All posts by beyondsenpai

Beyond Senpai. The music and culture fanzine. Made by fans for fans. For features and content contributions contact: beyondsenpaiofficial@gmail.com

Compilation Genki

A Guide to the unexplored world of Japanese indepenedent music on the GET YOUR GENKI Compilation Series.

In 2018, Jmusic lover Christian had ambitious plans to start his own label, GET YOUR GENKI. And it was through this that he was going to release some full-length album compilations over the next years.

Although he was already aware that his task to find bands from Japan, to convince them to be part of his idea and to produce and distribute their music on cassette might be not the easiest one, Christian worked hard for the credibility he now has in the independent music scene in Japan.

His idea of the GET YOUR GENKI series was that it shouldn’t resemble anything else that’s been before. These releases would focus on different musical genres and styles. All the compilations are a result of the close work Christian has with the bands and his art designer, Ashton Lamont.

Christians approach to GET YOUR GENKI was very simple; ‘I just put all the bands together that I loved to listen to when I started all this. From jpop to heavy rock, some metal, industrial to folk. I’m trying to show everybody there’s good in different types of music’.

Indeed, the series is a textbook on contemporary japanese music, psych, punk-rock , vocaloid and even black metal. Late last year he quietly started to distribute CDs from his favourite Japanese bands and even produced a debut album for the fabulous synthwave/darkwave artist TAKARA ARAKI.

And this won’t be the last surprise. As one fan once put it, “They play everything at Get Your Genki. You don’t know what you’re going to hear.”

Here’s a guide to Get Your Genki’s popular compilation series.

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/–5

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/–11

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/certain-fallen

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/yuragi-lands-fukuin-remix

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/seratakeiji-crack-in-the-window

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/cuicui-summer-girl-nippon

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/paranoia-2

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/–44

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/egoistic-party-ignition

https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/track/–13

To support GET YOUR GENKI https://twitter.com/Getyourgenki

To support artist Ashton Lamont https://twitter.com/AshtonLamont

Remember: Restart

A personal reflection on the idol group KissBee by guest writer Toby Hagen.

For the last few years I have been a huge supporter of an idol group that seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the international Japanese idol fandom.  Whenever I would bring them up in conversation, the response was always the same; “Who?”

When Beyond Senpai approached me to write an article for them ahead of their online live show on September 8th 2020, a concert with huge significance for the group and their fans, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to introduce them.  So read on and allow me to introduce you to one of the hardest working, musically diverse, and socially outgoing idol groups ever… KissBee!

Debuting with just 3 members in 2014, KissBee rapidly grew both in their number and in their popularity with audiences, with their first one-man live taking place in January 2015 and their debut album releasing towards the end of the same year on December 26th. 

Their initial success lead to their 5th single release on May 31st 2016, landing at #1 on the Oricon Daily Chart.  Keen to engage with their fanbase off the stage as much as on it, in August 2017 they launched their URA-KISS YouTube project hitting 100k subs by June 2018 and subsequently winning the ‘Yahoo! Search Award 2018’ Newcomer Award for being the most searched new idol unit. 

With their trainee division, KissBee Youth beginning to make waves in 2019 and with the time since seeing their biggest concerts to date, it seems that there is no stopping KissBee in their pursuit to entertain Japan!

As with all idol groups, members have come and members have gone.  As they exist today, KissBee is comprised of members Seika Nakayama (25), Misaki Tanifuji (20), Rena Ooe (20), Yui Fujii (19), Nonoka Shinohara (16), Chihiro Hieda (21), and Ema Yamazaki (19).  Each of them have unique personalities, interests, motivations, and ways that they engage with fans; but make no mistake, when they are together they really are the gold standard when it comes to defining the word “team”. 

When you see them rehearsing their choreography or having meetings, there is always an incredible vibe of best friends hanging out and doing what they love together, yet they are so dialed in to every aspect of what they are doing. 

Their choreography is precise and elaborate, always trying something new and different.  This all comes into focus during their thrilling live shows, where the audience interaction is high and the crowd gets involved with the dances.  Even if you don’t like their music (which I don’t understand because their discography is so diverse that there really is something for everyone!), you cannot deny that KissBee are always on the top of their game.

The group entered my life in the summer of 2017. I had decided that my constant interest in Japan and everything to do with the country was ready to be taken to the next level. And so I started to learn the language, learn about the history and culture, and even became an amateur Japanese chef. 

During this time, I discovered the YouTube channel Abroad in Japan.  A few months earlier, Chris had posted a video called ‘Japanese Idol Girls Ruined By Marmite’ and in this video he battles KissBee members Hina Takano and Misaki Tanifuji in a game where the punishment for failure is being forced to eat foods from each others country that are known to taste horrible to the other.  I was immediately drawn to the surly attitude of Hina and Misaki who were acting tough but when every time they won they would burst into beautiful smiles of delight. 

I wanted to know more, and then spent hour after hour watching KissBee videos and listening to their music.  At this point I was not very familiar with idol music, but something about KissBee was drawing me in and I was unable to escape.  I knew I wasn’t alone, but I felt intimidated about engaging with the members or their fans over SNS.  After all, I couldn’t speak Japanese.  And so, after a year of learning the language, I finally reached out; and boy oh boy, did I get a reply!

