BABYMETAL featured on El Universal: "Japan. Pop & Rock from the other side of the world"

A very interesting article has been published by El Universal from Mexico about the Japanese music and Japanese artists getting recognition and popularity in Mexico. Starting very slow back in 2006 until their most active year in 2015 with BABYMETAL at Circo Volador. Very complete article with many details about the Japanese scene in Mexico with examples featuring BABYMETAL. Read the full translation below. 


El Universal article about Japanese scene in Mexico, BABYMETAL featured

A group of teenagers wearing fox masks execute energetic dance steps to the notes of heavy metal shaking their stout dresses in red and black; a muscular wrestler dressed as a cheerleader amazes everyone with his guttural, and a virtual diva, whose voice is issued from a computer program, goes berserk with a hologram avatar.

"ANKORU! ANKORU!"(Another! another!) shout the Mexicans, who do not want to let them go from the stage every time they show up in Aztec land.


A sample of this furor was 2015, a year certainly satisfactory for all Japanese music lovers, when concerts from artists such as Ai Maeda, Babymetal, Girugamesh, SCANDAL, Kamijo, °C-ute, Lisa, VAMPS, Asian Kung- Fu Generation, Dir en Gray, Jupiter and Eir Aoi left a good taste to the fans who had the opportunity to enjoy their shows in the capital.

This year, the phenomenon is consolidated with groups of diverse genres like Kalafina, ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D, The Gazette, metal singer and wrestler LadyBeard (an Australian man who was inspired by Japan to do his show), the rock band SuG, divas Tokyo Brass Style and the vocaloid interpreter Hatsune Miku, a virtual diva who sings though a synthesized speech software, that became popular since 2007. A few days ago, also Yoshiki Hayashi, leader and drummer of progressive metal band X Japan (a band that offered a show in our country in 2011) visited the International Film Festival of Guanajuato (GIFF) as a guest to present the documentary of his band “We are X” and to announce the group’s return to the recording studio.


Meanwhile, awaiting for more fans of the music from the country of the Rising Sun, confirmed for the second half of the year is the return of visual kei artist (musical genre related to punk rock and heavy metal) Kamijo; the group, also of this genre, G.L.A.M.S, the return of Japanese pop princess LiSA and for the first time, the visit of Bandmaid, the power metal band Galneryus and the rock and rap from FLOW in December.


Spaces like Circo Volador, Plaza Condesa, the Lunarium at the National Auditorium, SALA, Pepsi Center, Expo Reforma, the Metropolitan Theater, City Theater, Cuervo Hall, Blackberry Auditorium and Convention Center Tlatelolco give shelter to groups and fans of Japanese music, thanks to manga Comic Expo TNT since 2001, and promoters LoveJapan Entertainment, Dilemma Concerts, Zepeda Bros, the Ninshi Academy of Asian Culture and the J'Fest / J'Live,  all of whom have found in fans of J-Music a market never before considered.



-Early efforts

But the recent market saturation of artists from the country of the Rising Sun was not always so. Compared to the Korean wave (Hallyu), which grew enormously since the visit of Wonder Girls, who were the opening act for The Jonas Brothers in 2009 at the Monterrey Arena, and was consolidated with exponents like Xia Junsu, MBLAQ, Super Junior, Infinite, BTS, Big Bang, U Kiss and special events such as the Music Bank, The K'Show and Key Soul, before 2014 there were few mentions of Japanese musicians in our country, even less in a venue of their own.

The few artists who visited Mexico like Blood in 2005, Hironobu Kageyama in 2007, JAM Project in 2008, Nobuo Yamada in 2008 and Haruko Momoi in 2009 and 2011 had to settle with the few minutes that a comic book convention could provide to them, by then at a price of about 40 pesos (3 dollars) or for free, as it was in Expo Comic Poder Joven in 2008 and 2009.


"At Expo TNT we already had experience with Japanese bands with little audience like Blood, but we got the opportunity to have a more recognized Japanese show in 2006 when the management of the World Cosplay Summit accepted us as a qualifying event for a Mexican representative in the Cosplay contest (a costume based on Japanese anime and comics) which they organize every summer in Japan, so in February 2007 we hosted Hironobu Kageyama, singer of the Dragon Ball Z soundtrack, at the World Trade Center”.


"Representatives of TV Aichi came in 2006 to evaluate Expo TNT and this opened the possibility of having a Japanese artist," says Carlos Edwin Guzman, Director of Guests of Expo Manga Comic TNT for the past 7 years and responsible for bringing to this event artists like Omoi Tomoe, Haruko Momoi, Masami Okui Aki Misato, Sayaka Sasaki, Aiko Nakano, Mari Iijima, Shinji Kakijima, Nozomi Non-chan and Sana, among others.


Guzman, who has a degree in Economics from Universidad del Valle de Mexico, refers to Kageyama's visit as a turning point in the performances of these artists in our country.


"Japanese names were not very familiar or recognized in Mexico. Yes, people knew perfectly shows like Dragon Ball Z or Saint Seiya, but the artists behind the anime, most people couldn’t recognize. But when it came to Kageyama, people listened in Japanese a song they had heard in Spanish for many many years and this made them identify themselves with it, that's great" he says.


Although with a warm reception at conventions, few bands like X Japan (2011) and An Cafe (2009, 2012, 2014) enjoyed the privilege of having its own venue as El Circo Volador in those years in which the ticket was about to 300-800 pesos (20 to 40 dollars). Today, the second price (the price for whatever bonus there is on top of the regular ticket) is just a little more than the cost of a GA ticket to enjoy the concert, which the fans do not hesitate to buy. Why? They just find it different, says Sandra Pérez, who at 28 years old did not lose the opportunity to enjoy the kawaii metal group Babymetal in their first visit to our country last year and whose VIP ticket costed 2400 pesos (160 dollars).

"I like that they are little girls, they are not adults or men, which is usually what you find in metal, that is very striking, dancing is something out of the ordinary. Before, metal was Metallica, Korn... but when Babymetal came out it was a very attractive combination for girls”, says the girl.


-A growing market.

The reason for the expansion of the wave of Japanese music is because there are already more promoters, because they’ve seen that the scene is profitable, says Alejandro Bonilla, CEO of J'Fest, an exhibition focused on the music and fashion of Japan since 2011 and starters in 2014 of J'Live a concert tour project for artists to be able to play outside an expo such as Kanon Wakeshima’s show at the Blackberry Auditorium, a singer of the lolita genre (or baroque pop).

"5 years ago, there was no offer but there was much demand for music and fashion of Japanese content. Then we became pioneers in bringing Japanese music along with Dilemma Productions (X Japan, Babymetal), so by being the first we gathered a lot of audience and obviously, seeing as demand was high, offer began to grow. It is no coincidence that once they saw business had started to emerge, other companies devoted themselves to this, until they started saturating the market."


A similar background share Erika Rodriguez and Karla Bravo, general directors of LoveJapan Entertainment, who debuted their concert tour with An Cafe on November 20, 2014, a group of J-rock that had already proven to be popular in Mexico on two previous occasions at Circo Volador.


"For years there was nothing other than conventions, they began to bring Koreans but no Japanese. That is an issue we always fight against. The fan of Japanese music is still spoiled with piracy" Karla says.




Article by: El Universal from Mexico

Translation by: Daniel Fuentes

Read: BABYMETAL at Circo Volador, Mexico City, Mexico, Show report.

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