Introducing Interview: Tokyo Taboo

Having previously gained attention from the likes of Radio X and BBC Radio 1, riotous duo Tokyo Taboo create modern pop punk with their own, unique vibrant twist.

Set to release their wonderfully frantic, refreshingly honest, debut album later this year, we caught up with Dolly and Mike to discuss political inspirations, problems in the music industry and Manga…

Hi Tokyo Taboo, please introduce yourselves!
Hello! We are Dolly and Mike and together we are Tokyo Taboo!!

Tell us about the meaning behind the name Tokyo Taboo?
We love Japanese pop culture and like to be outspoken and discuss subjects that are considered ‘taboo’. Combine that together and you have Tokyo Taboo!

Your style is colourful and manga-like, tell us what’s the inspiration behind it?
Bright colours are our thing! Eighties fashion/anything that grabs your attention. Dolly loves Harajuku girls and drag queens. The combination of cute and creepy weird is something that Japan does really well!

You mix pop punk and rock, who are your main musical influences?
The visuals, stage presence, charisma and musical style of David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Karen O, Debbie Harry, Heart, Deap Vally, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Siouxsie Sue, Amy Winehouse..
Mike grew up listening to big guitar riffs and Dolly to crazy good singers: combine the two and that’s us inspired and at our best!

What do you think Tokyo Taboo are offering that’s different from other bands out there at the moment?
Honesty. We aren’t put together by a label or management company. We are our own bosses and call the shots. Everything is self funded, self written and starts and ends with us. We don’t care how many records we sell but care about our message and the quality of our music and visuals. We don’t do this to make money, we don’t have anything else we would spend our money on! Who needs a shiny car when you can play your own album that took a year to write, produce and record?

What do you think are the biggest problems of the music scene today?
The lack of opportunity for unsigned bands. There is a whole industry making money off the back of a band’s dream to make it big. Buy-ons are a huge problem. As are pay to play gigs. There are barely any revenue streams for musicians and not very many decent people out there. Most want to screw you over. Even the ones who warn you about the screwers still manage to screw you!

Your video for ‘Make It Out Alive’ is quite political, can you tell us more about this?
It’s very political indeed! The lyrics poured out after the vote to bomb Syria. There seemed to be such hopelessness. Continuous bombs thrown but to what end? We didn’t edit or censor the lyrics at all which I’m glad about. It’s pure angry frustration.

Do you think it’s important to mix music and politics and do you think people truly listen?
What is the point in music or any other art form if it doesn’t vent frustrations and shake people up a bit?
We didn’t decide to write a political song. ‘Make It Out Alive’ wrote itself! I think if you feel you want to comment on a political situation, then why not?!
A lot of young people feel unsettled by the policies of the Tory government, the Brexit situation, the racism and the hate crime on the increase, so it’s time someone spoke up for them.

Can you tell us more about your album that’s out later this year?
The album is our debut album and therefore it’s very special to us! We recorded it in two parts in a studio in downtown LA with the amazing Noah Shain. All self funded. The outcome of Dolly’s mid 20s life crisis! Lots of heavy lyrics and hookiness!

Where do you see the band in five years time?
We have learnt not to predict the future and prefer to live in the moment! We are so excited to be showcasing new music in our LA shows and in London also!
Onwards and upwards!

Huge thanks to Tokyo Taboo for answering our questions! 

6th Street Psychosis, the debut album from Tokyo Taboo, is out 25 November via TT Records.

Mari Lane

Mari Lane

Editor, London. Likes: Kathleen Hanna, 6Music, live music in the sunshine. Dislikes: Sexism, pineapples, the misuse of apostrophes.