Queen of Japan

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Queen of Japan is a music trio from Europe, known for its synthpop sound and cover versions of hits from the 1970s and 1980s.[1]

Career[edit]

Headrush (2002)

Queen of Japan's 1999 debut EP Mercury Rising (a reference to Freddie Mercury) features new wave-sounding versions of Queen songs and is probably the basis for the group's name.[2]

The trio's versions of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" (originally hits for Joan Jett and Rod Stewart, respectively) appear on several different compilation CDs. Their version of "I Was Made for Loving You" (a hit for KISS) was featured on the award-winning short movie Icicle melt starring Greta Scacchi.[3][4]

Some of their cover songs, such as "Mother" (written and originally recorded by John Lennon) and "Wanted Man" (written by Bob Dylan for Johnny Cash) infuse an electronic sound into songs which previously had a different style. They have also covered songs by Soft Cell, The Who, Olivia Newton-John, Marvin Gaye, Duran Duran, Thin Lizzy, Klaus Nomi and Frank Zappa.[4]

Remixes of Queen of Japan's work have appeared on a CD by DJ Keoki. Their music has also been featured at Fashion Week and appears on two CDs of music thereof.[5] [6][7]

One reviewer writes:

Queen of Japan [...] manage to inject their brand of sleazy sexuality into this revivalist template. I can’t say this is original stuff, but in all its worrying energy and zany spunk, it’s actually quite a lot of fun. At times it even reminds me of Blondie (which is a good thing!) if their over-reliance on cheesy retro sounds was curbed slightly, they might even stumble across a decent track every once in a while.[8]

A review for the CD Foreign Politics describes:

You'd think that after the success of the sex-citing cover CD Head-Rush, (an album of full of electric-socket boogie-nights versions, which could be mistakingly [sic] described as electroclash) [...] the glitter-spangled threesome [...] would carry on playing the high-voltage karaoke-sex-machine for a generation who grew up between Saturday Night Fever & Flashdance, Repo Man & Alien [...] But Queen of Japan are not just your run-of-the-mill cheeky anarchistic electro-karaoke dandies [...but are instead] A tour de force in discology."[9]

Identity[edit]

As is often the case with artists on the electronic music scene, the identity of Queen of Japan is more complex than casual inquiry reveals. Neither their official website nor their page on My Space explains it. It is, however, an "open secret" and is discussed in interviews and on other websites.[3][10][11]

Credited group members are Koneko (vocals), Jo Ashito (vocals, guitar) and Jason Arigato (bass guitar). Their website features the following description "translated from the japanese by arakiha miho":

The band naming their persons queen of Japan was not always in the threesome they hold to their beating hearts today [..] After many tours of hard sexual energy and costume change the queen of Japan became known well across country and town never giving in to a life of modest no glamour [...] Schools will replace sexual theory lessons with headrush album in order to save the money of tax pay. Queen of Japan influence politics and reforming. Everybody loves everybody and fun and feeling.[3][12]

Despite the name of the band and the Japanese-sounding names (actually stage names) of its members, the group has no direct connections to Japan and no member of the trio is of Japanese ethnicity.[13]

Catriona Shaw (a.k.a. Koneko, Miss le Bomb), a Scot and the youngest member of the band, is the lead singer and was hailed as a "new exceptional singer". The first Queen of Japan CD "Mercury Rising" only features Platzgumer and Shaw as a duo. Her vocal talents are also featured on the CD Miss Me credited as "HP:CS" (Hans Platzgumer:Catriona Shaw) as well as with Electronicat.[9][14][15][16]

Hans Platzgumer (a.k.a. Jo Ashito, Separator, Disko B), is an Austrian-born musician and music producer and lead guitarist/backing singer. He is co-founder (with Andi Pümpel) of the Grammy-nominated NYC band HP Zinker in the late 1980s and is member the punk band Die Goldenen Zitronen (founded 1986 in Hamburg) since the late 90s. More recently he has collaborated with other artists and released music under such codenames as Convertible, Aura Anthropica, Cube & Sphere, Fingerfood, and Shinto.[9][14][17][18]

