JPU Records & Teddy Loid Select Iken no?! UK?! Winners
Earlier in the year, JPU Records CEO Tom Smith and music producer / DJ artist Teddy Loid teamed up to judge the "Iken no?! UK?!" (行けんの⁉︎UK⁉︎) auditions. The music competition offered bands, artists and track-makers that release their music directly via TuneCore Japan the chance to perform in the UK, and have their accommodation and travel expenses, supported by the generous people at payNOAH.
The competition was split into two categories; the band category judged by Tom Smith, and the DJ / track maker category judged by Teddy Loid. Out of the thousands of entries, the judges had to select their top ten and then choose an overall winner and runner-up, with the winner of each category winning the trip to London, a live show in a British venue, as well as a performance at cultural event HYPER JAPAN.
After much deliberation, the finalists and winners have been decided! You can listen to all 20 of the finalists on the Iken no!? UK?! playlists on Apple Music and Spotify. Below are comments about each finalist from the judges:
All 20 Iken no!? UK!? Finalists:
Tielle "good girl"
"Beautiful. I listened to all the tracks that I was supplied for this competition over and over on a YouTube playlist, and I assumed that when this track started it was in fact an advert for a new song from a big movie in Japan that I hadn’t heard yet. I was shocked when it was an actual entry. It sounds so grand, so empowering, it makes me want to sing into the mirror using my fist as an imaginary microphone. This is top quality and sounds like something I’d expect from a major label artist. Fantastic!"
DIMLIM "What's up?"
"This band is one of my personal favourite independent bands in Japan right now, so I was extremely happy to see them enter Iken-no!? UK!?. I particularly love the guitar work on this track, it captures my imagination every time I listen. It’s so fresh, vibrant and exciting. I can hear so many influences on the track, yet the finished sound has its own identity. Fantastic.
Visual kei was one of the scenes that originally caught my attention from Japan, and to see these guys with their clear roots in the style be audacious enough to continually switch things up and dart between genres, sounds and expectations is a brilliant thing to witness. Their previous single ‘Rijin’ is one of my absolute favourite tracks of 2019 I sincerely wish DIMLIM all the best for the future, and I’m always excitedly looking forward to see what they create next. For me, DIMLIM are one of the most exciting bands in Japan right now."
WHISPER OUT LOUD "PALE BLUE"
"This is fantastic and shows so much potential. I’m picking up strong Bring Me The Horizon “amo” vibes, particularly the way it mixes genres. I went straight out and added this band’s catalogue to my Apple Music account. Out of all the entries I was given for this competition, this was one of the tracks that I kept returning to the most. I feel that it captures what’s happening “right now” in music, where genres become increasingly meaningless – and this was one of the best examples of this from all the entries I was given. I was shocked when I saw that the view count on the YouTube video for this song hadn’t even reached a four-digit figure yet, I expect these guys to be huge in the coming years."
"I’m digging the summer vibes of this anthem. Old skool fresh. I can imagine zoning out to this while walking through the streets of Tokyo. It’s just under four-minutes of chilled, good times. I particularly enjoy the softness of the vocal."
THE TOMBOYS "RUN"
"A great fun band! It was a lovely surprise to see them enter Iken-no!? UK!?, I organised their first show in London several years ago with the help of Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols). It’s great to see how the band has grown. This track is wonderfully charming. It’s difficult to listen to without smiling or tapping your foot."
Made in Me. "Futei//Rewind"
"Dreamy guitar pop. I really enjoy the retro sound and the laid-back nature of the music and the vocals on this track. This particular track makes me miss being in Tokyo and listening to cool bands in cosy venues. I can totally see myself swaying along to the chorus and singing along at a live house once they open up again."
SALTY DOG "EMBER LAST"
"WOW! I remember seeing this band many times several years ago, they’ve grown so much! I’m a big fan of the new direction, particularly the use of piano and strings in this track. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this on the Attack on Titan soundtrack, or some other intense anime."
"I love that this competition had so much variety and talent to choose from. I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear a piece lead by clarinet and violin. This particular track was recorded live too, it’s magic."
"Wonderful. A fantastic and moving piece of music that’s as beautiful as it is epic. Without saying a word, Anoice say so much."
IRIS MONDO "Crazy Crisis"
"I’m loving the DIY feeling of this track and random vibes running throughout. Is it idol? Is it electro-pop? Is it rap? Is that Brit-pop inspired guitar licks I’m hearing in the background? I don’t know but I do know I enjoyed this."
DJ / Track Maker Category:
SO-SO "This is 16bit"
"The moment I heard it, I couldn’t believe it. Before I started the TeddyLoid project I was also doing human beat box, and using loop effectors as well. I was surprised by SO-SO’s approach and the magnitude of what level he was bringing. There are beats that you never get tired of, drops full of originality, and just an overall high quality song. This is a new star, you can feel his enthusiasm and he will get to the top of the music scene as a human beat box. I really want to sample his beats on my music now."
iamSHUM "Beautiful Melodies"
"Coming from the same EDM background this song really made me feel like that late Avicii had sent this through, made me feel really excited about the message. Avicii still lives on through us."
Neko Hacker "Home Sweet Home" ft. KMNZ LIZ
"With a French house taste, I felt that the lyrics and vocals really matched this modern sound. There are some really cool guitar solos involved and the overall mix was really high quality, I loved it."
"I really enjoy the dry vocals on this urban style track, it’s a song I want to drink a cocktail too!"
pige "kasugai walk"
"In it’s essence this is a very basic song with emotional vocals. The use of autotune and harmonies are really good. I like that it is a lyric video so you can sing along."
Snowk "Catching Feels" ft. Maricelle
"Not just the sound of western music, it has a smell that is has come from abroad, a basic four chord progression and drops are awesome. The moody and beautiful vocals are something to really look out for."
Clearr Note "The hero"
"I felt this had a very unique sound coming from Japan, with the melody, straight lyrics and ‘emotion trap’. I really liked the music video and how it floated through the sea."
AmamiyaMaako "Tiny actor"
"I was really intrigued by the high quality music video that was shot like a short movie. The composition was really good and I liked the texture to the vocals. The song really made me feel good."
Monaka Hinata "OHANA" ft. Yuna Amai
"There’s a real character to the laid back vocals on this indie rock style track. I also felt the lyrics were unique, had an 80s revival feel to it."
qlius "Never Gonna Be"
"The vocal samples on this track make you feel there is a lot of soul in it. The kind of song you want to listen to on the dance floor."
For fans of new and exciting music from Japan and beyond, follow THE JPU RECORDS PLAYLIST on Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer for a regularly updated list of tracks recommended by members of bands signed to JPU Records, or from its staff and music industry friends. At the time of writing MAMI of SCANDAL has taken over the playlist with her selections.
JPU Records is one of the leading labels for Japanese music outside of Asia, releasing CDs, vinyl, tape cassettes and merch as well as digital downloads and streams for a number of bands, spanning all types of genres but particularly metal, rock and various types of J-pop.