Babymetal songwriter/producer Yuyoyuppe shares the songs that helped shape the group
Originally published on MTV Iggy in May, 2015
Babymetal are gearing up for a new album and a slew of live dates this spring, including stops in North America (and Stephen Colbert’s talk show). If the marketing strategy is any clue, this also means a rush of new stories about the J-pop trio merging metal with idol pop. Which means the potential for a lot of misinformed writing exists! Babymetal are backed by a lot of writers and producers who have esteemed careers in metal and EDM all their own — I talked to one of them, Yuyoyuppe, last year, to learn about the songs that helped shape the Babymetal sound.
Babymetal are the most successful Japanese pop group going in 2015. The teenaged trio of Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moemetal have become one of Japan’s most talked about music units since forming in 2010, their blend of perky idol-pop and heavy metal earning them sold-out shows at some of the larger arenas in their home country. Yet what sets them apart is their global presence. Whereas other idol outfits of similar status can only count domestic success, Babymetal managed to go viral with the video “Gimme Chocolate,” allowing them to play solo shows and festivals around the world. They are currently on their second world tour, which culminates with an appearance on the main stage at the Reading And Leeds Festival in August.
Most of the attention from abroad has been on the trio themselves. That makes sense, considering Babymetal rose in popularity via a YouTube clip (one helped a bit by a “wacky Japan” attitude many bring to all entertainment emerging from the country) that probably had many thinking “whoa, what are those girls dancing too?” For many listeners and publications, that’s the hook, and it’s a good one. And the three girls at the center of Babymetal deserve it, as they are skilled at bringing the projects concept to life…not to mention managing constant life on the road as an adolescent.
Yet there are many more players involved with Babymetal who have been overlooked. Writer Ryotaro Aoki pointed this out on his Don’t Cross The Streams, highlighting the many Japanese artists creating the music for Babymetal. They include Narasaki, the lead singer of the band Coaltar of the Deepers, and Takeshi Ueda, the bassist for The Mad Capsule Markets and writer of “Gimme Chocolate.” Part of Babymetal’s success comes from having such talented musicians working behind the scenes, and bringing years of hard rock experience to the project.
The Babymetal team features no dominant songwriter or producer, but the artist Yuyoyuppe appears the most in the credits across Babymetal’s debut album. His background is a little more varied than the others working behind the scenes on the group — he started out as a Vocaloid artist, uploading aggressive, guitar-backed songs featuring the digital voices of Hatsune Miku and Megurine Luka to Japanese video site Nico Nico. His popularity increased, and since then he’s made more music with the singing-synthesizer software and his own voice (while also being part of the throat-shredding outfit My Eggplant Died Yesterday). His work with Babymetal also features contemporary EDM touches, primarily the Skrillex-esque drop.
Yuyoyuppe caught up with MTV Iggy to talk about the songs that helped develop his love of loud music, and accordingly helped shape Babymetal.
Saosin — “Seven Years”
“This song still continues to inspire me. It taught me what screamo music is. This style of music wasn’t very popular in Japan when I first encountered it. When I listened to it for the first time, I was shocked. After that, I got really into hardcore and screamo music.”
System Of A Down — “Chic ’N’ Stu”
“I think I found this one at a CD rental shop while I was in high school, and I picked it out just by chance. At that time, I wasn’t quite absorbed by loud music. But this song left me extremely surprised. All the peculiar details in it shaped my musical world view immensely, and still does.”
Flyleaf — “I’m So Sick”
“I’m pretty sure I heard this song around the same time I came across Saosin. I was seeking out new bands to quench my thirst for more loud music (laughs). At that time, it cut me like a knife, it was so shocking to hear. The first part of ‘I’m So Sick,’ from when the vocal starts playing out over the riff and eventually gets to a sudden scream, that really got to me.”
Attack Attack! — “Stick Stickly”
“When I told a foreign fan I liked this song, he told me he didn’t like it immediately, it was a little off-putting to him. But I can still proudly say I like this song. Back then, there wasn’t much music where a band could work in the nuances of trance music with a band sound. It got my attention because I like new things. Since hearing ‘Stick Stickly,’ my sound grew, to incorporate more synthesizer work in my music.
Memphis May Fire — “The Sinner”
“The above four songs were the songs that inspired by taste personally, but this is the first song that really influenced the Babymetal style. This song’s speciality is the evil guitar sound, and a very strong drum and bass sound. I’m always hoping I can make a sound like the one’s here. I spent so much money and time on making ‘Megitsune’s’ drum sound resemble this closely.”
Protest The Hero — “Bloodmeat”
“It was a really hard decision to choose between this and Periphery’s ‘Icarus Lives,’ but I’m going with this one because it’s more of my roots. I learned about the ambiguity of music — in a good way — from this song. Like, ‘oh, creating music gives me so much freedom.’ When I made Babymetal’s ‘Akumu no Rondo,’ I got some hints from this song’s drawers. Specifically, irregular rhythm, darkness and complicated chords from this band.
Woe, Is Me — “[&] Delinquents”
“I can say that this song has everything I like. Emotional vocals, a proper amount of screaming, a very thick rock sound, a good balance of synthesizer sounds…every single piece of this song works, I think it is brilliant. I listened to this song around the same time I also listened to the Memphis May Fire song I mentioned, but this one was especially shocking to me. Most of the time when I make Babymetal songs, I hope it approaches this one.