Albert Pöschl (a.k.a. Jason Arigato), Queen of Japan's bass player and co-producer, is from Bavaria and has a diverse portfolio as a musician and music producer. He has worked as a sound technician for various bands including Chicks on Speed and Die Goldenen Zitronen, which is presumably where he and Platzgumer made their acquaintance. He joined Queen of Japan in 1999, one year after they had formed.[14][15][16]

Discography[edit]

Queen of Japan's music is mostly available via European independent record labels. Some of their work was originally released on vinyl records (facilitating their use in dance mixes through traditional, non-digital DJ-ing methods) but were later released as compact disks.[19]

  • Mercury Rising (1999) compact disk, label: Angelika Koehlermann
  • I Was Made for Loving You (2000) 12" vinyl record, label: Hausmusik
  • Physical (2001) 12" vinyl record, label: Echokammer
  • Cool Cat/Total Eclipse (2001) 10" vinyl record, label: Fortina
  • Nightlife in Tokyo (2001) LP vinyl record, label: Erkrankung Durch Musique
  • Nightlife in Tokyo (2001) compact disk, label: Angelika Koehlermann. Later re-released as Tokyo Rising in 2006 with added material.
  • Headrush (2002) LP vinyl record, label: Erkrankung Durch Musique
  • Headrush (2002) compact disk, label: Echokammer. Released in Japan by Sausage Records.
  • Kings, Queens, Wasps & Lust (2003) LP vinyl record, label: QOJ
  • Foreign Politics (2004) LP vinyl record, label: Erkrankung Durch Musique
  • Foreign Politics (2004) compact disk, label: Echokammer
  • Tokyo Risen (2006) compact disk, label: Echokammer

In addition, many Queen of Japan songs have appeared on compilations. For example, "Mother" appeared only on a Mother's Day compilation before its inclusion in Tokyo Rising and "Wanted Man" is among those songs on the tribute album Boy Named Sue: Johnny Cash Revisited.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Singer Ayumi Hamasaki is commonly referred to as "Empress of J-pop" but has also been referred to as "Queen of Japan" on occasion. She is unconnected with the musical group discussed here.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  Queen of Japan Press Clipping
  3. ^ a b c [2] Queen of Japan Website
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 28, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  Forced Exposure CD reviews
  5. ^ [3] CD Universe: Kill the CD by DJ Keoki
  6. ^ [4] Rolling Stone Reviews: Fashion Week I
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 2, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  Musicmatch Guide: Fashion Week II
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2007.  Bookat Independent Music Specialist
  9. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 27, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  Forced Exposure, Miss Me
  10. ^ [5] Queen of Japan My Space page
  11. ^ Many of the sources which discuss the artists behind the Queen of Japan personas are referenced herein in conjunction with specific facts.
  12. ^ This (pseudo?) Japlish explanation is also given on Queen of Japan's page on My Space. Much of the whole text is even less decipherable than the quote given here and seems designed or at least included to obfuscate Queen of Japan's identity and perhaps even to frustrate attempts at further inquiry. It does, however, note "They are a trio that pretended to be from Japan and are doing fab cover with disco!" which seems to indicate this text does come from a real third-party source rather than being entirely fabricated by the band to enhance the Japanese illusion of what Platzgumer's website calls "the fake-identity supergroup" Queen of Japan. Their so-called "press release Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine." .doc, attributed to a source in Vietnam, is almost as weird and unhelpful as the text which is quoted, in part, here.
  13. ^ As noted, electronic music groups often engage in some degree of obfuscation regarding their true identities and origins, but investigation did not reveal the motive behind of Queen of Japan's pretense of being Japanese. Plausibly, it is just a gimmick with no story behind it to discover.
  14. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  Sonomu: Queen of Japan
  15. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  Electronicat, 21st Century Toy
  16. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  Dancetracks Digital
  17. ^ [6] Gullbuy New Sound Review
  18. ^ [7] Hans Platzgumer Website
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 8, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2007.  This discography is compiled from information on Queen of Japan's website and, like the information there, does not differentiate between original release dates and dates of re-issue.