Picking one highlight from 2017 proves a boxy assignment for Suchmos diva Yosuke Kasai. The accomplished 11 months accept been acceptable for him and his six-member band. They’ve gone from a Jamiroquai-inspired accouterments arena late-night sets at baby Shinjuku venues to a civic phenomenon, their music affective tens of bags of copies and soundtracking car commercials. Ultimately, Kasai decides the highlight of his year came on a cruise the accumulation took to New York, to buy old annal and best clothing.
He understands Suchmos had the array of year artists can generally alone dream of, and he wants to pay that activity advanced to as abounding bodies as he possibly can.
“We accomplished how all of the absolute influences about us were so important to us block our dreams, and we began to anticipate that we should accomplish music for bodies who are down,” Kasai, who goes by the appellation “Yonce,” tells The Japan Times from NHK’s appointment in Shibuya, area he’s appointed to booty allotment in a radio interview. “For the bodies who are in a absolutely low aeon of their lives. That was our ambition with ‘The Kids.’”
From one angle, Suchmos’ success in 2017 follows a accustomed path. Formed in 2013 in Kanagawa Prefecture, the bandage started breeding fizz over the abutting brace of years acknowledgment to a bland complete that took cues from acerbic jazz, anxiety and rock. The group’s 2016 video for the aloof “Stay Tune” served as its breakout, currently sitting at over 32 actor angle on YouTube. Then came bartering tie-ups, interviews and country-wide tours that brought added attention. This year served as the acme of the Suchmos beachcomber — the accumulation appear its additional album, “The Kids,” at the end of January to able sales and analytical praise. It won anthology of the year at the 59th Japan Annal Award.
Yet the acumen Suchmos was one of the bigger agreeable acts of 2017 in Japan is how its associates bridged disparate platforms, hinting at a way advanced for new bands. As with abounding added countries, Japan’s music industry has become burst in contempo years. Concrete sales abide important, but accept in contempo times been abutting by downloads, alive casework and YouTube plays (the 26-year-old Kasai’s adopted way of award beginning tunes). Alive shows and festivals, too, can be telling. But aggravating to blade out accord from all this proves difficult — idol groups and K-pop acts milk concrete sales for aerial Oricon blueprint rankings, while added performers abide absolutely online.
With “The Kids,” Suchmos affected all these corners. Its green accomplishment performed able-bodied on alive casework Spotify and Apple Music, and, the anniversary of its release, it went to the No. 2 atom on Oricon’s anthology charts, accepting confused added than 70,000 concrete copies. It accomplished alone abaft super-size idol act AKB48’s best contempo full-length, “Thumbnail.”
“But I anticipate that it was acceptable that it was additional place,” Satoru Kaneko, Suchmos’ manager, told ball website Cinra in a decidedly accessible account in April. They are arena a continued game, attractive at a career abiding decades rather than afire out fast (pour one out for Gesu No Kiwame Otome.). To that end, Suchmos accustomed its own label, FCLS (First Best Last Stance) in July, affiliated to Sony but alms what Kasai calls “flexibility,” acceptance the accumulation to assignment at its own clip and alike copy earlier albums (“we achievement to ascertain active abundance in music history,” the diva says). “The Kids” served as a jumping off point, though.
“With the album, we aimed to put aggregate we capital to try and accurate into it. Aloof get it all in there,” Kasai says. “In our minds, we were aggravating to accomplish it like a abounding course.”
The anthology appearance affluence of easy-breezy cuts absolute by turntable scratches (“Tobacco,” “Pinkvibes”) alongside added arrant bedrock numbers (“Dumbo”). Allotment of the band’s agreeableness lies in a actual 21st-century access to brand — bedrock ability be the foundation, but Suchmos mixes in jazz, hip-hop and R&B throughout “The Kids.”
Yet affluence of Japanese artists tip-toe over stylistic curve in 2017. What separates Suchmos comes from Kasai’s lyrics.
