One of the largest cultural sensations on the planet, Tokyo-born Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a force to be reckoned with. Her fusion of the hyper-cute and overly-saccharine sweetness, both in her music and in her style, have led to superstars (including but not limited to the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande) cite her as an influence. She has over 6 million followers on social media collectively, including over 280,000 on her YouTube channel (making her the most followed person in Japan), and her music videos have amassed over 12 million views – and she’s not even 24.
Originally a fashion blogger and model, Kyary’s quirky fashion sense, attention-getting outfits and distinctive blonde wig quickly landed her the nickname of Princess of Kawaii Harajuku Culture. She took her first steps into music in 2011 and her debut single “Pon Pon Pon” made waves in the Japanese and Western press alike for it’s bubbling cuteness and sparky fun. Followed by international sugary hits like “Candy Candy”, “Fashion Monster” and “Mondai Girl”, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has been climbing the ladder to her glittery Queen of Kawaii throne. Five years and three successful world tours later, she’s released a Greatest Hits album as part of her KPP 5iVE YEARS MONSTER tour.
Now a producer as well as an artist, she’s worked with Tate Modern to curate the “Ey Exhibition Goes Pop” exhibition, collaborated on a ride at Universal Studios Japan and has worked with the likes of UK producer SOPHIE. Her latest collaboration, with British hit-maker and Wonderland coverstar Charli XCX, “Crazy Crazy”, drops January 18, 2017.
Where did your stage name come from?
My nickname back in high school was Kyary. When I first did my photo-shoot for a magazine, instead of using my real name I wanted to go with a stage name. However “Kyary” didn’t seem interesting enough, and I added “Pamyu Pamyu” just because the sound of it was cute.
You’re the princess of Kawaii Harajuku Culture! What do you think it is about Harajuku and J-POP that people absolutely love?
My understanding of “Harajuku Fashion” is “one of a kind” that you don’t see anywhere else. My encounter with Harajuku Fashion was when I was searching for outfits that no one would have. Harajuku is full of stores that carry clothing and small accessories that you have never seen before. If that is the side of Harajuku culture that appeal to people outside Japan, I am very grateful.
Why do you love working with your producer Yasutaka Nakata? What’s your collaboration process like?
I have been a huge fan of his work way before my career took off. I still have a great respect for him. Whenever we go out for dinner or coffee, he picks up from our conversation the ideas for the next songs. Bits and pieces from our casual conversation, he can create something that’s so me.
What influences your aesthetic? Your style is so cute!
Many things influence me. I am always trying to surprise people, just “kawaii” is not good enough for me. my stage wardrobe is something I put my effort very much.
Where do the ideas for your videos come from?
Yasutaka Nakata usually writes music for me, which I listen to very closely, to come up with my own interpretation for the video. Also there are video directors and creative staff who also pitch in a lot of ideas.
You’ve collaborated on a ride for Universal Studios Japan – how did you get involved and what’s the experience like?
It’s a VR roller-coaster ride experience going through Computer Graphic images. My request was to include some scary characters, instead of decorating the ride only with cute stuff. I am very honored to be chosen – I wanted to do something special to celebrate my 5th anniversary, and this project was very special, so exciting!
You’re the most followed female celebrity in Japan!! How do you think social media has helped your career?
Social media is a very strong tool to connect with the rest of the world. If television and radio were the only options for me to share my output, then it would have been limited just in Japan. My fans outside Japan for sure found me on social media, the internet including YouTube, etc… which I am so grateful for.
Tell us about your “5 Years Monster” tour and greatest hits album!
It was my 5th anniversary last year, and I toured around the world with the “5 Years Monster” tour and my Best Of album was released, which made me appreciate my fans love and staff’s support. As the new year began, I am more encouraged than ever, to deliver you my music and great new stuff!