First, apologies that it’s a little short. Translation difficulties I alluded to elsewhere meant that the chat was not as free-flowing as I had hoped. But hey, isn’t this the first post-Necronomidol interview with Sari?I’m pretty sure it’s the first one in English, so let’s claim that. Friends, Romans, countrymen: Homicidols.com presents…
Just a few months ago, Homicidols published a profile of fans-turned-promoters bringing alternative idols to the Western World. Looking back now, the article is a bit embarrassingly anglo-centric. Unbeknownst to us at the time, a group of Italian-speaking fans were putting the finishing touches on their own considerable efforts to launch an alt-idol festival in Italy. When the final lineup for the event was revealed in mid-February, it was clear that there was a new and significant player in the business of importing underground Japanese idol to the West.
Seemingly overnight, the hardol diaspora had grown another tendril.
On May 11th in Bologna, Italy, Monster of Dolls will play host to alt-idol A-listers LADYBABY, the Western debut of JyuJyu, and an appearance by the legendary Sari of NECRONOMIDOL fame. The event’s biggest coup, however, is scoring the first ever overseas live for perhaps the hottest chika idol act in Tokyo: Melon Batake a go go.
The appearance of this top-tier alt-idol festival, seemingly out of nowhere, was the most pleasant of surprises. Our curiosity was piqued, not just about the cost of plane tickets to Italy, but also about the festival itself, the brains behind it, and about the Italian-speaking fandom whose presence we had been totally ignorant of until now. So we reached out to our new Italian allies in the quest to bring alt-idol to the West in the hopes that we could learn all we could.
We think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
In this current early 2019 period of disbandments, graduations and letdowns, a favourite from all the way since the birth of Homicidols has instead gone down an opposite route. Herself being a victim of the “start of the year curse” just last year, Yoneko has been buckling down hard to make sure there’s at least one idol providing consistent positivity through the tides of bad news from other performers. In just three months, Yoneko has graced us with a digital single, three CD-Rs, a fantastic collaboration with FEATURES and three music videos.
Most recently, she has been making a passionate effort to reach out to her fans outside of Japan, turning her into a beloved figure amongst the western idol fandom almost overnight.
She’s even going through the trouble of setting up a Bandcamp for overseas fans, despite the burden being so tedious it led her to drop a curse word or two!
Band camp is difficult because it is all in English! Fu©︎ki∩g😭But I will try it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!🥺😭😂🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 pic.twitter.com/jbYVoTYqjt
— ヨネコ 9/1初ワンマン (@naniyaraYONEKO) February 26, 2019
As she welcomed her overseas fandom with open arms, Yoneko expressed her interest in being interviewed by foreign blogs. And, well, as a foreign blog that has followed her career since 2016, how could we not take such an opportunity? And so, via a few email exchanges, Yoneko was more than happy to answer some of our questions. Continue reading
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.
Tis’ the season of NECROMA.
We have been blessed of late with a bountiful harvest of offerings from the divas of darkness. In August, NECRONOMIDOL graced us with their presence at East Meets West Music Fest in Anaheim, California alongside Hanako-san, Yanakoto Sotto Mute and stalwart metal acts including the venerable Abigail Williams.
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
Idols are illusionists. 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
A few weeks ago, Steven Tanaka’s good tastes and altruistic hobbies graced Canada again in the form of Next Music From Tokyo volume 12. This edition’s lineup was a “best of” of sorts, having three bands from last year’s 10th edition, as well as newcomers Lucie, Too and Steven’s favourite idol act Koutei Camera. Koutei Camera Girl Drei (Twitter) was also part of the pan-Canadian tour for their debut this past October, and this time, we managed to interview the group and their manager.
Before leaping to the interview, I would like to thanks my dear translator and friend Hazuki S. for her interpretation and translation, as well as Jas, Ramy T Talata, Catch my Heart and Pacio to ‘npa for graciously taking the time to answer our questions.
Jas, as we start, I have a small question: I was wondering what are the current member colours of Kouteca?
Jas: There are no colours.
Well, that was fast (laughs). I guess I will have to update the fan wikis with that information. On that same topic, Ramy, you were initially announced as a member of Koutei Camera Drei under the name “Sharapova” but I have never seen you use it for your social medias (Twitter and Instagram), is there a certain reason for this?
Ramy T Talata: I don’t use it anymore
Jas: Actually, it was only at the beginning, when we didn’t reveal her face yet. “Sharapova” was a completely different person, who was later replaced by Ramy.
You’re an important part of the Kouteca history, both in the original group (briefly), the first spin off (Gal) and now in Drei and Gal concurrently. What is your take on the difference between “Girl” and “Gal”?
Ramy T Talata: I feel that the music is different even though both are rap music. It’s a little difficult to explain, they’re so different. I’ve changed between groups many times.
Catch my heart: Gal is more hip-hop, a music style that the crowd can get into with us. It’s not us trying to act like we’re cool, but we try to make it into something we can all enjoy and connect to together. Drei has more of a performance to show. Gal is mostly rap, but Drei has more singing in it.
Jas: Pacio joined because she loves music, Ramy and Catch joined because they love to sing. They didn’t know about rap. They listened to it for the first time after joining.
Why did you decide to join this particular group?
Ramy T Talata: I found out about it through a friend. Actually, she was invited by someone that used to be in the group but wasn’t really interested in the group’s style. When I told her that I wanted to become an idol, she brought me with her and introduced me to the company. My interest grew after hearing about the group.
Catch my heart: I’ve always loved singing, and always wanted to become an artist. My friend in Tokyo, who is also an idol, told me about the auditions, so I went for it.
This is your second time in Canada. What was different about your debut in Canada compared to the one in Japan?
Catch my heart: My very first live was in Canada. Everyone was so energetic and cheered along. I made some mistakes but it was really fun so I didn’t feel like it was a failure. In Canada, everyone has fun even if they don’t understand Japanese. When we went back to Japan, there are more people who understand, so the crowd can get really excited or really cold when they notice the mistakes. However, our debut was great in both counties.
Ramy T Talata: I never believe in my life that I would debut overseas, just the thought of leaving Japan never even crossed my mind. I wasn’t sure what to do. I wondered if I would be able to convey my feelings and messages in a completely different place. I was very anxious because I didn’t even know what kind of country Canada was. In Japan, many people already loved the first Kouteca. We were going to be a new group with new members, whose charms were very different from the original ones. I had to climb over that obstacle and the expectations. There was a lot of pressure. Many fans of the original group came to see us and were very happy. This pushed me to work even harder. I became more motivated.
What were you looking forward to do in Canada?
Catch my heart: With Pacio joining our group, our image became cooler. It’s our first time to show this image in Canada, and I was looking forward to how it would be received. On a personal side, I was excited to see the people I met last October again.
Ramy T Talata: Although we came back with the same group, this time we have a new member. I feel like the three of us are a great representation of Koutei Camera Girl Drei. I was really looking forward to show the new Drei, or rather the new lineup. There will be people who will see us for the first time, and those who have already seen us. It may be difficult to ask them to come see us in Japan, but I really want to be able to reach them, to have them know about us and be interested. Even if it’s just one person. I’m really excited to show everyone our performance.
The previous Kouteca was more colourful, whereas Drei has a polished and darker image. How would you describe, in a word, the concept of Kouteca?
Catch my heart: I think “cool” would be the right word.
Ramy t talata: I want us to be able to reach that “cool” image.
pacio to ‘npa, welcome to Kouteca! How do you feel about touring overseas for the first time?
pacio to ‘npa: How do I feel?! (hysterical laughing) Hm… How do I feel? I’ve really been looking forward to it.
Were you a fan of Kouteca before joining the group?
pacio to ‘npa: No, not at all!
Looking at your Instagram and Twitter, I noticed that you do a fair bit of modelling. Can you tell us about your work as a model?
Jas: She worked as a model when she wasn’t involved in any other activities. She wasn’t working as a professional model, and it isn’t something that she would be pursuing as a major job. She may model in the future if the offer arises, but her main job is concentrated on music.
What is different during lives in Canada and in Japan?
pacio to ‘npa: The people are different. They cheer and sing at different points and timing during the songs.
Jas: We don’t expect anyone in the crowd to follow any set rules, we don’t have any. We want everyone to enjoy their experience how they want to, to have fun, and to not trouble those around them.
Jas, I’d like to hear more about your process. How do you come up with your song titles?
Jas: There is no link with the lyrics and the title. I like it better that way. Having a love song titled “Love Song” is just too normal. I want people to feel the song, the title should just sound good to your ears. I believe that the title doesn’t necessarily need to have a specific meaning to it.
Would you like to perform in all the cities you have named songs after?
Jas: Not in particular. For Toronto, I wrote the lyrics at a shady Burger King around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. “Toronto Lot” rolled off the tongue better. I don’t even know if it makes proper sense. I wrote this because I wanted to be in Toronto for a longer time. My inspiration was everything that happened to me in Toronto, but it’s not written as actual events.
As a foreign fan, there is very little information available in English about Koutei Camera Actress. Can you tell us more about their concept?
Jas: Koutei Camera is the name of all idol units under the Tapesok Records Label. They do a sort of underground club music that started with rap. Actress is under another management, but I still produce for them. The girls that are more interested in acting are in Actress, and if they would like to make music, they would join Tapesok Records. While Kouteca Drei is club music, Gal is more hip-hop, but I kind of do whatever I want to with their music. Actress are the ones that are closest to the “idol” image, they do pop music.
What a wild ride. I only just recovered from Maison Book Girl last month, and now I’m back from hanging out with three other idol acts with barely any time to relax in between each one. I feel like I’ve ascended to a new plane of existence. A huge thank you to everybody who made this happen, from the Orion and show staff to Maniac and you guys, the readers (a couple of whom I even met on Monday! Sorry if I seemed awkward!) you’re the best.
Before Maniac changed plans to honor the new Oshi, this interview with Screaming Sixties’s very own Kai was the first of the week. Sadly, her partner in crime, Montero, couldn’t make it to the UK due to some last-minute visa issues, so Kai came completely alone this time around. But at the show, she promised to come back and bring Montero with her! Be warned, England.
Despite being nervous at going it alone, nobody would have been able to tell from Kai’s dominant energy and confidence once she was on stage. It was as if Montero was still performing for us, we just couldn’t see her. Like her spirit had possessed Kai to create one super-powerful being to make up for her absence. What I’m trying to say, is that Kai rocked it, and did an amazing job despite the unexpected setbacks.