Interview with Japanese pop sensation Perfume

Perfume is an electro-pop girl group from Hiroshima that formed in 2000, consisting of three members; Ayaka Nishiwaki (Aa-chan), Yuka Kashino (Kashiyuka) and Ayano Omoto (Nocchi) who have had continuing success in the Japanese charts since their breakthrough hit “Polyrhythm” in 2007. Particularly notable for their futuristic, robotic, doll-like style and well-choreographed dance moves, Perfume seek to take their infectious energy overseas on their first tour to Europe in July this year (only their second time to tour outside of Japan). We spoke to the trio as they prepared to travel to Europe and meet their British fans for the first time.

You recently performed outside Japan for the first time on your “Perfume WORLD TOUR 1st” around Asia. On your next tour you will play in three different European countries. What are your expectations for your concert in the UK?
[Aa-chan]  I still can’t believe that people in the UK know about and like us, and that the fans there are so passionate! I want to be able to give something back to those people by showing them a great time and I’m hoping for the same response!

[Kashiyuka] We may receive a different reaction from the one on our Asia tour, so rather than just dancing along with us, I’d like to get people to enjoy and get into the music. Also I’m interested to see if anyone will come dressed up in cosplay!

[Nocchi] What kinds of people listen to Perfume? What types of people will like us? I’m looking forward to meeting the fans that are waiting for us.

Perfume: Aa-chan, Nocchi, Kashiyuka (L to R)

Have you been to the UK before? What are your impressions of the country?

[Aa-chan] I went to London last year. The buildings were very beautiful and wherever I went I was moved at how picturesque it was. Usually I don’t take a lot of pictures but I took so many in London – that was really impressive for me! Everything is colourful and bright, the sky seems so high! I felt free and was moved by the arts around the city.

[Kashiyuka] I’ve never been – so I’m really happy to be able to go on this tour!

I’ve never been before. My impression is that it’s mix of a very homely and warm place, but also stylish.

Do you like any British music? Has your music been influenced by any British artists or styles?

[Nocchi] I listen to lots of different artists, but I especially like the Arctic Monkeys.

[Kashiyuka] I like Delphic, The xx, Adele, Autokratz, James Blake, Four tet, Klaxons, Kyte, Matthew Herbert, Muse, New Order, Radiohead, Sbtrkt, Simian Mobile Disco, Squarepusher, Stubborn Heart, The Ting Tings, Underworld. Our music is produced by Yasutaka Nakata (Capsule) so I can’t answer if he has taken any influence from British music.

Have you had a chance to use English during your career so far? Are there any English words that you particularly like?

[Aa-chan] I used English a little bit on our previous tour of Asia but because of the difference in accents I found it hard to understand what was being said sometimes. Last time in London I ordered French fries and nuggets by myself in McDonalds. I’m not very confident speaking English so usually speak quietly, but that time I said my order loudly and was understood - so during our concert I’ll try to speak clearly without being embarrassed - nice to meet you!

[Nocchi] “I’m Kashiyuka. I’m Aa-chan. I’m Nocchi. Together we are Perfume!” I’ve really enjoyed doing this kind of basic greeting in English. Even though I feel a bit shy when I do.

[Kashiyuka] Our track “Spending all my time” is completely in English so I struggled really hard with the pronunciation. When I’m singing along to the melody, my accent becomes more Japanese – like katakana-speak, so I’m wondering what people outside Japan will think when they hear it. Also, it’s not a particular word, but I’m interested to know which genre people will classify us in as artists.

Have you made any changes to your concert to particularly appeal to the British fans?

[Kashiyuka] We’re planning to choose different songs from our first Perfume World Tour in Asia. We’d like to choose ones that we think our European fans would enjoy. We’d also like to include new art and techniques in the production of our show.

[Nocchi] For most people I think it will be their first time to see Perfume so I’d like to give a concert that makes them say “ah, so this is Perfume!”

Do you have any free time during your visit to the UK? Is there anything you would like to do or see while you are in the country?

[Kashiyuka] Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like we will get much free time in the UK. I wish I had time to go sightseeing and shopping. I’d like to go to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry and to Notting Hill.

[Aa-chan] Last time I came to London I thought that the London buses were a very convenient mode of transport. They are cute and stylish too! I’d like to have a chance for the three of us to travel on them together. I’d also like to visit some markets and buy lots of cheese to take home.

Aa-chan told me that bread and pastries are delicious so I’d really like to try some as I love bakery goods. Definitely!

Even though this is your first concert in the UK, tickets sold out in minutes and you were upgraded to a larger venue which again sold out very quickly. This shows just how many British people already know about Perfume and are looking forward to seeing you here. What do you think it is about Perfume that the British fans like so much?

[Aa-chan] It’s a miracle! I can’t believe it! It really, really is an honour. I am so happy! Amazing… I mean, is it really true that people know about Perfume? I still find it hard to believe. If people really are looking forward to seeing us then I absolutely want to give them an exciting evening! I want to reproduce the same atmosphere as our concerts in Japan. I really think that Perfume’s appeal is in our live shows so I’d really like to give an exciting performance for many people.

[Nocchi] I am so happy! I can’t believe it! My heart starts pounding when I think about meeting the fans. Rather I’d like to ask you that question though - what do British fans really think of us? Tell us!

[Kashiyuka] I think it’s our combination of music and dance (choreography). Also, maybe our black hair?!

There are many British people that wanted to see you but weren’t able to get tickets for your concert in London this time. With this great response already, do you consider the UK to be a potential location for future concerts and music releases?

[Aa-chan] If that’s what people are thinking then we definitely want to release our music in the UK. If we get a lot of requests then we will come to perform. It all depends upon everyone in London! We are waiting for your loud cheers!

[Kashiyuka] I still can’t believe our tickets are actually sold out! I’m really surprised! But if there are at least that many people that want to see Perfume I’d like to try and play at an even bigger venue and release new songs.

Since Perfume’s debut you have achieved your dream of playing at many large venues around Japan and have also started to perform overseas. What are your future plans for Perfume in Japan and around the world?

[Nocchi] I’d like everyone to have more fun and would like to do something that will get people excited!

[Kashiyuka] I want to create music in which non-Japanese people can hear the good aspects of music from our country but at the same time our Japanese fans can hear our impressions of travelling the world. Although I’m not speaking from a position of great experience, I would like to make music that crosses all country borders, and just perform music that all people can enjoy.

[Aa-chan] I think that British people have great taste but I would like more of them to know about our great music from Japan. Personally, we are fans of our composer, so we really want people to understand just what is good about his music. We also want to continue to reach for our dreams. As a whole team we want to enjoy our life! We hope that British people will continue to check our progress!