Indie singer-songwriter Arumimihifumi (right) has a split personality. It is most obviously reflected in her appearance. Onstage, she dazzles with sophisticated, glitzy outfits. Offstage, the rising star looks like the girl next door, in a striped shirt and miniskirt. Her mixed parentage - her mother is Japanese, her father Taiwanese - contributes to her conflicting identities. But Arumimihifumi, whose Chinese name is Ko Yuk-fei, is proud of her duality. At last year's Commercial Radio 2 music awards, she wore a kimono to accept a bronze newcomer's prize. Her first Cantonese song, released this year, is Genki Rice Pudding, a metaphor for the importance of co-operation and unity ('genki' meaning healthy, and rice pudding evoking the image of cohesiveness). Eager to have her finger in as many pies as possible, Arumimihifumi released a 68-page book called Legendary Tales this week. The publication includes stories about the performer, who refuses to reveal her age, and her songs. It also features musical scores, 'free' drawings inspired by her life, comments from her fans and, of course, photos of the artist. The book is a spin-off from Legendary Queen, a mini-album released in January that fans have described as 'Japanese cutie pop' or experimental electronic music. To Arumimihifumi, though, her music is more 'fruit punch'. 'It is a mixture of Eastern and Western styles,' she says. 'Let's just call it Arumimihifumi's music.' Born in the northern Japanese prefecture of Fukuoka, Arumimihufumi spent her early years under the care of her grandmother. She later joined her parents in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where she spent her formative years, training in dance at Tainan Women's College of Arts and Technology after she completed high school. Upon her graduation in 1995, she moved to Hong Kong, where she studied stage management at the Academy for Performing Arts (APA). Apart from working as a stage manager in local productions including Edward Lam Yik-wah's Bad Girls Meet Material Boys in 1997, Arumimihifumi was also costume assistant for the Broadway show, Miss Saigon, when it came to Hong Kong two years ago. Her music, however, has been her ticket to fame, albeit at the underground level. In 1997, she was approached by an independent music production company, Soy Sauce, which had seen her perform at the APA. She has released three albums in Hong Kong, the others being Messing Around (1999), which sold about 3,000 copies, and Ms Takao (2001). Hers is the classic David vs Goliath story of small, independent musicians taking on the big record labels. Arumimihifumi says she's not in it for the money - in fact, she claims she doesn't even know how well her 2001 album has sold. Even so, money has become a priority because she owes $200,000 to a Japanese studio, the cost of producing Legendary Queen. She says she is prepared to cut her monthly expenses to the bone - less than $3,000, if necessary - if sales of her album and book do not recoup the costs. But that is a price she is willing to pay to make music without selling her soul. 'All I rely on is word of mouth among fans and the response is usually slow,' she says. I don't want to flash the book in front of my chest and hard-sell it. And I never send demo tapes out.' The aim is to break even. 'If I have to attend lots of press conferences and do a lot of concerts, I can't produce music,' she says.