Interview by DJ Greg Hignight (Tune in Tokyo)
July 12th, 2014
J-Pop duo FEMM arrived in early 2014, revealed to the world through a series of slick, high-concept music videos (“Fxxk Boyz Get Money”, “Kill The DJ”) backed by an array of talented producers and songwriters from both sides of the Pacific. The result is a catchy, provocative, and thoroughly modern blend of J-Electro, American electrohop and Eurodisco starring the world’s first mannequin pop stars, RiRi and LuLa. As FEMM (Far-East Mention Mannequin) prepares to make their U.S. debut at Tokyo in Tulsa this weekend. NekoPOP had a chance to interview the group, as interpreted by their managers, Honey-B and W-trouble.
RiRi and LuLa are the world’s first mannequin pop group. How did FEMM come together?
Honey-B: Dolls and mannequins have long been oppressed by humans. RiRi and LuLa are two highly intelligent mannequins with special skills, and they stood up to protect and fight for the rights of abused and abandoned mannequins. W-Trouble and I have the responsibility to support RiRi and LuLa’s activities and act as their agents.
FEMM debuted with a series of mysterious videos filmed around Tokyo. Just what were RiRi and LuLa doing in those videos?
Honey-B: Last summer, RiRi and LuLa were secretly brought to the surface of the Earth from their head office, which is located at the bottom of Tokyo Bay. In order for them to get to know more about human society, they were sent to Akihabara, Shibuya, and many other bustling districts to observe and study.
W-trouble: That was the first time for them to see the outside world. They were shocked to see how carelessly humans treated mannequins.
Honey-B: Yeah… that’s when they decided to form their own movement. They started “FEMM-Ization” and “femm.jp” as a way to attract more followers. At this time, they have expanded their activities to America. Please give them a warm welcome.
What’s it like to be mannequins who are performing in the human pop music world?
Honey-B: They are not able to communicate verbally like human beings… because they are mannequins. Since last year, they have interacted with more things and people. They realized that they could communicate easily with the whole world through pop music. It is the perfect medium to expand their movement. (FEMM-Ization) Is it possible for mannequins’ songs to change this world? Even we cannot predict the future, but we believe in their potential.
FEMM’s songs have been crafted by an impressive roster of global talent, including Brian Lee (Lady Gaga) and other American and Japanese producers. How would you describe FEMM’s sound?
W-trouble: Totally hot and catchy tracks. The collaboration of world-famous music producers, and the performances of these mannequin girls create an interesting “chemical reaction”.
FEMM’s debut EP features a cover of “UFO” by Pink Lady – the Japanese female pop duo that appeared on U.S. television in 1980. What does it feel like to be coming to the U.S. to perform, just like Pink Lady did 30 years ago?
W-trouble: We love Pink Lady. Their mega hits and iconic choreography totally ruled all over Japan back in the day, and got attention in the US too. We are excited to have FEMM perform in the US just like Pink Lady did. We appreciate FEMM’s US fans and their support, especially for LuLa. We don’t really care about RiRi.
Honey-B: Awww, please ignore what W-trouble just said, we definitely need to support RiRi too!
You’ve worked with choreographers like Hidali (World Order) and will.i.am. What was the most challenging thing about learning the intricate choreography for the music videos like “Astroboy”?
W-trouble: Hidali is a truly creative team. Even though some of the movements were complex and challenging to learn, they were very patient with FEMM. They are real gentlemen, and treat mannequins with great care and respect.
Honey-B: In FEMM’s 1st MV, “Astroboy” Hidali was able to interpret their unique characteristics through their cutting-edge choreography. Don’t forget W-Trouble and I did the rap at the beginning. We wanted to show our support for FEMM’s mission.
FEMM’s songs feature catchy English lyrics. For RiRi and LuLa, which lyrics are your favorites?
W-trouble: LuLa really likes “Kiss The Rain.” LuLa is more of a homebody, but she has a lot of inner strength, which is expressed in this track. It starts with a soft melody but then the strong beats come in. That’s LuLa’s favorite part.
Honey-B: RiRi is a combat mannequin and she loves “Kill the DJ.” She rocked the military costume.
RiRi and Lula both assume different identities through fashion and costuming in their music videos. What are their favorite looks, and how would they describe their individual styles?
Honey-B: Like we just said, RiRi’s and LuLa’s roles are hugely different. RiRi uses her combat skills to fight the anti-mannequins. She is really aggressive and takes on any challenge. She feels most comfortable in her military gear. LuLa’s responsibility is to heal wounded mannequins, including RiRi. They depend on one another.
W-trouble: That’s right! RiRi can’t live without LuLa! She is a very good at taking care of other mannequins. That’s why the nurse costume suits her best.
Users can log into your official website and create avatars to explore the world of FEMM. What can people expect from joining your virtual reality?
Honey-B: Thank you for checking out FEMM.jp. We launched this website for mannequins and their human supporters to keep them posted on FEMM’s latest news. To join our agency, please log in with your SNS account and sign up as an agent. Select your mannequin to support and you are ready to go. Welcome to the FEMM team.
What kind of player roles can people assume when they login?
Honey-B: You log on as an agent or as a mannequin. And experience virtual cos-play. You can really understand what it’s like to be a mannequin.
It sounds as though players can also be human agents, too?
Honey-B: Some of you might feel uncomfortable playing as a mannequin, then please just log in as an agent and let your friend play the mannequin role. Your account can be shared by two players.
What else can you tell us about FEMM’s virtual world?
Honey-B: In order to invite our agents to spread the word about FEMM through SNS, we’ve created a virtual currency called “MENTIONS.” Soon you will be able to redeem your MENTIONS for special prizes.
Please tell our readers what to expect from your U.S. debut at Tokyo in Tulsa. What special message do you have for J-Pop fans in the U.S.?
W-trouble: We are excited to have FEMM perform in the US for 1st time. Their show is totally unique and is a must see.
Honey-B: FEMM will be performing up close and personal with their fans in Tulsa and we are honored to be a part of this amazing event. FEMM are quite lovable mannequins. Fans will have a chance to see them and take photos with them throughout the weekend.
W-trouble: Please join our FEMM party!
Image credit: avex/FEMM
FEMM website: http://femm.jp/
YouTube「FEMM’S AGENCY SYNDICATE」Channel