Interview: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Sabrina Carpenter discuss what it is that draws them to pop music

09.May.2019 | FEATURES / MUSIC

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu will release her new single KIMIGA IINE KURETARA on May 10. The song is used as the main theme song for the Japanese TV drama Mukai no Bazuru Kazoku. The pop track’s music embodies the feeling you get when you get a ‘like’ on social media. The song is a positive and supportive message to the lost kids in today’s social media age.

 

Another modern pop icon enjoying huge popularity is American singer-songwriter and actress Sabrina Carpenter. She is known for starring as Maya Hart in the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World. Her professional music career began in 2015 with the release of her debut album Eyes Wide Open. The singer recently came to Japan to perform at Ex Theater Roppongi on April 4 in support of her 2018 album Singular Act: I. We were able to bring both these pop icons together for a chat.

 


 

――You were already a fan of Kyary, weren’t you, Sabrina?

 

Sabrina Carpenter: Yes, I’m a fan! Her nails look really cute today!

 

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: Oh, thank you!

 

 

――How did you come to know about Kyary?

 

Sabrina:So, my sister was in the car with her boyfriend. He’s actually a big fan. He put on PONPONPON, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is amazing!” I got into it and I sent him this video of me singing the song from top to bottom. Ever since then I’ve been a huge fan, I did a deep dive and listened to everything.

 

――You previously posted PONPONPON as your favourite song on your Instagram story.

 

Sabrina:Yeah, that was the last time I was here. It’s been just under a year.

 

Kyary :Wow. That makes me really happy to hear.

 

 

――The theme of today’s talk is “A Chat With US & Japanese Pop Icons.” You’re both active internationally in your careers. What have your experiences been like performing abroad?

 

Sabrina: I guess for me, I think abroad there’s obviously a language barrier for us, and so I think the most powerful thing is to see how powerful the music translates, the melodies, and the way songs make you feel. It has such an impact on the crowds, and you know, also seeing people crying even though we’re speaking different languages. I think that’s probably been the most moving aspect of performing abroad. The crowds have been bigger on this [Japan] tour, and there’s been a lot of new music that they’ve been singing along to. There’s also been a lot of things they bring to the show, like the flags and the posters and signs. I think they just bring so much energy to every show. [But] whenever I finish a song, it’d be so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and that was something I had to get used to because usually we’re very loud in America. But this time they were pretty loud.

 

Kyary:I’ve had the chance to tour various countries like America and China. Even though I don’t expect them to be able to speak Japanese, everybody remembers all the Japanese lyrics [in my songs]. Obviously it’s not a language they use often so there are some mistakes here and there, but that’s what makes it so sweet.

 

Sabrina:That’s me! That’s me singing your songs! [laughs].

 

 

――So with music you are able to bring people together regardless of language or country. What’s the most important think when it comes expressing yourselves?

 

Kyary:What’s important for me is challenging myself to doing the things that I want to do. I’m a solo artist, and so I get support from my staff members to everything to life, but I always treasure thinking up and expressing concepts with each new song. And to do that I regularly write down the things that interest me, like when watching a film. I go to watch various different things.

 

Sabrina:I’m very similar in the way that I don’t like to do the same thing twice, or three times. I feel like it’s not stretching me as a person or as an artist, and it’s also not stretching the fans. I think they deserve to grow just as much as we do. They’re along for this ride. Obviously they look for some sort of guidance, some sort of love they get from the artist they look up to. I think it’s also important for me to take those risks and challenges to inspire them to take risks and challenges too.

 

 

――What’s something that has inspired you both recently?

 

Kyary:If we’re talking recently… Tim Burton’s “Dumbo.”

 

Sabrina:Dumbo! I loved that too!!

 

Kyary:I’ve seen the original animated version, but Tim Burton has taken all the great things about it and put his unique spin on it. It turned out really wonderful. The CG in the facial expressions is superb too. It was a really charming fantasy [movie]. It made me tear up.

 

Sabrina:Aww, that’s so cute! [laughs] [For me] probably the places I’ve been travelling. I will find so much inspiration within different places, different cultures. The kind of art and photography I see in the places I’m in.

 

 

――Have you been inspired by anything in Japan?

 

Sabrina:Harajuku! I went for my first the day before yesterday. I’ve been to Tokyo many times but I’ve never had a day off so I never got to explore.

