Kid Pop Hip Hop

Kiiiiiii is as kooky as their name implies; one K with seven I's.  Maybe it's their love for children's television, Queen, Neu!, Michael Jackson, Rage Against the Machine, and Kraftwerk, or maybe it's just their undeniable force as a female power weirdo duo, but they are as infections as SARS.  Kiiiiii is Utako Tayama and Reiko Tada and as they say on their English language .com website, "When we met each other for the first time, we were 12 years old.  Since then, we have been special friends like DJ & KIMMY in "FULL HOUSE"!"  

After their young and special meeting, Tayama, or U.T., and Tada, or Lakin', formed a band in 2000 bringing more fun into the world and playing original, unusual, and cheerful music.  Without an official CD release, Kiiiiiii quickly became an extremely popular live band in Tokyo. They have received countless requests for live appearances at various venues: rock clubs, art galleries, museums, art schools, bookstores, and cramped bars. In 2003, they played the massive Tokyo music festival "In the City," at the personal invitation of Geoff Travis, the owner of the UK's legendary Rough Trade label and one of the main producers of the festival.

In 2004, professors and iconic artists Keiichi Tana-ami and Keiji Ito announced Kiiiiiii as "special guest professors" of Kyoto Art University.  In 2005 Kiiiiiii put out a 7-inch single, entitled, Kiiiiiii Vol I., which features the song, "4 little joeys." In 2007 they released a record under their Indie label Best PET called AL & BUM.  In March of 2007, Kiiiiiii embarked on their first U.S. tour with a stop at "South by SouthWest" Music Festival in Austin, TX.  

Kiiiiiii's single, "4 little joeys" has a musical style that rests near Nintendo, but resides in minimalist acoustic and electronic composition.   With raw in-your-face drum and vocal attacks, a dash of pure noise and distorted fuzz-rap, "4 little joeys" is exemplary of what Kiiiiiii is all about.  They also filmed and produced the "4 little joeys" music video.

Kiiiiiii released a DVD in 2006 entitled "Gold and Silver," which is sold through their website and described as a thirty minute dive into "the crazy little thing called Kiiiiiii." With the help of their good friends, Kiiiiiii wrote and directed the movie, which includes skits, movie parodies, promotional videos, and live footage.  But wait there's more: all orders come with special effects, set pieces, stuffed animals, and hand puppets.

Working with DJ Comodo as their producer on Kiiiiiii Vol I. and AL & BUM, the kid-pop-hip-hop duo certainly has hit acclaim in Tokyo.  DJ Comodo's selected work includes not only producing Kiiiiii's releases, but also remixing Cornelius, DELAWARE, Buffalo Daughter and Shugo Tokumaru.  He has also collaborated with The Andersens, and directed Buffalo Daughter's music video, "Peace."

It is interesting to see such acclaimed artists, each in their own right, produce such art together.  They seem to have innocence about them that they bring to the stage, saying, "We are still 14, we are playing and jumping around, alone in our room, with puppets." Their music and art make me wonder how they developed such influences and tastes.  To the everyday listener, perhaps they belong on "Barney," but when their style of rock, hip-hop, and progressive music finds its niche, Kiiiiiii will be the seminal band of a kid-pop-hip-hop scene.

On a more personal note, U.T. is married to W. David Marx, musician and founder of the acclaimed Japanese cultural blog site, and has since become a mother in April of 2008, putting the band on hiatus. We hope they will return again to rock our inner child straight outta' Compton (Tokyo).




Posted by Eric Mintz