Tom Smith on pop idol Nana Kitade and the song that made her famous.
“I think that the tie-in with anime is a gateway for my music overseas,” says Nana Kitade, the singer whose ‘Kesenai Tsumi’ went global when it was used as the first outro to Fullmetal Alchemist. It proved to be one of her most popular songs to date and its success sprouted several reworkings through the years.
The first was within a month of its debut in 2003 when an acoustic version was released; ‘Kesenai Tsumi: Raw “Breath” Track’. The ambitious cover version, which works much better than it should, only managed to reach 87 in the charts, unlike its top 20 predecessor, and was quickly forgotten.
One of my favourite versions is found on her compilation album Berry Berry Singles (a limited run was released in Europe by Spark & Shine). This reworking of the Fullmetal Alchemist theme features former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman and offers a much heavier, thrashy take. And if you liked that, you’ll definitely have to track down his mash-up/retake of it with Nana’s single ‘PUNK&BABYS’ – it’s appropriately titled the ‘Air Guitar Mix’. Every little helps in bringing Japanese artists to new listeners – and Nana has since also featured on the soundtracks to D.Grayman and Hell Girl.
“I’m pleased that my music and I can meet various people, who might even become new fans because of it. I am just so proud that my music can go international with anime.”
And what of one nation in particular…? The one whose flag appears on her outfits both in Japanese alternative fashion mag KERA – where she regularly models in gothic lolita clothing – and from her own music videos.
“The Union Jack holds that ‘punk’ image for me,” she explains. “I have been a fan of the punk music that emerged from seventies London as well as the fashion that grew out of it. It seemed to encourage people to keep the faith, which could be seen as anarchy in a sense. I feel sympathy for the impulsive and liberating punk spirit.” And when quizzed on her next career goal, she quickly squeals back: “To play a gig in the UK!”
Her new project, Loveless, is a collaboration between herself and Taizo, the guitarist from the obscure band FEEL. The idea behind the partnership was to create a new genre of music, one combining the cutesy, immature aspects for which Nana is famous, with the ‘philosophical context’ that Taizo is supposed to possess. Marketing drivel? Or the the musical maturing of one of Japan’s cutest exports? You can find out for yourself later this month…
Loveless plays the Underworld in Camden Town, London, on 29th April.