In Japan, producer Yasutaka Nakata is a legend — for over two decades, his tracks have gleefully pushed J-pop to its creative limits. He’s made some of the best pop earworms this side of the millennium, like superstar trio Perfume’s “Nee” and eccentric Harajuku artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's “PONPONPON.”
Nakata’s signature style is to autotune, splice, and multi-track vocals, placing them fully in thrall to his trancey, dance-pop synths.
His new track, “Crazy Crazy” f. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Charli XCX, is a shift towards a slightly more western sound (credit that to Charli, who wrote this track). But the video is just as bizarre as anything by Kyary: Charli’s face is scrappily swapped onto a model wearing a Sailor Moon-esque two-piece, while Kyary’s is superimposed onto a bikini-clad drummer, and Nakata himself accompanies both on the piano.
In an email to The FADER, Kyary explained a little more about the collaboration: "I recorded vocals in Tokyo and Charli recorded in L.A., and then the song was pieced together. But I’ve actually met Charli twice — first in Japan in 2014, and then she came to see my show in London. I think she’s a powerful artist, and I was surprised that we were around the same age because she seems so much like an adult. I hope everyone enjoys the weird world we created in this video! It presented a few challenges — it was very hard to perform only using my face, so I tried to vary my expressions as much as I could.”
Also over email, Nakata added: “Artists like PC Music from the U.K., Madeon from France, and people from all over the world tell me that my music inspires them. I think these kinds of comments mean that music can break borders. Japanese people think that producers here are followers of western producers — but I want to prove them wrong. So this year, I’m planning to release more tracks featuring more artists. Even if their music is different from what I do, I want to try to blend their voice into my music. That’s the fun part of collaboration.”