September revealed itself as the month of the collaboration. As well as feel-good disco from Cosmo’s Midnight featuring Shin Sakiura and Sirup, there was also some delicious R’n’B from Sara-J with Onjuicy. The hotly tipped Mashinomi provided the vocals for a a two-step garage production from 80kidz and Wez Atlas while Sara Wakui gave us some joyous jazz with Mimiko.
Get stuck into September’s best new songs from Japan.
Sara-J, Onjuicy, Fofu — “Dance With Me Tonight”
Tokyo-based artist, Sara-J, released “Dance with me Tonight” featuring her sultry vocals interspersed with rapping from Onjuicy (stylized as ONJUICY). The pair both cite influences from overseas artists which makes this collaboration very fitting. Onjuicy has been hot on the Tokyo scene since his standout cypher on Boiler Room in 2015. In turn, Sara-J’s vocals shout ‘Brandy.’
With vocals mellowed down to the point where it sounds as though The xx band briefed trackmaker, Fofu, it is strangely addictive. Described as a song to invite listeners into a ‘dream world,’ if someone told us the pair were singing through slumber we would not be surprised. The twinkling intro, dubbed-out bassline and whispered vocals would not be out of place on a pre-sleep playlist.
Sirup, Cosmo’s Midnight, Shin Sakiura — “Breakthrough”
The Australian electronic pop duo’s collaboration “Breakthrough” with Sirup and Shin Sakiura is a feel-good modern disco number. Hands in the air on a drive to the beach or bobbing along on the way back from a camp, this reminds us of the good old days when Daft Punk were about (until last year). We can see why it was used in this Nissan advert.
There’s bilingual rapping from Sirup and funky guitar riffs from producer-to-the-J-pop stars, Shin Sakiura. Stick “Breakthrough” on to be transported back to the days of Daft Punk and ‘normal’ politics.
Mashinomi — “Star Status (feat. Wez Atlas & 80kidz)”
Mashinomi’s collaboration with Wez Atlas sees her take a frivolous new direction, thanks to a two-step garage throwback beat from 80kidz (stylised as 80KIDZ). Previous releases have seen her bubble-gum vocals turned into sugar sweet soundtracks to love and life.
“Star Status” sees the singer take more of a honed direction that complements the rapping from Atlas. It could be said that the most impressive thing about this track is the vocals from the latter, but some skatting from Mashinomi in the breakdown makes us want to hear more. And who doesn’t love a bit of two-step on a weekday afternoon.
Sara Wakui — “Escape (feat. Mimiko)”
Newcomer Sara Wakui, with her band Spice Rhythm, released her fourth single to date with guest vocals from Mimiko. Gorgeous, tinkling piano and emotional vocals are given added passion with fantastic playing by members of Spice Rhythm. Percussion, bass and guitar all align to explode into a joyful climax.
It’s a lovely modern jazz vocal track that’s great to listen to for a midday energy boost. We’re excited to hear a whole album of this.
Knott and Lil Beamz — “Dystopia”
Head-banging, hollow bass on “Dystopia” as Knott (stylized at KNOTT) and Lil Beamz come together for their first collaboration since the highly acclaimed “Light Speed DIO.” Known for creating ‘accessible hyper-pop,’ there is a discernible, pacifying direction to the song.
That is not to say the track is calm. Drum and bass influence is evident in the kitchen-sink percussion, which forcefully heads into an orchestrated breakdown. Shattering hyper-pop style chords add emotion and a hyper-pop sense of urgency to the track. Yet plenty of reprise is offered throughout, guiding the listener through the high energy parts.
It’s easy to imagine the song being played in clubs, with the audience guaranteed to go crazy in the knowledge that there is a break coming around the corner.
If you liked this edition, check out last month’s songs, here.
If you’re a Japan-based musician and are interested in featuring, please send any forthcoming releases over to editor[at]tokyoweekender[dot]com and include the subject line: “FAO Music Editor.”