“No lies,” he says. “It’s all from my experiences, they’re all of my own words.”
Kasai writes the aggregate of his lyrics at his home in Kanagawa — admitting a monster year, he says he still lives in the aforementioned adjacency and hangs out with the aforementioned bodies (“I do booty added taxis now”) — and they circumduct about relatable situations that are sometimes hyper-specific: “Snooze” is about Kasai adversity from a bad hangover and aggravating to beddy-bye through his alarm. Best of the time, his lyrics meditate on actuality young.
“I’m aggressive by bodies like David Bowie, John Lennon and Joe Strummer,” Kasai says. “I anticipate I’m abnormally aggressive by them because they wrote about their circadian life, but it concluded up alveolate with lots of added people. I anticipate they absolutely formed carefully with the times they were in.”
Suchmos’ lyrics can generally feel like a abstruse language. They are brindled with the argot deployed by Japanese adolescence and Shonan locals, and Kasai all-overs amid his own accent and English frequently. Sometimes this is aloof a adapted best — see the bandage “juicy-na baby” in “Pinkvibes” or the brain-jumbling “‘SAT’ scramble” in “Stay Tune.” Added times, it allows him to say things he never would in Japanese.
“Our 2015 song ‘YMM‘ is a acceptable example, the choir goes ‘I’m so air-conditioned / he’s so air-conditioned / she’s so air-conditioned / we cool, and you?’ But if I said that in Japanese…” he says afore laughing, clumsy to alike brainstorm shouting out his own bluster in his built-in tongue.
Whatever the language, Suchmos is speaking to the kids. Bedrock has consistently been a youth-driven genre, and in Japan over the accomplished few years it has played out through boyish perspectives, whether via the ardent everything-will-be-OK achievement of Sekai No Owari or the blockhead riffing of Man With A Mission. But 2017 saw a new beachcomber of bands appear in and action a acknowledgment booty on actuality young. Never Boyish Beach, Yogee New Waves and Friends acquired absorption for music not far off from Suchmos’, featuring beach-side guitar arena and words adulatory the abeyant of tomorrow (one of Never Boyish Beach’s bigger hits is “Akarui Mirai” — “Bright Future”).
Suchmos leads the pack, though. Allotment of this bend can be attributed to how absorbing the accouterments comes off, abnormally Kasai. When assuming live, he stalks and spins about the stage, effortlessly. He’s artlessly beyond over to commercials and appearance shoots, which he admits he’s still not acclimated to.
“I acclimated to be freelance basically, and from a banal background. So it’s absorbing to see them putting these kinds of bodies on annual covers and stuff.”
Yet it absolutely comes bottomward to Suchmos alive its audience. Although the bandage is on top of abounding 21st-century agreeable trends, Kasai has dumped one huge apparatus — amusing media.
“People accept absolutely said it would be bigger to accept it,” he says. “I acclimated to be on Twitter, but I aloof abdicate it. It’s boring!” In fact, he sees it as a claiming adverse his generation.
“They are aloof focused on their smartphones. SNS, letters … they are demography in beneath and less, aggregate is aloof central of this,” Kasai says while assuming to beam at his iPhone. “I anticipate they charge to get out more, to feel the sea and to breathe in the air up in the mountains. To adore the accustomed adorableness about them. To adore the basal genitalia of animal life. I consistently appetite to accurate this through our music.”
“The Kids” captures the activity of life, both in the baby capacity and bigger moments calling for a guitar solo. And while Kasai says the bandage is already acute its abutting move — he wants to analyze a added acoustic folk sound, advertence American aerialist John Mayer’s country-fried 2012 anthology “Born And Raised” — Suchmos stood out in Japanese music in 2017 because it was acquainted of the now.
Suchmos plays the FM802 Bedrock Festival “Radio Crazy 2017” on Dec. 29. For added information, appointment www.suchmos.com.
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