Interview and Translation by Melissa
The global image of Japanese music could be forever altered by the audio-visual explosion that is Far East Mention Mannequin—better known as FEMM. The surging currents of American electrohop, J-electro and Eurotrance that dominate the duo’s refreshingly in-your-face sound is powered by an even slicker image: FEMM is fronted not by people, but by two “living mannequins” named RiRi and LuLa. The mannequins are in turn represented in public by “agents” going by the monikers Honey-B and W-Trouble.
You might have been curious about this avant-garde duo for some time; and Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi will help you to know better about them: we got a chance to interview RiRi and LuLa, thanks to the assistance from their respective agents, Honey-B and W-Trouble.
※H-B as for Honey-B, WT as for W-Trouble are FEMM’s agents and they will answer this interview for FEMM.
KKS: At Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi, we search for the cute, cool, and amazing things from Japan. What aspects about FEMM highlight these three qualities?
H-B: FEMM agents, who are their supporters tell us that some of FEMM tracks are Anthem for them. We think this relation they have with their agents are super AMAZING. For CUTE and COOL, well, that’s FEMM’s job:) They can wear anything and be anything.
WT: FEMM can do CUTE or COOL, no prob. You can see in their MV “Kill the DJ” is cutie pop and “Whiplash” is fierce. Not just the visual, but the sound too. FEMM are mannequins, but they are very curious about the human world. It is fantastic that they try to communicate with them through their music.
KKS: FEMM’s music is notable among J-pop due to the use of fluent English lyrics and prolific producers, many of whom have produced music for a number of America’s top artists, understandably to better reach the international audience. Do you see a future in FEMM where more Japanese producers will be used to spread a Japanese sound to the world?
H-B: FEMM are excited to work with anyone who can highlight their style. FEMM mainly have been singing with the theme of GIRLS POWER. As they grow, I suppose their message and music style will expand. Us agents too are excited to see who FEMM will be working with in the future.
WT: Like H-B says, we are open to work with people if they are interested in FEMM’s style. Not just English songs, but J-pop or any language.
KKS: From a mannequin’s perspective, what is the top 3 best qualities of Japanese fashion?
H-B: Lately FEMM have been visiting some hot clothing stores in Tokyo. Please check out their postings on instagram. As for Japanese fashion, Kawaii, Original, Unique would be the keywords, we suppose.
WT: When it comes to Japanese fashion, Harajyuku is a MUST goto. But there are lots of other kinds of options too. Japanese school girl style is super Kawaii, and FEMM got theirs too. Also there are many fashionista throughout Tokyo who wear high fashion brands with vintage wear. There is a wide range of fashion in Tokyo and it’s so crazy and fun.
KKS: If RiRi and LuLa could be mannequins for one fashion brand, let’s say one Japanese and one Western, who would they be?
H-B: It is almost impossible to choose just one brand for them. Their job is to rock whatever outfit that is thrown onto them, and they do it very well! Please give us notes via SNS what you want them to wear next! They would love to try new fashion ideas.
WT: No way they can choose a brand. FEMM can wear anything, there are mannequins after all. We’d like to know what you all want FEMM to wear. They would wanna try it!
KKS: It has been mentioned that FEMM’s purpose is fight against mannequin oppression. You have also released a song fighting for the freedom to dance in public spaces after midnight in Japan. Would you consider FEMM part of the larger feminist and freedom of expression movement? Are there any other causes you fight for?
H-B: It is very sad, but true how mannequins have been mistreated by human. From the day FEMM stood up as leaders for the rights and freedom of mannequins, it has actually been very pleasant. So many human joined our movement as agents and are supporting FEMM on daily bases. They fully understand FEMM and we hope this kind of peaceful relation can grow through FEMM’s music and movement.
WT: We’d already mentioned that lots of FEMM agents say that their songs are GIRLS ANTHEM. FEMM are mannequins, but still girls too. So I believe they will keep on singing about GIRL POWER. But most important for them is for the world to notice about mannequins and their feelings. They will keep on singing about various themes and hopefully more human agents will support them.
KKS: Your choreography is arguably one of the major qualities of your videos and performances. With similarly styled Japanese performers like New World Order, Perfume, or Aya Sato & Bambi, are there any plans or possibilities to collaborate with these or other acts in the near future? Furthermore are there any non-Japanese performers whom you would like to collaborate with?
H-B: Dancing is one of FEMM’s important aspects of expression. Since they cannot communicate with their agents by talking, singing and dancing are their actual words. Their choreographer, Hidali team completely understands FEMM’s feel, message and style so we trust them in full. As for collaborations, of course we are always more than welcome to have FEMM work with other amazing artists. We are curious to see what kind of chemistry can happen.
WT: Lots of agents let us know that they would like FEMM to collaborate with those amazing artists. It is an honor. No matter what genre, we are open to collaborations if they are interested in FEMM.
KKS: In meeting fans from all over the world, can you name one memorable experience, reaction, or happening when RiRi and LuLa meet people?
H-B: FEMM visited LA and SF last summer and met so many agents there. They were so happy to see them dressed up like FEMM, had original FEMM artwork, or sometimes did a little dance for them etc. Even though FEMM cannot answer in words to them, they understand all their messages and feel so happy. They look forward to meet more agents in other countries too. Hopefully we can make it happen soon.
WT: It was such a moving experience when we visited the US in ’14 and ’15. Agents really expressed their love to FEMM and RiRi and LuLa were so happy to see that. We had a blast with our agents this Halloween too!
KKS: Are there any hints you can give in what is in store for FEMM next?
H-B: We are still in the creative process, so we cannot give away details just not yet, but for sure, we will not let you down.
WT: Yup, be ready! It’ll be soon:) Plz look forward to “PoW!”
After our interview with FEMM, the duo has announced that they will be making a major debut on February 3rd, 2016 with a specially packaged version of their EP “PoW! / L.C.S. ＋Femm-Isation” (Record Label: FEMM’S AGENCY SYNDICATE). The new single “PoW!” first came out with a music video directed by Midori Kawano, who was also in charge of their hit MV “Fxxk Boys Get Money“. With the theme Psychedelic, Retro, Futuristic and Pink, the video turned out extremely Chaotic. It is a must-watch and a must-experience. Check it out now!
Special Thanks To:
Our Friend Erik Jansen from Media Lab
for making this interview happen on KKS!