2018 Quarterly Review part 2: April-June

If winter 2018 was the season for experimental releases, spring 2018 is the season for alternative pop. For whatever reason all the best Korean artists decided to opt out from releasing their good stuff during the spring, so this season is entirely dominated by Japanese.

Note: All the releases listed are all available to western audiences through physical copies from western distributors, streaming services, bandcamp etc.

Haru Nemuri – Haru to shura

haru nemuri

Not only is this an incredible album, but I also get the satisfaction of seeing how much Haru Nemuri has grown since her 2016 debut. Back then she was a really solid DAOKO clone following the trend of cutsy girly hip-hop. Jump to 2018 and she’s basically the hottest artist from Japan to hit the international indie scene. She even landed on the radar of high profile music reviewers in the west with her latest record. Not to say this record has no elements of cutsy hip-hop, but Haru Nemuri has evolved into something with a much larger breadth. Its not a hodge podge start-stop between experimental rock, pop, and cute hip-hop. Haru to shura is a true fusion on those sounds. Her rapping sounds excellent, but even more impressive are her chill inducing screams. Limiting the screams to few scattered moments on the album make them that much sweeter when they do appear. I’m talking Mariko Goto (ex-midori) tier screams. I literally get goosebumps everytime I listen to Narashite.

The album is essentially perfect with absolutely no filler. If there’s only one Japanese album you decide to listen to from 2018, it better be this one. I can’t recommend it enough.

Spotify, Apple Music


Ayano Kaneko – Shukusai

ayano kaneko

Ayano’s first album in 3 years is a warm and comfortable indie folk/rock record. Like her previous work this record has an old soul with modern sensibilities. The 2nd half of this record especially has a few very old school sounding rockers that will get your head bobbing and your feet tapping like a kid a woodstock. Shukusai isn’t as cute as previous efforts which is a disappointing, but I can’t deny that I didn’t have a great time listening to this album.

Spotify, Apple Music


Gacharic Spin – G-litter

gacharic spin

As always Gacharic Spin have released another solid high-energy rock/metal pop fusion record. One thing that has always given this band an edge over other all female metal bands is their confidence in their femininity. While many other all female metal bands get dolled up in frilly dresses, they put on a masculine facade musically to compete with the male dominated metal scene. Gacharic Spin skips the competition altogether by making very cute and girly music with lots of heavy flourishes. It certainly rocks hard, quite often in fact, but it definitely sounds like it was written by women unlike many of these other girl bands who could easily replace the vocalist with a greasy long haired dude without making a huge difference to the sound. Their unique multi-vocalist approach and their obvious “don’t take us seriously” attitude is also very refreshing.

G-litter is quite corny and I’d argue that not every decision makes a successful landing, but the sheer number of sounds and genres fused in this album makes it a really fun listen. I don’t think I will ever get sick of this band.

Spotify, Apple Music


Urbangarde – Shoujo Fiction

urbangarde

Like a lot of big Japanese releases Urbangarde’s Shoujo Fiction is bloated with too much going on and a muddy production. However, I think that’s the point. Since their inception, Urbangarde has taken a satirical approach to represent otaku and young adult culture. The band has even referred to their sound as “Tokyo Virginity Pop” and “Trauma Techno Pop“.

Its kind of a beautiful mess. Like the aforementioned Gacharic Spin, Urbangarde jumps stylistically all over the place between heavy metal to electropop to traditional pop ballads and more. Another similarity to Gacharic Spin is the frequent vocal trade-offs. Lead vocalist Yoko Hamasaki has a traditional Showa-esque voice, while Temma Matsunaga has a very atypical goofy style. Its pretty impressive how it all comes together despite sounding like a terrible idea on paper.

One warning is that its pretty tiring listening to the entire record in one go, so you might want to break it up into multiple listening sessions.

Spotify, Apple Music


Vampillia – Happiness Brought by Endless Sorrow [EP]

vampillia

I don’t really like extreme metal, but Vampillia is truly something special. Simply calling them an extreme metal band doesn’t really serve them justice, as they’re range of music is quite diverse. The 10 piece band refers to themselves as the “brutal orchestra”, and they’ve released a number of avant-garde projects. This year’s release definitely falls heavily on the extreme metal side (harsh vocals, speedy tremolo picking etc.).

By condenses 4 tracks into just over 6 minutes you can be absolutely sure no moments are wasted in this harsh but brief wall of sound. What really impresses me are the frequent melodies that are ingeniously intertwined in each track. Definitely worth 6 minutes of your time.

