New Favorite Band Alert: CHAI
It’s hard to feel happy these days. The news makes me sick, scared, and angry. I’m sure you are feeling the same way. All things kawaii give me an escape from all of those bad feelings. Yes, I care about what’s happening in the world and I do everything I can to be a good, responsible human. But for me, kawaii is a form of self care. Looking at cute stuff, working on cute projects, and listening to cute music: these are the things that keep me going.
So I was super excited to discover CHAI, a band made of four girls from Nagoya, Japan. They sound like I how I felt when I was at Sanrio Puroland. AKA SO FUCKING AWESOME AND HAPPY. Rather than write a long paragraph about them, I’m just going to list my FIVE favorite things about them. And then post some videos. You be the judge! Their 2017 album Pink is streaming on Spotify and I’ve heard rumors that they will be touring the U.S. soon. Let’s go together!
The band bills themselves as “neo-kawaii.” As they point out, outside of Japan, anything Japanese is labeled “kawaii.” Lame, right? And within Japan, “kawaii” evokes a certain traditional beauty construct: thin, big eyes, pale skin. And if you’re taller, darker, or hairier? Not kawaii. CHAI wants to change that. “Everyone has something about them that’s kawaii,” singer/keyboardist Mana says. “Being different from other people is kawaii. Being unique is kawaii.” Their video for “N.E.O.” features a diverse group of bodies and people. They are leading a movement in Japan (and globally) that believes so-called imperfections are beautiful.
2. Before every show, they chant “You guys are cute! We’re cute! We're awesome!”
3. They love pink. I mean, they named an album Pink! Embracing pink as an adult woman in Japan is feminist statement. And I would argue that it can be also be a bold move here in the U.S., where pink is often seen as the official color of little girls and vapid women. According to bassist Yuki, “There is this cultural understanding that when you’re a young girl, you can wear pink, but as you grow older, pink is not the color for you. What we are trying to say is that pink is for everybody at every age. We wanted people to know it’s a cool color and it shows woman power. “
4. On the topic of Yuki, she learned how to play the bass just because she wanted to join the band and that’s what they needed! So she worked hard and learned it in under a year.
5. The first song the band wrote together, “Gyaranboo,” is about body hair. Yuki summarizes it as “I’m hairy, oh well.” As you probably guessed, this is an edgy opinion in Japan. And to be honest, it’s also a progressive idea in the U.S, too. The average drugstore has nearly an entire aisle of hair removal implements for women!
Okay, so do you love CHAI now, too???