KNOW YOUR IDOL #23: O’CHAWANZ

O'chawanz

On this new episode of the Know Your Idol interview series in collaboration with Idol Underworld, we are getting to know the hip-hop idols of O’CHAWANZ.

Finally some hip-hop is coming over here at Know Your Idol! We met the three girls of the idol unit O’CHAWANZ, a recent addition in Idol Underworld, definitely worth checking out if you are into rapping idols.

In this interview, you’ll find out about their reasons to become idols and their tastes in music, but we’ll also be clearing up a huge misunderstanding regarding ramen. If you want to know more about it, check out the video below!

akugi – PLAYPLAY

akugi

akugi’s not PlayPlay-ing around: the codomomental trio dazzle and terrify on this debut EP titled PLAYPLAY with special guests.

Company collaborations are some of the coolest things, aren’t they? For example, WACK’s DOGENZAKA43, a play on the massively popular AKB48, that features every group in their roster; or their shuffle groups that contained members from different groups working together on an album. However, today we’re giving you something a little bit different, but well worth your interest.

akugi is a trio made up of one vocalist, marikoyu (Komari Yuu of KAQRIYOTERROR), and two dancers, Maruauma (Ama Mauru of Seireki13ya) and nainotokanon (Tokanai Nonno of TOKYO Tefutefu) with a focus on electronica. They made their debut in 2020 with the single r u serious? and followed up with Daydream Speaker in January of 2021. Their debut EP, Playplay, arrived on June 16th with six tracks — five with special guests consisting of fellow codomomental labelmates and one without — and it is absolutely killer.

The first track, “r u serious?”, featuring Yamakomaro of Yuu’s group KAQRIYOTERROR, hits you hard right at the jump with breakbeat-styled instrumentation fit for being on the Need For Speed soundtrack. Yuu’s rapper-like vocals carry through the verses with grace as she bounces from flow to flow against the dark, edgy beat, and the chorus from Yamakomaro melds smoothly right alongside it. The next track, “addict”, features Motochi Kasane of ZenbuKiminoseida., and is entirely in English. It opens with grainy feedback before introducing a simple piano number, soon to be washed over in electronic elements. Personally, the sound was incredibly nostalgic for me, as it reminded me of the arcade games I used to play. The lyrics, however, are incredibly dark, speaking from the perspective of one who knows someone with an unwillingness to carry on and feeling worried for them. Kasane takes over the choruses with her sweet voice, and Yuu carries in the verses, incorporating an icy whisper towards the end of her parts. After her parts come this intense wave of orchestration that really, really hits the nail on the head in producing an intense rush of anxiety.

Track three, “period”, which also features the Zenbukiminoseida. member Mei Yui Mei, packs a lovely surprise. The dreampop introduction gives way to soft, whispered vocals from Yuu, then flips between her rapping delivery and singing from Mei. At the 1:20 mark, though, the song makes a severe drop into a dark trap-inspired beat with the help of Yuu’s icy whispers. Her voice deepens and her delivery becomes less whimsical, with Mei’s almost deathcore-like screams providing back up. At 2:00 the trap beat mixes with elements of the dreamy pop we had beforehand as Yuu closes out the song once more. What a banger!

The fourth song, “CC”, kicks off with a synth beat that, for me, was reminiscent of post-punk. Yuu’s the only one providing vocals on this song and she gives out the full extent of her skills, including those characteristic whispers and rap delivery. The overall feel of the song is funky and dark, with her vocals providing just the right touch of sweetness and edge to get you moving. The mix of Japanese and English lyrics is also a great touch, something nearly every song on the EP has. Track five, “With U” is a short and sweet duet between Yuu and Uine Setsuna from TOKYO Tefutefu. Compared to the rest of the songs, it’s much softer, bringing back the dreamy atmosphere from before. It’s a sweet and sentimental song, briefly taking a turn when Yuu’s rap verse gets a little darker in sound, then brightening up once more as they sing. The ending is especially nice with Setsuna’s singing and Yuu’s rapping layered together.

The final song, “Daydream Speaker”, features Shiki Towa of Seireki13ya. It’s quite the melancholic track, with a slow and somber guitar opening as Shiki begins singing. Yuu’s verses are entirely spoken word, like someone recounting memories or reading from a diary — fitting considering the story of the song’s music video, where a girl tries to cope with the suicide of her friend but is unable to, and meets her in the end. Shiki’s soft and angelic adlibs in the verses provide a nice atmosphere, and she shows off her lower range very well in the song. Overall, it’s a gorgeous track and fits well as the closer for the EP. However, if you’re going to watch the music video, consider this as a bit of a heads up.

Playplay is a great display of the creativity these girls contain, as there really is something for everyone here. I cannot recommend it enough to anybody looking for a unique and fun project and I hope that we’ll be getting much more from akugi in the future!


INUWASI – Thanatos

Inuwasi

Listen to INUWASI’s second ep titled Thanatos, which blends idol music with rock guitars, post-hardcore energy, electronic synths and hip-hop beats.

The release of the second EP of INUWASI finally gives me a chance to spend some words for this great group; so let’s see what the brought us with Thanatos.

Taking its title from the Greek personification of death, the album presents itself with a cover art which reminded me of Katatonia’s Brave Murder Day, except in place of the dead bird we have a bizarre creature depicting the concept of the group: a colorful hybrid made of a dog which can’t chew and an eagle incapable of flying.

The five tracks of Thanatos draw inspiration mainly from powerful genres such as rock, post-hardcore and alternative metal, although other elements such as electronic synths and hip-hop-like beats make their way through the music to improve it and make it more varied and appealing. The usual catchy idol vocal lines make the songs very enjoyable and memorable, and at times leave room for some harsh vocals which further enhance the energy of the whole sound.

“Burnt Sienna”, a pigment that got famous during the Renaissance in Italy, is also the title of the opener: fast paced, full of energy, soaked in electronic sounds and even featuring vaguely middle-eastern vocal lines, it’s perfect song to start the album. Next up is “in flames”, a less experimental but still powerful and enjoyable track with some intense guitar riffs, cool synth melodies and a very nice hook.

Halfway through the album we meet “Hades”, another name coming from Greek mythology, representing the god of the underworld; the song leans even more towards the electronic side of INUWASI, with beats ans synths piercing through the electric guitars, without actually replacing them. On the other hand, “budh” — my favorite one — seems to get into some sort of industrial rock sound and features a very emotional refrain.

The final track is “holy”, which also got a music video recently. Post-hardcore electric guitars and hip-hop beats fight with each other just to get both replaced by mysterious piano notes, ending the album in a great way.

This EP shows that INUWASI are already a very interesting unit, although there is obviously room for improvement in both the production and the vocals; regardless, the group is absolutely praiseworthy for having an original concept and also an unusual music style which brings together many different worlds. You can listen to Thanatos below or on your favorite streaming service.


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