As if the constantly evolving nature of the vast Japanese music scene wasn’t enough, add in a language barrier and a host of unfamiliar music genres, and anybody seeking to find the best in Japanese musical talent is in for a hard time. Until now, that is. From July 10th-12th at The O2, visitors will be able to see first-hand an extraordinary lineup of 14 sizzling musicians coming out of Japan, performing on 2 separate stages including a 3,000 capacity concert house! Read on to learn more about the stars of this year’s greatest festival of Japanese music.
From their humble origins as performers at the indie venue “Dear Stage”, these six girls have come into their own, representing Tokyo’s geek-mecca Akihabara with pride. Performing across Asia and the US, the group and its members bridge the gap between mainstream idol music and a hard-core love for Japanese subculture. Dempagumi.inc continue to produce hit singles which rank well within the Top 10 in Japan’s music charts.
Fans of Japanese “anime” cartoons will immediately recognize Eir Aoi’s voice from anime series such as Kill la Kill, Sword Art Online and Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. Eir is guaranteed to light up any stage with her sensational collection of pop-rock tunes, which she has already performed at venues across Asia, Europe and the Americas. With over 440,000 likes on her official Facebook page, this pop princess is currently storming the Japanese music scene.
Tokyo Girls’ Style
Bursting onto the national stage in 2010 in the midst of Japan’s idol boom, these five girls have stood out from the crowd with their polished pop performances, and have already racked up 4 albums and 15 singles. Announcing in early 2015 that they’ll be moving away from their idol image, they’re off to a solid start with the announcement that their latest single “Never Ever” was selected as the ending theme for the hit animated cartoon series “Fairy Tail”!
May J. made her debut with the mini-album “ALL MY GIRLS” in July 2006, and later rocketed to fame in 2009 after covering the song “Garden”. A multilingual artist, fluent in Japanese, Farsi, English and Spanish, May J. hails from a mixed ancestry and is extremely active overseas, having performed at venues in Taiwan, Shanghai, Korea, New York, Chicago, London, Moscow, Los Angeles and Oman.
Don’t let their male-model good looks fool you; LOST ASH are serious rockers with their own particular energetic, melodic brand of Japanese visual rock. Moving beyond Asia for the first time, their high-impact music and dark stylishness (as showcased in popular Japanese fashion magazines) will leave a lasting impression.
Less than Love
Yukari Inada (nicknamed Yucha) is the star of Less than Love, a versatile musical project which explores various genres of music, from ska to pop-rock, whilst enlisting the help of different backing DJs and bands. Less than Love’s catchy upbeat melodies and wistful fantasy-themed lyrics, as performed at Taiwan’s Spring Scream Festival, have earned them great popularity around East Asia.
Gothic rock mixed with industrial electro pop, with a dash of punk? Not the sort of music you hear every day, but that’s the unique sound of VANIRU, which has attracted over 70,000 Facebook fans. Taken together with their visual style, which combines elements of 80s fashion, New Romantic and Visual Kei, VANIRU has a dark genius which has enthralled global viewers and listeners alike.
These two talented ladies have created a unique act which incorporates classical, pop, electric, and gothic music, and juxtaposes this with elaborate Medieval Europe-inspired outfits. The resulting concoction is not so much a musical show as a whimsical reverie of dolls, magic and illusion. Since 2012 the duo has performed in France, Vietnam, the Czech Republic and the UK.
This all-male trio delivers good old fashioned rock music of the head-banging variety. ONE NOT’E have only been around since 2014, but have accumulated over 107,000 Facebook ‘likes’ on their official page, and have proved to fans both in Japan and all over Europe that they really know how to create formidable, guitar-heavy classic rock.
The phrase “adorable, colour co-ordinated J-pop idols” and “traditional Japanese music and fashion” aren’t usually found in the same sentence, but that’s exactly what Heisei Kotohime are all about. Skilfully blending modern J-Pop elements with traditional tunes and outfits, Heisei Kotohime brings the stage alive with their specially designed instruments!
Mix a high-impact yet delicate voice with the smooth emotional tones of R&B and you get the feel-good music of ILU GRACE. From performing in the US in 2014 to opening for R&B superstar Crystal Kay, this power duo has embodied and will continue to redefine the Japanese R&B scene.
It’s a crowded market for Japanese idol groups these days, so it’s more vital than ever for aspiring stars to find a niche and fill it. Honey Spice has definitely found a winning USP in their fast-paced, rave inducing ‘trance’ electro beats! Physically demanding dance routines, a frenzied tempo, and the polished cuteness of idols: they’ve got it all! Their lead member Arika Tachibana also won a special prize in the 2014 Miss World pageant.
Hibiki Ichikawa & Akari Mochizuki
Scratch the surface of modern high-tech Japan, and you’ll find an ancient culture fundamentally unchanged for centuries. The music of Hibiki Ichikawa and Akari Mochizuki offers a glimpse into this world. Combine Hibiki’s peerless talent for the stringed shamisen instrument (as attested by his Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa), with Akari’s powerful and expert voice, and you discover the music which lies at Japan’s heart of hearts.
With her “wa-pop” style of music, TOMOCA bridges the gap between the traditional and the modern. Celebrating all that’s good about the old, while embracing what the new has to offer, her soothing songs exemplify the phrase “oldies but goodies”. In 2010, TOMOCA represented Japan at the Shanghai World Expo, and was selected as one of the Best 8 acts. Nowadays she appears on stage around 100 times per year, and continues to promote Japanese culture to a global audience.