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Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011

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Ziyoou-vachi (from left): Ruri-chan, Avu-chan, Yashi-chan and Gigi-chan

Ziyoou-vachi bring the heat to summer festival gigs

Special to The Japan Times

Seeing a performance by Ziyoou-vachi (Queen Bee) is to see a performance in every sense of the word. The four-piece formed in Kobe in 2009 and played a high-energy theatrical set at last year's Fuji Rock Festival. Building on that success, the band released debut album "Majo Gari" ("Witch Hunt") on their own label, Ziyoou Records. Having now been picked up by Sony Music, they've planned an assault on the charts with a followup album, due this autumn.

Ziyoou-vachi's sound is a pastiche of influences — much is in the vein of the swashbuckling rock swagger of their song "Matsuonna" ("Waiting Woman"). Singer Avu-chan's voice makes full use of the blurred line between male and female; her guttural growls often leaping to falsetto highs.

The Japan Times spoke to Avu-chan about the band's upcoming gigs and tried to find out what puts the sting in her tail.

So Avu-chan, summer in Japan means music festivals; did you go to many when you were growing up?

Do you know what? I hadn't actually been to a festival until we formed Ziyoou-vachi!

So as a performer then, what is one of your favorite festival memories?

What always sticks in my mind is how hot they are! Despite the heat though, we always have a ton of fun.

This year, you're playing both the Rising Sun and Arabaki festivals. How are you feeling about them?

We can't wait to hit the stage! For our sets this time, there's going to be plenty of decorations and even some stage effects.

When you play festivals, people may not know who you are. Does the band approach festivals differently from their own live shows?

We just try to do what we normally do on stage at clubs and hope it translates.

Your performances are so visual, is it hard to put your impact and energy into a recording?

No, it's easy! When we record, we get into our stage personas. We put on the costumes and makeup and re-create everything we would do in a live performance.

Is it important for people to see the performance though?

Of course, babe. We're a complete package!

Who are your musical influences?

There are so many! I'd say Perfume, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and the Kano sisters are big influences.

Really? That's surprising. Your sound seems so different to those artists.

No, it's true, our sound is born from all the artists we've seen.

Are there any bands at Rising Sun or Arabaki that you are looking forward to seeing?

After our own performance we will get out and try to see many bands. Festivals are about discovering new music.

You will also have a song featured in the new film "Moteki," are you excited about this?

Of course, we can't wait! Appearing on the big screen was a great experience. We will be thrilled to see it when it is released!

Would you ever like to try acting?

Ha ha, sure I'd try, if it was a totally awesome role — but of course, I'd have to be able to wear my usual makeup.

Ziyoou-vachi play the Crystal Palace stage at Rising Sun Rock Festival in Otaru, Hokkaido, on Aug. 12 (3:30 p.m.; ticket prices vary); and the Arabaki Rock Fest on Aug. 27 (ticket prices vary). The band play a special show at Fuurin Kaikain in Kabukicho, Tokyo, on Aug. 10 (6:30 p.m., masks required). "Moteki" will be released in cinemas on Sept. 23.

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