 

Kyary:Which part of Harajuku did you go to?

 

Sabrina:The vintage shops in Ura-Harajuku. We also went to teamLab, that whole art museum.

 

Kyary:The teamLab exhibitions are so good, I’ve been too!

 

Sabrina:It was so beautiful.

 

 

――You mentioned Harajuku. Kyary knowns Harajuku inside and out. She might be able to recommend you some places to visit.

 

Kyary:Sabrina is someone who would look good in any outfit, so I want to see you try dressing up in Lolita clothes [laughs]. I think you will look really cute.

 

Sabrina:Yeah, I would love to! I honestly was looking for a lot of like ‘kawaii’ [stuff].

 

Kyary:I recommend the basement floor of Laforet Harajuku, they have things like Lolita and punk fashion. That might be a good spot for you.

 

Sabrina:Yeah! I wanna get some. You’ll have to style me.

 

 

――Both of you are close to your fans through social media. When talking about things that inspire you in daily life and let you discover new things, has social media been a big influence?

 

Sabrina:I think for me it has forced me to think a little bit more about what [fans] would want to see in my daily life. Which I feel like normally I wouldn’t be living through my phone; I’d be living through my eyes. But because I’m close with them I think that that has made me want to kind of be more interactive with them, show them parts of my days.

 

 

――So in a sense, it feels like you’re working together with your fans?

 

Sabrina:Yeah, it really does. If they weren’t at the shows we couldn’t do the shows. No one would come, there’d be no show!

 

 

――How about you, Kyary?

 

Kyary:When I perform abroad I can see who has been tagged on social media at the shows so I can see everyone’s thoughts and comments. Being able to see things like that so directly makes it a great tool. It often cheers me up seeing people write things about me or when they send me messages, so [social media] is also a motivator to work hard.

 

Sabrina:Usually with social media the experiences that you have sometimes are more negative than they are positive. But it also depends on how you’re looking at it. I shouldn’t say that because there’s many positive experiences. I think the most positive things that I’ve been able to see on social media are honestly just the fact that there are so many people in the world that we don’t know, and the majority of people use it to say really kind things to one another and support each other.

 

 

――Kyary’s new song KIMIGA IINE KURETARA is about social media. How did you feel when you received the song from [your producer] Yasutaka Nakata?

 

Kyary:The song is the main theme for the TV drama Mukai no Bazuru Kazoku, and so it’s a song that’s based around that, but honestly the first time I heard it I really felt that it was relevant to today. We really live in an age right now where social media penetrates out everyday lives, and for that reason it felt very 2019.

 

 

――I really like how the song features sounds that remind you of the action of ‘liking’ something [on social media].

 

Kyary:Yeah, it has a ‘Pyu!’ kind of sound.

 

Sabrina:That’s funny.

 

 

――What did you focus on when recording?

 

Kyary:I focused on how I sang the first verse. The pitch in the first verse of this song is low. I have a high voice, so that part was a little tough.

 

Sabrina:That’s funny. I sound like a man.

 

 

――No, no, that’s not true [laughs].

 

Sabrina:I’m the opposite of Kyary. I always have a tough time with the higher parts [laughs].

 

 

――What’s something you both really strive to work on in what you do?

 

Sabrina:I think honestly like you step out of your comfort zone. It’s the same as how we have to try new things to feel inspired. When you’re creating a show or you’re creating visuals for an album―that’s when you get to let you personality come through.  Because it’s all live, you know. They’re paying to see a live show so I think it’s important that they see a live show.

 

Kyary:My concept has always been to take the things that girls dream of and bring them to life in the real world. When I’m coming up with a theme, I sometimes have moments where I’m stuck for a good idea. But I’m not alone, I know it will all come together in the end because of all the people I have around me.

 

 

――Your recent outdoor solo concert at Izumo-taishi as part of your 2019 Oto no Kuni Live Tour was full of ideas that were very like you.

 

Kyary:In my performances I value that feeling of bringing to life a dream-like world while at the same time not wanting it to end. Like when you go to an amusement park and think, “I don’t wanna go home yet.” I want people to have that same kind of feeling.

 

Sabrina:It’s something not many people get to do so you have to have fun with it.

 

 

 

――What draws you both to pop music?