Using the popular SNS app LINELIVE, I noticed tweets from the members of KissBee that were announcing chat sessions.  I attended one and kept myself quiet.  I noticed you were able to send digital gifts that had a cash value, essentially a tipping service, and you could include messages with these gifts.  The next LINELIVE show I attended featured members Yui and Seika, and former member Miona in a group chat.  I sent them a message, in English.  Seika read it out loud and seemed astonished that someone was speaking English suddenly.

Seika was my oshi of the group, so needless to say my heart exploded and I was thrilled!  The chat seemed to be surprised by the English person in their midst too, and so the next day I went back on LINELIVE.  This time I met Chihiro and Misaki, whom I had seen being forced to eat liquorice on Abroad In Japan.  They also were delighted that there was an English speaking fan watching.  The fans rapidly picked up on this not being a one-off deal; there really was someone from overseas trying to reach out.  Suddenly my Twitter erupted in follows, with curious KissBee fans wanting to know who I was and, more importantly, how I knew about KissBee.

And so it was, in March 2020, that I really got to know KissBee.  Not just their music or their history; I got to know them.  I would say hello on LINELIVE every day to the members in their individual broadcasts, and in turn they would say hello back.  I would try to speak Japanese, and they would try to speak English. 

Seika was originally my oshi, but I rapidly became a huge fan of everyone and I learned so much from other fans.  I discovered the personalities of each member, their personal music tastes, what they liked to wear or what they liked to eat.  And it was these early conversations that made me jump from “I like KissBee!” to “I LOVE KissBee!”. 

In July 2020, KissBee held their first online-only concert, and this was my first live show experience.  I had seen them on YouTube live, but this time I had a ticket to a show!  By this time I was friends with everyone, and to say that I was proud of them all during this live show would be an understatement.  It was an incredible experience despite Chihiro and Rena being unable to perform due to sickness and surgery respectively, and proved that online concerts were just as fun as the real thing!

Alas, a few days after their online live debut, founding member Hina Takano tragically passed away on July 10th at the age of just 20.

All KissBee activities were immediately cancelled and for the most part their social media use stopped.  The outpouring of grief was immense to say the least, and time seemed to grind to a halt. 

Hina was truly the core of everything KissBee, and though she had retired from the music side of the group she was very much present in their URA-KISS videos and had also started up her own company, ZZZ.inc. 

A week before she passed away, I had my first conversation in Japanese with her over ZOOM.  She smiled and laughed, expressing joy that I was learning the language and was truly grateful to know that KissBee had spread beyond the borders of Japan.  I miss her so, so much.  I think about her every day and catch myself silently asking her for guidance when I need to make choices.  She lives on in the hearts and minds of those of us who were blessed to know her, and I am so thankful to have her light in my life.

On Tuesday 8th September 2020, KissBee will be taking to the stage for the first time since their online live concert at the beginning of July.  During this hiatus, their passionate fanbase, the Hachisans (AKA The 888), have continued to support the group and each other, offering words of condolence, words of encouragement, and words of hope. 

This time has given KissBee time to heal, time to reflect, and time to plan for the future, too.  Though at times things may have seemed uncertain for everyone, with the tagline “REMEMBER / RESTART”, this online live concert promises to be both a loving tribute to a dear friend now sadly departed, and to give the audience their first glimpse of the new era to come.  They have already announced that they will be debuting a new look (one of the hallmarks of KissBee is their amazing outfits), and they have their first remix album on the way too.  It will be a landmark event for KissBee and the 888, and an emotional farewell to Hina.

To know KissBee is to know unity.  Is to know passion.  To know joy, love, and laughter.  Everything they do, from hanging out with fans on LINELIVE to making prank videos on YouTube, from recording new music to performing it live, it is all done with their hearts aimed at the world.  They go from strength to strength, and deserve to be heard by everyone.  They may just be an idol group to the world but they mean the world to their fans, and so do their fans to KissBee.

And we all can’t wait for you to join us.

Original artwork courtesy of https://twitter.com/zimashigoToY256

To support KissBee https://twitter.com/CUG_kissbee http://kissbee.net/

All photos are gladly received from the official KissBee website.

Rule: GARUDA

Yuffie Sakimura aka Garuda has been busy creating her upcoming debut album, The Battle of Nightmares, due for release on September 9th. Between filming her new MV, 支配者 (Ruler), and performing live with her idol unit Melon Batake a GO GO, Yuffie-san found time to answer some questions with Beyond Senpai.

Beyond Senpai: Yuffie, how are you?

BS: こんにちは

Garuda: I’m doing very well! Thank you. 

G:とても元気です!ありがとうございます。 

BS:  It has been 3 years since your debut. What is your most memorable moment?

BS: デビューして3年経ちますが、1番の思い出は何でしょう?

G: My most memorable moment was being able to perform live in the UK.
I’m so glad that I didn’t give up on performing.

It wasn’t easy for me to continue with GARUDA on my own. It is very difficult to think about what I want to express, what I am passionate about, what I am actually able to express, and how to create something that can be accepted by everyone. So I was really surprised when I was invited to play in the UK, and I was really happy that I was accepted as an artist there. I vividly remember all three shows of the tour. I think people could tell by my facial expressions that I was nervous at the time, and it was refreshing to get different reactions to each song than in Japan. I still can’t forget how tense I was.

G: 一番の思い出はイギリスでのライブ公演ができたことです。

ステージに立つことを諦めずに続けていて良かったと心の底から思いました。

一人でGARUDAを続けていくことは容易ではありませんでした。自分が表現したいこと、こだわりを持つこと、実際に表現できていること、みんなに受け入れられるものを創ることを考えることはとても難しい問題です。その中で、イギリス公演の誘いをもらったとこは本当に驚きましたし、アーティストとして受け入れてもらえたことが本当に嬉しかったです。ツアーの3公演とも鮮明に覚えています。当時は私が緊張していることが表情でみんなに伝わっていたと思いますし、楽曲ごとに日本と違う反応がもらえたこともとても新鮮でした。あの緊張感は今でも忘れられません。

BS: The new song is great. Were you part of the creative process?

BS: 新曲は素晴らしいですね。今回の制作のなかで、特にクリエイティブだったのはどんなところですか?

G:  Thank you. I’m glad to hear that.

This album was the first time I tried to write lyrics by myself. “Ruler” which I created the music video for, was the first song I wrote, and I completed the lyrics with the help of RIKA:NYAN from Bedtime Story. I didn’t have any knowledge of lyric writing at first, so she was the one who took my emotional writing and applied it to the song.

The whole album is about the struggle with life, and I built it around “The Dominator”. I think I was able to create a narrative in the order of the songs as well as one round. I hope it’s a fight song for myself, and I hope it’s a fight song for everyone.

G: ありがとうございます。そう言ってもらえて嬉しいです。

今回のアルバムは初めて自分で作詞に挑戦しました。MVを創った『支配者』は1番最初にできた曲で、Bedtime StoryのRIKA:NYANに手伝ってもらいながら歌詞を完成させました。最初は作詞に関する知識もなかったので、私の感情のままに書いた文章を曲に当てはめたのが彼女です。

アルバム全体を通して人生との戦いをテーマにしていて、『支配者』を中心として構築していきました。曲の順番も1周すると物語性があるようにできたと思っています。自分自身へのファイトソングとして、みんなにとってのファイトソングになったら良いなと思っています。

Indie Idol and Infamous Tour (London) Photo courtesy of Peter Goodhew

BS: You have an industrial style to the music. Does this help you create your character and performance?

BS: あなたの’industrial style’の曲制作は、ご自身の成長、性格や能力にどのような影響を与えていますか?

G: My original influences were metal and hard rock, before I fell in love with idols myself. My current activities are rooted in the style I originally liked. I love pretty performances, of course, but I consider cool performances to be more suited to me. I think having plague masks and nail bats helps me to create a stronger and darker world.

G: 私自身がアイドルを好きになるよりも先に、元々の影響を受けていたのがメタルやハードロックでした。今の活動は元々私が好きだったスタイルを根源としています。私は可愛いパフォーマンスはちろん大好きですが、クールなパフォーマンスの方が自分に向いていると考えています。ペストマスクや釘バットを持つことでより強く、よりダークな世界を創りだすことができていると思います。

BS:  What was it like on the set of the music video with Neko?

BS: ‘NEKO’さんとのMV撮影現場はどのような感じでしたか?

G: It was so great. She is a really nice lady!

I met NEKO when she was in a group called “Fetties”. I have had her perform at my birthday party. She is a real SM queen.

For this video, I hired a professional production company to work on the project. When I read the script, the first cast member who came to mind was NEKO, whose behaviour and demeanor fit the image I had in mind.
The extras were dressed in very hot outfits and we had to shoot for a long time, so she made everyone feel at ease and cared for them during the shoot.

G: とても最高でした。彼女は本当に素敵な女性です。

NEKOさんとは、彼女が「フェッテーズ」というグループで活動していた時に知り合いました。私の生誕祭にも出演してもらったことがあります。本物のSM女王様です。

今回のビデオはプロの制作会社の方に依頼をしてプロジェクトを進行しました。脚本を読んだとき、立ち居振る舞いがイメージにピッタリなキャストとして、一番最初に思い浮かんだのがNEKOさんでした。

エキストラたちの衣装はとても暑く、長時間の撮影だったので、撮影中もみんなのことを和ませてくれたり、気遣ってくれました。

Garuda and Neko on set. Photo courtesy of Garuda) Twitter)

BS:  The new album will be out soon, what are your thoughts on how it has turned out?

BS: 新アルバムがもうすぐ発売とのことですが、今の心境を聞かせてください。

G: I’m so excited and looking forward to it!

I decided on most things myself including the artwork, compositional images, and lyric production. This album is the first album that I truly created by myself. I’ve learned how hard it is to make an album, and it took me a long time to make, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how people will listen to this album and interpret the meaning of the songs.

G: とても楽しみでワクワクしています!

アートワーク、作曲イメージ、歌詞制作を含めたほとんどのことを自分自身で決めて創りました。このアルバムが本当の意味での初めて自分で制作した作品になります。今回で作品を作る大変さを思い知りましたし、アルバムを作るまでにたくさんの時間が掛かってしまいましたが、みなさんがどんな風にこのアルバムを聴いてくれるのか、曲の意味を解釈してくれるのかがとても楽しみです。

BS:  This is your first solo album. Have you enjoyed working with the creative team?

BS: 今回初のソロアルバム、制作チームとは楽しくお仕事することができましたか?

G: Of course.

I’ve recorded in a group activity before, but most of it was my first time with GARUDA. In the time between adding lyrics to the songs and recording, we received a lot of advice on how to make them even better. Thanks to everyone on the production team, I think the songs turned out great throughout the whole process. I can’t thank them enough.

G: もちろんです。

グループ活動でレコーディングをした経験はありますが、GARUDAでほとんどのことが初体験でした。出来上がった曲に歌詞を付けてからレコーディングするまでの間にも、もっと良い作品にするためにたくさんのアドバイスを頂きました。制作チームのみんなのおかげで全曲を通して最高の楽曲に仕上がったと思います。感謝しても感謝しきれません。

BS:  What artists or bands inspire you? Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?

BS: 最も影響を受けたアーチスト、バンドは?もし共演できるとしたら誰としてみたいですか?

G: My biggest influence is Marilyn Manson. When I saw their music videos, I was struck by lightning!

The artists I would like to perform with are “Queen Bee” and “Denpagumi.inc”. These two groups have also had a great influence on me and I’ve always admired them.

G: 最も影響を受けたのはMarilyn Mansonです。彼らのMVを観たときは、雷に打たれたような衝撃を受けました。

共演したいアーティストは「女王蜂」「でんぱ組.inc」です。この二組も私に大きな影響を与えてくれたので、ずっと憧れの存在です。

BS:  Do you get time for yourself?

BS: いま、自分の時間は持てていますか?

G: Tough question….. it looks like I won’t be able to settle down much until after the GARUDA sponsored event. (LOL)

G: 難しい質問です…GARUDAの主催イベントが終わるまではあまり落ち着けなさそうです。(笑) 

BS: We miss you in the UK. Do you hope to travel overseas again?

BS: イギリスのファンは寂しがっています。また海外へ行きたいですか?

G: Of course I want to go!

I learned a lot from meeting fans in the UK. It was great to see not only people who live in the UK, but also people who came from neighboring countries to visit us. The reaction to each song was different, and I trained myself to think about what I was going to say during my MCs every day. In Japan, many people would stare at me as I flailed, but at the UK show, people welcomed me with open arms. When I returned to Japan, people would sometimes tell me that my staging had matured.

So far, I’ve had more international fans come to Japan, but if I get the chance, I’d like to visit the UK and many other countries as often as I can.

G: もちろん行きたいです!

イギリスのファンの方々に出会えたことでたくさんのことを学びました。イギリスに住んでいる方だけでなく、近隣の国から遊びに来てくれる方もいて嬉しかったです。楽曲ごとに盛り上がる反応も違いましたし、MCで話す内容も毎日考えることで鍛えられました。日本では私が暴れるのを見つめる人も多いのですが、イギリス公演ではみんなが声を出して歓迎してくれていました。日本に帰国後、ステージングが成長したと言ってもらえることもありました。

今までは海外のファンの方が日本に来ることの方が多いですが、機会ができれば私からも同じくらいの頻度でイギリスやたくさんの国に行きたいです。

BS:  You love Disney, who is your favourite character?

BS: ディズニーが大好きと聞きました。どのキャラクターが好きですか?

G: They’re all so cute it’s hard to choose!

The Nightmare Before Christmas ♥ Depending on my mood, I also like Gellatoni and Alien.

G: みんな可愛くて選ぶのが難しいです!

The Nightmare Before Christmas♥その日の気分によってジェラトーニやエイリアンも好きです。

BS: Do you have a message for your fans?

BS: あなたのファンの為にメッセージを送ってくれませんか?

G: Thank you for always looking out for me!

Thanks to everyone’s support so far, we’ve been able to put out this album. Thank you so much for waiting so long for this album. I hope this work will reach many people.

It may not be easy for me to do it again soon, but I look forward to seeing you again.

G: いつも私のことを気にかけてくれてありがとうございます!

みんながこれまで支えてくれたおかげで、今回のアルバムを出すことができました。長い間待ってくれていて本当にありがとうございます。この作品が多くの方に届くことを願っています。

またすぐには難しいかもしれませんが、また会えるのを楽しみにしています。

Beyond Senpai thanks Yuffie-san for her contribution and taking the time to talk with us. We will continue to support Garuda!

Special thanks to Hideki Narita for his assistance with translating.

Photos are gratefully accepted from the official Garuda Twitter.

To support Yuffie

A ‘little’ story about Little Kitsune Crafts.

A guest article gladly recieved from Lilly.

I have always had an admiration for Pixel Art ever since I was little. I used to make pictures with sprites from my favourite video games; Pokemon, Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog to name a few. Later, around 2015 I became interested in Hama Beads (known as Perler Beads in the US) and it became my hobby to make images with them. I mostly made Pokemon, and would stick them to my wall like a collage.

Time passed and I began making less and less until eventually I stopped completely and moved onto other things. Then in August 2016 I found BABYMETAL. I remember watching the music video to ‘Karate’ with my mouth wide open thinking “Ok, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen”. The following day after work I went to HMV and bought both of their albums and listened to them constantly for the next few days, as well as watching videos on YouTube and researching everything I could about this band. Thus, I fell deep into this ‘Fox Hole’ and I could not get enough!

During my many hours learning all I could about BABYMETAL I came across a post on Reddit about their appearance in Super Mario Maker. More specifically I noticed their sprite and immediately thought! I need to make that! So I dug out my beads and made a keyring, which I still have now.

Seeing the little sprite made me wonder if there was any other BABYMETAL pixel art out there, so I hopped on google, and found a large Reddit pixel project( R/Place I believe it was called) . I noticed there was a little BABYMETAL piece included which I thought was adorable, so I recreated it with my beads. I then thought I’d have a go at making different versions with different BABYMETAL costumes.

