Longing + the colour of feelings in the fantasy world of Tokyo-based producer ALMA’s Girl Goddess mix

, 18 August 2017

“I like to make a fantasy world view inside of me, in the dream of ‘girl’,” writes Japanese producer and co-founder of the Pink Queendom collective Alma. The Tokyo-based artist has been making music with an acoustic guitar since she was a teenager, recording like a diary, at the same time listening and learning about music on the internet. 

Perfomance view of Alma. Courtesy the artist.

“Those vocals record prayers,” she says about including a Lana Del Rey spoken word interlude on her Girl Goddess mix that include all women’s vocals: Sleep ∞ Over‘s ‘Cryingame,’ 20th Century Japanese poetry, Chechen folk singing and more. “The existence of Lana Del Rey encompasses the emptiness. It embodies the muse image of the past era. Her songs and existence were yearning.”

This sense of longing is something that also permeates Alma’s beautifully crafted selection of songs, from the incessant ‘likes’ and restless drum machine of Throwing Shade‘s ‘hashtag IRL’ to the wandering harp simulation and Grimes-like vocals of Alma’s own ‘Melt Magic‘ by her band called Sweetie. It’s a youthful sense of wonder and wanting more that sent the producer to Berlin for last year’s 3hd Festival on a whim, since then being invited to the German music platform’s first インフラINFRA event, programmed with Japanese-run online gallery EBM(T) and running August 19 to 26.

To celebrate, Alma shares herGirl Goddess mix with AQNB, along with some insights on the Tokyo music scene and what it’s like to be a ‘girl’ in the world. 

** Can you tell me something about the inspiration behind this mix? Before when you described it, you mentioned it would feature Japanese vocals but now there seems to be so much more.

Alma: This mix contains songs that I listened primarily from 15 to 20 years old. I was listening when I was sleeping in a cage called ‘girl.’ Girl Goddess #9 by Francesca Lia Block was a bible. Here is the only Japanese-language song in the mix called Yoimachigusa, which was released in the 1910s, a song of poetry by Yumeji Takehisa (painter/poet). These lyrics made up by the feelings of melancholy, pointing to waiting for the evening blooming on the beach, leaving a lingering finish. Japanese songs, especially love songs, have many ‘wait for opponents’ situations. Also, many of the songs are made by male producers. It is interesting. Up to now, the reproduction of male fantasy is being carried out.

Sweetie Club No.1. Courtesy Alma..jpg

** I’m curious about your process; what inspires you creatively and who are some of your favourite artists?   

A: I get a lot of inspiration from my experience, the color of feelings, the landscape. Outside of me, the part captured by fantasies and the innocent part. Also, I get the courage from punk artists, world feminist activists, collectives. Inject the engine at the tempo of gabber and trance music.

** When did you start Pink Queendom and what was the intention? I’ve read the mission statement on the Facebook page but I’m interested to know what moved you personally to start this collective with Lily

A: About a year ago. The entrance to this activity has a gender-conscious awareness. We began activities as a female-centered society and the antithesis to authoritarianism. We are doing various activities such as parties, talk events and exhibitions. In addition to music, we are doing activities with members of various genres, such as art, fashion, movies, theater, publishing, and the genre differs at every project. Members are fluid.

The place of the party is a certain luxury hostess club in Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo. The empty romantic love and consumption story of men and women was repeated in this place, I wanted to see a new story, and started this party.

Pink Queendom. Courtesy Alma + Lilium Kobayashi.

** The Pink Queendom description also says the mission is to provide a common ground “for queer perspectives and re-imaginations of the world,” what is it about your environment (online or offline) that you think makes this necessary, and also what about it makes it possible?

A: I think it is particularly important to create a place offline. I want to cherish a small voice. We are an existential life. It is not an account. The scenery, which can not be seen online has an influence on the deep part of the heart. We value direct communication. It is important to feel with your own eyes, with your heart, with your body.

** Tell me something about the Tokyo music scene that our audience might not know?

A: There are various scenes, and there is division. There are many small communities in the underground. I do not know everything. But, I feel that the crossing of territory has begun. There will be a foundation on which to propose new values.

Looking at the top chart of the mainstream, you can see Japan and Tokyo now. Idols are always occupying the charts, and terrible songs are being sung. In this island country, what does it mean to express music, especially female artists? **

Alma, Vanity Angel album artwork. Courtesy Sweetie, Tokyo.

Track listing:

1. Polysick – ‘Gondwana’
2. Sleep∞Over – ‘Cryingame’
3. Sleep∞Over – ‘Flying Saucers Are Real’
4.Lana Del Rey – ‘Burnt Norton(interlude)’
5. The ancient Chechen folklore + i like dog face – ‘NUR ZHOVKHAR (remix)’ 
7. Dean Blunt – ‘Urban’
8. Ptwiggs – ‘Clarity(Shyqa remix)’
9. Throwing Shade – ‘hashtag IRL’
10. housefire – britney
11. Belbury Poly – ‘The Willows’
12 .Degimon World Digital Card Battle – ‘ヒーリング吐息’ 
13. ‘Heavy Water-Fishwife + i like dog face – ‘I Like Welcome’
14. Sweetie – ‘Melt Magic’ 

3hd + EBM(T)’s インフラ INFRA festival is on across venues in Tokyo, running August 19 to 26, 2017.