Japan & I… took over Grahamstown

By Lauren Granger

Pic by: Simone Armer

When Japan & I are on stage, don’t stand too close to the speakers. Your hearing won’t be back in time for your Monday dawnie. That’s how hard these three girls from Jo’burg rock.

You’ll be swept up into the moshpit, screaming until your throat is raw and begging for another encore. When the girls hit Slipstream on 16 May, they left no doubt in anyone’s mind: Japan & I will definitely take over the world. The trio’s unique sound grew out of jam sessions the girls had back in high school. “It’s kinda shoo-wop-a-doo,” says Mandy Marshall, the band’s energetic drummer. “It’s a mix of everything, and punk, I guess.”

But that’s the beauty of Japan & I. They don’t fit into any category. They’re an all-girl band whose habit of wearing matching girly dresses on stage contrasts strongly with their intense sound and the powerful vocals of lead singer, Angie de Klerk. “It’s good to have a uniform,” says De Klerk, referring to the dresses that have become the band’s unofficial trademark. “You can do anything in a band. You can’t do it by yourself – you’d look weird,” affirms Marshall.

Japan & I attempt to explain the logic behind their kooky band name. “Japan & I will take over the world,” smiles Marshall. “And you can’t do it by yourself. You need a country to help you.” Bassist, Dee Dee Fetting, reveals the band’s plan for achieving world domination. “Toothpaste and cheese,” she says. “Because everyone brushes their teeth and whenever you open your fridge, no matter how empty it is, there’s always a block of cheese.”

The three Wits students climbed on stage in miniskirts and Fetting wore a bright pink Hello Kitty guitar strap. But anyone expecting sugary pop songs was to be sorely disappointed – Marshall beat the drums like they’d done her a personal injustice, Fetting showed off amazing skills on the bass guitar and tiny blonde De Klerk barely needed the microphone – she was loud enough without it.  Japan & I played songs from their debut album …Will Take Over The World, including songs such as “Chinese Warrior”, which has been aired on MK and a cover of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, a crowd favourite. They also performed songs from their new album, which they hope to release by the end of the year.

Their amazing presence at live gigs has earned them slots at festivals such as Woodstock 8 and 9, Splashy Fen and Oppikoppi. World domination might seem to be an unattainable ideal, but judging from the crowd’s responses, they can cross the City of Saints off their list. Japan & I definitely took over Grahamstown.

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