6 Japanese Female Musicians To Keep An Eye On This Year

Say Hello To Six Creative Ladies In Japan's Music Scene

By Lucy Dayman
May 10, 2017
Art & Culture

Beyond Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Perfume, Japan is home to a number of aspiring female musicians who continue to inspire us with creativity, uniqueness and boldness.

Spend any amount of time here and you’ll quickly recognize that Japan is going through a serious creative peak. Whether your preference is world-renowned art exhibitions, groundbreaking fashion houses or the never-sleeping music scene, there’s much to see and listen to in this country.

One area of great modern growth is Japan’s female-focused music — from hip-hop, J-pop, rock and everything in-between, this country is producing some of the most talented and fascinating artists in the world. To celebrate this burgeoning community, we’d like to introduce six unique musicians who are still relatively new to the Japanese music stage, but whom we have a hunch will soon be on the top of the charts.

#1. Wednesday Campanella 

© Photo by Wednesday Campanella Official Facebook Page

We just can’t get enough of the “Ikkyu san, Arigato Sankyu, Ikkyu san Otsukaresan” from this musical gem’s hit Ikkyuit makes you feel somewhat liberated, refreshed — and almost addicted. Though they only formed in 2012, trio Wednesday Campanella (Suiyobi no Campanella in Japanese) have been making waves in Japan thanks to their progressive, almost European-influenced take on hip-hop and J-pop. Wednesday Campanella consists of 25-year-old vocalist (and face of the group) KOM_I (real name, Misaki Koshi), producer Hidefumi Kenmochi and creative director Dir.F. But you can really see only KOM_I on stage, because she’s the coolest.

They’ve performed at festivals at home and across the world including Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic and the 2016 edition of South by Southwest. With a focus on art and aesthetics, the trio have managed to bridge the gap between underground cool and J-popstar recognition.

The release of the album Superman earlier this year saw the trio fully come into their own. Mixing U.K. garage and classic house music production with a futuristic take on J-pop, Wednesday Campanella are as unclassifiable as they are danceable. One cool thing about KOM_I? Salsa took her to Cuba and she knows how to plant rice — you know, in addition to singing and looking great. 

#2. Yukibeb

i’m ready for ya 2017~

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Since releasing music on Soundcloud in 2011, this Tokyo native has rapidly gained an impressive fan base online thanks to her accessible yet fresh take on classic R&B sounds.

Drawing influence from classic hip-hop names like J Dilla and Aaliyah, Yukibeb’s unabashed love for sensual ‘90s-era slow jams is clear on her most recent mixtape Cuz You, which you can find on her Soundcloud profile.

At just 22, while still studying, Yukibeb’s outputs captured the attention of modern day icon DJ Joe Kay. His love for Yukibeb’s sound saw her get picked up by Kay’s Los Angeles-based, internationally adored label and collective Soulection. Stay tuned to Yukibeb’s Facebook page and Soundcloud channel for upcoming show dates and new releases.   

#3. Kyoka

Equal parts experimental and danceable, Kyoka is one of Japan’s most fascinating names in electronic and avant-garde music. Kyoka crafts her unique soundscapes by mixing electronic manipulation with organic field (everyday sound) recordings.

Kyoka grew up in Japan learning piano, flute and the shamisen. As a dedicated listener to radio shows and recording them to tape, it’s at that time she became interested in the sonic possibilities of audio manipulation.

After living in L.A. for a few years, the now Berlinbased producer released her attention-commanding EP Ish in 2012, which was soon followed by her debut full-length Is (Is Superpowered) in 2014. You can find her super-cool music on her official Soundcloud profile here

#4. Daoko

New Artist Photo #DAOKO

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Born in 1997, at just 20 years old Daoko is already one of the most exciting emerging names in contemporary Japanese pop. Daoko began making waves online at just 15 when she started uploading her music videos on Japanese video sharing site Nico Nico, formerly known as Nico Nico Doga.

Merging synth pop, rap, dance, and R&B with J-pop sensibilities, her videos have amassed millions of views on Youtube. What separates Daoko from the masses of J-Pop idols is her rapid-fire vocal delivery, meaning that she can transition from pop to rap flawlessly.

Daoko’s latest single Daisuki  (I Love), a collaboration with Japanese producer TeddyLoid, is the perfect introduction to her cross-genre appeal. Tirelessly touring, you can find information about Daoko’s upcoming shows on her official website.

#5. Young Juvenile Youth

This avant-pop duo consists of Japanese singer Yuki Matsuda and the rather enigmatic producer Jamapur. Like more western contemporaries the xx, FKA Twigs and Goldfrapp, the two-piece have crafted a sonic space where underground atmospheric club music and accessible pop collide.

Both members have their own unique histories; Yuki is the daughter of Japanese actor and actress Yusaku and Miyuka Matsuda. Jamapur has a rich contemporary musical legacy, releasing solo works that range from Nujabes influenced hip-hop to abrasive underground techno.

Yuki takes the role of chief songwriter while Jamapur meticulously manages the production side of things. Following the 2015 release of their mini album Animation, it’s clear these two are ideal creative partners in crime, releasing some of the most fascinating off-kilter pop to come out of Japan, ever.

#6. Licaxxx

珍しい、DJやってる写真… 📸 @iiiiii_riku

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Not one to sit still, Tokyo based Licaxxx is a producer, writer, editor, radio personality and DJ. Focusing on more underground club aesthetic, Licaxxx’s genre preference bounces between laid back techno and house while touching on disco-infused funk.

Her fashion forward (but not necessarily fad or trend driven) attitude bleeds into her music, mixing progressive ideas with a rather classic attitude.

Incredibly prolific in the local live scene, Licaxxx performs sets, hosts parties and releases mixes at an almost manic pace, so if you like what you’re hearing you’ll never be left high and dry. Listen to her music on her Soundcloud profile here.

Who’s your favorite Japanese female musician? Share with us in the comments!