 

Spotify, Apple Music, bandcamp


NON – SUPERHEROES

non

Seriously underrated! I wouldn’t blame you for not getting excited about an actor/model turned musician’s debut album, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice for skipping NON’s (Rena Nōnen) SUPERHEROES. Stylistically, its somewhere between veteran punk rock girl girl group Shonen Knife and the old-soul folk rocker Ayano Kaneko. Unlike most artists from a similar career background, NON’s music isn’t overproduced or glossy in the slightest. All the flaws in her voice are front and center. Only the track Superhero ni naritai features anything more than a basic band structure (guitar, bass, drum, keyboard/piano). I imagine these are the kinds of songs high-school bands would cover, or ones that beginners would learn on guitar. That’s not meant to be an insult, but rather to emphasize the feeling of nostalgia. Simple in the best possible way..

Spotify, Apple Music


SOIL&”PIMP”SESSIONS – DAPPER

soil&pimpsessions

Not a lot to say about this album, but its a really chill hip-hop/jazz record that I really loved. My favorite part of this band has always been the horns, and they certainly deliver again on this record. Some of the guest vocalists, whom I don’t particularly like, sounded quite good on these tracks (ex. Yojiro Noda). One of my most listened to albums of the year, and I still feel like going back to it.

Spotify, Apple Music


CHAI – Wagamamania [EP]

wagamania

Quite possibly Japan’s quirkiest and most original groups at the moment, CHAI is continuing their crusade of tacky cuteness across the globe with their 3rd EP Wagamamania. Don’t let their cute youthful appearance fool you. These girls are not corporate idol puppets, but are all competent members of the band playing their own instruments. On top of that, they’re making some of the most exciting music currently. Just like their amazing debut record last year, this EP deliver’s a no filler barrage of high energy pop/rock. Very weird and very charming.

Nagoya’s finest.

Burger Records

2018 Quarterly Review: January-March

Looking back on this past year, there hasn’t been much for Asian music enthusiasts to complain about. Many artist have released quality material; some of them releasing their best work to date. Despite the seemingly endless amount of year-end lists already in existence, there’s something cathartic about creating and reading them. Instead of a traditional numbered list in descending order. Read on for Wabisaabisu’s recommended releases from the first four months of 2018.

Note: All the releases listed are all easily available to western audiences through streaming services, bandcamp etc.


Phew – Voice Hardcore

phew

If you’re looking for something “different”, Phew’s Voice Hardcore will likely more than satisfy that curiosity. The Japanese experimental music veteran started the year off with one of the most unique albums I’ve ever heard. This release is comprised entirely of recordings of her own voice, often with effects and filters alongside spoken word, to create bleak and ghostly soundscapes. If you’re thinking of a capella jingles, or something like Imogen Heap, you’re way off. Voice Hardcore is an unsettling and unconventional album that breaks new ground in music production. Not an easy listen, but its definitely an experience worth your time.

bandcamp, Spotify Apple Music


ÉMU – Rain in the Battlefield

emu

Another experimental album from a Japanese artist, but not as inaccessible and strange as the previous one. ÉMU’s latest is an emotional and soothing offering to the senses. While the music is meant to stimulate many of our human senses, don’t start thinking this is some hokey pervy ASMR. However, to get the full ÉMU experience, you’ll need to listen to her music with the accompanying visuals, or see her live set. Rain in the Battlefield purpose is to stir up emotions and create colors, and abstract images in your mind. Less melodious and more soundscape driven than her previous work.

bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music


Tokyo Girls’ Style (Tōkyō Joshi Ryū) – Last Romance [Single]

tokyo girls style

I don’t typically listen to Japanese Idol groups and I’m not too familiar with the work of this one. However, Tokyo Girls’ Style’s Last Romance single is a glorious banger. It turns out that corporately manufactured music can be quite good when you leave the songwriting to capable people. For this single 2018’s music champion herself, Haru Nemuri, and the guy behind retro synth/funk group Lucky Kilimanjaro crafted an amazing pop song. Both artists seem to simultaneously incorporate the best of both of their styles. The cutesy idol vocals add the perfect charm to its sassy and addictive beat. Hopefully this Idol group gets to work with more talents great talents in the near future. On the other hand, lightning rarely strikes twice. Let’s be honest. This is probably too good for this world.

