Tune in on Wednesday, September 27th @ 1PM when Jack The Stripper hosts Japanese four piece band, CHAI, for a live in-studio interview before they hit the stage at SF’s The Independent later that same night.
CHAI is a four-piece band formed by miracle twins MANA and KANA, and the super rhythm section YUUKI and YUNA. They dub themselves the “NEO-New Exciting Women Band”.
The group’s new self-titled album finds CHAI returning to their roots, drawing inspiration from their Japanese cultural heritage and the music that raised them. “Everything reflected in the lyrics expresses our experience as Japanese women,” MANA says, explaining why they chose to self-title this album. CHAI’s ethos is one of inclusion, and lead single “We The Female!” – recorded live off the floor to honor the band’s riotous performances – beckons all listeners into the mission. “We are human and were born as female, but we have both female and male aspects in each of our souls, each with our own sense of balance,” CHAI said in an accompanying statement. “We can’t just label ourselves into clear-cut, simple categories anymore! I’m not anyone else but just ‘me,’ and you are no one else but just ‘you.’ This song celebrates that with a roar!”
Each CHAI album borrows aesthetic inspiration from specific musical movements, and on this album, the quartet wanted to make direct comparisons to city pop, a Tokyo-born sound popularized in the ‘70s and ‘80s. City pop was a Japanese take on Western lounge music, borrowing from jazz, boogie, funk, and yacht rock to create a sound that straddle two cultures. Only recently has city pop become a pop culture phenomenon in the U.S. thanks in part to TikTok and YouTube exhuming songs by artists like Tatsuro Yamashita, but for CHAI, city pop was just the music of childhood. They tapped previous collaborator Ryu Takahashi to produce, who shared their love of city pop and eurobeat, as well as the melodies of J-pop artists like Maria Takeuchi, which also contributed to the CHAI moodboard. “They wanted to dig into their Japanese identity, not in a traditional sense, but in this filtered Western way,” Takahashi says.
Photo Credit: Yoshio Nakais