the intangible tone of multiplatinum, j-pop girl group, perfume
Perfume performed in New York City for the first time on Saturday with a sold-out show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The concert concluded their World Tour 3rd, following last month’s release of their album LEVEL3 (Bonus Edition) through the label...
For over a decade, the group has been working with choreographer Mikiko Mizuno, as well as prolific J-pop hit maker Yasutaka Nakata, who produces all their songs. Their digital sound is driven by a metronomic dance beat, intertwined with dense polyphonies of arpeggiators and layers of dynamic, stuttering vocoders. Perfume's corresponding visuals suggest a narrative of magic and transhumanism. The Spring of Life music video depicts the girls as cyborgs wearing translucent LED dresses, being programmed by machines to experience love. In Spending All My Time, they play prestidigitators, practicing their telepathic and telekinetic skills.
i-D sat down with Ayano "NOCCHi" Ōmoto, 26, Yuka "KASHIYUKA" Kashino and Ayaka "A-CHAN" Nishiwaki, both 25, before they took the stage. Despite their relentlessly bubbly demeanor, they maintain untouchable personas, as what's below the surface is artfully kept secret. We discussed spell-casting on stage, the reason behind their expressionless sound and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's stuffed animals.
What do you care about most when performing?
KASHIYUKA: Synchronisation! We three must synchronise. That's the most important thing!
What do you consider Perfume's most challenging choreography, and what is your favorite?
NOCCHi: Spending All My Time because it's not about the body movements. It's about the hand movements. It's like a puzzle. I didn't know how to figure it out.
A-CHAN: There were only two hands, but it was really difficult.
KASHIYUKA: Magic of Love. I like the magic and ladylike moves.
A-CHAN: It's about magic, like casting spells to make the guy like you, fall in love with you. So I'm casting a spell on the audience, so they'll fall in love with us, and they're tricked into it!
What are some lessons that you've learned from working with Yasutaka Nakata?
A-CHAN: He makes us sit down to sing, and we couldn't get used to that at first, because in school we were taught that vocals are all about emotions, and Nakata wants the exact opposite, for us to be very cool and unemotional. When we do that, listeners will have a lot of emotions of their own to project onto the song instead, so that's his style. The funny thing about Nakata is that he loves Korean barbeque, so he cooks for us. Because of his image, I thought he ran on batteries because he's always drinking diet tea, but he actually eats meat!
What is your relationship with other acts produced by Nakata? Do you hang out with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Toshiko from Capsule?
A-CHAN: We hang out at TV shoots. With Kyary, we talk about our outfits. Capsule doesn't usually go on TV, so we don't really talk to them. Kyary usually has stuffed animals all over the place, so we ask her, "Is that heavy?" "Yes!" That kind of thing.
How would you describe your personal style in terms of fashion?
KASHIYUKA: Oh, that's personal. LOL. I like "mode" fashion. I also like knitwear. A-CHAN likes girly clothes. She likes skirts. NOCCHi is… boyish, to put it simply. She pays attention to the fabric of clothing. She likes good materials.
How would you describe your style on stage?
A-CHAN: At concerts in Japan, our clothes tend to get brighter and cuter as the concert goes on. Today, we start from cool and cute, and when we take it off, we'll be really cool, and after that, it will be really shiny, and after that, it will be really frilly.
How do you like to spend time when you're not recording, rehearsing and promoting music?
KASHIYUKA: I like to read comic books, play video games or go shopping on my days off.
The three of you have been a group since 2001. What is your relationship like? What's the most valuable lesson you've learned?
NOCCHi: Our relationship is strong and irreplaceable, even stronger than a family bond. It's a miracle that we were born in the same era and formed a group and stayed in that group for so long. Recently, I feel more strongly that there is special love and friendship between us. I think we are very lucky and so blessed with the supportive people around us. So the most valuable lesson is to cherish and treasure them.
Text Alisa Nizhniy
Interview translation Aya Nogami