Many non-Japanese artists express an affinity for Japanese culture, whether that’s through traditional crafts, anime or aesthetics. For American pop singer Caroline Polachek, her kinship to Japan is more subliminal because, from the age of 1 through 7, Tokyo was her home.
Polachek even spoke Japanese during this time, having attended a local primary school for two years before her family relocated back to the United States. “(Growing up bilingual) really trains your ear for phonetics and sonics at a young age,” Polachek says via video chat from her label’s office in Shibuya, “especially in Japanese, which is such a delicious and beautiful language.”
Though she is no longer fluent in Japanese, Polachek’s childhood memories are still firmly intact. She lived here in the late 1980s, a boom time for Japanese anime, and her favorite show was “Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel,” which follows a little girl who transforms into a magical pop star. “Of course, for me, that was aspirational as a 5-year-old,” says Polachek, 38. She also recalls formative memories of learning Japanese songs in choir, her first earthquakes, family trips to the aquarium and “the feeling of the architecture — even the way the trees are shaped differently.”