While I enjoyed tweaking this design, it wasn’t mine. So it didn’t feel right for me to keep altering someone else’s work, so I decided I’d have a go at making my own. Freshly motivated, I downloaded a pixel art program on my phone and began designing my own sprites, and thanks to a new batch of BABYMETAL concerts that had just happened called ‘The Five Fox Festival’ I had new inspiration!

I made sprites for each of the 5 Fox Masks featured for these shows, and used the beads to make little key rings with the sprites and uploaded a photo of them onto twitter. The post received lots of amazing feedback, and I began to get messages requesting to buy the key rings.

Shortly after I began taking commissions for key rings, and the idea of making a little shop began in the back of my mind. I was only working part-time, and the extra pennies were a great help. More importantly, I enjoyed making these little trinkets and seeing my new friends happy reactions when receiving their items.

In June 2018 I attended my first headline BABYMETAL concert in Utrecht NL, I was so excited and the whole experience was incredible. I spoke to a few fans about my pixel art, showed them the kind of things I made and a fellow fan suggested maybe making metal pin badges- and I thought, y’know what thats a good idea! Once home, I got straight to work and designed a small enamel pin based on Su-Metal in her Megitsune kimono. I released the pin alongside the opening of my Etsy shop, later adding Moametal and Yuimetal’s pins to the set. They were greatly received by fans all over the world, and I was humbled by the amazing feedback and support.

I began adding more and more Items whenever I could afford it and Little Mistune started to bloom into something substantial, we’re still small but I like it that way to be honest- it feels like my own little community. I have regulars of whom purchase almost every new item I produce and it’s those individuals that encourage me to keep going. When they post photos of their collections and the joy they feel when they receive their goodies it makes me so incredibly happy!

The BABYMETAL community has done so much for me in my 4 years being a fan. Last October my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. I had to close my Etsy shop and move back home to take care of him. My employer allowed me an extended period of time off on the condition it was unpaid. With bills and rent to pay, filled great shame I felt no choice but to reach out and ask for financial help, to which I was absolutely shocked to be met with nothing but endless support and encouragement- the sheer volume still amazes me today.

The kindness and compassion of the BABYMETAL community was something I had never witnessed before, these individuals, many of whom were complete strangers to me had come to my aid without even a second guess, I couldn’t believe it.

Growing up in a sheltered environment, having little to no friends this was the first time in my life I felt like I was a part of something meaningful, a family.

My dad passed away peacefully in late November, and in his final moments my sister and I sat at his bedside telling him what he meant to us, and how we would stay strong, be brave and continue to do the things we loved in life. Dad knew how much BABYMETAL meant to me, he would encourage me to travel to see them, I would show him my art and the items I made, of which he was always proud and supportive. My BABYMETAL family got me through those hard times, and still do. I know they are there for me when I need them, as I will be for there for them.

Life is short, that is the one thing I took away from losing my dad. I vowed to myself that I would live my life with no regrets, I would do the things that meant the most to me; and that is making people happy and with Little Kitsune I have managed to do that, and I will keep doing so for as long as I can.

2020 has been a tough year, with COVID-19 causing disruptions and times of uncertainty. I have used this time to work on Little Kitsune, and improving my pixel art and hopefully, with the continued support of the BABYMETAL community and my recent work through Kickstarter my little pixels will keep bringing smiles to fans for many years to come.

Beyond Senpai would like to thank Lilly for her contribution to the Babymetal community. 🤘🦊

To support Little Kitsune Crafts

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LittleKitsuneCraft

https://twitter.com/Kitsune_Crafts?s=09

Wagakki Band Manatsu no Dai Shinnenkai 2020 ~ Tenkyu no Kakehashi – 2 Days

A guest article gladly received from Rosy Baltussen



My review will tell you about the 2 days of the Midsummer Great New Year Party 2020 ~ Heavenly Bridge of the amazing Wagakki Band!

On the 15th and 16th of August it was finally the big concert of Wagakki Band in the Yokohama Arena, a show which had been cancelled earlier this year because of the Covid-19 outbreak in Japan. The two shows have gone completely different than usually. Normally the Yokohama Arena can have a maximum of 17000 fans inside, but this time they went down to just 5000. Because of this decision they started to sell tickets for Livestream shows at Line for the Japanese fans. Since they were going to do a livestream, they decided to let the international fans enjoy as well and to stream it on Zaiko. I was the lucky one who could watch the live stream. In the two days there have been 35000 fans who have watched the shows online.

The show started on Saturday at 17.00 and Sunday at 16.00 with an incredibly beautiful video introduction of all 8 members, followed by a falling curtain with the band ready behind it to begin the first song. I had never seen them live, or even a show (only bits and pieces) and it felt so special to me, finally I could see them live! Of course I would have preferred to see them in Japan, but well….

It was a great start to the show, they really came in with a bang. The first song fitted perfectly after the opening clip they showed and the second song came in even bigger with lots of fire. Purple penlights were to be seen everywhere in the arena. Yuko even shouted a few times to their fans to wave the penlights as much as possible. It was really cool see all those small purple lights together.

A show of the Wagakki Band is amazingly diverse, they play a wide range of their songs. Some of their heavier rock songs, ballads, vocaloid/anime songs and some of their instrumental pieces. During the instrumental pieces they were accompanied by some of the most beautiful videos of Japanese nature and wildlife, which fitted perfectly by the overall setting.