 

Sabrina:I personally think it is one of the most difficult genres of music to make, and make it properly. Because it is something that has to connect with such a large diverse group of people. We’re not just like catering to one person or one type of fan. I think pop music is ‘popular music,’ so it’s the thing that regardless of what you’re supposed to like you end up liking it, and so I think that’s why it’s really hard but it’s also very rewarding. I’ve just always been a fan of it overall. And like I said for me it doesn’t matter what language it’s in, it’s more just like the way the song makes you feel, the melodies of the song, what the song’s about. I think that makes good pop music.

 

 

――It’s true that pop music can’t be boiled down to a single definition. So could you say then that pop music can be anything?

 

Sabrina:It’s 80,000 different genres [laughs].

 

Kyary: [Laughs]. In my case, people call my music pop music, but at the beginning it was more subcultural. It wasn’t music that everybody liked. But more people came to hear about me around the time Tsukema Tsukeru [was released]. From there I was able to experience my music reaching out to various different people, which made me really feel that pop music doesn’t have any rules.

 

Sabrina:It also just makes you feel good. There’s a lot that makes us feel not great you know, in life, that I think it’s one thing we all look to. I wanna come to [Kyary’s] show.

 

Kyary:Please do! Where do you live in America?

 

Sabrina:I live in LA, but I’m originally from Pennsylvania.

 

Kyary:Ah, I’m performing at an event in LA [OTAQUEST LIVE] in July!

 

Sabrina:Amazing. I’ll be there. We’ll link up, I’ll show you some cool spots. Shopping! Rodeo Drive.

 

 

Interview & Text: Jin Sugiyama

Photo:MURA

Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

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    12.September.2020 | FASHION

    A new fragrance brand produced by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was released on September 12, 2020, and is available to purchase via the brand’s official website.

     

    The brand was backed by a crowdfunding campaign in February 2020 for Kyary who wanted to turn her favourite scent, fragrant olive, into a fragrance. The music artist highlighted how it’s a difficult scent to get your hands on. “There are so many people that like the smell of fragrant olive, so why is it so rare?” Kyary worked with fragrance experts to create a scent that smells like fully bloomed fragrant olive.

    Nostalgic Syndrome Osmanthus – Eau de Toilette | ¥8,250 (Tax Included)

    Nostalgic Syndrome Osmanthus – Body Cream | ¥5,500 (Tax Included)

    The first goal of the crowdfunding campaign was to fund the perfume and the second body cream which Kyary overwhelming support for, leading to it becoming a reality.

    Nostalgic Syndrome Osmanthus – Hand Cream | ¥1,870 (Tax Included)

    Nostalgic Syndrome Osmanthus – Aroma Diffuser | ¥7,150 (Tax Included)

    The success of the crowdfunding campaign led to the establishment of Nostalgic Syndrome and subsequently its first series, Osmanthus, which includes not only the perfume and body cream but hand cream, hair oil, aroma diffuser, and home & fabric spray too.

     

    To celebrate the launch of Nostalgia Syndrome, the first 300 people who spend over ¥10,000 on products will receive an original eco bag. More details can be found on the brand’s official website.

     

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu | Comment

    “I’ve always loved fragrances. Before every live performance I do I like to calm myself with my favourites. Fragrances help me to relax no matter the time, I really feel like they’re something that have saved me. So, for all the people working hard day to day, and for those with stresses piled up right now, I want them to take a deep breath with this scent of fully bloomed fragrant olive. It would make me happy if this fragrance can create a relaxing space for you.”

     

    “It’s all thanks to everyone’s support that I was able to launch the Nostalgia Syndrome brand. I’m filled with gratitude. Thank you so much, and I hope you continue to support [the brand].”

  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Spends Summer Eating Noodles With Fans in First Online Fan Meeting

    17.August.2020 | MUSIC

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu hosted “KPP ONLINE MEETING VOL.1” on August 16, 2020, her first online event exclusive to members of her fan club “KPP CLUB.”

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s new Japan solo tour, scheduled summer festival and event performances, and bus tour—the latte of which had been held up until last year for fan club members only—were unfortunately cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Kyary still wanted to find a way to have fun with fans, which led to the creation of “KPP ONLINE MEETING.” The first meeting saw around 500 fans which Kyary could see all of on the 10 screens she had prepared in front of her for the live stream.

