If you’re looking for a new musical act to blow your mind, look no further than Charisma.com (カリスマドットコム).
The electro-rap duo (yes, you read that right!) is composed of two Japanese women–MC Itsuka and DJ Gonchi–who will without a doubt knock your socks off with their genre-defying sound. Once you’ve listened to some of their work, you can say goodbye to peace and quiet because you’ll never get Gonchi’s catchy melodies or Itsuka’s fast and furious rapping out of your head. Impressively, over the past two years, their music has been steadily attracting attention from all corners of the world. Would you say that they’re on the path to complete global domination?
First of all, I suppose we should mention that both women are also ordinary OLs (a Japanese-coined English for “office ladies”) by day. Itsuka works for a company which makes small knickknacks, and Gonchi works for a company which manufactures precision equipment. During after-work hours, the women channel all of their inner rage into making attitude-laden, pumped-up beats, and you can bet that some of those spiteful lyrics come from the crap they have to put up with working as office ladies in Japan.
▼DJ Gonchi on the left, and MC Itsuka on the right
▼The duo again, in opposite positions
Charisma.com embarked on their musical partnership in 2011, releasing their debut mini album AI AI SHYNDROME (that’s not a typo) on July 10, 2013, which went on to win the Kanto regional award for the 2014 All Japan CD Shop Competition. After that, they gained a lot of attention and new fans playing at the annual Rock in Japan and Baycamp Festivals. Before long, their unique sound began attracting international ears and opening up even more doors, which included performing in holographic form at the reception of Louis Vuitton’s special exhibition in Tokyo in August 2013 and performing live overseas for the first time at Japan Expo in Bangkok 2014.
▼ Seriously, we’re not joking about the holographic thing!
Let’s now take a moment to get a feel for Charisma.com’s idiosyncratic sound.
First up is the music video for “Iinajike Blue,” off of their first full-length album DIStopping (released in June 2014). The video also features a “backup” chorus of junior high school students, who must have felt beyond gleeful to participate in such a non-traditional project:
▼ The cover of DIStopping
Next, check out the music video for “HATE,” a song off of their 2013 debut mini album. The song came about as a reaction to Japanese women using the word kawaii (“cute”) so much that the word has become effectively meaningless.
▼ The cover of “AI AI SHYNDROME”-having a bad hair day, ladies?
Finally, here’s a sample from their single “Chankoi”:
▼ The cover of Chankoi
Music hub Noisey Vice caught up with Charisma.com near the beginning of their entry into the international music scene. You can read the full interview transcript in English here for an insightful look into the inspirations behind their music and to get a taste of Itsuka and Gonchi’s true personalities.
Looking at the duo more recently, they recorded a collaboration single “Mummy Killer” with Japanese pop dance group Tempura Kidz last year and released their latest single “Tongari Young” on February 11, which was used as the theme song for the Japanese film The Boy who has Lifeless Eyes (死んだ目をした少年). Their official website also reveals a handful of upcoming gigs lined up in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Osaka heading into the summer months.
As for their current popularity, Charisma.com currently has no reason to worry, since net users are leaving the following comments on YouTube in a host of different languages from around the world:
“These are the coolest girls in Japan.”
“Japan and….every other country in the world??”
“Anyone know how to buy their stuff overseas?”
“Damn… This song is soooo catchy.”
“The girl with glasses looks like Bayonetta!”
Keep the good stuff coming this year as well, Charisma.com! Don’t let the office work get you too down.
You can purchase Charisma.com’s songs on iTunes Japan or from other music retailers found in Japan such as Tower Records, HMV, Tsutaya, or Amazon Japan. See the discography section of their official site for direct links.