July 7 2022
The pop duo’s playlist reveals their sources of inspiration and acts as a biography of the band.
The music of Schuwa Schuwa, a musical project formed by Teruko Konse and Kohei Watanabe, is most enticing for not just its variety of influences but how much detail is given to paying tribute to them. Each track the duo has released so far has entertained a vast number of stylistic and artistic inspirations – all swaddled under the guise of smooth, soulful pop.
Both members of Schuwa Schuwa work on writing the music, though Konse is responsible for lyrics and Watanabe for production, music videos and artworks. Konse studied in Paris and, as such, touts a taste for electro and French pop. Watanabe, meanwhile, has a background in photography and a passion for soul, funk and R&B.
Together, the duo’s music can flit between silky dreaminess and pithy electronics but it’s always detail-oriented and features mobile, varied songwriting. Schuwa Schuwa’s debut EP Are You Schuwa?, released in March of this year, stands to confirm the group’s talents so far – and build excitement for a full-length project.
Following that release, we got together with the duo to curate a playlist. Here’s how they chose to introduce it:
“BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System, a programme on the motherboard of a computer which is at the root of its start-up process. This playlist of important songs is both a biography of Schuwa Schuwa and reveals sources of creativity for the band’s two members.”
You can listen to Are You Schuwa? on streaming services here.
When forming Schuwa Schuwa, we both mentioned Breakbot when we shared our favourite music. Light strings and catchy melodies ride over funky, powerful beats, and the sense of balance in production is often considered in Schuwa Schuwa’s music. (Teruko / Kohei)
The individual sounds of the instruments are very simple, but when they become a whole song, they form a beautiful wall of unity. (Kohei)
Since I first saw them perform in Japan when I was at university, the vivid poppy-ness and fresh beat of this song has been an important starting point for me. (Teruko)
I feel that the atmosphere of ‘90s and 2000s pop music that I used to listen to and sing in my childhood is rooted here. The rhythms makes your body start to move involuntarily and the sweet vocal textures make you feel comfortable, like you’re riding waves. I want to make music that moves people's bodies and hearts. (Teruko)
It was when I first heard Air that I truly believed in the power of sound. This song seems to have an ambient and fragile atmosphere, with each unique sound folding in on itself and clearly conveying a scene, even without words. (Teruko)
This song has what I consider the ideal kind of lyrics. It's a pity that the lyrics are in Japanese and there is no English translation, but the beginning of the song evocatively opens up the scene of a story. I think the lyrics are beautiful because they convey so much without using difficult words. (Teruko)
When creating the sound of Schuwa Schuwa, we were particularly nervous about the drums and synthesisers. We wanted our songs to transcend the framework of simple pop music. That's what we needed most. The kick drum sound of the drum machine used by Midnight Star, like a basketball bouncing on the floor, the reverb of the snare drum reverb, the core thickness of the Prophet-5 and the shimmer of the filter and the analogue synthesiser sound, are all used in our music. We were consciously trying to reproduce these sounds. (Kohei)
When we try to communicate something, we sometimes speak louder than necessary or embellish excessively. But when we listen to this song, we get the feeling that we don't need to do that, and it gently pushes us back. I want to make people think that the songs of Schuwa Schuwa can help them convey what they want to say with their own words, even if they are not very good at it. (Kohei)
I’ve been influenced by Prince not only in terms of sound, but also in all aspects of diligence, stoicism, creativity, motivation and my approach to dealing with music. (Kohei)