[2019.09.18] Rolling Stone: The response Perfume felt during Coachella and their world tour, and the challenges of their 16th year together

Perfume are the technopop unit that is the pride of Japan. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of their major debut, they will release a best of album “Perfume The Best P Cubed” containing 52 songs, including 2 new ones.

From February to April 2019, they toured their seventh album Future Pop in Asia and North America. In that period, they performed at Coachella 2019, the largest outdoor festival in America. They were included in the Rolling Stone US article “Coachella 2019: The 16 Best Things We Saw” as one of the best acts of the festival. This placed them side by side with talented artists from all over the world such as the three headliners Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande, as well as Weezer (who performed with Chilli from TLC), 4 time Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves, Billie Eilish,  Four Tet, JPEGMAFIA and Rosalia.

In this interview, Kashiyuka, A~chan and Nocchi tell us about their recent activities, with a focus on Coachella and their overseas tour.

In the first half of this year, your first performance at Coachella really got people talking.

(Nocchi) We couldn’t imagine what kind of place it was at all so, before we went, we asked the only person in team Perfume who had been there, Daito Manabe from Rizomatics, about it. He said that the crowd there really respond to your sound, and we worked to make the strongest setlist possible for that type of audience.

(Kashiyuka) It was a very aggressive setlist, we would never play a setlist like it in Japan. Even to us, it was quite hard. I could tell just by looking that the crowd had grown in the second week though.

(A~chan) In the first week, we did an MC segment a little before the last song and, even though our English was awkward, the crowd went wild, it was like they exploded. Then the issue of Rolling Stone that came out just afterwards chose us as one of the 16 acts you should watch. I was really happy about that. Lots of different people got in touch to say how incredible it was, and the number of interview requests we were getting over there shot up.

Perfume World Tour 4th started in February and, when you performed at Coachella for the first time, you still had two dates left.

(A~chan) Yes. At that time we’d been away from Japan for a long time, and we’d already visited five cities so, to tell you the truth, by the end of the tour we were really missing Japan! I was wondering if I had enough energy for the remaining shows. Then there was the first weekend of Coachella and we were chosen from more than 150 acts as one of the 16 to watch, which made me feel like my batteries were recharged, and I was able to do my best in San Jose and Los Angeles.

(Nocchi) After experiencing Coachella, which was definitely not “home”, I started thinking of San Jose and Los Angeles as “home”. It was the same feeling of “home” as playing in Japan after a world tour. I was really happy about this change in myself.

And, how was it when you performed in the second week?

(A~chan) Thanks to the Rolling Stone article, there were so many more people in the crowd. It lit a fire in us too, we performed an even more aggressive setlist than the first week. Coachella’s stages are basic ones in tents, so we were limited in terms of the technology we could use though. So, compared to the performances in Japan, lots of stuff was quite “analogue”. It’s in a desert so the stage is really exposed to the wind.

(Kashiyuka) We couldn’t rehearse on the actual stage, and there’s no way of knowing how things will go without trying them. There were so many “happenings”! But, thinking back, we had similar experiences the first time we performed at a festival in Japan, on our first overseas tour, and when we performed at Cannes and SXSW too.

(A~chan) When you perform in a different environment from usual, you don’t know if it’s going to go well or not. I feel strongly that I want to do my best and show people as many of the things I think are cool as possible, though. I think that maybe the crowd at Coachella picked up on this. Our performance in the second weekend was live streamed, and our fans in Japan also watched it. I was grateful for that. Perfume includes a member who was born in the first year of the Heisei era: me. At the end of the Heisei era, we brought in the Reiwa era in America taking on our biggest challenge. It’s a nice coincidence.

Is there anything that stayed with you that you would say sums up the Coachella atmosphere?

(Nocchi) After we finished performing, people from the local area who were backstage approached us really sincerely and said that our performance was the best.

(A~chan) That’s right. We had a hectic exchange like: “You’re the best act I’ve ever seen! I cried! Thank you. Let’s take a photo!” “OK”. Afterwards, we were wondering who it was, and we were really surprised as it turned out to be an artist who was playing one of the main stages. I was so happy. 

A photo with James Corden was uploaded to your official Instagram.

(Kashiyuka) Yes. Even though we haven’t done things like that in Japan, we thought we would be flexible and try getting involved. We knew that, when you send something out on an SNS, you can get an instant response and then make a connection with people. Amongst ourselves too, we gradually came to enjoy it.

(Nocchi) This tour and our Coachella performance were promoted mostly through social media. Until now, even though we’ve gone on overseas tours because we want people to know what is cool about Japan, it’s felt like there are things we haven’t been able to get across. By using social media, I think we’ve opened these things up to people. Because of the response we’ve had, I believe that we can make more progress overseas. In Japan we do things in the Japanese way, so, when we are overseas, it’s important to do things their way. 

The response they got during their fourth world tour and Coachella

It seems like you got a lot out of your fourth tour and Coachella.

(A~chan) It’s very rare to be given this opportunity, and we didn’t know if we would have another chance, so we absolutely wanted to get something out of it and make an impression. We were in a kind of battle mode. However, even in cities we were trying to visit for the first time, the audience greeted us enthusiastically. There were many moments where I felt like things we have done in the past really resonated with people, and it made me emotional in a different way to other tours. I think that our feelings towards the rest of the world are gradually changing too.

(Nocchi) That could be true. In the beginning, when we started touring overseas, it felt the audience were testing us out to see if we were good or not. However, this time, I could face the audience believing in my heart that they came to see us because they really like Perfume. That’s why I was able to think of San Jose and Los Angeles as home.

(Kashiyuka) Because of this, I feel more strongly that I want to do the same type of show overseas as we do in Japan. There are practical problems in terms of transporting the equipment, but I want to steadily work towards making this reality.

This Autumn marks the start of the 15th year since your major debut. Your first best of album “Perfume the Best P Cubed” has been released. Your producer, Yasutaka Nakata, carried out remastering for it.

(Nocchi) Yes. It’s super cool. You might even think that our oldest songs are “new songs”. I guess there are a lot of people who will say that they already have our albums so this best of isn’t a big deal. To those people, I’d say that, if you like Perfume, you definitely have to listen to the best of. It’s a “new album”!

(Kashiyuka) Of course the original versions were cool too, but I think that the remastering has added depth and richness.

(A~chan) Nakata-san is a person who always wants to release his newest material. That’s why we have always released original albums. When Nakata kindly agreed to the release of a best of on the 15th anniversary of our major debut, and went as far as to say “If we’re releasing one, I’ll do remastering”, I was really happy.

Nakata has transformed even your oldest songs into new ones. He has a real desire to create new things. Furthermore, the first song on the album, “Challenger” is literally a new song.

(A~chan) Actually, apparently our first manager heard the original version of this song and went to ask Nakata to be our producer. Until now, we didn’t know anything about this. Nakata told us for the first time when we were making this album. He said that this was the song that brought us together, and kindly asked if we wanted to sing it.

(Nocchi) We’ve walked the same road for more than 15 years, and now Nakata gave this song to us. I was really touched. I appreciate it as its lyrics are the words we need right now. It’s a song I want to sing. 

(Kashiyuka) It’s a song where we look back on the days where we were working like crazy. From where we stand now, we relive our feelings from those days, then we say “let’s go” and turn to face the future again. 

One thing in your future is “Reframe 2019”, which is being held at LINE CUBE SHIBUYA (previously the Shibuya Public Hall) in October.

(A~chan) We wanted the people who experienced our fourth world tour and Coachella to learn more about Japan, and fall more in love with Japan. So, this time, we thought it would be good if more people from overseas came to Japan to watch us. To achieve this, we want there to be a fixed venue where people know they can go and see us. If we could do this, it would be like a dream. 

(Nocchi) “Reframe 2019” is one step towards that dream. This time we are performing for eight days in total, and I’d like to get a good reaction.

(Kashiyuka) We want people to enjoy seeing Perfume’s history being reframed and reconstructed.

There is also “Perfume 8th Tour 2020 P Cubed in Dome” next February, where you will play four venues.

(Kashiyuka) We are touring our best of album, so we can choose as many songs as we want! The album contains many singles, so I think that people will know at least a few of the songs. Right now, the three of us are discussing whether we should change the set list each day, and other things like this that make our staff cry! There will be new challenges, but I’m looking forward to everything about the new tour, including them.

Perfume official site:  http://www.perfume-web.jp/ 
Perfume YouTube:   https://www.youtube.com/user/Perfume/
Rolling Stone Interview: https://rollingstonejapan.com/articles/detail/31951/

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