Visual Kei music – where looks is part of the appeal

To mark Japanese band Alice Nine’s concert at The Coliseum on 28 June 2014,  here’s a primer to what ‘Visual Kei’ is.

From the land best known for its Samurais, sakuras and animes, there exists a brand of music that (partly) sells itself on its outlandishly dressed bands – Visual Kei.

alice nine

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What is it?

Visual kei (vijuaru kei in Japanese) literally means visual style of music. It’s a movement that began in the 1980s and is a joining of outrageous, over-the-top attire with music from various genres, including (but not limited to) rock, heavy metal, electronic and pop. Many even perform slow ballads but the most popular tend to be in the rock, metal and punk genres.

The way the music is dramatised is not unlike another art form in Japan – the Kabuki theatre. They both share exaggerated dance moves and flashy costumes. Plus, it’s not unusual for genders to cross dress for their particular roles.

kabuki

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Visual shock

For those who are into Japanese culture, the eclectic dress shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the Japanese created anime cosplay and Lolita fashion.

Visual kei bands can dress up in styles ranging from dark Goth to bright futuristic or even just plain business suits. They draw from a variety of fashion styles, from subtle to extremes, and are seldom without plenty of accessories and makeup.

visual kei mask

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It’s not unusual to find some bands looking like characters out of an anime, with the accompanying spiky hair and flamboyant costumes. On the other end, you may find bands wearing ‘simpler’ leather clothing that won’t look out of place in Harajuku (but not anywhere else).

Not just a male thing

It’s not just the guys who dress up as girls; there are females in the visual kei world too. And they may even dress up as guys if it fits the theme of the band, while still maintaining a feminine side to appeal to male fans.

revivre visual kei

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The appeal of visual kei has grown from mainly just the Japanese in the 20th century to an international audience in the last decade. In part, its growth is fuelled by the how the anime industry has expanded beyond the shores of Japan.

To cater to this growth, the visual kei bands are performing more regularly outside of Japan. For example, Alice Nine, one of the newer and more recognisable visual kei bands will be performing here in Singapore as part of their [Supernova Symphonia] Tour, at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore on 28 June 2014.

Alice Nine at RWS

Here’s your chance to see Alice Nine perform live. Get your Alice Nine concert tickets online.

 

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