Trippple Nippples

Trippple Nippples have been rocking clubs and astonishing audiences in Tokyo with their chaotic-come-beautiful live shows since 2005 and have recently begun to turn heads overseas. Led by three female Japanese vocalists/dancers and backed by an American and two Australians on instruments, the band plays each and every gig differently. Costumes, props and routines—theirs really is a performance in the highest sense of the word. The Nippples are currently seeing out the end of their first worldwide tour, no doubt shocking audiences everywhere with what really has to be seen to be believed.

When did your break into the music industry come, particularly outside of Japan?
It honestly still feels like nobody knows about us. We have some great fans and friends who get exactly what we are doing, like DEVO and Pharrell. We gain fans from our live shows. If you see us live, we will cut your head off! The core of what we do is performance. It is impossible to duplicate; it’s too complex to record all the details. It’s once in a lifetime, and every time we play, it’s as if our lives depend on it. We want people to feel the urgency. Even though you can reach millions of people through the Internet, we still prefer to travel all the way to the other side of the planet, touring and getting in people’s faces. We are missionaries spreading our word… Francis Xavier and cultural terrorism.

It’s very difficult to categorize your music. How would you describe it?
It’s post-Internet. Our brains are not built to adapt to such fast, exponential change! It’s confusion at top speed. That’s what our music is, I think. It’s the soundtrack to electrical malfunctions in your brain. Most of our influences come from indigenous Taiwanese music, ’80s French punk and Cook Island drumming.

How does your music compare to what is currently happening in Japan?
We are only focused on creating our own culture. There is a scene in Japan for every genre you can possibly imagine. We are more interested in what happens as a reaction to genre, conformity and style. Culturally, we want to be ahead of everything else. What we do is more a representation of the city of Tokyo itself, rather than Japan as a whole. Our music is the sound, feeling, rush, confusion, lost community, hope, fantasy and magic of Tokyo.

You were heavily featured in Pharrell’s documentary with Palladium, Tokyo Rising. How did that come about?
He found out about us after the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami. He was making a piece about how artists here reacted to the disaster, and he liked our music and concept and came to our live show. We also showed him around Tokyo during the documentary. He was a very gentle guy.

Do you have any plans to collaborate with any Western musicians?
We toured with DEVO last winter, which was amazing. Our vocalist Qrea burst into tears on the last day of the tour when Mark gave us a little message card—he has been her idol since high school. We talked about writing a song together with Mark singing in Japanese. His studio is like a spaceship.

Text by Mike Burns
Photography by Takeru Kihara