Japanese Female Artists at SXSW 2019: Don’t We All Love Girl Bands?

SXSW 2019 carries on its spirit of empowering Japanese female artists and we are stoked to see this many dazzling new faces. Fascinating.

We know SXSW can be a bit overwhelming with hundreds of bands attending and you may have never heard 95% of them in your whole life. Don’t worry! We are going to show you a handful of thrilling Japanese girl bands to get you prepped, no matter if you are into explosive, defiant punk rock or invigorating, mellifluous indie pop. Now get wired.

Otoboke Beaver

Gt & Vo: Accorinrin Gt: Yoyoyoshie Ba: Hiro-Chan Dr: Kahokiss

While the bratty, off-the-wall noise punk band Otoboke Beaver gets unfortunately bashed for its naming aesthetic (the name is inspired by a love hotel in Osaka) by Do512, an Austin local entertainment website who specializes in voting for “the best and worst band names of SXSW”,  we should not overlook the band’s ability of bringing us parties after parties full of wildness and whoopee.

Starting as a college project, Otoboke Beaver showed large potential from an early stage with their quirky creativity. Although formed in the ancient capital city of Japan, Kyoto, Otoboke Beaver never plays by the norms, and that’s exactly the key to their later success. Their fans love them to the bones for their wackiness, distinctiveness and dark humor.

These years, the girl gang’s hyperactive performances even gained steam internationally with BBC6 radio’s frequent featuring and an appearance at last year’s Coachella, not to mention endorsement from the likes of Metallica, the Cribs, Shonen Knife, etc.. With their feverish, fast-paced guitar phrases and sugar-pumped yet hysterical vocals, the band smashed stereotypes, boring life and unreliable boyfriends all on the ground.

Marking Otoboke’ s 10 years’ anniversary, their return to SXSW is definitely worth checking out, but if you decide to go, just remember: don’t wear your best shoes.

Asterism

Gt: HAL-CA Ba: MIYU Dr: MIO

Asterism’s promotion team may sell them as this teen band that happens to play metal music and feel the need to put the members’ ages (respectively 16, 17 and 19 years old) on every band introduction they can possible control, but this band definitely deserve some focus other than their ages.

There are so many exciting facts about Asterism to talk about – where do I even start? First of all, the guitarist HAL-CA (pronounced “haluka”) has played multiple solo shows even before starting the band and is already a known name in the Japanese metal music fan circle for her aggressive riffs. The bassist MIYU plays a seven-string bass with his slapping and popping technique. MIO, the drummer, started playing the drums since 5. He and the bassist MIYU are in fact brothers and the whole family including their father and two siblings play instruments. Apart from the techniques, the songwriting is also very smart with well-controlled tempos and smooth melodies while showing flaming emotions and almost self-indulging sentiments.

What’s also worth mentioning is that ex Guns N’ Roses member, Buckethead, guest-played on a few songs of Asterism’s debut album “IGNITION” – see if you can tell his guitar from HAL-CA’s!

STEREOGIRL

Vo: Azu Mori Gt: Riko Usami Gt: Kanako Yoshida Ba: Riku Otsuka Dr: Yuka Tachizaki

Though quoting some most uncanny-sensed artists from the new wave era like the Smiths and Joy Division as their major influences, STEREOGIRL makes their music surprisingly uplifting.

While the leader singer Mori mentioned in an interview that she was not so keen on the “girl band” concept, STEREOGIRL’s music is undoubtedly fully pumped with the kind of energy that only fearless school girls would create. The guitar phrases are quite solid and the drum beats are uninhabited yet precise. Some of their riffs remind me of Oasis. Knowing the band’s fascination with British rock music, this is hardly a surprise. In the same interview, the lead singer Mori especially expressed her admiration for the guitarist Graham Coxon of Blur evidenced by her travelling to Chicago alone just to see his solo performance, although she also said she didn’t care much about the band itself.

Photo by: かなみ(@ringooo5555)

With all this being said, the production of STEREOGIRL still sounds somewhat J-ROCK infused, which has spiced things up with its diversity and momentum. In the future, I’d definitely hope to see more of these genuinely brilliant bands that blur the country borders as we all know some Asian bands can sometimes try too hard to sound “western” but fail to connect with their listeners.

STEREOGIRL released their first mini-album last year but it’s yet fully available overseas. They did put a few music videos on YouTube and one song on SoundCloud so you can check those out for now. Hopefully when I run into these girls at SXSW I could persuade them into putting their stuff on Spotify and Apple Music (or you could too if you go to one of their shows).

Furutori

Gt & Vo: Maki Takada Dr & Vo. Aisa Kawanishi

As a pop duo of a guitar and drums, Furutori does not lack richness in its sounds at all. Formed in 2012, experiencing a two-year hiatus and kick-starting again in 2015, the band have shown their passion and determination of making music.

Both girls sing, and that contributes to the cute dynamic of Furutori, while the use of synthesizer lends the rhythm some elasticity. One can of course argue that the high-pitched, euphonious vocals and the chanson-like song structures are merely some very typical J-pop sound, but why say no to music that is both muscle-relaxing and mind-purifying anyway?

Regallily

Vo/Gt: takabashihonoka Ba: umi Dr: yukiyama

A largo, fluorescent jellyfish.

That was my first impression on the voice of Takabashihonoka, vocalist/guitarist of the band, Regallily. It was ethereal, transparent, and somewhat flighty.

Starting off as a high-school trio, Regallily showed maturity exceeding their ages (all band members just reached 21) and ambition towards overseas. At age 18, the band already toured three cities in Canada along with “Next Music from Tokyo”, a project that brings Japanese indie pop artists to Canada. With their nymphish energy and catchy melodies, Regallily quickly garnered fans domestically and among foreign indie-pop listeners who discovered them online.

After performing at SXSW, Regallily will return to Japan and kick off their Spring tour of 7 Japanese cities. The band is so young, and already has so much going on. I look forward to seeing their future endeavors and adventures in the modern music scene, but first of all, their shows at SXSW.

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