aya gloomy is the tokyo alt-pop star who's got us feeling happy
In the first part of a series we profile eight of the most exciting new musical artists from around the world. First stop, Tokyo.
Photography Francesca Allen
This story originally appeared in i-D's The Homegrown Issue, no. 355, Spring 2019.
Today Aya Gloomy’s hair is yellow. Yesterday it was blue. When her friend, London photographer Francesca Allen, shot these portraits of her hanging out in her bedroom and around her Tokyo neighbourhood, it alternated between sapphire and peachy pink. Fun! Born and raised in the Japanese capital to the sounds of The Smiths and The Beatles courtesy of her dad’s UK-centric record collection, it wasn’t until she joined the school music club at 16 and got tasked with performing an original creation, that she realised she was onto something. “Making music is a natural process for me,” the shy 24-year-old told us. “I don’t think too much about the genre or style before I start making something.
But I definitely wanted my first record to have a Japanese feeling.” She released her experimental first album, RIKU NO KOTO, last year on cult Tokyo label Big Love Records, whose Harajuku store she used to work in. Aya’s face — a tight close up, framed with red hair this time — glares up at fans from the album artwork covered in war-paint. It’s a powerful image. But head down to one of her live shows and you’ll find fabulous costumes and kawaii visuals galore. Want to cop her rainbow-coloured style? Meet Pom Pom Shop, Aya’s vintage clothing store that pops up regularly at Big Love HQ as well as Harajuku’s Kit Gallery space and brings her LA-sourced poppy style to those that know. Currently working on her new EP from the comfort of her own house, Aya might be verging on ‘big in Japan’ but has ambitions to take things global. “I want to keep making music for my whole life,” she says. “And I’d really like to do shows overseas… somebody book me!”