Sometimes all it takes to jump-start a music career is one viral video. Japanese acts such as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Babymetal attracted attention domestically and abroad thanks to memorable clips uploaded to YouTube, earning millions of views in the process.
Natsume Mito, a Nara model turned popstar, realizes this. And for her debut single “Maegami Kirisugita” (“I Cut My Bangs Too Short”), her team has released 11 different music videos featuring 11 different directors for the coiffure-centered song since February. The results have been good for the young performer. Each video has pulled in tens of thousands of views. The most popular, made to look like a children’s TV show, has more than 155,000.
“My favorite to film was the ‘Suspect’ version,” Mito says via email, referring to a take revolving around a police interrogation. “I played seven different characters, and we got really into it. It was fun for everyone to film.”
This multiple-video idea came from creative director Keita Kusaka, who had to find a way to separate Mito from similar J-pop performers — primarily, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who also started out as a model, works with Harajuku talent agency Asobisystem, and has her music produced by Yasutaka Nakata. Granted creative freedom, he found 11 directors who envisioned what “Maegami” would look like in video form. The first clip, from animator Katsuyuki Iseda, emerged in February.
“It’s not ‘Cool Japan,’ it’s more like ‘Fool Japan,’ ” Kusaka has said about Mito’s image, adding that he envisions her as “Yasutaka Nakata with a Kansai spirit.” Mito is more than willing to stay true to her roots — whereas other models post glamour shots on Instagram, she mostly shares goofy pics and videos.
Now that she’s filmed all her videos, Mito will do a wave of appearances at radio stations and festivals, including a stop at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture for an event for female fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball club.
“I finally started to feel that I am an artist,” she says. “Though, right now, I’m too busy learning and getting used to new things to feel comfortable.”
For more information on Natsume Mito, visit www.mito.asobisystem.com.