Spotify, Apple Music


CIFIKA – PRISM [EP]

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Yet another Korean indie electronic artist making waves internationally with the likes of Neon Bunny and Aseul. I’m sure the US tour and the documentary of said tour didn’t hurt her growing overseas fanbase this past year. CIFIKA distinguishes herself among her peers with her cold mechanical style of electronic pop and a unique art style. The production is great and there’s a surprising amount of danceable beats. The album’s variety and lack of filler make is very easy for repeated listens. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for what’s next.

Spotify, Apple Music


Soror – new life wave

soror

new life wave is a fun collection of EDM styled pop songs featuring a bunch of cute and quirky female artists. Vocalists range from leaders in the female alternative scene like Seiko Oomori and Kayoko Yoshizawa to some larger profile artists like koresawa and Akari Nanao to idols and even models who you probably didn’t even know could sing. Each song is crafted by producer SOROR (Sho Yamamoto) and features a different artist, making each track reasonably distinguishable. Those familiar with Japan’s female alternative scene likely wont be surprised that the Seiko Oomori track is the best of the bunch.

Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud


Manatsu Nagahara – GREAT HUNGRY

manatsu nagahara

Former Sebastian X vocalist finally releases her first solo full-length album, and its wonderful. She definitely has an interesting voice and you could probably take some short vocal sections from this album, play them out of context and they’d sound pretty weird. However, paired with the eclectic mix of cheery songs, this is a charmingly addictive album. Plus, she’s just so stinkin’ cute. Definitely a new favorite in the female alternative scene.

Spotify, Apple Music

Aseul discusses her new album, her international fandom and more

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Earlier this year, Seoul based artist Aseul (아슬) released the mini-album titled ASOBI.  Formerly known as Yukari, this indie dream pop mastermind has been steadily winning fans across the globe with her ethereal synths, clear production and charming voice since 2012. Her latest release at the end of July showed a new side of the artist; moving away from a melancholic past to a brighter and more feel good collection of songs. The perfect supplementary music for summer.

Aseul has been kind enough to answer a few questions regarding her latest album as well as a bunch of other random questions ranging from her ties to Japan and what Korean artists you should be listening to.

The following is an original interview translated from Korean to English.

Big thank you to Hanna and Shelly for the translation.


WS: First of all, thank you so much for your time, and congratulations on your new album, ASOBI. I think it’s your best work to this day. I’ve probably listened to Sandcastles 20 times. I also want to thank you for teaching me some Korean words through your music. Now I know 모래성 (sandcastle) thanks to you.

먼저 시간을 내 주셔서 정말 감사드리고 새 앨범 ‘아소비’ 발매도 축하드립니다.
이번 앨범이 제 생각엔 최고인 것 같아요. ‘모래성’은 20번도 넘게 들었어요.
또 아슬님의 노래를 통해서 많은 한국어 단어들을 배울 수 있었어요.
이제 ‘모래성’이란 단어도 알게 되었으니 모래성한테 고맙다고 해야 겠네요 ㅎㅎ

 

Aseul: Thank you for enjoying my music. It is also my favorite track on my album.

모래성을 즐겁게 들어주셔서 고맙습니다 ^^ 저도 제 이번 앨범중에 제일 좋아하는 노래입니다.

 

WS: I’ve noticed lots of references and images about Japanese culture in your work. For example, some of your music videos are shot in Japan, the name of your new album is a Japanese word, and your former artist name sounds very Japanese.
Why do you use Japanese references in your music?

아슬님의 작품에는 일본 문화가 많이 녹아 있는 것 같아요.
몇 몇 뮤비는 일본어로 되어 있고, 앨범의 이름도 일본어이고, 아슬님의 이전 예명도 일본 이름 같았거든요.
왜 음악에 일본어를 사용하시는지 궁금합니다.

 

Aseul: I don’t have anything in Japanese in my music, but I did film the music video for Sandcastles while travelling in Okinawa. Because Korea was ruled by Japan (which is a sad/dark past for Koreans) and also because Japan is close to Korea, I think I was naturally influenced. 