Halfway through the show they even had a Wadaiko Drum Battle between Wasabi and Kurona (this was the only part of the show which was allowed to be filmed).  Later in the show they treated us to a performance of singer Yuko, who made some awesome moves with her Katana blade and supported by instrumental music.

During the show there also were three MC’s who spoke to the fans about many things. Before the start of the encore they had something special to tell us. A few weeks before the show they asked fans to film a clip of themselves singing a part of ‘Akatsuki no Ito’. They combined lots of entries together and it sounded like all those fans singing together. They also filled the screen with tiny clips of the fans singing. It was almost one of the most emotional parts of the show. I was also the lucky one who was chosen to be part of this moment . I was so happy and surprised that on day one I instantly started to cry tears of happiness.

On the first day Yuko got emotional about the fact that they were standing there on that stage again for their fans. They said ‘we are going to give a show, and maybe it will be cancelled, and maybe not’. In the end it turned out amazing and they did stand there on that stage for us.

On the second day Yuko told her fans that she felt 90% uncomfortable the day before but that changed completely in just one day. She said it felt like she sang on a completely different stage, and it changed so fast because of the fans in front of them singing, clapping, waving their penlights. That was the magic to change her feeling. I must admit you could hear and see it, they were on fire the second day.

After the encore they came with the big surprise, their new song ‘Singin’ for’ and announcement of the new album in October this year. They also played the new music video on screen, so the fans who watched Day 1 were the first ones to enjoy the new song before the rest of the world. I was amazed by the song, it is so beautiful and powerful. It made me feel very happy that on the second day the band played the song live for their audience. This was around the same time the video would air on YouTube and other social media.

The show ended of course with their most famous song Senbonzakura, with a loud bang of fireworks. All of the band members kept waving and saying goodbye to the fans for quite some time, it was clear that they didn’t want to leave the stage. I mean, it was a show of more than 2 hours! I was amazed by the variety  of entertainment we received. But in the end it was time for them to truly leave the stage and then to end everything the clip of Singin’ for was shown. Then the stage turned dark.

For me it was an amazing experience, I was so proud to be part of the show and to be able to see this performance. The tickets were not the cheapest but in my opinion it was worth every penny. The band really showed what they can do as musicians and performers; that they are truly original with their traditional Japanese instruments combined with the modern ones.

Thank you all for reading my review!



Wagakki Band consists of:
Vocals: Yuko Suzuhana
Guitar: Machiya
Tsugaru Shamisen: Beni Ninagawa
Koto: Kiyoshi Ibukuro
Bass: Asa
Drums: Wasabi
Wadaiko: Kurona Shakuhachi: Daisuke Kaminaga


New album Tokyo Singing will be out October 14th 2020
There will be different versions of the album available to purchase (CD+DVD/CD+Booklet/CD only)

For more information and to support Wagakki Band follow them at https://twitter.com/WagakkiBand or go to their website https://wagakkiband.com/



Pictures are made by: Keiko Tanabe

The INVINCIBLE めろん畑a go go can’t be stopped

A music review by Just Panda

めろん畑a go go (Melon Batake A Go Go), the idol from outer space, are back with new single Invincible IDOL (無敵のIDOL) bringing their jpop fifties style fusion with them.

From far across the galaxy, this idol unit have made a name for themselves in the underground scene for the past few years. With a big line- up change in the early part of 2020, they have been working tirelessly. Now with a new single and MV as well as the imminent release of their fourth album, they are ready to take over the idol galaxy!

Dressed in new red outfits with yellow capes, the Melons dance in unison with their identities hidden by masks, in what looks like an abandoned warehouse. That classic fifties rockabilly vibe that they are known for provides a quick and fun pace to the song.

They sing ‘The end will come. Then why sing? The life of IDOL now being questioned’, as they muse the fate of an Idol. Will they be successful? Will they conquer the galaxy? The Melons ask ‘Born underground and die underground, is that the fate of IDOL?’ We have no doubt that our sidekick Idols from outer space will be INVINCIBLE!

After a shaky start to the year with former member Rukatama withdrawing from activities, the Melons continued with arrival of Tomoyo Chiyo and Amino Coromi from sister group The Grateful a Mogaaz. They join Yuffie Sakimura, Soze Nakamura and Run Rutakame to become a five-piece, and the Melons are now ready to take over the galaxy!

The highly anticipated mini album ‘to IDOLS to US to YOU’ is no doubt going to be full of the high energy superhero style we all know and love. MELON BATAKE A GOGO!!!

To support めろん畑a go go.


https://twitter.com/RunKgMelon
https://twitter.com/SozekgMelon
https://twitter.com/Garuda_on
https://twitter.com/chiyogonisu
https://twitter.com/1784Amicoro

Mini album to IDOLS to US to YOU to be released on 19th August 2020

All images from the official Twitter account, with thanks.

Garuda is taking no prisoners. 

A music review by Just Panda.

Yuffie Sakimura aka Garuda hit back yesterday with her brand new single 支配者 (Ruler), armed with her nailed up bat, this time with added flames. 

With those flames as the opening scene to the MV, our industrial idol is seen collapsed on the ground, her well known plague doctor mask cast aside. Crawling to her knees, a latex- laden Neko is commanding a faceless audience while an industrial metal drum sample builds the pace. Firing at the faceless beings with a pistol full of what appears to be blood, The Neko Ruler shows her dominance, while Yuffie-san’s soft voice is in contrast to both the sample and the visuals, creating a dark blend of sound. 

