j-pop megastar kyary pamyu pamyu talks us through her new album
Adventure through the imaginary kingdom that is ‘Japamyu’ -- track by track.
Photo courtesy of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is Japan’s biggest popstar. Born out of the Harajuku scene, the then-model was declared the most kawaii of them all and set off on a musical journey from which she has never looked back. Kyary’s wild 2012 debut single PONPONPON saw her star rise and rise, with the music video -- in which she jumps around on a pogo stick farting rainbows -- currently sitting at over 140 million views. She’s barely stopped since, having gone on to release four albums, embark on world tours and make this collaboration with Charli XCX happen. She’s also impressed fellow pop people like Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, and built up a truly dedicated global family of superfans in the process.
Back from a brief musical hiatus on which she presented an exhibition at the Tate Modern and opened her very own VR rollercoaster ride at Universal Studios in Osaka, she has just released her fourth album, Japamyu. Anthemic and completely joyous, the 10 track record sounds like what getting drunk on too much candy in a Tokyo arcade would probably feel like. For real.
Wanting to know more about the weird and wonderful world of Japamyu, we asked Kyary to dive headfirst into the album and guide us through its creation, like some kind of musical mermaid. Yatta! Let’s go!
1. バーチャルぱみゅぱみゅ / Virtual Pamyu Pamyu
“This is a perfect introduction track to this album. It is about my imaginary kingdom called JAPAMYU, with this electronic noise as though it was a video game intro to lead the listeners to my world. The track Otono Kuni sort of takes over the theme from this track.”
2. キズナミ / Kizunami
“The title Kizunami is kind of a neologism, because young Japanese people like to add the letter み (Mi) at the end of adjectives. This track is about friendships, family bonds and loved ones. So I added み (Mi) to the noun kizuna, which means ‘bond’ or ‘tight-knit’.”
3. 原宿いやほい / Harajuku Iyahoi
“This track is my new upbeat track to interact with audience at shows, with the crowd calling out “hoi! hoi!” with me. My debut single PONPONPON featured the phrase ‘at that intersection’, and the exact same phrase appears here too, which makes me feel really warm and nostalgic.”
4. 音ノ国 / Otono Kuni
“This track represents the whole album concept. The inspiration comes from my imaginary kingdom JAPAMYU, so a lot of video game sounds are featured. At the shows, audiences wave glow sticks and we all have fun with this track.”
5. きみのみかた / Kimino Mikata
“During the production of this album, I brought up the concept of feeling lost. It seemed to me that people were having difficulty dealing with things that made them feel out-of-control, with the media seeming to twist things, throwing gasoline on the fire to hype up the chaos. I wanted to alert the world that the majority can be wrong. Oh, and I tried to rap on this track!”
6. ちゃみ ちゃみ ちゃーみん / Chami Chami Charming
“This track is so me! It’s about wanting to start something, to do something new... but maybe not now. Perhaps later. It’s a really cute track with a sentimental melody.”
7. 演歌ナトリウム / Enka Natrium
“This is my favorite track from the album. I really like its cool intro and nice melody. For the title, I combined the words ‘Enka’ which is a Japanese music genre similar to American country, and ‘Natrium’ which means sodium. As the word Natrium suggests, I just call out a bunch of atom characteristics. Enka music has a signature style of tremolo singing, and I try to imitate that on the song.”
8. 恋ノ花 / Koino Hana
“I always include one cover of a CAPSULE (the band of my producer, Yasutaka Nakata) song on my albums. For this album I chose this one, Koino Hana. It’s a very feminine track, and not so me. If you compare them, you’ll hear that it ended up sounding quite different from the original.”
9. とどけぱんち / Todoke Punch
“We all get upset and angry with stuff surrounding us on a daily basis. On this track I sing about those angers with such a cute melody, which reminds me of Japanese pop songs from the 90s. It’s one of my favorites from this album.”
10. 最＆高 / Sai & Co
“Sai & Co was created to celebrate the 5th anniversary of my debut a few years ago, so we re-recorded a different version of the track for the album. This one has a long intro, as though the track would almost be ending, but really it’s just starting and goes on to open with the first verse.”