BAND-MAID has really taken the J-Rock music scene by storm with their heavy sound and cute maid aesthetics. They have released many popular songs since their debut MV for "Thrill" and this coupled with the fact that they've performed overseas several times has made them a favorite of many. Adding a unique take to the mostly straight pop performances at J-POP Summit 2017, BAND-MAID was the only full band to perform on this year's main stage and we were lucky enough to interview them right before their big concert! This was one of the most fun interviews we've done and we're pleased to share it with you all! We hope that you look more into BAND-MAID's activities and check out their links following the interview!
BAND-MAID formed in 2013 and debuted with their mini album "MAID IN JAPAN". While performing music along the rock and metal styles, the band incorporates imagery and themes from Japanese Maid Cafe culture, based on the concept of maids serving their "masters and princesses". They quickly gained the attention of rock fans the world over with their music video for the song "Thrill" which hit millions of views its first week. This runaway success was followed by another mini-album, "New Beginning", and their first US concert appearance at Sakura-Con in Seattle, Washington. Not one to lose momentum, they quickly followed this up with their third mini-album, "Brand New MAID", and many more shows both domestic and overseas. 2017 is proving to be one of their biggest years yet following the release of their first full album "Just Bring It" and their third single "Daydreaming/Choose Me". J-POP Summit 2017 marked BAND-MAID's first appearance at the event and they headlined the second night's concert series.
The world was introduced to Japanese-born, London-based pop singer Rina Sawayama in March with her single Cyber Stockholm Syndrome. It wasn't her first single, nor did it make huge waves, but it seemed to draw just enough attention to the singer to start sowing the seeds of a major breakout. With a nostalgic sound reminiscent of Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, and early Namie Amuro, Sawayama is a breath of fresh air for many who grew up in the 90s. Her debut mini-album, RINA, may just serve to solidify her place in modern pop's canon.
TOKYO GEGEGAY were probably the biggest surprise guest for us at this year's J-POP Summit. We were excited to be given the opportunity to interview a dance group as this is something that we have not done before in the past. The interview was very fun and full of many laughs from both the group and us. Naturally their performance following this interview was arguably the biggest highlight of J-POP Summit's Day One and many of the other show's guests even stepped out from backstage to witness it! Here's hoping that we hear more from them in the future and that you all look more into them after checking out this interview!
Formed in 2013 for fifth season of DANCE@HERO JAPAN on the late-night TV Tokyo program DANCE@TV, TOKYO GEGEGAY was formed when MIKEY recruited his own students in order to enter, and ultimately win, the contest. Not only did this win mark their debut, but it also netted them a record-breaking score. Originally thought to be a temporary unit, they went onto success on YouTube and beyond. Popular dance videos and MVs followed and in 2015 they took part in the international street dance project, DANCE DANCE ASIA, and performed in both Manila and Bangkok that year. Members MARIE and MIKU also went on to appear in ONE OK ROCK's video "The Way Back" which also featured YUYU as choreographer. TOKYO GEGEGAY also won the 10th Japan Dance Forum Award, being the first group of the street dance genre to do so. J-POP Summit 2016 marks their US debut.
Released on October 25th 2017, “Thank You Disney,” is a cover album produced by world famous director and choreographer Kenny Ortega (“THIS IS IT”) and features various artists from Japanese music label Avex.
Kenny Ortega, the executive producer of the album commented,
“‘Thank You Disney’ is for everyone who appreciates and enjoys wonderful music, songs, lyrics and artists. The best artists in Japan got together for this special and unique album. Hope you enjoy.”
With the help of four great producers, Marco Marinangeli (Josh Groban, Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff..), Joacim Persson (Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Lady Gaga..), Matthew Tishler (Ashley Tisdale, Ross Lynch..), and Andy Dod (PINK, Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers..), 16 artists from Avex collaborated to create 16 new renditions of Disney classics unique to the “Thank You Disney” album.
Some of the highly anticipated artists from the album include: Takahiro Nishijima and Misako Uno of AAA with “Beauty and the Beast”, Daichi Miura with “When You Wish upon a Star” from “Pinocchio,” Kumi Koda with “So Close” from “Enchanted”, Kashiwagi Yuki of AKB48 with “A Dream Is a WIsh Your Heart Makes” from “Cinderella”, AiNA THE END of BiSH with “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid”, and SKE48 with “We’re all in this together” from “High School Musical.”
