Since forming in 2013, plastic pop duo FAR EAST MENTION MANNEQUINS (FEMM) have quickly become one of the most stand out units in Tokyo’s underground scene, scoring international recognition in 2014 with some of the biggest pop bangers and party anthems of the year. We caught up with FEMM’s managers Honey-B and W-Trouble for the first time since 2014 to talk about the last two years and the group’s new material.
2015 was a quiet year for FEMM, what have you been up to for the last year?
H-B: Actually it’s been a quite busy year for FEMM. They were mainly focused on live shows. They got to visit LA and SF in the summer and it was a blast for all of us.
WT: We got a chance to visit LA and SF and meet the agents there! It was a very lovely experience for us.
Last time we spoke to you was before FEMM’s popularity really boomed, since then a number of tracks have become big hits online, most of all the twerk anthem Fxxk Boyz Get Money. How was it seeing your music get recognised worldwide at such a rapid pace?
H-B: It was surprising how people reacted to “FBGM,” and how they called it a Girl’s Anthem. We always enjoy reading all FEMM agent’s messages through SNS.
WT: We are really happy to know that more people are showing love to FEMM. Our job as agents is to spread FEMM to the world and we want to keep at it.
At first FEMM fought solely for the “freedom of mannequins”, but over the last couple of years become a feminist figure. Would you say their message of freedom also extends to the feminist movement?
H-B: Even though FEMM are mannequins, they are girls too. So it’s natural for them to be singing about Girl’s Power. Not necessarily the feminist movement, but just celebrating the amazing aspects of being a woman.
WT: FEMM have a lot of potential, we think. Their movement is for the mannequins, but living in the human world they are always learning more about human culture and to make peace with them it’s important to befriend each other. That would eventually result as freedom for the mannequins.
So suffice to say 2014 was a huge year for the duo, what’s the goal for 2016?
H-B: We are aiming for them to visit more places, overseas especially. New songs, new acts… We’ve got so many ideas for FEMM so please stay tuned!
WT: We want to spread the word about FEMM. If we can reach far enough, we can probably visit more countries to meet agents.
Earlier this year you dropped your major debut EP PoW!/L.C.S., how do you think it compares to the duo’s previous work?
H-B: Actually EP “PoW!/L.C.S.” includes their 1st digital album “FEMM-Isatin”. It was a totally new experience to release a hard copy. It got to be a chance for FEMM to be seen by a new genre of people and best of all, FEMM agents were so happy to finally get a CD in their hands.
WT: “PoW!” is a sequel for “FBGM,” another girls anthem. “LCS” is produced by Boys Noise and a complete new sound for FEMM. Both MVs are eye caching, so please check it out!
It’s also your first physical release. What made you decide to go towards CD rather than keeping it exclusively digital?
H-B: There were lots of requests from agents that they wanted a hard copy, so we wanted to make it happen.
WT: We are so happy that we could deliver a hard copy for the first time. We had lots of requests about it so we especially wanted to deliver to those agents.
The video for L.C.S. has to be one of the FEMM’s best to date! What was the concept behind this video? Memories of retro gaming spring to mind.
H-B: We tried some new ideas in this video. Motion capture, contact improv dancing, martial arts etc. We wanted to bring out FEMM’s super digital side.
WT: “PoW!” MV has a theme of Retro Future. Very pop and danceable. For “LCS,” we see it as very definite FEMM style. We had a lot of challenges making this MV. These two videos really highlight FEMM’s new side as artists.
With every video it seems you bump the choreography up another notch. Surely mannequins have their limit?
H-B: We want FEMM to keep on improving and they have! We don’t know about their limits yet, but we hope for them to keep pushing the envelope and give amazing performance.
WT: We don’t think they have limits. Sometimes RiRi would overheat, but LuLa knows how to fix her, so it’s not a problem.
The video for Whiplash looks like the most complex out of the lot. How was it producing that video? Were there many takes?
H-B: Yes, it is a very technical video. There were many short cuts, so we don’t even remember how many cuts FEMM did. But we love the result and it makes us want to try more new ideas on them.
WT: FEMM and their dancers rehearsed a lot. When we got the perfect shot after long shooting hours everyone was so happy. It was a great shoot.
RiRi and LuLa must be pretty tough to survive pulling of those moves as well as being shipped around the world for live performances. What exactly are they made of?
H-B: They are originally the same as the mannequins we see in store displays, but RiRi and LuLa received some special treatment and we cant really tell you in detail what the materials are.
WT: Sorry, it’s confidential.
In the past FEMM have worked with a number of big name producers like Brian Lee and ROBOPOP. Who did you work with on the new EP? Is there anyone in particular you hope to work with on tracks yet to come?
H-B: There are so many amazing song writers and music producers that FEMM worked with and we are so excited to see how the tracks come out every time. We are kind of looking into the theme of “Retro Future” right now, and we are willing to work with people that can illustrate that in FEMM’s style.
WT: FEMM collaborated with Boys Noise, German hit maker. We are open to work with whoever is interested in FEMM.
FEMM are probably the most versatile pop group out there, not being tied down to any particular style or sound. What directions would you like to see them dabble with in future releases? Maybe more stuff like the breakdown versions of Kiss the Rain and Astroboy?
H-B: It’s all about timing. We might go in a more mellow direction, but yet have some blasting party tunes too.
WT: We want to try so many things with FEMM! Now our focus is “Retro Future” sound and vision.
Now the EP is out, is it safe to say a new full LP is in the works?
H-B: We cannot comment on this topic.
WT: Nothing official yet, but we would love to make a new album!
Could you tell us more about your latest digital singles “Neon Twilight / Countdown”?
WT: Neon Twilight is an upper tune and is a blast at their show. LuLa loves this song too, especially where everyone can singalong.
H-B: Neon Twilight/Countdown were chosen as the theme songs for Night Nation Run JAPAN.
They’ve got a feel of old school HipHop and disco scene. Run for the after party!! Blast FEMM’s tracks!
WT: Countdown has an oldschool HipHop feel. FEMM tried HipHop dance for the first time and LuLa did the spinning on the floor. Please see how she does!
FEMM have played in Europe and the US, can we expect to see them make an appearance in the UK sometime this year?
H-B: We definitely want FEMM to visit the UK! Please agents- keep on supporting FEMM!
WT: We want to meet the agents in the UK! We are signed with JPU records in the UK for “Pow!/LCS”.
They let us know how UK agents are reacting and it’s definitely a destination we want to aim for.
Is there anywhere in the world you really want to take FEMM in the years to come?
H-B: FEMM has only been to the States, so they have a lot of destinations they must visit.
WT: So many places we haven’t been yet..! We want to go to them all.
Finally, any last words for our readers and FEMM fans across the globe?
H-B: Thank you always for your support for FEMM. We’ve got lots of fun surprises for you this year so please stay tuned!
WT: Thank you for always supporting FEMM. There’s more news to come this year so please stay tuned.
Words by Charles Shepherd