With their brightly coloured hair and clothes, Broken Doll certainly stand out on the Hyper Japan live stage. The 80s-inspired Japanese rock band are known for their flamboyant style and catchy songs, and have made quite a name for themselves since their debut ten years ago. As well as creating their own music, the band own a fashion label in Tokyo which has the same name as the band.
Featuring unique and colourful designs for accessories and clothing, their products are handmade by guitarist Kensuke and can be seen both in Japan and abroad. The band often wear their designs whilst performing on stage, and Hyper Japan was no exception to this. Following their concert on the second day of the event, guitarist Kensuke, singer Sachi, and bass guitarist Yuu sat down with MyM Buzz, as Kensuke talked about their work.
As well as Broken Doll being a band, it is also a fashion label that you created. What is the inspiration for your brand?
Kensuke: “I design them, and I am inspired from a lot of fashion styles. The Sex Pistols and 80s pop fashion icons like Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and Culture Club. The Culture Club has an amazing colourful style, and 80s hair metal as well. In the 80s Cyndi was so cute, and Culture Club was amazing. We like colourful styles the most.”
Are you all involved in making items for the fashion label?
Kensuke: “I am the only one that does it, and it’s all handmade. I make accessories and remake clothes from other items. I use my inspiration to change and style them, but I didn’t make anything I’m wearing now!”
Sachi: “He made this dress!”
Kensuke: “Oh yes, I handmade this dress into a one-piece outfit, and I also made the bow in her hair and the choker. They’re all part of our brand.”
How long does it normally take you to make these things?
Kensuke: “It’s case by case. A bow is easy and it only takes one hour, but raising accessories is difficult, so the one Sachi is wearing took three days to make. It took so long because I had to raise it from a liquid and then it needs one day to solidify, and since there are a few items that make up the choker it took a few days.”
Why do you like this fashion style? Is it fair to say it’s a Harajuku style?
Kensuke: “I don’t think our brand is Harajuku. Kawaii is cute but Harajuku brands use that idea just to get money. My shop is not in Harajuku, it’s in Shimokitazawa, which is a rock town in Tokyo and there are a lot of rock venues and bands there. Harajuku is just for tourists, and is fake since there is no culture there. I know Harajuku is fake, but Japanese people don’t know the reality so they think it is the coolest part of Tokyo. But people that live there know that Harajuku is just for tourists, so they don’t hang out there. But on the weekend there are a lot of people from outside Tokyo who go there.”
How would you describe your style then?
Kensuke: “If I say it is Harajuku style, then people who love Japanese kawaii culture will understand that I mean it is colourful and original. Our style is not Harajuku, but me saying that it is original and colourful is the same as saying Harajuku style, even if I don’t like Harajuku. Harajuku style looks like Broken Doll style!”
So Broken Doll were one of the first to have this style?
Kensuke: “Broken Doll started ten years ago, but Harajuku style is probably only from four years ago.”
You must be an innovator of the fashion style then.
Kensuke: “Innovator? Ah, thank you!”
How did you start the fashion label?
Kensuke: “It was only me that started it. Ten years ago Broken Doll started as a band and fashion label and in that time we didn’t have a shop, only an online store. But maybe three years ago I got the chance to open a small shop, so we started to sell merchandise in our shop in Shimokitazawa.”
So the band started at the same time as the fashion label?
Kensuke: “Yes, it did.”
How did you meet and start the band?
Kensuke: “At first Broken Doll’s vocalist was another girl but she left after one year, so I was looking for a vocalist. Sachi was another band’s vocalist, but I knew her so I contacted her to ask her to sing in my band. She agreed and joined us. She did stay with the other band for a while, but now she is only with Broken Doll.”
Do you have a particular concept for the band?
Kensuke: “It’s a bit like Vivienne Westwood and the collaboration she did with the Sex Pistols in the 70s. They collaborated to make music and original fashion so I am inspired by them. They were influential for a lot of people in terms of fashion and music but no one has done what they did since they stopped, so we are trying to do it. Broken Doll’s fashion, music, and production is all done by ourselves, but with them it was Vivienne Westwood focusing on the fashion, the Sex Pistols for music and Malcolm McLaren produced their music. If we are successful with this project, then I think we are better than them, but right now it’s just a dream.”
Would you say your music is inspired by them then?
Kensuke: “We have a lot of styles that inspire us, American pop-punk bands, the 90s melodic punk movement, and also European electro-pop. We like the bad boys style of the Pistols and 80s colourful fashion. We like a lot of styles of music, so we perform a lot of genres. Electropop, pop-punk, stand out rock and roll, J-rock. We have too many styles!”
You’ve performed here at Hyper Japan before, how has it been for you this time?
Kensuke: “It’s in a new building, it’s modern and clean. Two years ago we performed in Earls Court but it’s an old building, here it is very clean and great. The people are the same as two years ago, they are unique and there are a lot of people wearing colourful styles here. They’re very cute and they probably are inspired from Harajuku style, but I think they are original so I think it’s so cute.”
Interview by Roxy Simons