apan has enjoyed a history of a broad range of electronic acts, from the likes of classic Technopop acts such as Yellow Magic Orchestra to the moody electronic compositions of Jesse Ruins.
This eclectic range of electronic artists on the Japanese music scene continues to be surprising, such as multimedia artist Julie Watai. To assign one role to Watai would be impossible. Here is someone who has established herself as a photographer, a multimedia artist and also a model (under the guise of Ai Amano). Then there’s her musical output in which she manages to pull in a variety of different influences to create very accessible electronic music. It’s no surprise that Julie has also managed to add on DJ and remixer to her many talents.
Her techno remix of Fist of the North Star title song ‘Tough Boy’ shows a love for the anisong genre as well as weaving in elements of chiptune. This approach also works wonders on the theme tune to classic anime Magical Emi where Julie plays around with tweaking and compressing her vocals to great effect. In fact this Vocaloid-esque approach to the vocals gives much of Julie’s remix work its charm and appeal.
For her latest musical adventures, Julie has collaborated with Toyoaki Mishima (better known for his work as sound programmer for Cornelius) and Hiroshi Masuyama as guest vocalist for their outfit mishmash*. There’s more of a subtle groove to mishmash* although the next planned release also manages to weave in another of Julie’s passions, this time for electronic cult toy Furby. ‘Go Furby Go’ is a dense layered electronic composition that features Julie managing to mix her vocals to emulate the distinctive squeak of a Furby. Clearly the manufacturers of Furby are hoping for a big revival for the furry nuisance as Momiro Clover Z have also been tapped separately to provide a song for a commercial.
But Julie’s interest in Furby goes way beyond collecting them. Instead, having an interest in all things electronic, she quite happily dismantles them and rebuilds it with tweaks and modifications to change the way it sounds.
Julie’s multi-discipline approach calls to mind the work of Sputniko! – another electronic artist whose work goes way beyond the boundaries of purely music. It’s this fascination for technology that also inspired Julie’s 2010 photo book Hardware Girls which features models placed in context with synths, arcade cabinets and computer racks.
Even with the forthcoming release of Go Furby Go on the way, it’s probable that Julie Watai is already planning her next remix or book idea or indeed Furby dissection!
Go Furby Go is released on 26th October.