Laneway Festival Singapore 2017

Indie band spread wings beyond Japan

Singer-rapper KOM_I (above) is part of the three-member Japanese indie band, Wednesday Campanella, which will play at the Laneway Festival on Saturday.
Singer-rapper KOM_I (above) is part of the three-member Japanese indie band, Wednesday Campanella, which will play at the Laneway Festival on Saturday.PHOTO: ONITSUKA TIGER

Quirky Japanese electronic pop trio Wednesday Campanella's singer goes only by her stage name, KOM_I (pronounced "koh-mu-eye"), and she has a practical reason for not revealing her real name.

"If I go by my real name, the next time I go to a clinic and they call my name, the other people will recognise me and I try to avoid that," the 24-year-old explains via a translator in a telephone interview from Tokyo.

Wednesday Campanella will play their first gig in Singapore at the Laneway Festival at Gardens by the Bay on Saturday. The band, together with rapper Kohh, are the first Japanese acts on the Laneway line-up.

A rising act in the indie scene in Japan, the band are not content with just the home crowd - they are also raring to take on the world.

It is the reason the band took on their current name for audiences outside of Japan and started giving English titles to their recent songs. Back home, they still go by their old moniker - Suiyoubi no Campanella - which they have been using since they formed in 2012.

  • BOOK IT /LANEWAY FESTIVAL SINGAPORE 2017

  • WHERE: The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive

    WHEN: Saturday, from 10am

    ADMISSION: $185 for standard tickets, $166.50 a ticket for purchases of five or more tickets, from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555); $200 at the door

    INFO: Ticket buyers can collect their wristbands from now to Friday at H&M (Orchard Building) from 10am to 10pm. Each wristband comes with a 20 per cent discount for one item at H&M. Take along a Sistic ticket or a clear print-out of the e-mail confirmation; a valid NRIC, passport or FIN card; and the credit card used for the purchase. For more details, go to singapore.lanewayfestival.com/

  • LANEWAY SET TIMES WHITE ROOM

    12.05pm - Bottlesmoker

    1.30pm - A/K/A Sounds (Attagirl!)

    2.55pm - Sampa The Great

    4.20pm - Kohh

    5.45pm - Poptart

    8.45pm - Mick Jenkins

    10.15pm - Mr Carmack

    CLOUD STAGE

    12.45pm - Froya

    2.10pm - Sam Rui

    3.35pm - T. Rex

    5pm - NAO

    6.30pm - White Lung

    8pm - Bob Moses

    9.30pm - Clams Casino

    11pm - Floating Points (DJ set)

    GARDEN STAGE

    11.50am - Stars and Rabbit

    1.30pm - Luca Brasi

    3.10pm - Astreal

    4.50pm - Gang of Youths

    6.30pm - Whitney

    8.10pm - Tourist

    9.50pm - Glass Animals

    BAY STAGE

    12.40pm - Tash Sultana

    2.20pm - Wednesday Campanella

    4pm - Aurora

    5.40pm - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

    7.20pm - Jagwar Ma

    9pm - Tycho

    10.45pm - Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker)

"At that moment, we didn't really think about doing music outside of Japan," singer and rapper KOM_I says of their early days. "When we started to go abroad to do our music, we decided to change it to Wednesday - it's easier outside of Japan."

Both names are a reference to the day the group have their weekly project meetings.

While the band have been billed at major music festivals in Japan such as Summer Sonic and Rock In Japan, they played their first overseas show only early last year, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals in Texas, the United States.

They have since played in San Francisco and Taiwan.

"In the US, we get a really different reaction from the audiences," says KOM_I. "Whenever they want to dance, they dance. The audiences in Japan, I need to unfreeze them, like ice. I need to make them relaxed first and then they can enjoy the show."

While the band also comprise producer Hidefumi Kenmochi and director Dir.F, only KOM_I appears in their live shows, music videos and promotional materials. The other two prefer to remain behind the scenes.

"It's like I'm doing karaoke on a stage," she says of appearing alone at their live shows.

Kenmochi and Dir.F first met in 2011 and the band were solidified the following year after they met KOM_I at a house party and invited her to be their singer.

They uploaded their early songs on YouTube and released a debut CD, Suiyoubi no Campanella Demo 1, that same year and started gigging in 2013.

The band had several releases, including five albums, under independent label Tsubasa Records. This was before they signed on to a major record company, Warner Music, which released the latest album UMA, last year.

The title is an acronym of Unidentified Mysterious Animals and each song is named after mostly mythical creatures such as the phoenix, kraken and yeti.

"With the album, we wanted to create like a zoo with animals. Listening to the track is like opening a door and finding each of the creatures behind it. Listening to the album is like an adventure that nobody has been on."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Indie band spread wings beyond Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe