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People We Don't Hate: Aira Mitsuki

Jan 28, 2018 9:16 am
HeadAssClown By HeadAssClown
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Born on September 21, 1988, Aira Mitsuki burst onto the Jpop scene just before her twentieth birthday. In August 2007 when she released her first single, titled "Colorful Tokyo Sounds NO.9", the J-Electro era had just taken hold.

It should always be remembered that the western copycat fad that was headed by Lady Gaga was a rip-off of the more geniune electronica musical shift ushered in by Yasutaka Nakata and other Japanese producers. Nakata began his work with vocalist Toshiko Koshijima in 2001, forming the duo "capsule". They significantly changed to a more retro synth style with their February 2007 album Sugarless Girl, and their next two albums (Flash Back and More! More! More!) followed suit. As usual, an American entrepreneur (Vincent Herbert) thought he would give it a try — with hip-hop mixed in and a whore as the vocalist — and it was called Lady Gaga. To most Americans, her August 2008 debut album The Fame was something "new" and "avant-garde", whereas it was really just a poor interpretation of the Japanese electropop movement.

Back in Tokyo, Aira Mitsuki had released her second single "China Discotica" in March 2008 and then followed with her first album later that year. C.O.P.Y was the polar opposite of The Fame, in that it featured an artist and producer, Mitsuki and Onishi Terukado of D-topia Entertainment, who were deeply fused with the electronic genre, rather than just out to make a quick buck. Predictably, C.O.P.Y sold only 5,010 copies in the first three weeks despite making the Oricon Top 50, whereas The Fame, along with its reissue, has now sold over 15 million copies.

Mitsuki's releases, and also those of her labelmate saori@destiny, found their place among the more digitally-lettered listeners of Akihabara, and those worldwide who matched their love for the underground synthetic sound. These were a select group even among the typical Japanese electro fans, the vast majority of which preferred Nakata's most bland group, and therefore most commercially successful group, Perfume. Some liked Perfume so much that, after years of listening, they were finally able to distinguish the voices of their three singers from one another.

Terukado found, in his Aira Mitsuki compositions, a sound that had the hard-edged nature of Nakata's capsule, but also a much greater degree of the Nihon-exclusive euphoria that those select fans adored. The music itself created wonderful visuals of the futuristic aspect of modern Japanese culture, and the cyberpunk style was fleshed out in the 2008 "GALAXY BOY" music video. Mitsuki flies in a Blade-Runner-esque car, and even has an artistic shadowed-elevator moment somewhat like Roy Batty did in the original film. It was a fitting tribute to her opening track of C.O.P.Y, which had fifteen more of its type on the regular edition. It was an album consistent in its musical focus and was not pulled in other directions. Whereas The Fame had many influences of glam rock, C.O.P.Y had a not-so-subtly sent message in its electronic version of "Rock'n Roll Is Dead".

Rather than wait for five years, like her contemporary La Roux (Elly Jackson) did, Mitsuki's 2nd album, PLASTIC, was released in July 2009. It had an aggressive and pulse-pounding electronic sound throughout, with one song bleeding well into the other. The opening track, "Robot Honey", was very memorable, as was its music video featuring Aira with her mini-counterpart. "Plastic Doll" and its pv formed a nice tribute to the artificiality of Japanese culture. "Summeeeeeeeer set" featured Aira's interaction with guest singer AYUSE KOZUE. The lip-syncing live DVD, Aira Mitsuki Special LiVE "090319" in LIQUIDROOM, left something to be desired, but the studio album itself was excellent and a step up from her first.

The year 2010 saw not one, but two releases from Aira. The first was a mini-album called 6 Force. Between the regular and limited editions, there were eight tracks. The five produced by Terukado were excellent ("HEAT MY LOVE", "Wonder touch", "lie days", "Yellow Submarine", and "display toy"). The three produced by Sawagi ("FAKE", "LEVEL5", "TURKEY") were horrible. Terukado had produced every track on the PLASTIC and C.O.P.Y albums. Thankfully, he granted us a 3rd Aira full-length album in November, titled ??? (Three Question). It was not as strong, but still very enjoyable — especially tracks "Human Future" and "fly", the latter of which was perhaps Aira's first dark-natured song.

When the ??? album was purchased at TOWER RECORDS or HMV, the package included a bonus cd featuring Aira Mitsuki's cover of either "I can't" or "Grotesque". Both of these were tracks by Terukado's other amazing electronic act, saori@destiny. It came as no surprise, but as a great gift to the fans, when a collaboration album named ×~PARK OF THE SAFARI was released on December 7, 2011. A very special album, they sing together on all tracks except for two. "Umbrella" is an Aira-only song, and "LAST SONG" by Saori is sadly just that. It was her swan song with the label.

Saori@destiny had one last concert at Shibuya Glad on April 1, 2012, and it appeared that Aira's finish might not be far off either. In August 2013, Terukado and Aira released what was obviously intended to be her last album for a while. I'LL BE BACK was a masterful capping of their autotuned, keyboarded productions. Every track was at least decent, and "Butterfly" was Aira's best song yet. The entire album has a lovably wistful mood, and the 12th track, "time machine", is an emotional swan song for Aira, like Saori's "LAST SONG" or the Eagles' "The Sad Cafe".

Aira and Saori's "hiatus" with D-topia Entertainment proved to be a departure, and it was now only a matter of if they would depart from music entirely. The producer of their signature sound was gone. They did not have the rights to perform their previously-recorded songs in concerts. Some fans speculated that they would get married and find other careers.

On July 9, 2014, their extended silenced was broken, as news surfaced that Saori would be returning as an indie artist. Instead of performing under the name saori@destiny, she would now be called Saoriiiii. After a few local concerts, she released her first indie single, an catchy song named "3cm Distance", followed by two more digital single releases. Perhaps inspired by her friend, Aira released "LIGHTSAVER" as a new digital single on September 21, 2015, which included two other tracks. Her new artist name was “AIRA” and then later “アイラミツキ”, and the new producer was IzeMac of the electro group NUXX. The single was physicially released a month later by AM Records.

Three more new singles followed: "Animo!", "Days", and "Detective A". Her post-D-topia work triumphantly culminated in a new studio album, Pyramidal, which was released on November 11, 2017. Aira, now 29 years old, starred in another adorable music video, for "Future In Loop". This and four other tracks made their first appearance with the album release, while five others had been selected from the previously-offered singles. The quality was up-to-par with her earlier work and at times even better.

While Lady Gaga and most Americans have long since abandoned their puppy love - or more accurately their cash cow love - of the electronic genre, Aira Mitsuki has overcome obstacles to continue her contribution. More than a decade from her initial release, with a new producer and new name, she is actively releasing songs that would fit well into her body of work and into the larger electropop movement. It probably will not make her rich and famous. After four months, her "Future in Loop" video had less than 15,000 views on YouTube. However, she will be admired as the rare musical artist who did not sell-out and who had an honest appreciation for their own style. Aira Mitsuki's career in music will be enjoyed by those who fit her interests and personality, rather than by those with the most dollars.

HeadAssClown is the mastermind behind the Brood Of Clowns circus. He created BOC as an alternative for people who aren't douche bags and dislike the typical stupid trash culture. In his free time, he enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, and asian pornography. He has had sex with over 300 women and at least 50 snakes.

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