Whether it’s younger stars like Sam Smith and Charli XCX whose pasts have seen collaborations with producers such as Disclosure, Alex Metric and Starkey, or established names like Bjork delving into the underground to work with Arca and The Haxan Cloak, the trajectories of pop and club music have never felt more closely aligned.
But despite the success of Yasutaka Nakata’s productions for Capsule, Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Japan’s music scene has yet to demonstrate a recognition that club-friendly might also equate to chart-friendly.
Tokyo duo Young Juvenile Youth, consisting of beatmaker Jemapur (real name: Toshiaki Ooi) and vocalist Yuki Matsuda are looking to challenge that perception. The duo releases the mini-album “Animation” via iTunes on April 27 with a physical release to follow June 3. The music video for the title track — a stunning example of post-processing trickery by director Kosai Sekine — transforms Yuki’s portrait into a variety of digital structures, and has quickly been lauded for its originality.
“Sometimes I feel like the major (label) music market in Japan has become too commercial and is losing its creative aspect,” says Yuki, who reached out to Jemapur after hearing his music on YouTube.
Jemapur, who has been putting out dusty, Nujabes-esque instrumentals for several years now, has altered his production style for the project by trading warm and jazzy compositions for sparse, streamlined electronic beats that allow Yuki’s coolly detached vocals to sit front and center. The resulting combination recalls the sci-fi ambience of Koreless and the spaced-out club-pop of the Innervisions stable’s remixes for the likes of The xx — a likely recipe for crossover success in the West, but an as-yet mostly unexplored segment of the market in Japan.
“In this Internet generation, I don’t think there is much of an actual underground market left to begin with,” says Yuki. “Rather, it’s a ‘pseudo-underground’ market. I want to create music that changes people’s perspective of things and not be restrained to just one thing.”
“Animation” is available via iTunes now. For more information, visit www.yjymusic.com.