The electro-pop trio is now a legendary J-pop act with fans around the world Perfume first caught the attention of listeners outside of their home country when one of their songs was featured in the Disney/Pixar-produced animated film cars 2 released in 2011. Already a popular girl group in Japan, the “Polyrhythm” trio expanded their musical activities abroad and toured other Asian countries for the first time the following year.
In June 2013, the group became the first Japanese act to be invited to perform at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France. The threesome wowed audiences with its highly synchronized choreography, transformative costumes and stage production by offbeat, cutting-edge media arts collective Rhizomatiks. Perfume won the Silver Lion in the Cyber category at the event and embarked on its second international tour, stopping in three cities in Germany, England and France.
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The J-pop stars collaborated with alternative rock band OK Go in 2014 and embarked on their third world tour with shows in Los Angeles and New York, then headlined a show at SXSW in 2015. her sixth studio album, COSMIC RESEARCHERS, arrived in April 2016 and debuted at #1 on the iTunes Electronic Albums chart in the US and #16 billboard‘s Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. The band toured North America that year for five shows in four cities.
her seventh studio album, future popreleased May 2018, debuted at #4 billboardWorld Albums Chart. The following year, the three women successfully toured North America again, becoming the first female J-pop artists to perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Her performance was highly acclaimed, including being named one of Coachella’s 2019 Top 16 Acts by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Then, 16 years after their debut, 21 years after their formation and just when the group was expected to take another leap forward in their career, the world ground to a halt with the COVID-19 lockdown. Perfume were in the midst of their national dome tour in Japan and had to cancel, but member KASHIYUKA shares that the time allowed them to “take some time to think about what we want to do and give our full attention.” judging what matters most to us is important.”
NOCCHi adds: “We have always offered content to be enjoyed online, before virtual shows became the norm. Live performances working with technology, things that are more interesting to see on a screen than just in person. So we’ve been asked a lot to do virtual shows during the pandemic, but we felt like ultimately the fun of Perfume’s live shows is creating a space head-to-head with everyone. We realized that we love performing live and that everything we do is for our shows.”
In March 2021, the film version of Perfume’s concert Reframe 2019, which reconstructed the trio’s 20-year history, was released, entitled Redesign THEATER EXPERIENCE with you, was released exclusively on Netflix. In August, the group held their first in-person live headlining performance in a year and a half in Japan entitled Perfume LIVE 2021 [polygon wave]. Perfume debuted a new song called “Mawarukagami” (“Rotating Mirror”) at the concert, a track that reflects how the women feel when they perform live. The track is included in their eighth album PLASMA which was released on July 27, her first original album in four years future pop.
“On this show, it felt like something dormant inside us was awakened by the sound of each clapping,” recalls a-chan. “The sound of applause echoing through the venue was full of soul, and that soul built us up again. It was like, ‘Oh, we’ve been regenerated.’ Our purpose in life is to perform live and we have found anew that the space we create together with everyone is at the center of everything we do.”
NOCCHi adds, “I was surprised that our producer Yasutaka Nakata understood what we thought of live performances. Especially the last part of the song that goes, “We’re going to be on stage.” It felt like he was encouraging us to sing that song when we got back on stage, and it was exciting to see that it was about performing live.”
“We want to perform on stage, but we can’t do it alone. The feeling that ‘I’m just a spinning mirror and I can only shine with everyone’s support’ and that because of the time we’re living in, the words ‘everything will be fine’ really apply,” says KASHIYUKA. “We felt like we were being encouraged by those voices and we understand the lyrics with painful clarity. There were things I had felt during my live performances, personal feelings that were my own, but (Nakata) managed to put them into a song that I could share with the audience. That’s why I was so happy when I was able to play it live.”
Perfume’s sound can generally be categorized as club/dance music such as techno-pop, synth-pop, French electro and EDM, but their new album PLASMA adds color to the group’s style, as seen on tracks like the boogie funk lead single “Spinning World.”
It’s also fair to say that “Drive’n The Rain” is Nakata’s response to the recent global “city pop” movement, which sheds new light on the sophisticated urban J-pop music of the ’70s. “I think the song gives off a sense of temperature and wind, like night and rain. It has an organic feel,” says KASHIYUKA.
Bio is an important keyword in the description PLASMA. Although the group is known for their performances using electro sounds and the latest technologies like projection mapping and AR, their latest album conveys a sense of what is real rather than virtual, more analogue than digital and the warmth of the people.
The three women share their impression of the new studio set. NOCCHi notes, “When I listened to the finished album, I thought it captures today’s world and it would be a suggestion from Nakata-san, like, ‘Wouldn’t these songs be ideal for singing perfume in today? ‘ The mood he suggested was relaxed and relaxed, with messages of hope and kindness. I felt like he was with us.”
“I thought it’s an album that encourages you to relax and just be normal,” says KASHIYUKA. “The kind of music that blends into your daily life and helps you remember the gentle time of day.”
a-chan adds: “I think it’s very typical for us to offer an album like this when the world has changed due to the novel coronavirus. It’s really fitting that it’s not an album that forces people to get excited.”
PLASMA was released worldwide in late July in multiple formats including CD, downloads and streaming. Regarding the possibility of a world tour to support the album, NOCCHi says: “We as a perfume can’t go abroad yet, but if there are people out there waiting for us, then we would like to visit them. ”
“With the development of the Internet, information and communication technology, people are becoming ‘individuals’ regardless of whether they live in Japan or elsewhere,” adds KASHIYUKA. “No matter where we live, each of us has our own problems and difficulties. And if there are people who support us in such circumstances, we are willing to go anywhere to see them.”
a-chan jokes, “We will be touring Japan from August 20th to November 6th on our arena tour, Parfum 9th Tour 2022 ‘PLASMA’, so everyone is always welcome to visit us here!” [Laughs]
–This interview by Atsuo Nagahori first appeared on Billboard Japan.
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