One of the most unusual duos in Japan right now are a pair of mannequins with great vocals, dancing skills and a keen eye for fashion, making you realise that Japan has so much more to offer.
FEMM (Far East Mention Mannequins) consist of RiRi and LuLa, who describe themselves as femmes; dolls with minds. Since their launch in 2013, they digitally released ten singles from their album Femm-Isation the following year. With elements of electropop and hip-hip, twerking and tutting dance movies, and themes of feminism and freedom, they have achieved popularity mostly by fans sharing their work online. The video for “FxxK Boyz Get Money” became a viral hit, having surpassed over a million views on YouTube.
With the release of their latest song “PoW!” and the announcement that JPU Records will be releasing their two disc album package across Europe from 4 March, we were able to ask a few questions to Honey-B and W-Trouble, the agents of the performance mannequins RiRi and LuLa.
How did Honey-B and W-Trouble initially meet and end up working together?
W-Trouble: We’ve met at FEMM’s Agency Syndicate. Details are top secret.
In every video and live performance, whenever RiRi and LuLa are seen together there seems to be a deliberate effort to make sure that RiRi is always positioned on the left, and LuLa is always on the right for viewers/audiences. Is the placement and positioning of the mannequins important?
Honey-B: Like their names LEFT for LuLa, RIGHT for RiRi. This is what we decided in the beginning, as for their visual image.
“Unbreakable” is a unique ballad that feels different from the rest of the tracks. You have previously described how it feels “more human” – Will there be more ballads like this from FEMM in the future?
W-Trouble: LuLa loves this song too. We want FEMM to try all kinds of music, so for sure we believe that they will be singing more ballads too.
Honey-B: Yes, not only ballads, but many genres to come!
There are minor references placed (sometimes hidden) in FEMM’s videos (the magic eye (autostereogram) image in “FxxK Boyz Get Money”; the World War I image of women welders in “The Real Thing”). Do they relate to FEMM’s message and the fight for the freedom of mannequins, or is there a deeper meaning to them?
W-Trouble: It’s all up to the viewers what they think of FEMM’s videos. There is no one answer, whatever feeling they can catch from these videos then it’s all true.
Honey-B: “Freedom of Mannequins” is why FEMM is here. That is what they are fighting for. For it being the main message we want to deliver, first we’d love you all to acknowledge the existence of mannequins and their feelings through their music.
A personal favorite release is “Whiplash” with the very unique film cinematography and mesmerising choreography. Do you have any role models as far as styling FEMM’s music videos and choreography?
W-Trouble: Hidali is the choreographer for FEMM from the very beginning. They got amazing visions and perfect understanding for these mannequins. They are the closest teachers for FEMM and always creating new unique movements for them.
Honey-B: They do various dance styles depending on the song. Tutting for “Dead Wrong” and “PoW!,” and Twerking for “FxxK Boyz Get Money”. They are performing a completely new style in “L.C.S.” so please check their music video!
If you had to describe the image, performances, music, and fashion to someone who has just discovered FEMM, or was new to the scene, how would you do so?
Honey-B: What’s best about FEMM is that anyone can colour them in any colour. So we don’t label them.
W-Trouble: Yes. Not that we decide on their image, but if the viewers can decide for them, according to what they express, that is ideal. We always leave some space for that.
FEMM have been seen wearing fashion from the likes of GM Atelier, Dolce & Gabbana, Adidas and lilLilly. As well as the music, how important is fashion to FEMM?
W-Trouble: Fashion is very important for FEMM. They were originally created to showcase clothing. In the human world too, fashion and music has always been really close to each other. I believe it’s the same with FEMM too.
Honey-B: Lately, FEMM has got more opportunities to model in fashion magazines and shows. We are so happy to see them dressed in various kinds of outfits. They always rock the looks and are having fun with it.
FEMM’s fashion has always been a hot topic to consider; the use of items of clothing that is deemed erotic, sexual, and at times crossing boundaries which many will never venture to (in terms of using leather/latex clothing associated with sexual themes as everyday wears). What is the symbolisation behind your fashion?
W-Trouble: Their iconic look is latex wear. Since they are expressionless, their latex wear speak for them instead. Like how the lights reflect on their smooth body lines.
FEMM’s work is filled with empowering and inspiring lyrics which suggest girls and women around the world do what they like and not for others. Is this dominating outpouring throughout your music something that you feel very strongly about?
W-Trouble: Lots of FEMM agents call FEMM’s songs “Girls Anthem” and it’s such a honour. It’s not the only message we want to deliver, but it’s up to the listeners to decide what they feel. If they can relate to FEMM as what they feel as mannequins, then we are happy for that.
Honey-B: Not just FEMM’s music or lyrics, but FEMM themselves are the key to this movement.
How does it feel for you seeing the huge level of fans and interest in FEMM outside of Japan?
W-Trouble: We want FEMM’s message to reach far, so we chose English. It looks like it is delivering far, and we are so excited.
Honey-B: The goal for FEMM is to unite with human, so to reach far is very important. Us agents are here to support that.
There has been lots of discussion where people are associating FEMM’s style and music along with worldwide stars such as Lady Gaga, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and many other strong female figures. How does it feel to know that you are representing the same league as some of the world’s biggest stars?
Honey-B: Since they are mannequins, we are not sure if they are in the same league as other divas, but we feel that there are more people who relate to FEMM’s music. “Do dolls have feelings? Do their songs move people?” It is a concept we’ve began with and want to keep on delivering to the people all over the world.
As a duo FEMM has covered many different themes throughout their music videos. Have there been any themes that you would like to explore in the future? Do you have any news about what we can expect in the near future?
W-Trouble: Nothing specific yet, but we are open to new ideas from FEMM agents.
Honey-B: 80s theme, “Retro Future” is something we would want to try for FEMM.
Thank you for your time, we know that it’s an exciting and new adventure that you are embarking on throughout 2016. We hope that you have an enjoyable time. If you could say a few words to our viewers/readers, what would you like to say?
W-Trouble: Thank you, all agents for supporting FEMM! And for those who’ve just discovered FEMM, welcome to our world! Please keep an eye for them.
Honey-B: January 1st, 2016, we had “PoW!” music video on YouTube and lots of agents told us it would be an amazing year for FEMM. We want to respond to those expectations and think of fun surprises. Please keep on supporting FEMM.
Interview by Kpopkimi and Shalimar Sahota