness. I think Japan and Korea both like that kind of negative minor key folk song; that’s my understanding that I used to create this song. I have a flexible voice personality that I can sing in very high pitch and sounds very girly but I can also sing almost as low as a man’s voice. For the recording of the vocals, I imagined myself as a Japanese singer who works in the bar, singing tragic songs for the customers. It worked great in the film.” Working much like the actors she enables with her compositions, Eiko Jin took on the personage of a Japanese female singer of the 1950s and did so quite convincingly. Being able to mold oneself to the musical character of the film is as challenging and demanding for this composer as it is for any of the cast members of the film.