Melodic trance metal pioneers Blood Stain Child performed a live stream concert on their official YouTube channel on October 23rd.
A highly anticipated show, the band were able to involve fans both in Japan and internationally through the voting of 4 songs to be included in the set list.
And as an added bonus, a special online lottery allowed for fans to be included as a digital crowd participation during the live.
The band from Osaka gained ‘legend status’ and quite the following internationally after their show-stealing performance at the 2019 Metal Matsuri in London.
It’s been almost 2 years since the release of the incredible Amateras album, a record that brought original vocalist Sadew back into the BSC family.
Before the start of the live stream, fans from across the world gathered in the live chat. With almost 300 watching the show live, there was a lot of love coming from all who were viewing.
Around the stage were bar stools with balloons featuring the faces of fans who participated to be part of the virtual crowd.
This is a band who can get an audience fired up from the first song, but they did not let the lack of crowd stop them from fully embracing this performance.
The members gave their all during this performance, with guitarist GSR and bassist Yakky playing off one another, it was clear they were having a great time.
Drummer Yasuo received plenty shout outs in the live chat, his foot work impeccable and the driving force of each track, his thundering double bass drum could be felt deep in your chest.
Lead guitarist Ryu never disappoints with clean solo work, never missing a note. Her talent for both guitar and composing can be heard throughout the set.
Frontman Sadew as always brings all that is required as vocalist. His screams are hard and precise, the clean elements never faltering. His return to BSC after some time away brought great joy to the fanbase, and his outgoing personality and interaction with the crowd has only grown in the years since.
Fan favourite Freedom got the chat room jumping, and Exotic-6- Cordinator took fans back to the incredible 2007 Mozaiq album. It is clear that this bands songs still sound just as brilliant as they did 13 years ago.
Amateras singles Del Sol and Sumeragi hit hard showing that this band have continues to only get better over the years.
Ending with Final Sky from the 2005 album Idolator, the fans present in the chat were definitely craving more.
After the show, the band got together to chat casually and answer fans questions, announcing that two new songs are to be released in December. This news was well received by fans in the live chat.
After the postponement of their UK show back in March, plus shows due to take place on Japanese soil, Blood Stain Child came hard into this live stream. They have gained a following from their high impact live shows, and they did not disappoint their fans tonight.
Fans both domestic and international will await news of live shows in the coming months.
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.
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.
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. 🤘🦊
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.
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!
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 🐦