     

    Fans donned their Kyary merch on stream and prepared some original Kyary-themed backgrounds for the online meeting. The fans who got to attend, chosen by Kyary herself, enjoyed a close-up chat with Japan’s queen of pop.

    In the run up to the event, Kyary posted a question on Twitter asking people what they wanted to do during the online meeting. The option of dancing together was adopted, and so after teaching fans the choreography to her song KAMAITACHI which dropped in April this year, fans danced together with her, making it feel like a live show.

     

    Kyary also had her own idea she wanted to try out with fans, which was eating somen noodles together with everyone. Everyone prepped their own somen and made a toast with their bowls. Other fun things Kyary got up to with fans included a drawing challenge, scavenger hunt, a lottery where fans could win something of Kyary’s, and more.

    At the end of the event, Kyary took a photo together with all 500 fans on the 10 screens. Kyary could feel the energy and warmth from fans through the screen, and ended the event with a huge smile on her face. She plans to continue holding these online meetings for fan club members going forward.

    During the stream, Kyary also announced a DVD and Blu-ray release of her tour from last year, Oto no Kuni Live Tour 2019. Kyary originally had a Japan nationwide hall tour scheduled for this autumn. When she watched the footage of “Oto no Kuni Live Tour 2019,” she said, “When I thought about how I can’t do a show like this at present time, I cried.”

    The DVD and Blu-ray includes two performances: Maboroshi no Utopia ~Izumo-taisha no Yoru~ which was held at Izumo Grand Shrine in Shimane—and which Kyary spoke about in our interview with her last year—and her kabuki themed show Kyary Kabuki Kabuki held in Kyoto at Minami-za, the oldest theatre in Japan. The DVD and Blu-ray are available for everyone to buy, including non fan club members.

     

    Next year will mark 10 years since Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music debut. Stay tuned for the latest updates and information.

  • Steve Aoki Performs Remix Of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s ‘Ninja Re Bang Bang’ at Tomorrowland

    07.August.2020 | MUSIC

    American DJ and record producer Steve Aoki performed at “Tomorrowland Around The World 2020 The Digital Festival” on July 25, 2020, which was the first digital run of Belgian electronic dance music festival Tomorrowland. The twice Grammy-nominated artist performed his hit remix of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s track Ninja Re Bang Bang which was released in June. Steve uploaded part of his performance on his official YouTube channel.

     

     

    For the world’s dance music fans, Tomorrowland hails as one of the music festivals that everyone wants to experience at least once in their lives. This year, the six-day festival was originally scheduled to take place from July 17 but was cancelled in April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that didn’t stop the festival from delivering the best in electronic music to the world as the event was taken online for the first time on July 25 and 26 for the first-ever edition of “Tomorrowland Around The World 2020 The Digital Festival.”

    Over 60 artists performed including David Guetta, Katy Perry, and of course Steve Aoki. Over 1 million music fans around the world purchased tickets to the online festival who enjoyed the best in electronic music which used the latest in cutting-edge technology to create a virtual 3D environment. Steve Aoki performed on the main stage on Day 1. Steve is a resident DJ of Tomorrowland having appeared every year since 2011. For 2020, he served his strongest set list to date.

     

    His set included the track Ninja Re Bang Bang Steve Aoki Remix. The song is a remix of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s famous track Ninja Re Bang Bang and was written for the global Nintendo Switch title Ninjala.

    Ninja Re Bang Bang Steve Aoki Remix was released by Steve Aoki’s label Dim Mak in America and Smash the House in Europe. The track has enjoyed much attention across major music streaming services, making it onto numerous popular playlists including the ‘Tomorrowland Official Playlist.’ The digital Tomorrowland festival, which saw concertgoers and music fanatics around the world come together, was the first place Steve has performed the song.

     

    Music lovers around the world reacted positively to the performance. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu herself has toured the world four times, and her music has once again reached people across the globe.

     

    A DJ mix of Steve Aoki’s set at Tomorrowland Around The World 2020 The Digital Festival is now streaming on Apple Music. Video footage of his full set from the event will also be posted on the festival’s “Tomorrowland 2020 Relive Platform” on August 13, 2020 at midnight (JST). Tickets are now on sale to watch the archived footage.

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