Garuda continues her struggle to reach her mask as the pre-chorus picks up with an electric guitar sitting high above the heavy drums and synth in the mix. The sound drops as the second verse begins, and the faceless audience dressed from head to toe in white, with no more than a painted smile where their face should be. They begin to circle a fallen Yuffie, her head in hands; she reaches for her mask, this time with success.

As we enter the bridge, harmonised vocals are supported by those sampled drum loops, with a continual build before fading out into a softened melody. Here Yuffie takes control, bat in hand she opens a door to streaming white light before we see our idol stand tall on a stage, surrounded by the faceless audience, now strewn on the floor. Garuda removes her mask and looks ahead, triumphant in this battle. 

支配者 is a fitting title song for Garuda’s first solo album, The Battle of Nightmares, which is due for release next month. It is clear that Yuffie is a master of her craft when it comes to her performance. Both visually artistic and with energy, the dark neo-gothic style of the MV fits perfectly. 

Yuffie and Neko on set

It’s been 3 years since Garuda debuted and 2 years since her first single was released, the EDM heavy Soon To Be Snow (もうすぐ雪が).

During that time she has toured with her idol unit, the idol from outer-space めろん畑a go go (Melon Batake a Go Go), both domestically and internationally. In the spring of 2019 Yuffie, alongside Hanako-San (14th Generation Toilet) and 2& (double and) took the UK by storm on the Indie Idol and Infamous tour, where many a new fan was made. 

This first single sets the tone for the upcoming album, not shying away from her industrial roots it is sure to be a fantastic record. 

To support Garuda https://twitter.com/GARUDA_info

To support Neko https://twitter.com/fettiesNEKO

The following thanks are from Garuda’s twitter.

【🌹New MV🌹】
『支配者』
https://t.co/9Q5JcOttJX

Film legion:武子真幸
Camera:倉林和泉
Cast:
Rulelr▷NEKO
Special Thanks to Extras.

2020/09/04 Release
The Battle Of Nightmares
収録曲

On Dawn’s Day, the bubbles of the sea turn red.

The graduation of Risaki Kakizaki, Rei Imaizumi and Michelle

A guest article gladly recieved from Rosy Baltussen



After a long wait on the 28th of June, the graduation of Risaki, Rei and Michelle was finally there. Thankfully for international fans who couldn’t be there in person M-SMILE decided to livestream the 3 shows. Two of them were available for people who bought a ticket, the 3rd show was free to watch for everybody.

For me the first live show started very early (6 in the morning). I was totally ready and actually had no idea what to expect because for me it was my first graduation show ever. The show started with Skulls in the Stars performed by the three girls. I must say that I was very surprised that this was the first song to perfom, usually they would do this as the very last one. After two songs the girls introduced themself and told the public a little about the setting of the show. Rei got emotional from the beginning and for me it was hard to watch, I felt so sorry for the three of them. It must have been hard for them to play the NECRONOMIDOL songs for the very last time, also wearing their uniforms for the last time (background music and the uniforms were kindly lended by Ricky for this special occasion).

The show went on and at the 6th song came a big surprise for me! A few spotlights were on and I saw the shadow of 4 girls instead of 3! When the lights turned on it was Kunogi who had entered the stage! It was truly amazing to see her back, I’ve always wanted to see her perfom again and now it happened. But the BIGGEST surprise of the whole show came after two songs with Kunogi. Sari and Hina entered the stage to perform together with Risaki, Rei and Michelle, and for one song also Utena Yuki (NAMELESS) entered the stage to perform one song.

I truly couldn’t be more happier, it was such a long time ago that I had seen Sari and Hina perform, and back at their graduation I was so sad because I probably would never see them again. I almost stopped breathing when I saw them entering the stage, I was just so shocked, happy and surprised. All of the girls, Kunogi, Sari and Hina performed the Necroma songs like they never left. It gave me such a wonderful feeling to see the whole group almost complete.

The show went on and there were songs performed by just the three girls and some songs with their quest performers. Another surprise was that the final song of this first show was alo Skulls in the Stars, but this time performed with everybody. Every song was performed was incredible, they truly sang and danced like their life depended on it. I’m still impressed by the amount of energy they had for all three shows!

I was still flabbergasted by what happened at the first show, I just didn’t see that coming. I actually don’t think anyone did because the TwitCast chat went crazy when the former members came on stage. But knowing what happened at the first show I knew what was coming at the second. Still it was incredible to see them all, so very emotional, the girls had a hard time talking but they still kept smiling. I felt so proud of them, they accomplished so much these last years and I’m still so happy I got to meet them all at least once,  some even twice.

When the 3rd show started, this was a special one for me because this truly would be the ending. Secretly I didn’t want it to end because the shows were SO GOOD! I could watch them do this like… forever. But the girls are going to start a new journey after this one which also makes me very excited. I’d love to see what they are going to do!

The songs of the 3rd show were perfromed perfectly as well. Every show had some songs that they didn’t play in the one before which made it great to see all three. Next to the surprise of the former members joining the three girls, the other big surprise that day was that Hina is going to join the new group formed by Risaki and Rei. More information will be made known in August this year.