My older nickname YUKARI was chosen, because I really like koalas and they eat eucalyptus. Its not based on Japanese. [the Korean pronunciation for eucalyptus is similar to YUKARI]

일단 저의 뮤비 중에 일본어로 된 것은 없고, Sandcastles이라는 곡을 일본 오키나와 여행 중에 촬영했어요.
한국에서는 흔히 외국어를 표기할 때 한국, 일본어, 영어이렇게 세 개로 표현하는 경우가 많아 Sandcastles 노래의 첫 장면에도 세 개의 언어를 적은 것 같습니다. (저의 의도는 들어가지 않았고, m/v의 감독이 적었습니다.)
한국은 일제강점기라는 슬픈 역사도 있었고, 일본과 거리도 가깝기 때문에 여러모로 영향을 많이 받게 되는 것 같아요.

이전 예명인 YUKARI는 코알라를 좋아해서 코알라가 먹는 Eucalyptus에서 만들어낸 이름이고 일본어는 아니랍니다.

 

WS: Are there any Japanese artists you follow?

또 좋아하시는 일본인 아티스트가 있다면 그것도 알고 싶어요.

 

Aseul: I like artists like Fishmans, KIRINJI, Round Table, Cymbals, and Cuushe.

좋아하는 일본인 아티스트는 Fishmans, Kirinji, Roundtable, Cymbals, Cuushe 등등이 많이 있습니다.

 

WS: I’m not familiar with your fan base in Korea, but it seems like your music is being recognized internationally. Do you think you have more International fans or Korean fans?

아슬님의 팬 분들에 대해서는 잘 모르지만, 아슬님의 노래는 국제적으로도 점차 알려지고 있는 것 같아요. 아슬님이 생각하시기엔 한국 팬이 더 많은 것 같나요, 아니면 외국인 팬이 더 많은 것 같나요?

 

Aseul: I don’t have too many fans, but 95% of them are foreigners.

제 생각에는.. 팬이 많지는 않지만 음악을 들어주시는 95% 이상이 외국인 분들이신 것 같아요.

 

WS: Would you say understanding Korean is necessary to fully appreciate your music?

그리고 아슬님의 노래를 충분히 감상하기 위해서 한국어를 아는 것이 필요하다고 생각하시나요?

 

Aseul: I don’t think you need to know Korean to listen, but it will help.

음악을 감상하는 데 있어서 한국어를 알 필요는 없지만, 아신다면 음악을 듣는데 조금 더 도움이 되지 않을까 생각합니다.

 

WS: Do you have plans to perform in Canada?

혹시 캐나다에서도 활동할 계획이 있으신지도 궁금합니다.

 

Aseul: I’ve never been to Canada, but one day I would love to perform there.

캐나다는 개인적으로 가본 적이 한 번도 없는데, 언제 가는 꼭 방문해서 공연을 하는 꿈을 갖고 있습니다.

 

WS: Personally, I think your music has some similarities to one of my favorite Korean artists, Neon Bunny. Have you ever met her? If so, are you two acquaintances? Rivals?

개인적으로, 아슬님의 노래가 제가 좋아하는 한국인 아티스트 중 한 분인 야광토끼님의 노래와 비슷한 점이 있다고 생각하는데,
혹시 두 분이 아는 사이인가요? 만약 그렇다면 친구인가요, 아니면 (선의의) 경쟁자 관계인가요?

 

Aseul: I’ve been a fan of hers since before I was making music. I was the one who reached out to her, so that’s how we became close. She’s a way more talented and successful artist than me. I can’t say I’m competing with her as she is a much greater artist. Her genre is more electronic pop while I’m more of dream pop or indie pop.

저는 음악을 하기 전부터 야광토끼의 팬이었고, 제가 먼저 팬이라고 연락을 드려서 친해졌어요.
언니는 저보다 훨씬 재능이 많고 성공한 음악가이며 대선배이기 때문에 감히 경쟁자라고 부를 수 없다고 생각합니다. 장르도 언니는 조금 더 electronic pop에 가깝고, 저는 dream pop or indie pop에 가깝다고 생각합니다.

 

WS: Have you ever played at the same show? Is there a chance you two could do a collaboration in the future?

같은 방송에서 공연한 적이 있나요? 그리고…두 분의 콜라보를 볼 수 있는 날이 있을까요?

 

Aseul: I’ve performed with her several times in Korea, and also once in Taipei. I hope we can collaborate someday!

또한 언니와 한국에서 3-4번 정도같이 공연한 적이 있고, 언니의 대만 공연에 함께 가  Taipei 공연에 참여한 적이 있습니다. 콜라보는 늘 원하고 있습니다.

 

WS: For your international listeners can you tell us some of the themes on your new album? Why did you choose ASOBI for the title of the album?

