Kyary Pamyu Pamyu talks Charli XCX, BTS and the surreal world of ‘Japamyu’

"It is my mission to be unpredictable"

To mark the release of her recent album ‘Japamyu’, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has discussed the inspiration behind her surreal visual world, as well as counting the likes of Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry as fans.

Known by many as the ‘Harajuku Pop Princess’, the Japanese singer, model and blogger has amassed millions of Youtube views and listening streams over the last six years. She dropped her fourth album ‘Japamyu’ in September, following an acclaimed appearance at The Great Escape 2018 at which the venue reached capacity, and reaching a new audience by featuring in ‘Crazy Crazy’ alongside Charli XCX.

“I always aim to create girly dream world with my stage and my music videos,” she told NME of her imagery. “And it is always my mission to add something unpredictable on stage. It is a challenge to always prepare some element of surprise to confound everybody’s prediction, but it’s worth it. What drives me is the crowd’s excitement. I can spot those happy faces from the stage, hear their happy cheer; those things drive me to keep going.”

How would you describe the relationship between your visual identity and your music?

“All my music is created by my producer, Yasutaka Nakata. My part is to bring the lyrics and the melodies to reality, my reality. Each track usually carries a theme, and sometimes I twist those themes to make them reside in my world.”

What would you say it is about ‘Japamyu’ that sets it apart from your other albums?

“As my producer, Yasutaka Nakata and I finish this album. He tells me ‘Japamyu opens the door to the 2nd phase of Kyary Pamyu Pmay’. That’s what he intends. Overall sounds give the impression of Japan, I think. It’s not as simple as just using Japanese traditional instruments such as Wadaiko [Japanese drums] or Shamisen [Japanese banjo type], but expressing Japan-ness with untraditional arrangements such as Chiptune. All the tracks sound different from the past albums and I am very excited.”

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

What has inspired the lyrics of the album?

“All the lyrics have been written by Yasutaka Nakata as well. I often tell him how I view things that happen around me and how I feel about them. It is funny how my little stories get transformed into songs. For instance, ‘Todoke Punch’ is the song about the time when I was upset about something that happened to me that time. I told him how mad I was, but thank god, it turned out to be such a cute song with sweet melody and angry lyrics!”

Do you feel as if there are any great misconceptions about you?

“Right after my debut, people easily categorised me as a hyper-weirdo; only because I had this unconventionally colourful wardrobe, hair and make-up. It’s just that I express myself with eccentric visuals in the format of music. I am normal as a person, and I don’t speak like an alien, and I am not a comedian either. Perhaps that was a misconception, I suppose. Now, people know who I am and what I do, I don’t feel misunderstood anymore.”

What does it mean to have the likes of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande as fans?

“It is so grateful and rewarding to have those huge stars as my fans! I have personally adored Katy Perry as well for quite a long time now, and when I found out that Katy has been my fan that she speaks highly of me, I was so so happy! It is such an odd feeling to have those celebrities and many other international artists as my fans, it is beyond cool!”

How did you come to work with Charli XCX?

“The very first encounter with Charli was when she came to see me at my show in London, we spoke briefly. The next time was when Charli came to Japan to play at Summer Sonic festival, and I was also playing at Summer Sonic the same year. I think it was at Summer Sonic that we talked about doing something together.”

You’re all from different countries, but how do you feel about acts like BTS, BABYMETAL and BLACKPINK getting so much success overseas and introducing a new generation to different cultures in different languages?

“There are many Korean artists making successful careers overseas. I know there are many good Japanese music/musicians out there as well, and I wish to be a part of influence towards the people overseas so that they would be interested in more Japanese music!”

When can we next see you on tour here in the UK?

“No definite schedule is in progress, but I have a good feeling about playing shows in the UK. During the 2018 world tour, I played in London and I received such an excitement from the crowd. Also, hopefully I would meet my new fans from The Great Escape, where people saw me for the first time! I will definitely be back!”