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Monday, July 18, 2016

J-POP Star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu on Her Music, Her Image, and Her Olympian Aspirations

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 10:31 AM


Five years is a long career for anyone in the music business, particularly for women, but Japan’s pop princess Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has reached the half-decade mark and is still going strong. She just released her first compilation album, KPP BEST, which she’s supporting with her "KPP 5iVE YEARS MONSTER WORLD TOUR 2016" — and appropriately enough, she's kicking off the 2016 J-POP SUMMIT Festival this Friday at the Regency Ballroom. Also, capitalization is rampant in Japanese pop culture. Deal with it.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu started out as a Harajuku fashion model, and you’re probably familiar with the concept of the Harajuku Girl from that Gwen Stefani song whether you care to admit it or not. She’s been dismissed as “cutesy” by those glancing at her big eyes and colorful hair and costumes, and while it’s a shame that cuteness in any form can be considered a bad thing when our world is experiencing so much harsh ugliness, the waters of KPP run deeper. She once told the Sydney Guardian that she’s “attracted to a world of fantasy with a grotesque aspect to it,” and significantly, she’s not afraid to become part of the grotesquerie herself. Take the covers of KPP BEST, either the Bedroom of Madness from the 2-disc edition…


… or the soul-piercing three-disc edition. (Ask for it at whatever indie record store replaces Aquarius in your heart.)


Or, for that matter, her video release from last year, KPP MV01:


That’s not someone who’s trading on her good looks so much as she’s acknowledging that there’s a thin line between cute and creepy, then happily leaping over that line.

SF Weekly: Visuals are obviously a very big part of your image; how involved are you with the creation of your music videos? (My personal favorite is "Yumeno Hajima Ring Ring.")

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: Yasutaka Nakata [of the electronica band CAPSULE] usually composes the music first, and then I start planning on the music video or performance components. I draw inspirations from his lyrics, music tempo and the overall sound and style of the track. The director gives me a basic idea and we start creating together from those concepts.

There are many "reaction videos" on YouTube of people watching your videos and reacting, often with delight, horror, or both delight and horror at the same time. When making a video, do you think in terms of how people will react, or is it about making yourself happy first and foremost?

KPP: I have always thought that adding only cute segments is not enough, so I try to make all my videos and music more unique and surprising to the audience. I want to make it beyond everyone’s expectations.

SFW: You're clearly just getting started, so what do you think your 10-year anniversary tour will be like? What do you hope to achieve between now and then?

KPP: Well, it is already 5 years since my debut, but I want to keep on going as long as my enthusiasm lasts. I want take a part in the Tokyo Olympics too!

SFW: Who are your favorite artists right now, both American and Japanese?

KPP: I admire Katy Perry. I was super excited when she had commented about me and I was able to actually meet her in person! For a Japanese artist, I love YUKI. I think both are great artists.

SFW: If there's one song you'd want to be remembered for, what would it be?

KPP: It is hard to pick one because I love all of them. But I think PON PON PON is the best known song in overseas.

Tickets for the grotesquely cute experience that is the "KPP 5iVE YEARS MONSTER WORLD TOUR 2016" are available at

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Sherilyn Connelly

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