Getting To Know: Japan, Man
Introducing the electrifying alt-indie/pop sensation, Japan, Man, led by the exceptionally talented Lebanese-born teenager, Laeticia Acra. In a remarkable turn of events, she unveiled her musical genius to her astonished family in 2019, paving the way for her debut single 'Stop Staring' at the tender age of 14. Under the moniker 'Japan, Man,' a visionary project co-crafted with her uncle Julian Cassia, her talents truly flourished.
With an arresting sound that seized attention, the release of Japan, Man's inaugural EP 'Bad Days' in 2020 garnered widespread acclaim from notable voices such as i-D, Gorilla Vs Bear, Dork, Billboard, and The Fader, to name a few.
And the story continues to unfold. Earlier this year, the world witnessed the release of their post-EP single 'Air Conditioner,' a melodic revelation that left an indelible mark. They've just released 'Nowhere To Hide' which you can listen to below:
Brace yourselves for more, as a second EP is on the horizon. The sonic landscape of Japan, Man continues to evolve into an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind auditory experience that defies convention and defines the cutting edge of emerging music. We spoke to them about the tracks that shaped their sound, enjoy!
It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over - Lenny Kravitz
Julian: Though totally not obvious to this song of ours, but I personally always loved this record (“Mama Said”), and in this song in particular, the approach to string work. It’s super clean, very memorable, and serves the atmosphere and sensation of the song incredibly well. As such, it has informed my string playing, and my string arrangements a lot in the modern song format, in whichever genre I am working in at the time. Even in the cinematic genres, when I score films.
I’d also add that I learned to play bass via a lot of the bass lines on this album and on “Are You Going To Go My Way.” I can’t say I vibed too much with any of his other albums, but those two albums were very big for me, learning to play various instruments. Also, how he played drums back in that time. Super simple, punchy, to the point, driving, and then there’s the engineering (Henry Hirsch) for the music dorks out there), which had an ethos of being unadulterated, and presenting with a sense of realism. The original vintage seeker, if you will. So much Hipster, he went out to Upstate NY and found himself a church to record in (within which I recorded another album, at another time, but that is another story).
Cosmic Girl - Jamiroquai
Julian: Again, maybe not an obvious link, but I learned to play bass from a lot of these kinds of guys. In this case from many Jamiroquai songs, and though I am slapping my bass like it had been a really bad, bad bass, the aim with bass lines for me, is always to create them with them supporting the songs of course, but also with them being singable. Being melodic, being hooks, basically. I also really loved the interplay between the Kick and the Bass on “Nowhere To Hide,” and how they nearly mimic some kind of Acid Bass type of sound. Over that, layering Letty’s vocals, just added a really nice and soft touch. All of this, I feel you can sort of find in the music of Jamiroquai, even though it does sound like another musical universe, the intent, I’d say, is similar.
In terms of the melodic content, and the approach to the songwriting, it’s again all about being careful to craft melodies that say enough, but not too much, which is the challenge of the songwriter. Hopefully, with this one, we managed to strike that balance. Again, Jay Kay was a master of that, in another musical tonepool.
Cornflake Girl- Tori Amous
Laeticia: I first heard this song when watching Beef, the Netflix mini-series. On a side note, I was absolutely hooked on the show, but this song really stood out to me. I instantly Shazammed it and listened to it over and over again. I love the dips and peaks in energy within the vocal and the sensation of desperation it carries and I love the whimsical-sounding production that backs it in an almost asynchronous way in regard to the lyrics. The thing I took away I think was the punch of energy in the chorus that elevates the song to a whole new level. I listened to this song the entire summer and showed it to all my friends.
Paranoid Android- Radiohead
Laeticia: I have been a die-hard Radiohead fan since I was about 14. It would be very foolish of me not to include Radiohead on a list of songs that shaped our sound. In all of my songs and in this new track, Nowhere To Hide, a lot of the way I control my voice and breath is inspired by Thom York’s technique of alternating between falsetto, and chest voice. In Paranoid Android he does a lot of this vocal acrobatics but in a more subtle and smooth way than usual, which I definitely tried capturing on this track. The album, OKCOMPUTER revolutionized the way I sing, as I picked up so much from the way York sings, and infuses his voice with the instruments backing him up. I love how homogenous the songs sound as if no element should ever be on its own. I love Radiohead so much!