In 2001, Brilliant Green singer Tomoko Kawase launched her solo career under the character of Tommy February6 – a self-manufactured alter ego whose infectious melodies, distinctive visual appearance and amazing videos made a definite impact on the J-Pop scene. Singles such as ‘Everyday At The Bus Stop’, ‘Bloomin’!’ and ‘Kiss One More Time’ helped to pave the way.
Taking the name from her birthday, Tommy February6’s eponymous debut album in 2002 showcased her ability to weave in classic synthpop elements (Strawberry Switchblade are typical of the type of influence that Tommy February6 has referenced) with a fresh J-Pop sheen that brought a bright, euphoric sound. It was distinctive and yet also evocative and also arrived with a complete visual identity. Tommy February6’s image gave the impression of a stylized nervous bookworm who nonetheless was always spotted taking a crafty swig from a hip flask! Impressive dance routines were also part of the Tommy video package – usually delivered by backing cheerleaders.
A follow-up album, Tommy Airline, arrived in 2004 and a new persona was also developed around the same time – the J-Rock superstar Tommy Heavenly6.
‘Lonely In Gorgeous’ marked the last Tommy February6 single release, but it had all the hallmarks of brilliance that was evident on previous singles with a strident melody and crunchy, percussive production. The song was also the theme tune to anime Paradise Kiss and the video has several shout-outs to The Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ video.
A Best-Of album Strawberry Cream Soda Pop Daydream arrived in 2009, but that looked like the last call for Tommy February6.
But Kawase-san was clearly not content with retiring the character forever. Last year she gave hints of new material via her Twitter feed and this year those hints have matured into a new release.
A new double album is due for release later this month. February & Heavenly will be split equally between Tommy February6 and Tommy Heavenly6. Among the tracks featured for the album are ‘monochrome rainbow’ (also used as the second season ending song for the anime Bakuman) and ABBA cover ‘GIMME GIMME GIMME’. The track listing is as follows:
Disc 1 (Tommy February6):
GIMME GIMME GIMME
I’M YOUR ANGEL
MY FUTURE BOY
LAST SLOW DANCE
GOOD NIGHT MY SWEET DAY
I HOLD YOUR NIGHT
Disc 2 (Tommy Heavenly6)
CALL ME PRINCESS
HATE YOUR LIES
I’M YOUR DEVIL -SHORT-
YOU HURT ME
DARK DARK SKY
I’M YOUR DEVIL -HALLOWEEN REMIX-
A DVD extra features:
I’M YOUR DEVIL
February & Heavenly is released on February 29th, 2012.
Text and Tommy Illustration by Paul Browne
1st February 2012