SAKA-SAMA summed up the state of idol for 2019 in a nutshell: They kicked off in January as a six-member unit, then experienced a major overall, leaving them as Kokone’s solo act for a bit, and is now ending the year with multiple-group veteran Mizuho stepping up as a support recruit, rebranding SAKA-SAMA as a duo. (I think they’ve been a duo at least once before… it’s hard to remember every incarnation!) How long will this arrangement last? It’s a SAKA-SAMA world, so we’ll just have to simply wait and see! But this moment in the group’s evolving history will be documented in the form of a recorded single that’s title translates to “Goodnight Judy”. So with this new single, how does the dynamic change? Here’s an MV to give us the insight…
It was just mere days ago we were talking about that wonderful footage of RAY performing live in Taiwan, and we took a moment to also mention that the group will also be releasing their first single/EP, entitled “Blue”. The release has lovely cover art and an extremely impressive roster of collaborators. Now we’ve been blessed with another highly anticipated track on the disk, “Meteor”, featuring an instrumental arrangement by Elliot Frazier of the highly regarded Austin band Ringo Deathstarr!
This is one of those times and RAY is one of those groups where I try to remain self-aware of my effusive praise and realize that if I get too over-the-top raving about how much I love this, I run the risk making some of you question if my judgment is clouded by my gushing enthusiasm. Yeah well, I’m raving cause Holy Moses I love this song to the moon and back.
Even if this wasn’t one of my favorite groups currently on the scene, I’d be still incredibly excited and wanting more. The wash of the guitars, the reverb, bubbling bass and the drums are just perfect examples of the musical influences of this group. And the lush, almost buried (Sung in English, no less.) vocals are beautiful indeed! There’s a bit of a half-joking argument in shoegaze circles that in this genre, the vocals need to be barely heard and nearly indecipherable to be truly gazing at shoes, and this certainly does that, adding a delicious air of mystery to the song. (The actual lyrics are in the YouTube description, by the way.)
As for the MV, it’s just gorgeous, brimming with sensory overload and yet an underlying feeling of melancholia. It intimately captures how a megacity like Tokyo can be at equal turns exciting and bursting with bustling activity, but yet at the same time be the most oppressively lonely place on Earth. Notice how the MV begins with high-tech consumer-driven dazzle, but by the end, mundane images of street cleaning and trash collection work their way in, as the superficial wonder of the city gives way to garbage bags and emotionally exhausted people hanging their heads low on the late-night streets.
There’s so many amazing shots here, from the wide pans over the busy intersections to the close-ups of pay phones and long treks down vacancies corridors, that tell us a dozen stories at once. And binding everything together is RAY member Marino Kai wandering through it all, trying to simply get through this night and maybe hopefully finding something better tomorrow as she pauses to silently sip a beer.
RAY is delivering on it’s every promise here. A beautiful merging of music, art, and the concepts of idol in complex, fascinating ways, with collaborations by top talent. I hope this upcoming release really puts them on the map, and that people everywhere take notice. I would love to see this group visit Austin and perform at SXSW, showing the real potential of this genre beyond the old idol tropes and stereotypes. Here’s wishing them the best!
I’ve been kind of tingling with giddy anticipation all day today since this bit of news broke via a retweet from the Dots staff twitter. As you may know, the mysterious mind behind Dots has been quietly planning a successor to the seminal experimental and constantly evolving shoegaze idol project, and at last, it appears that the time is nigh for the next event to break out and dare I suggest, likely shatter expectations with an exciting new unit…
— 音楽ナタリー (@natalie_mu) April 15, 2019
It’s RAY, and their plan as stated, is to bring about “Omnidirectional music development and performance”. The group is determined to achieve a fusion of idol with different fields of interest in ways that have never been done before. They’ve also stated that they fully intend to reach out and collaborate with creators on a global level, and they’ve already made good on that promise: Their first international connection will come in the form of music provided by the amazing Austin, Texas shoegaze band Ringo Deathstarr. (This is the part where I went from excited to really really excited.)
It turns out that Ringo Deathstarr toured Japan earlier this year and crossed paths with Dots while making the highly active shoegaze scene there, and well, good things came of it. This is a pretty high-profile beginning that could potentially introduce RAY with a pretty new audience, with a nice bit of indie-cred attached to it!
So who are these RAY girls? A couple of things: This group will be significantly different because the members will not be anonyomous entities. And not only will they have names attached to their faces, but each girl will also pursue solo work, and work on individual projects using crowdfunding to help pursue their goals. It’s a very unique and yet still groundbreaking arrangement that’ll be interesting to see unfold. Here they are…
(I’m not sure if anyone looks familiar to you or not, but I’ll offer you this much… One of these girls is somebody whose eyes you’ve never seen before…)
— RAY (@_RAY_world) April 15, 2019
— RAY (@_RAY_world) April 15, 2019
RAY will be making their live debut on May 1st, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll be highly talked about shortly after. You can follow the group’s twitter account here, their official website here, and also click on the members above to follow them too!
Very cool and very wonderful things are unfolding here, and this is your opportunity to not miss the boat. RAY is gonna show us the way!
How conveniently named then!
Yes friends, the thing that you should be incredibly hype for if you’re able to go, and at least somewhat hype for just because it exists, is now something that you can officially purchase a ticket for, which you should undoubtedly do, and soon:
— ORIONlive UK (@ORIONlive_UK) January 18, 2019
I won’t lie, when I first saw an announcement post followed by news tweets of Ichiho’s face, I panicked a little. Thankfully, it’s nothing to do with my horrible luck when it comes to picking oshis this time around.
— ドワンゴジェイピーnews (@dwangojpnews) September 3, 2018
At first, I was going to try and weasel out of this, “oh, I don’t know enough about this for a full article, maybe I’ll leave it for Weekender fuel” but then I remembered that I just published an article about a group who have released almost nothing at all, and I realised I had no excuse. Continue reading
So. It’s Sunday. There are no hard-and-fast rules around what does and does not constitute “easy” when it comes to Sundays, though that designation has in the past extended to such things as HAMIDASYSTEM and random H!P things and I think AH* that one time. The point is, I usually like to use Sunday as a time to celebrate cool, interesting, homi-ish idol things that maybe don’t have the pedal all the way down to the metal.
Today, arguably my new favorite thing this week, wyenra:
News of this unit’s creation and inauguration has been randomly, one might even say ordained-ly, been kicking around Twitter and my dang inbox for a couple of weeks, but here they are, for real, in the digital flesh. Completely self-produced, self-managed, etc. They’re still putting together their first lives, but they’re also putting together really nice music with a really well-done MV. Also, two of the members are sisters, I think. Continue reading
This is pretty cool; if you have a little while today or tomorrow or over the weekend or at some point before the heat death of the universe, give this documentary on the idol underground, the people performing and the people who love them a watch:
— PureIdolHeart (@Pureidolheart) November 2, 2016
I found this article while cruising through Reddit. It’s several months old, but the information is probably still really valuable.
Not all of the idols featured on this site are indie, and the indie scene is so big and diverse that it would be nuts to even try to encompass everything (even the forthcoming companion site won’t try that), but we do have a soft spot for those self-managed, in-it-for-the-love-of-performance idols who “tour” Tokyo or Osaka and have a handful of devoted wotas and otherwise sweet, delicious anonymity outside of the clubs.
This is also a good opportunity to link again to good friend Pure Idol Heart (site / Facebook), who seriously follows the indies and smaller agency talents. There’s another real insider look to the process of becoming and being an idol that you should look into.