J-rock girl group Scandal turn to pop
J-rock all-girl quartet Scandal are loving their unabashedly pop-oriented sound and use of auto-tune on new studio album Yellow
While today's pop charts are dominated by pumping electro beats and artists who auto-tune their vocals to perfection, such recording studio wizardry has generally been shunned by rock stars.
To many musicians, auto-tune - despite having been used for nearly two decades across songs of different genres - is still associated with massive over-production and "selling out".
In an e-mail interview with M, J-rock all-girl quartet Scandal begged to differ.
On the spunky Japanese foursome's latest single Sisters, 27-year-old singer-frontwoman Haruna Ono's auto-tuned robo-voice kicks off the upbeat track's opening bars for a good 20 seconds, then comes back on sporadically in the verse and chorus.
Most of Scandal's fans have taken to Sisters well, but on Scandal Heaven, the band's largest English-language online forum, there were netizens who expressed disappointment at the girls' decision to use auto-tune.
Guitarist Mami Sasazaki, 25, explained that using auto-tune was never about pandering to commercial tastes, but to reach out to more music lovers.
"It seems that auto-tune is one of the methods that can create an opportunity for people who are not accustomed to our rock style of music to give us a listen," she said.
"These days, there are many bands who introduce digital effects or EDM (electronic dance music) into their music.
"I believe to make new music, you need to dabble in various sounds."
Scandal, also comprising bassist Tomomi Ogawa, 25, and drummer Rina Suzuki, 24, released their seventh studio album, Yellow, earlier this month. It is available on iTunes.
Yellow is chockful of summery, cheerful tunes like Sisters, Stamp! and Love Me Do and is unabashedly pop-oriented, a departure from the group's heavy garage rock sound on their best-known hits Shunkan Sentimental and Shoujo S.
Sasazaki said that at the beginning, Yellow "wasn't meant to be" a pop album.
"We just knew that we wanted a 'happy' taste in our new album," she said. "Based on that feeling, we created happy melodies and lyrics spontaneously."
Ono added: "All the songs on Yellow were written by the four of us.
"Overall, the album has a very pop and funky feel. We really enjoyed recording Yellow and we hope everyone can bask in a happy atmosphere while listening to it."
Ogawa told M that while her all-time favourite bassist is Flea from US rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers, she was "inspired greatly" by US singer Cyndi Lauper as well as reggae legends Bob Marley and Phyllis Dillon during the recording of Yellow.
Scandal, who last played in Singapore in May last year, are returning to our shores for a concert in June.
Last year, they also made waves with their first international tour that included stops in the UK, France, Germany, Mexico and the US.
"That was a very fruitful tour," recalled Ogawa.
"Fans in Mexico were especially excited at our concert, it was as if they were watching a football game!"
Suzuki hopes that come June, Singapore fans will turn out in full force.
"We are planning to show you not only a great performance, but also our wonderful costumes," she teased.
We just knew that we wanted a 'happy' taste in our new album. Based on that feeling, we created happy melodies and lyrics spontaneously.
- Guitarist Mami Sasazaki
WHAT Scandal Tour 2016 "Yellow"
WHERE The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa
WHEN June 4, 8pm
TICKETS $98 to $398 from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or 6348-5555)