I’m looking forward to that because to me it is great to see these three girls work together again. Also, in  August there will be more known about Michelle’s solo-project. Knowing what she is capable of as an alt idol her project will be amazing and interesting aswell.

It was a heavy, emotional but precious day for me, a true rollercoaster so to speak. It’s also a day I will never forget. I’ve sang, danced, cried and laughed during these shows, there were way too many emotions at once. It was just unbelieveble but totally amazing!



As the last thing in this article, I want to wish the girls good luck with their new journey and I definately will keep supporting them as much as I can and hopefully I’ll meet them again!

To support Necronomidol :

https://twitter.com/NECRONOMIDOL

To support Risaki, Rei and Michelle:

https://twitter.com/ray_MANACLE https://twitter.com/kakizk_MANACLE https://twitter.com/nekozenanokamo

Senpai Feature GET YOUR GENKI

A personal insight into creating an independent music label by Christian Preiss.

I started this project in October 2018 .

Originally I wanted to start it about 10 years earlier but somehow the idea got lost during the years.

I was always interested in music from Japan in all its varieties, Pop, Rock, Funk, Punk, Psych, Folk…whatever. Mostly some not so well known bands, more or less independent ones.

Somehow the music was always a bit better, the band a bit more authentic, the love for what they do a bit deeper.

So I bought even more music from Japan and started contacting bands in order to find out how I could acquire their music; and I noticed soon enough that lots of bands made just one e.p. with 1-3 songs they sell after a concert and then you never hear them again.

Fortunately some bands sent me their songs and one day I was asking myself :

“Wouldn’t it be cool to have all these wonderful songs on one sampler? Most compilations from Japan are very expensive and full with idol bands. It would be awesome if someone would release a beautiful cassette with these songs …. mmmmhhh….. Maybe it’s me who should do this!?”

And thats how GET YOUR GENKI was born.

This all sounds much easier than it really was. I had to think about a duplication service, someone had to do the art, I had to think about advertising the compilations etc.

The most important thing for me was to work closely together with the bands. There are countless jpop and jrock compilations but during my work with so many different artists I have noticed that most bands that appear on these compilations have no idea about it. So I absolutely didn’t want to do this, it’s easy to steal music from bands and download the songs from the internet and duplicate them.

So I did it “the hard” way and contacted every single band to get their OK for releasing their music on my label. Now all the bands are involved in the creative process of the making of the cassette, the design, colours, song order.

As my project is a nonprofit label and all the costs and prices just cover my expenses I am not able to pay the bands. So I am trying to treat them and their music with all due respect and even more and as it seems my decision was correct. I have high moral and ethical standards 🙂

This feature is gladly accepted from GET YOUR GENKI. @Getyourgenki 🐦

A special thanks for all original illustrations and artwork to Ash Loydon @AshtonLamont 🐦

To support the label and the artists they work with please go to: https://getyourgenki.bandcamp.com/

Ankimo are far from UNFINISHED.

An album review by Just Panda ~ Beyond Senpai

Technical melodic speed metal titans Unlucky Morpheus returned to the world music platform this month with the highly anticipated album ‘Unfinished’. 

It has been two years since the last full album release, the mammoth Change of Generation. A follow up to this beast was surely to be expected, and our wait has not been in vain. 

Lead single Unending Sorceress premiered with an incredible gothic style MV in the latter days of July, gearing the fan base up for the imminent release of Unfinished. 

Vocalist Fuki has matured in her abilities, mesmerising the listener with her operatic vibrato and incredible range. These clean and impressive vocals are backed up by screamer Shiren, creating a balance of light and dark. Shirens screamer style cuts through the heavy guitar and machine-gun drumming, with moments of brightness coming from Jill and her intricate fiddle work. That is well heard in the opening to Near the End where Shirens vocal abilities are brought to the front of the mix. 

The playful to-and-fro guitar solos of Shiren and Jinya, are both pleasing to the ear and hypnotic in their skill. This is clear in Kago No Tori, where Fukis falsetto work showcases that incredible range we all know she is capable of. The intricate scale work between the heavy, dark chord progressions and purposeful bass work from Hiroyuki Ogawa create the atmosphere that Ankimo are well known for in their field. 

Make Your Choice is a stand out track as it has a vibe like no other on the album. Fumiya on drums powers through with a groove that does this song justice. The hope of this making it onto the live set list is high, sure to be a crowd-pleaser this has ticked all the boxes. 

Gothic chorale track Dogura Magura is an onslaught of chorister vocals and pounding drums. The vocal switching between Fuki and Shiren has been a main feature on this album, with both vocalists working together in harmony. The chord progressions and early key change take this track to another level, with the layering of sound a main focus in the mix. 

Surprise entry has to be Carry On Singing to the Sky, the only song in English. No easy feat but Fukis professionalism to her craft carries her through. Classical musings are called on through Jills superb string work with a shout to Paganini’s 24thCaprice, sure to make any audience take notice. 

In short, Unfinished is undoubtedly some of the best work Unlucky Morpheus has delivered. The musicianship and talent is showcased throughout. This is no thrown-together record. This is months of composing and writing as a unit. And the dedication shows. 

Unfinished is a delight to behold. Both light and heavy, it is on course to being one of the top releases of the year.

Tracklist:
01. Unfinished
02. Unending Sorceress
03. Near The End
04. 籠の鳥
05. Salome
06. Make your choice
07. Top of the “M”
08. Dogura Magura
09. Carry on singing to the sky