Hey! Just a quick announcement: Our man Daemon, who does this thing on as regular a basis as anybody that I know, will be at the Tucson Japanese Festival this weekend for not one, not two, but three presentations on contemporary Japanese music, which you just know includes idol!
Anyone who happens to be in Tucson tomorrow, drop by. I’ll be leading talks on Alt-Idol, Kawaii Metal and J-Pop in general. pic.twitter.com/qsaclEQTEQ
It’s five bucks. That’s $5! That’s as close to free entertainment as it gets in this day and age, and you’re bound to learn about something new and interesting — D’s got wide-ranging tastes and obvious passion for them. Check it out!
Meet the people bringing Japan’s most compelling music acts to the West
For those Westerners who have fallen down the JPop rabbit hole, there are a few common stages that just about everyone goes through. Somewhere after devouring any English-language sites Google can find and consuming all unblocked videos on YouTube, comes the burning desire to see our newfound musical idols live. North America and Europe have been fortunate the last few years to see almost annual tours by BABYMETAL, Perfume, One OK Rock and Hatsune Miku, but for those whose tastes are a bit less mainstream, the chance to see independent and alternative artists usually involves pricing plane tickets to Japan.
Fortunately for us, a small group of fans-turned-promoters have taken it upon themselves to bring live underground idol and alternative JRock to the West. A few of these intrepid souls were gracious enough to answer our questions about why they decided to jump into the business of international music booking and promotion, the biggest challenges they encounter, and what plans they have for the future.
Daemon‘s had himself one hell of an idol-meeting August, friends, and the still-not-last entry from his fine run of work is this interview with SENANAN. Kudos to D, thanks to Hailey at Chaotic Harmony for booking and translating, and of course big thanks to Senanan!
There is a Circle K in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, down the street from the Sheraton Grand Hotel that hosts Saboten Con each year over the Labor Day weekend. Many customers and con-goers who happened to pop into the convenience store during this past convention encountered a stunned clerk who could not stop telling each and every one of his customers about his unforgettable encounter with an energetic young Japanese woman who had reacted to the place like it was a Disneyland theme park. He would tell how she had come into the store like a tornado, about her joyful exclamations in Japanese to all the glowing lights and colors, how she marveled at the 12-foot-long fountain drinks bar before purchasing a mountain of Monster energy drinks, all pink or blue food items on offer, and then bounced off into the darkness.
The young woman the clerk had encountered that night was Senanan (stylized, SENANAN), who also documented her Circle K adventure on her Twitter feed. That this five-minute encounter turned into an unforgettable moment the clerk was compelled to share with anyone who would listen (possibly, to this day) should not be surprising. While Senanan is a singer, DJ, model, fashion designer, and social media personality, at her core she is primarily an unstoppable ball of charismatic energy.
Fans of chika idol may have become aware of Senanan because of her connections to the creative team supporting kawaii-punk idol unit Candye Syrup. She is highly active on several social media platforms, often with (former) mermaid-blue member Mai-chan in tow. She is also a manager and buyer for Candye Syrup boutiques and well known for cultivating a unique fashion footprint in the hyper-competitive world of Tokyo Street fashion. Senanan’s aesthetic infuses traditional Chinese fashion elements with Western sportswear and yume kawaii. It’s a unique, and comfortably wearable, combination of Western kakkoii and Japanese kawaii with the Chinese elements providing a playful, throwback twist. Continue reading →
In one of the weirdest honors ever accidentally given to anybody, fate just so happened to twist in a direction by which Candye Syrup’s final-ever media appearance happened in the United States, and in a Homicidols sit-down executed by your friend and mine @DaeMetal
U.S. idol fans on the West Coast are the luckiest of us all, because they’re the ones who get to sweep up the handful of idol lives that trickle across the Pacific. Our man Daemon, hot off the East Meets West Music Fest, hit up SabotenCon over the weekend to connect with Candye Syrup for their last gasp, a remarkable touch of luck.
Candye Syrup, who saw their debut on August 19, 2017 at Shibuya Milkyway in Tokyo, has now held their final performance on August 31 2018, just 377 short days later. The only good thing in this whole wretched mess is that Candye Syrup’s last live was held at Saboten Con in Phoenix, Arizona, so we in the Southwestern U.S. were given the blessed opportunity to send them off.
The crowd that gathered to see Candye Syrup’s last live contained a handful of American chika idol diehards, but was primarily made up of Saboten attendees whose familiarity to the group was watching a few videos on YouTube after hearing they would be performing at the Con. Some had been turned into instant fans on first exposure and were a bit shell-shocked to learn that they would be witnessing both Candye Syrup’s U.S. debut and final show. Continue reading →
This past weekend, our man Daemon hit up the East Meets West Music Fest; with Monsterpanda in tow as translator, he sat down with literally three of this site’s all-time favorite idols. Today, we have his report back from entering the holiest of holies with Yanakoto Sotto Mute, the perfect modern idols.
