Text in englischer Sprache verfügbarThe four women in the Japanese band CHAI don't like the concept of "kawaii" or cuteness. They call their music "neo-kawaii" and aim for authenticity and inclusion while also making eye-catching videos that express their idiosyncratic vision. They take their influences from a wide range of sources; everything from '90s hip-hop and bouncy alt-rock to scratchy post-punk and smooth soft rock are used as vehicles for their sound. Their 2017 debut, Pink, was an energetic and wide-ranging introduction to the band, and 2019's Punk followed up with a similar approach, only a little more streamlined. The band formed in Nagoya in the early 2010s when identical twins Mana (vocals/keys) and Kana (guitar/vocals) began playing music together while still in high school. They asked drummer Yuna to join the band, then later added bassist Yuuki to the lineup, and decided on the name CHAI. While at school the band took a backseat to the girls' studies, but once they decided they would rather hit stages instead of books, they moved to Tokyo and began taking the band more seriously. They moved into a house together, started playing shows, and released an EP, Hottaraka Series, in late 2015. They followed it up a few months later with another EP, Homegoro Series. They also branched out into making videos that featured them dressed in pink and doing goofy choreographed dance moves. Their music and visuals were impressive enough to Sony Music Entertainment Japan that the company signed them and released a batch of singles in 2017. That same year, the band won the SXSW Asia audition and traveled to Austin before hitting a handful of other cities in the U.S. CHAI's debut album, Pink, was released in 2017, and the video for one of the songs caught the attention of California's Burger Records. They put a song by the group on a compilation of Japanese bands called Burger World: Japan and reissued the album in America in early 2018. CHAI launched a tour of the States and released the Wagama-mania EP in May. They also signed with Heavenly in the U.K. and toured there supporting Superorganism. Once off the road, they began work on their second album, Punk. The group consolidated their influences and focused the sound for the album, though the songs remained exuberant and energy packed. It was released in March 2019 by the team of Burger, Heavenly, and their longtime Japanese label, Otemoyan Record.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo
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