The album is currently available on:
Spotify Apple Music/Itunes Purchase CD (International Buyers)
Thank You Disney Official Website
Thank You Disney Song Previews
<Track listing >
01. Let It Go / Vickeblanka 【Frozen】
02. Can You Feel the Love Tonight / Beverly【Lion King】
03. When You Wish Upon a Star / Daichi Miura【Pinocchio】
04. Beauty and the Beast / Takahiro Nishijima & Misako Uno 【Beauty and the Beast】
05. I See the Light / Dream Ami 【Tangled 】
06. If Only / May J. 【Descendants】
07. A Whole New World / lol【Aladdin】
08. That’s How You Know / SOLIDEMO 【Enchanted】
09. You’ll Be In My Heart / SHISHIDO KAVKA 【Tarzan】
10.When She Loved Me / MONKEY MAJIK 【Toy Story 2】
11.Part of Your World / AiNA THE END（BiSH） 【The Little Mermaid】
12. Ways to Be Wicked / Miracle Vell Magic 【Descendants 2】
13. Try Everything / U-KISS 【Zootopia】
14. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes / Yuki Kashiwagi【Cinderella】
15.We’re All in This Together / SKE48 【High School Musical】
16.So Close / KUMI KODA 【Enchanted】
The world's favorite duo of pop-star mannequins, FEMM, have made some major waves in the world of pop music during their short time together. Their debut album Femm-Isation saw their rise to fame with singles like White Noise and Kill the DJ, not to mention their breakout hit Fxxk Boyz Get Money. The group followed that up with the impeccable PoW!/L.C.S. EP in early 2016, and spent the remainder of the year on the collaborative avex supergroup FAMM'IN (with labelmates FAKY and Yup'in). Now the EDM dance queens are back with their second full-length album, made up of covers of songs from some of the most celebrated classic J-Pop artists.
Mei Nakabayashi is better know as May'n and she is no stranger to fans of J-Pop in the US! She has come to the US several times as part of events and on solo tours, but J-POP Summit 2017 marked the first time she was officially a guest at the event! We were lucky enough to sit down with her and discuss her recent music, her time in San Francisco, and much more! Be sure to check this out and keep an eye out for other J-POP Summit content soon!
May'n debuted with the single "Crazy Crazy Crazy" in 2005 under her real name, but it was her role as the singing voice of Sheryl Nome in Macross Frontier (using her stage name "May'n") that really brought her widespread popularity. She would release several singles from the show that would go on to become huge hits, including arguably her most well-known song, "Diamond Crevasse". Following this success she has provided countless songs to other animes, live-action television shows, and video games. She has performed overseas at many events including Anime Expo in 2010 and Japan Expo in 2011. Her 2012 world tour took her throughout Asia and Europe and her 2014 world tour would take her to even more countries still including participation in that year's J-POP Summit. In 2015 she released her first best album "POWER OF VOICE" and held her tenth anniversary concert at the world famous Nippon Budokan. J-POP Summit 2017 is her first time officially attending the guest as a headlining performer.
Alt-rock singer Shishido Kavka has debuted a new music video in promotion for her latest digital single Haneda Blues, a collaborative effort with Yokoyama Ken of CRAZY KEN BAND. The jazzy duet is a throwback to the early pop of the 20s and 30s, and is reportedly the beginning of a three-month long collaboration between the two artists. You can see the short version of the MV below, and find the digital single on iTunes (Japan-only, unfortunately).
POLYSICS, the legendary synth-pop-punk outfit, are set to return at the end of November with a new lineup and a new studio album, titled That's Fantastic! The band's most recent album was last year's What's This??? which was a monster of an album with nearly 20 tracks, and became one of my personal favorites of the year.
International pop star Namie Amuro has been pretty active in the past couple years, from her most recent studio album _genic to hit singles like Red Carpet, Fighter, and the 2016 Summer Olympics theme song Hero. Today, Amuro's 40th birthday, the singer announced that she would be retiring from her music career in September of 2018.
San Japan, taking place this Labor Day weekend in San Antonio, TX, have brought on Japanese fashion brand, LISTEN FLAVOR and Japanese DJ and producer, TeddyLoid to their roster.