Many J-pop stars perform under pseudonyms, but Salyu took it a step further, debuting as Lily Chou-Chou, a fictional rock star with very real songs, one of which was even used by Quentin Tarantino, before launching a career as a real person (though still under an alias). Born Ayako Mori in 1980, she studied piano from an early age and joined a school choir to combat pneumonia she contracted in primary school (it was either this or swimming lessons, and she made her choice). In 1998, she began auditioning as an aspiring performer, and was eventually scouted by Takeshi Kobayashi, who worked with Mr. Children and Hitoto Yo, to play the title character in the upcoming Shinji Iwai movie All About Lily Chou-Chou. "Lily Chou-Chou" released two singles in 2000, but their gloomy rock sound did not catch on with the public. The album Kokyuu, which was released by Toshiba EMI, came out in 2001, along with the movie, and only charted at number 60, although the movie went on to become a cult classic, and Chou-Chou's song "Kaifuku Suru Kizu" was used in Tarantino's Kill Bill.
Mori went on a hiatus after this, but re-emerged in late 2002 as Salyu (a corrupted version of the French "salut"). She spent almost two years playing live before hitting the studio, and her first post-hiatus release, the single "Valon" (2004), was a collaboration with Ilmari of Rip Slyme, although it was followed by her own version of the single as well, which made it her debut record. It only charted at number 34, and although her first full-length, Landmark (2005), climbed to number 20, her sales remained subpar. But in 2005, Salyu was invited to perform at the three-day high-profile charity festival organized by Sakurai Kazutoshi of Mr. Children, and got the opportunity to sing with his charity project Bank Band on the single "To U," which was a smash hit. This finally got things going for her, as her next two singles, "Name" (penned by Hitoto Yo) and "Platform," with tie-ins to the movie Metro ni Notte, both scored number 15, and her second album, Terminal, rose to number two. She did not record much in 2007-2009, when she only released a couple of singles and a best-of collection, but returned with third album Maiden Voyage in 2010, scoring number seven on the Oricon. ~ Alexey Eremenko