Talking to the people waiting for the doors to Anaheim’s Chain Reaction to open for East Meets West Fest, it became apparent that the one group over from Japan that people were least familiar with was Yanakoto Sotto Mute. Even though their debut, “Bubble”, was on several websites’ Album of the Year lists for 2017, and their follow-up Mirrors is a contender for the current year, Yanamute still seems fly under the radar for some Western fans of chika idol. One person in line behind me said he had intentionally avoided listening to them. “I don’t want to know anything about them,” he said, “I want to experience them raw for the first time.”
While a part of me envied him that imminent experience, I was also a little concerned. Yanakoto Sotto Mute can be a lot to take in all at once. Their music is complex: Rife with signature, tempo and key changes while their vocals play with harmony and dissonance. Their dancing is like a more contemplative version of Mikiko-sensei’s gesture-based choreography and can seem more focused on expressing internal dialogue than generating audience participation. But for all of the brooding introspection, Yanamute’s performances also contain frequent, audience-churning moments of fierce and inspired joy.
A few hours prior, we had been given the opportunity to speak to Yanamute’s Nadeshiko, Mani, Ichika and Rena about their impending debut American performance. As we were led in to meet them, the quartet were dressed in their signature white costumes, each cut to a distinct and individual pattern. Much like their music, they came across as both bright and introspective; contemplative and friendly. And just a little nervous. Continue reading →
This past weekend, our man Daemon hit up the East Meets West Music Fest; with Monsterpanda in tow as translator, he sat down with literally three of this site’s all-time favorite idols. Today, we have his report back from crossing paths — and surviving — with Hanako-san.
On the morning of the opening day of the East Meets West Music Fest, we are directed to a rehearsal studio that sits among the warehouses of industrial Anaheim. Far from Disneyland but about a mile from Chain Reaction, site of festival itself, the studio’s walls are plastered with photos of The Dickies, Agent Orange, Voodoo Glow Skulls and other indie icons of Orange County. Over a door with a hand written sign that reads “Control Room” is a doodle signed by Derek Riggs, the artist who created Iron Maiden’s mascot “Eddie”. While the place doesn’t exactly feel haunted, we are led through the door next to the control room to conduct a face-to-face interview with a blood-drenched ghost visiting all the way from Japan.
14th Generation Hanako-san of the Toilet is a 404 year-old youkai (ghost) who haunts fourth-floor bathrooms and performs as a solo punk idol. As she explains in the intro to her shows by holding up sign boards to the audience: “My head has been cut off. I cannot speak. But I can sing.” And sing she does in a brittle, child-like voice, but more significantly, she screams. Of all the harsh vocalists in chika idol, Hanako-san is perhaps the most natural screamer. Her screams are primal and ferocious and seem to come out of her more effortlessly than clean vocals.
Upon introduction to Hanako-san, she comes across as schoolgirl-cute in her signature red and white complete with a shiny red randoseru (the iconic backpack for Japanese schoolchildren). She is as unfailingly polite as any Japanese idol would be and often bursts into sincere giggles. The only indication that we are in the presence of something more ominous are her bandaged neck, blood-red eye and eyepatch, and the bloodstains patterning her white shirt and socks.
Hanako-san’s visit to America is not only the first time that she has been outside of Japan, but the first time she has ever been on a plane. My first question to her is to see how she is adjusting. Continue reading →
In the spirit of elevating more of the very smartest voices among us, I asked Babymetal megashow-attender and Corenament almost-winnerDaeMetal to share his impressions. As one of the few people alive who may love YSM more than me, I’m sure that this will be a completely unbiased exercise. Take it away, Mr. 444!
One of the primary goals of my most recent trip to Japan was to witness as many Yanakoto Sotto Mute lives as possible. I was fortunate enough to catch them three times and was happy to confirm that they are, in fact, the real deal; as Maniac dubbed them, “the idol unit that was born perfect”. Not only can they pull off their vocals live (quite a feat considering the demanding range and complex harmonies of their compositions), but their performances display an emotional range in their songs that isn’t evident from just listening to BUBBLE, their first and utterly brilliant album. Yanakoto Sotto Mute are one of those rare groups whose live performances dramatically enhance the songs, giving them additional dimensions beyond the definitive perfection of a studio recording. For those of you in the Western Hemisphere who haven’t begun making plans to see their overseas debut at East Meets West Fest in August, I encourage you to do so. Seeing YSM live is a bucket-list-worthy event. Continue reading →
As I mentioned in the Weekender, team, ol’ Maniac won’t be providing first-person accounts of his own from the NSLE shows; instead, I turn to friends! And nobody will travel further for, and deliver a better description of, the idol experience than our old pal Daemon. Take it away, sir!
So, everyone raise their hand that was worried about the reception of Not Secured, Loose Ends’ (aka Yukueshirezutsurezure) Western debut! Now, everyone can put their hands down and pretend they knew it was going to go fine all along. TL;DR: NSLE freaking destroyed the Rivoli in Toronto last night and the crowd loved every second of it. Continue reading →