Tamanaramen: Angel Whispers and Fake IDs in Tokyo’s Underground Clubs

«My music creates a space and transports you.»
Tamanaramen ‘Twitch pixie.’ Image: Hana Watanabe (@hanargram).

Note: this interview with Tamanaramen was originally published on the website of the alternative Japanese culture collective Acchikei, which from Madrid works to spread unknown aspects of Japanese culture in Spanish. What they do is great, follow them! <3

The magnetic whispers of Tamanaramen’s music mesmerize crowds in live shows and raves in the Tokyo underground scene. This artist, born in 2001 in the city; has been active since 2018. 2020 was her most prolific year so far, with the publication of her third, fourth, and fifth EP; ‘Mabatake’, ‘Sour Cream’ and ‘Future’, as well as the single, ‘Sennyo’ in collaboration with the American artist ZAH.

This year 2021, she has also released a new single, ‘Fake ID’, accompanied by a video directed by her sister; the visual artist Hana Watanabe. From the beginning, Hana has endowed the Tamanaramen project with a unique visual entity perfectly in tune with her music. So much so that the pair have decided that from now, Tamanaramen will be a collaborative project between the sisters; music and image will always go together.

Cover of ‘Future,’ Tamanaramen’s fifth EP, released in October 2020. Artwork: Hana Watanabe (@hanargram).

Tamanaramen has collaborated with online radio stations NTS and HKCR. Her music has been included in internationally influential playlists such as ‘XL Play’ by the English label XL Recordings, and the weekly list of i-D magazine.

I got to know the music of Tamanaramen shortly after moving to Tokyo, and she quickly became my favorite artist in the city. After almost a year of closely following the works of her’s and her sister’s; her music, her live shows, and her videos, I ended up becoming good friends with both of them. Encouraged to make the international public know and fall in love with Tamanaramen as much as I do, I raised them these questions.

Tamanaramen released the video for ‘Fake ID’ in January 2021, directed by Hana Watanabe (@hanargram).

How did the Tamanaramen project start? And where did this special name come from?

The name came from the predictive keyboard [the one that converts hiragana into kanji when typing in Japanese] when I created my Twitter account, and it seemed appropriate.

I started making music because I wanted to remember and record the trivial events and atmosphere of everyday life.

From the beginning, my sister Hana worked on the project creating the artworks and images. As of this year 2021, we consider Tamanaramen as a two-person project. My sister and I will work together always considering sound and video as a unit.

I read once that your music was referred to as ‘ambient pop.’ Do you think that is an adequate definition? How do you define your music, what genres inspire it?

I didn’t know that my music is considered ‘ambient pop’ (laughs)! But it may be true. My favorite musical genre is ambient, but techno, house, and trap have influenced me as well. 

Tamanaramen performing at the SPEED collective’s PURE2000 rave in Kawasaki. Photo: Noa.

If you had to recreate a perfect situation or mood to listen to your music, how would it be like?

I am sure that my music can be heard in any environment because music is space, it is music that creates a space and transports you to a place where you are not.

Your lyrics, which combine phrases in English and Japanese, are very varied. What messages does Tamanaramen want to convey to the world?

What we do focuses on something very personal. It is not a diary, but it is close to that concept. That is why I am glad that someone who is listening can capture and connect briefly with the moment.

Tell me three songs by other artists or bands that you would like to have created yourself.

“I’m Not In love” by 10cc, “Licking An Orchid” by Yves Tumor and “All The Things She Said” by t.A.T.u.

You have already collaborated with various producers, such as CVN or LSTNGT, and artists such as ZAH. What other artists, mainstream or underground, would you ever love to collaborate with?

I would like to do a song with Hikaru Utada.

Live from Tamanaramen at the SPREAD venue in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. Photo: Noa.

In times of pandemic, many concerts and parties are being held online, either with streaming broadcasts or in virtual spaces. How do you see the concerts of the future?

I think online events will be more varied. I wonder, for example, if virtual reality will become popular for this use … But I want to use my body and share space with others through music!

What is that song or record that you always listen to when you want to feel good?

Salem’s mix of “I’ll Fly With You” and “Lifted” by Palmistry.

Tamanaramen in concert at the LIQUIDROOM hall in Ebisu, Tokyo. Photo: Noa.

What is the music you have listened to the most so far in 2021? And what is the artist or band from Japan that you like the most at the moment?

I’ve been listening to Hideki Umezawa’s music, he is currently my favorite.

Listen to Tamanaramen on Spotify, Apple Music, or SoundCloud.
Watch their videos on YouTube.
And follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Proofreading: Jasmina Mitrovic (@negi_hime).

(´。• ω •。`) ♡

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