또 아슬님의 국제 팬들을 위해서 새 앨범의 주제나 특징에 대해 설명 부탁드립니다.
앨범 이름을 왜 아소비 라고 붙이셨나요?

 

Aseul: When I was jamming with my friends in Japan they said, “This isn’t jamming. This is just asobi. (Japanese word meaning fun or play)” Also, I thought it would be a fun title since the spelling for Aseul and asobi are similar.

이번 앨범의 제목을 일본어인 ASOBI라고 정한 이유는,ASOBI(あそび)는 ‘놀이’라는 뜻입니다., . 일본에 놀러 갔을 때 일본인 친구들이 JAM을 하면서 “이건 JAM이 아냐. 그냥 ASOBI야”라고 이야기한 것이 재밌어서 제목을 ASOBI라고 정했습니다. ASEUL과 Spell도 비슷해서 재밌는 단어라고 생각했어요.

 

WS: I feel like the mood of the new album is a bit different than your last album, New Pop. Are there similar or different themes than the ones explored in your past work?

이번 새 앨범이 New Pop 과는 좀 다른 느낌을 받았는데, 이번 앨범의 주제나 특징을 이전 앨범에서도 사용했었나요?

 

Aseul: When I was making New Pop, I was sick mentally and physically. When I was making ASOBI I was in a healthier state. That’s probably why it has a different feel.

New pop을 만들던 시기에는 몸과 마음이 아팠습니다. ASOBI를 만들 때는 전보다 몸과 마음이 좋아졌고, 제목처럼 재밌게 작업했습니다. 그래서 다른 느낌이 있는 것 같아요.

 

WS: In an interview in 2016 some of your advice to musicians was to not depend on others. What are the benefits of being completely independent?
Is it difficult to build a fanbase as an independent artist?

2016년도 한 인터뷰에서 뮤지션들에게 조언을 하셨는데, 그 중 하나가 다른 사람에게 의존하지 않는 것이었습니다. 완전히 독립한 아티스트에겐 어떤 이점들이 있나요?독립적인 아티스트는 팬 층을 형성하기 힘든가요?

 

Aseul: Independent artist doesn’t require other peoples opinion and can make own decisions. This is a advantage and also a disadvantage of being an independent artist as responsibilities follow. People say it’s easy to make music through home recording. However, it is not so easy to promote my music all by myself.

독립한 아티스트는 다른 사람의 의견 없이, 온전히 스스로 판단해야 한다는 것이 장점이자 단점이라고 생각합니다. 내 맘대로 할 수 있지만, 그 선택과 결정에는 책임이 따르니까요.
요즘엔 Home-recording으로 누구나 쉽게 음악을 만들 수 있다고 합니다. 하지만 혼자 promotion을 하기에는 쉽지가 않아요.

하지만 그럼에도 불구하고, 좋은 음악을 만들면 언젠가는 팬층을 형성할 수 있을 거라고 긍정적으로 생각하려고 합니다.

 

WS: How can artists build an international fan base?

독립적인 아티스트는 팬 층을 형성하기 힘든가요?

 

Aseul: I think positively that with good music, I‘ll be able to make more fans.

하지만 그럼에도 불구하고, 좋은 음악을 만들면 언젠가는 팬층을 형성할 수 있을 거라고 긍정적으로 생각하려고 합니다.

 

WS: In a lot of your music videos you show video clips of yourself. You’re obviously very beautiful. Do you do any professional modelling? Can we expect to see you in a cosmetic advertisement in the near future?

그리고 많은 아슬님의 뮤비에서 아슬님이 등장하는 비디오 클립들을 보여주셨는데, 정말 아름다우셨어요! 혹시 전문적으로 모델 일을 하시나요? 조만간 화장품 광고에서 볼 수 있을까요?

 

Aseul: Nope, I’m not pretty.  I just put scenes that looked nice in my video:). I’ve modeled for sunglasses back in my YUKARI days, but I look like a normal ordinary person.

아닙니다! 저는 예쁘지 않아요. 다만, video에서는 잘 나오는 장면들만 편집하고 있습니다 🙂
Yukari로 활동할 때 sunglasses의 brand 모델 일을 한 적은 있습니다. 하지만 보통의 사람처럼 생겼습니다.

 

WS: Lastly, I’m not too familiar with other Korean music. Are there any Korean artists you can recommend?

