[2019.09.14] Goethe: Perfume at 20! The path that has led them to become innovators in the musical world

20 years since their formation, 15 years since their debut, Perfume sent the crowd at one of the world’s biggest music festivals wild. With unity at all times and by seeking new challenges, the members have found their own brand of “cool”. 

Making Japanese pop cool

As Perfume take the stage, a great wave of people floods towards them from the distant corners of the field. A crowd of people fills your vision. From just in front of your eyes, to the far distance, there are no gaps as people stand, scream and wave. The passion is incredible. “Wow, they’re coming! They’re coming! More and more people are coming!”  The three members feel the nerves and excitement in their entire bodies.   

The Coachella Festival 2019 (The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival), which Perfume participated in on the 21st of April, is held every year in the Indeo desert in California, USA, and is one of the world’s largest music festivals. Paul McCartney, Prince, Madonna, Radiohead, Coldplay…the most famous artists in the world have performed here.   

The festival is held for two weeks, with the same lineup performing both times. Perfume also performed on the 14th of April. The audience and watching media went wild. Perfume were chosen by Rolling Stone as one of the “16 Artists to Watch at Coachella 2019”. 

The turning points in our career are what keeps us going. 

(A~chan) Artists who appear at Coachella do so while they are touring America. It was a new challenge for us, but we combined performing at Coachella with a tour. 

(Nocchi) In Japan we rarely perform in front of people who don’t know anything about Perfume. However, the crowd at Coachella was full of people seeing us for the first time. It brought back feelings from the time of our debut. 

Being in special environments raises the motivation of the three members. 

(Kashiyuka) The first time we performed at the Budokan and Tokyo Dome, when we performed away from home overseas…over our 20 year career we have had turning point after turning point, and they really raised our spirits. Every one has made us stronger. We felt that Coachella too would make us stronger. 

In 2017, there was a performance where they could clearly sense each other on the stage.

(A~chan) The “docomo×Perfume FUTUREEXPERIMENT”. Nocchi was in New York, Kashiyuka was in London, and I was in Tokyo. We were more than 10,000km apart, it was morning in one place and evening in another. We performed our new song FUSION for a worldwide livestream in synchronization without a time lag.   

(Kashiyuka) It was the first time that we performed individually. 

(Nocchi) Before the performance, we couldn’t do our normal huddle. 

In addition, rehearsals had not gone well at all.

(A~chan) Despite this, the actual performance went as well as we could have imagined. While I was dancing I could sense the two of them, even though we were far apart.

Being able to clearly sense the two of them breathing. 

All the members strongly felt “If it’s the three of us, we can tough it out! We can beat this!”

(A~chan) It’s not that I am especially gifted, even now I am doing something that is beyond me, it’s a real miracle. It’s thanks to the other members, our staff, and all of our fans. Because of this, I can take on a new challenge without any feelings of unease.  

The fliers the three of them thought and thought about, and kept on drawing.  

This is well known among fans, but Perfume had a long road to success. The group formed in 2000. Nocchi joined in 2001, completing the current lineup. At this time they were still junior high school students living in Hiroshima. In the spring of their third year of junior high school they went to Tokyo, but their major debut wasn’t until 2005. Finally, in 2007 “Polyrhythm” became a hit. 

(A~chan) When we moved to Tokyo, there was a shopping center in Koto ward, Sun Street Kameido, that kindly allowed us to perform twice a week. However, few people came to watch us.  

In their dormitory, they racked their brains. For every performance they drew 300 flyers to distribute to their audience. 

(A~chan) So that people would remember us, we stuck on purikura photos, we drew our hairstyles, and we wrote down our lyrics. We would try something and not get the results we wanted, then we try something else and that wouldn’t work either… 

They would lose hope, immediately get their spirits up, then be disappointed again and immediately get their spirits up. This happened over and over.  

(Nocchi) We thought and thought and thought everything through, then drew more flyers. 

(Kashiyuka) We didn’t have any doubts about what we were doing. Even though people didn’t come to watch us, we were still able to think that we were cool. We wanted people to understand our coolness. We desperately wanted people to come and see us. 

Why they were able to believe in themselves to that extent and keep on going. 

(A~chan) What I was thinking at the time is a mystery to me. 

(Nocchi) I love the me that was able to keep on going in those circumstances.

Their management seems also to have had concerns about their future, and recommended that the members enter university.  Despite this, the three of them continued doing their best with an eye on their debut.

(A~chan) No matter how hard the situation was, no matter what doubts we had, until now we have never made any negative remarks to each other.

(Nocchi) Not even once have we said something like “If things stay like this, I don’t think it will work out”.

(Kashiyuka) None of us has ever asked anything like “Do you think we’ll be OK?”

Throughout their career, they have only talked about how they can move forwards. 

Being able to sense the essence of the three members in their digital sound. 

Perfume’s first best of album “Perfume the Best P Cubed” will be released on the 18th of September. From their 2005 major debut “Linear Motor Girl” to their latest songs “Nananananairo” and “Challenger”, it contains 52 songs spread over 3 CDs.

Even though the songs included on this record span 15 years, surprisingly they all feel like they are from the same period. Perfume are a technopop unit. They make full use of the latest technology, so their works are vulnerable to becoming dated. Regardless of this, the songs made 15 years ago sound surprisingly fresh now.

(A~chan) I think this is because our producer, Yasutaka Nakata, isn’t only interested in techno. He combines elements from genres like electro and EDM (electro dance music).

(Kashiyuka) He is also adept at using Future Bass.

(Nocchi) And, even though our music is digital, I feel like our music sounds fresh because it makes use of our qualities as human beings.  

20 years since their formation, 15 years since their debut, the path the three of them have trodden and the challenges they have taken on can be sensed in their voices and performances.

(Kashiyuka) In a situation where we didn’t know when our career would be over and nothing was guaranteed, we didn’t hold back. What can we make that is cool? What can we make that is interesting? This is all we think about. There is no room for any uncertainty. We’ve come to believe that, in the moment, if we don’t put everything on the line, then we can’t see the future. 

(Nocchi) This type of power that we have, I feel like it’s a strength that we have because we are women. 

The three members of Perfume think not of slowing their pace, at this moment they concentrate their strength and, by taking on new challenges, open up a new future.

Perfume official site:  http://www.perfume-web.jp/ 
Perfume YouTube:   https://www.youtube.com/user/Perfume/

Translator: gyudon_nau (A-Chan fan from the UK)

Source: https://goetheweb.jp/person/slug-nfdf15b438ba6