TOTT 2016 #9: KERO KERO BONITO
Today’s top tip for 2016 is London group Kero Kero Bonito (KKB). Their name comes from the Japanese onomatopoeic word for frog croaks. The music this trio create is not at all like the pond dwelling creatures they drew namesake inspiration from. Though KKB have an undeniable spring in their step, their tracks are squeaky clean and intensely pop.
When producer friends Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled became increasingly interested in Japanese music, they wanted to collaborate with someone from the country. They put an advert up on MixB, an ex-pat community board for Japanese people living in London.
As fate would have it, one of the responses was from artist Sarah Midoiri Perry. After realising that they had a lot in common not only in music but in childhood nostalgia, Kero Kero Bonito was born. The trio have now safely established themselves as one of the most individual around.
Their first mixtape, ‘Intro Bonito’ was a showcase of all the music they had made together. KKB encompass a lot of the stronger electronic based alternative trends, such as PC music, dancehall and 80s synth pop. It showcases their innocent, though slyly tongue-in-cheek hyper pop.
Another individual spin that KKB have lies in Midori’s bilingualism. She often flits between the two languages. “I prefer to write in both languages because in my head I see it as one while thing- I find it really satisfying when I manage to make English Rhyme with Japanese it feels like I’m connecting two different worlds.” Said Perry to Us Blah + Me Blah.
One the best examples one of the biggest tracks from the mixtape is ‘Sick Beat’ which tackles the issue of women playing video-games. Flitting between English and Japanese under some bouncy electronics the outcomes has some surprising comparisons towards MIA.
Lobban and Bulled are both self-confessed ‘synth nerds’ and there’s some serious polished production in KKB’s music. The vocals and the over saturated pop results in the sounding like a distant cousin of all PC Music. Fittingly Lobban also performs as PC Music signed artist Kane West.
‘Flamingo’ is about a girl wonder about how flamingos get their colour, with almost nursery rhyme chanting about shrimp, but it does have a more poignant theme of racial equality. It’s bouncy, with endless layers of snazzy keyboard featuring flutes and 8 bit it all comes together to make a surprisingly palatable sound. It’s sporadically fun which is much of what the group are about.
The groups debut album ‘Bonito Generation’ sees the expansion of their sound, into something even more polished and confident.
Lead single ‘Graduation’ is an uplifting, bass heavy and Mario-kart sampling banger about finally finishing university. Again having subtle critiques towards the education system, which let’s face it, we can all relate to on some level. It feels like there isn’t a topic that KKB won’t write about.
If you don’t take the time to understand what Kero Kero Bonito are about, it could be easy to dismiss them. When people take music so seriously, it’s fun to see an act teeter on innocence and fun but focus on some interesting, cultural themes with some saccharine production. It won’t be long until the trio are well known and have amassed a cult following. To top it all off their tracks also make for some pretty entertaining gym music.
Words by Tilly Dowman and Tipped by Kerri Mark Sharp
View the full TOTT 2016 countdown HERE
Generator North East, The Manse, Kingsland Church Studios, Priory Green, Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 2DW
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