마지막으로, 제가 한국 음악에 그렇게 익숙하지 않은데 혹시 추천하는 한국 아티스트들이 있나요?

 

Aseul: I recommend Neon Bunny, UZA&SHANE, Byul, Sunday Moon, and Mid-Air-Thief.

야광토끼, 우자앤쉐인, 별, 선데이문, 공중도덕

 

WS: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your Canadian fans?

또 캐나다 팬 분들에게 하시고 싶은 말씀이 있으시면 해 주세요

 

Aseul: Hi, thank you for sending the interview in Korean. I really like Grimes. I would love to travel to Canada, see Grimes’ performance, and also perform there. I’ll look forward to that day! Cheers.

안녕하세요, 한국어로 인터뷰를 보내주셔서 감동했어요.
제가  Grimes를 참 좋아하는데 🙂 언젠가는 여행도 하고, Grimes의 공연도 보고, 제 공연도 할 수 있는 날이 왔으면 좋겠습니다. 그날을 기다려주세요!

 

Aseul’s music, including her latest EP ASOBI, is available on bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music.

 

Japanese Artists Abroad part 1

Sometimes people get sick of Japan and jump on the first boat they see. Others leave to find new and exciting opportunities abroad. Whatever the reasons, a number of Japanese expats have established their music careers outside Japan in a variety of countries.

Japanese music certainly has a different feel and sound than music produced in western countries; regardless of the genre. That’s likely why artists from a Japanese background make such interesting music in western countries. They combine the influences of Japan with the influences of their new surroundings to create something truly unique. Its also worth mentioning that this blog is VERY open to culturally mixed creations.

Here are a few examples of Japanese expat artists:

HIMIKO – Edmonton, Alberta CANADA

himiko

Born in Saitama Japan later moving to Michigan and then Edmonton for school, Himiko began her solo career performing a mix of sensual jazz, electronic and occasionally pop. However, she quickly began embracing harsh digital sounds to create a blender mixture of industrial metal and jazz with 2006’s Heavy Metal Wannabe & Electronic Jazz Cat. Her journey through harsh noises continually led to darker and heavier realms such as death metal to create the brutal digital nightmare that is 2014’s Victims of Greed. 2016 gave us a nasty combination of everything she’s experimented with in her entire career including her early electro-jazz material with Skin Removal. Finally, just last year she seems to have abandoned EVERYTHING that defined her previous efforts with the beautiful jazz/classical instrumental album, Love scream. Where HIMIKO will go next no one can really say. At this point I don’t think anything this Japanese-Canadian artist does will surprise us though.

Her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and bandcamp.


Maria Takeuchi/ÉMU – Brooklyn, USA

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Maria Takeuchi is a true artist in every sense of the word. This Kansai raised, Brooklyn based audio-visual artist creates sounds and visuals that stimulate many human senses. Much of her music is released under the moniker ÉMU, so be sure to search her using that name, or else the search results will be dominated by the popular 70s/80s singer Mariya Takeuchi, causing lots of confusion among western listeners.
While her music career is based in the US, her Japanese roots still make up the base of her music; a kind of digital wabi sabi if you will. Her career up to this point includes three impressive ambient albums, one of them released earlier this year, and two remarkable visual audio collaborations, As.phyx.i.a in 2015 and Karma Train in 2012.
Her live shows are said to be quite remarkable as she incorporates visual mapping and unique visuals to support her music. You can also get a taste of her digital art on her Instagram page.

Her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and bandcamp.

Maria Takeuchi/ÉMU homepage


Kumisolo – Paris, FRANCE

kumisolo

Stylish, sophisticated, quirky, and cute. Kumisolo indeed checks off every expectation one would have with a Japanese-French art pop artist. On the other hand, do we really need more than that? Born in Chiba, Japan, Kumisolo became heavily influenced by French New Wave films as a teenager, and then later moving to France to pursue her dreams. Before becoming the solo artist known as Kumisolo she was a member of multiple French groups such as The Konki Duet, and Crazy Curl.

Often her music is reminiscent of old French film scores, but with modern indie pop sensibilities. Despite the majority of her songs being performed in French, Kumisolo’s music has no shortage of references to her Asian heritage (Kung-fu Boy, La femme japonaise). She even occasionally sings in her native language (see Kabuki Femme Fatale, Tadaima).

Her song Ping Pong Machine is featured in the new Showtime drama, Kidding (episode 5), starring Jim Carrey.

Her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and bandcamp.

Kumisolo homepage