KYARY PAMYU PAMYU
(UPDATE! check out the video of Kyary’s Sunrise performance – aired April 6.)
Me being a goob with a whole bunch of other goobs!
Kyary I think is still the biggest thing in pop music in Japan right now. You pronounce her name just like you would “Carrie” despite the way it’s spelt. It’s not her real name – just a name she assumed in high school when people teased her about being so “western” so they gave her a name like “Carrie Bradshaw” in Sex in the City.
Her autobiography, translated by Kyarychan, is fucking fascinating if you want an insight into how a Japanese teenager grows up (and thinks and deals with modernity in that Japanese cultural-climate) and then just becomes super-famous, at 18, almost by accident by just dressing as eccentrically as she could manage with her resources. That and she took to hanging out in Harajuku quite a bit more than her parents wanted or knew was possible.
She then hooked up with a super-super amazing songwriter — Yasutaka Nakata. Nakata writes and produces (and I think plays) all her songs while Kyary just comes in later and sings them and learns the dance moves. But I really like to think he is actually collaborating with Kyary — cause she has such an impossibly severe personality. She is different.
The thing that makes her so different is that she is so irreverent — something I really, really admire in pop stars. She is taking that cuteness-vibe and adding spice of surreality and sheer horror. See protagonists of metal, rock, hardcore, speed-core or whatever just assume that stance of being anti-establishment just because their music taste is self-referential. Even if they vote Republican.
But it is super-refreshing to see genuine super-cute rockstars just pushing things into new territories. Just being intelligent about their product and not cow-towing to their stereotype.
I really need to thank the blogger David Brennan from One Week, One Band who opened up my eyes to KPP.
Last year I set off on an odyssey of music listening, one I wasn’t sure I would make it through or come back from. For reasons (boredom and disillusionment) I won’t go into here, I decided to stop listening to my music. Cold turkey. Instead I would listen only to albums recommended to me by other people, one album a week for 53 weeks. I would listen to each album at least once a day, and a minimum of eleven times over the course of the week. And along the way I’d write about the experience. Crazy? Absolutely. Stupid? You bet.
That afternoon, still albumless, we headed for the downtown Commons to grab a bite to eat and walk around. In the early January cold we had the place nearly to ourselves…We inhaled a few slices of pizza and stepping back out into the chill I saw her: wrapped in bulbous blue winter jacket, black hair swung over her left shoulder and tucked beneath jacket’s collar, my eyes zoomed to her head, where atop a striped skullcap perched a pair of gigantic headphones…“Be right back,” I said to Kate.
“Excuse me! Hello! Excuse me!”
Looking ready to run, kick me in the groin, pepper spray me or all of the above, she half pulled off her headphones and raised her eyebrows, imploring.
“Uh, I was just wondering if, I mean, if you don’t mind, if you could maybe tell what you’re listening to?”
She glared at me like you wouldn’t be any more of a creep if you had asked me to flash you, and maybe that’s exactly what I had done, in a way, to our headphone generation what are you listening to?
“Carrie Pamu Pamu,” she said.
“Ah,” I said, nodding as if I knew, then gave myself away with, “What album?”
“Revolution,” she said and bolted, showed me her blue back, bye-bye.
“How’d that go?” Kate chuckled at me.
“Aw-kward,” I sung.
So I started reading David’s blog on the Monday (or Tuesday in our time) and I must admit I was intrigued not just by his “gimmick”, but by the fact his gimmick touched a nerve because there was this definite notion hidden in my head that a lot of music you may vaguely hear about (and though it seems utterly inaccessible) — it just might be amazing if you give it a chance. I remember John Swingle telling me about some death metal band he was forced to listen to cause a flat-mate played it incessantly and suddenly he “got it”. Just like The Fauves who sung about “Understanding Kyuss”.
And all of a sudden I was watching the video of PonPonPon. And then I watched it again. That video is quite an experience. A revelation. (Even now after 20 or so views it is still intriguing). But I wasn’t completely hooked, I just had the feeling something was stirring. I made myself watch the Invader, Invader clip (image above) just in case and after that dub step breakdown — which literally BROKE me — I knew this was something I couldn’t dismiss.
That night I excitedly showed Dee both clips — but secretly in just in a “LOL way” — pretending like I wasn’t actually a fan — just saying “check out this CRAZY-SHIT!”
I was trying to hold my composure, just in case this was all nonsense and I would come to my senses in the morning. But Dee was pretty intrigued too and so I felt a bit vindicated — not that I needed any encouragement by now.
The next day I was buzzing. Leah — a videographer at work — was impressed but did her best not to look disturbed at my new obsession.
Over the next few days the deeper I got into KPP and the more I shared David’s enthusiasm (cause the blog evolves through the week) and the more I realised she was unique.
Anyway, we got to see her on Sunday. At the peek of my obsession I tried to hook up tickets to her Japan tour in November but they were sold out. 😦
Not my shot! But this is at the Roundhouse in Sydney on Sunday night.
THE CONCERT and the SUNRISE SHOW
On Sunday Dee and I shrugged off our hangovers and smashed it down to Martin Place to see her on Channel 7’s Sunrise. We arrived just after 9:30 and already there was a decent crowd. It turned out to be just a pre-record of a song for the Morning Show sometime during the week, but it was kinda funny seeing the hysteria and the way that stupid TV show works. Dee retreated to the shadows while I got amongst the crowd. They were mostly western-looking kids, a lot dressed up in Harajuki-kit.
This is someone winning a signed copy of her album after Kyary’s performance was filmed. (The 3 winners had to be the most animated)
The show at the Roundhouse was pretty surreal. I loved it, though I am not sure I need to do it again.
The line up to get in was incredible. It snaked all the way through the lower half of the UNSW campus. Must have stretched for 600m at least.
The best shot I could get
Some randoms getting totally into it
SYDNEY (the rest of our trip in photos)
Finally got to Bondi after 6km walk from Coogee (below)
Something you don’t see often – a weather report of the Southern Indian Ocean in prime time.