Monday, October 4, 2010

Negoto: Four girls form Chiba making it cool to play gigs in pajamas

 ねごと - Negoto -

Negoto is: Sachiko Aoyama [Vocals/Keyboards] Mizuki Masuda [Guitar/Chorus]
                  Yu Fujisaki [Bass/Chorus] Sayako Sawamura [Drums/Chorus]

Who knew that 4 girls barely out of high school would rise up and take the Japanese Indie underground by storm in such short time? Maybe this story seems ever so common in the Japanese music scene nowadays, record labels snatching up fresh new faces before they've even had time to get through college, but Negoto's story is one that I won't forget any time soon because I've seen it unfold before my eyes.

I first wrote about these 4 girls in pajama's (Negoto is sleep talk in Japanese) in my first blog post on the music event Senkou Riot 2008. The girls took home the judge’s choice prize. Instead of being propelled into the major-label music race, Negoto parachuted back down to earth to take their college entrance exams a year after the contest, halting their live activity until Fall 2009. Thereafter, Negoto played gigs in the Tokyo underground and slowly built up their reputation as a force to be reckoned in the club scene.

On February 6, 2010 a line of people waited eagerly outside of Shimokitazawa Garage, a popular underground venue in the heart of the live-house scene, for the opening of Okuchi Po-kan Fest ~Hana yori Negoto?~ (If you ask me, I'd take Negoto over flowers any day) a three-band event hosted by the four girls from Chiba featuring mikansei vs shinsekai, Suey, and Yoru no Yume. Even if Shimokitazawa Garage isn't exactly Budoukan, Negoto played to a full house that night, selling out the venue, which is rather uncommon for a new band hosting their first event. The next three events also sold out.

This was only an indication of good things to come. In no time, Sony Music, the company behind the Senkou Riot competition years earlier, took Negoto under their wing and set out to launch the girls into stardom. The band's website, a small page meant for mobile phones, was replaced by one set up by Sony Music, containing flashy professional graphics, a preview video, and of course no trace of the Negoto of the past. In a matter of months, and only a few Okuchi Po-kan fests later, Negoto was now playing with veterans like sleepy.ab, launching their debut mini-album at the end of September, and slated to play their first one-man live(a concert featuring just them) at the end of the year. Did I mention this was in a matter of months? It doesn't sound too bad for a band that only released a two-song demo CD.

With that said, what is it about Negoto that gets people going? These girls must be doing something right for them to get all this attention in such short time and exposure; the band has so far only "officially" released the song "Loop" on the Senkou Riot compilation and the aforementioned two-song demo only released at concerts. Quality over quantity must be Negoto's motto, because if "Loop" is any indication of what the band's other material is like then I'm sure it must be nothing less than excellent. For such young girls, the musicianship is almost too good to be true. Sweet vocals, harmonies that make you swoon, dreamy synth lines, and a backing band that sounds like it came from years of playing with other underground acts. And of course, you can't deny the fact that seeing four girls in pajamas tear up the stage at a small club in this fashion isn't something you see or hear every day.

I honestly felt like I heard stardom calling out to Negoto from very early on. How could you deny a record deal to these cute girls doing no wrong and all right with their music? After hearing the Senkou Riot compilation I followed the girls' web page closely, and noticed that slowly but surely they were playing gigs with more bands whose names were familiar, and more venues I knew the location of. When I found out they sold out their first event I was certain they had something going and with this Indie-band boom taking hold of Japan recently I knew it was only a matter of time before they hit the big time. I could have seen them about a week before they played their first sold out event, but unfortunately I didn't have time that day in my Japan trip and had more important matters to attend to. Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to see them in such an intimate venue anymore, but I'm sure glad that they'll be getting the attention they deserve, which is all fine by long as their music is good I can guarantee I'll keep listening.

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