STRANGEST SIGHT currently brightening up
the live scene must be Kazuko and Kazumi,
the two girls who comprise Frank
Chickens. On stage they sing over Koraoke
backing tapes tapes of songs with
no vocals, which are very common in
Over the last two years
Frank Chickens the name comes from
a Japanese pencil have evolved a
totally unique and highly attractive
range of dances and movements to
physically illustrate the songs. In
between they further charm the audience
by telling jokes in their outrageously
at an etching class in London, both
having moved to England to escape the
restrictive roles which Japanese women
are expected to fill in their homeland.
Their first single was called 'We Are
Ninja', a self-penned tale of the ancient
Japanese secret spy force. More recent
has been 'Blue Canary' and their first
LP, 'We Are Frank Chickens'.
down to a version of the famous Japanese
tea ceremony which, in Kazuko's house in
North London, means Typhoo tea bags and
imagine you must do a lot of strenuous
no," squeals Kazumi, aghast at the
thought of hard work, "usually only
just before a gig."
"We only do intensive rehearsals for
"But 'intensive' means two
afternoons. We change what we do in each
routine and improvise sometimes. The
movements come from the music, it's on
emotional thing which is hard to
In 'Shellfish Bamboo', which is about
street selling, we think about what
street sellers do and adapt our
movements. In 'Tokyo Boogie' we wanted to
show something of Japan but not a
clichéd thing. So we did the
eel-catching dance which is a very folky
dance from Japan and connected it to
they catch any eels?
stares blankly then giggles. "Oh,
that is joke, Ha ha."
"We also use ideas from martial arts
but some parts don't actually mean
anything, just robot-type movements. Like
our break dancing!"
'We saw the Ninja movements in a comic.
We try to make a story in the music but
not always everybody understands it. We
want to make the movements themselves
interesting but if it become too explicit
it would be boring."
it must keep you fit?
'We use up lots of energy. Sometimes when
it's been hot I've thought I was going to
"The dancing really makes you fit.
It's good, we can earn money and
exercise, it's just the audience that
have to suffer."
giggles again. There is indeed a great
sense of fun and adventure about the pair
and while their act does hove its serious
side the examination of Japanese
culture and Western expectations of it
there is no danger of them
becoming overly serious or clinically
"People have said we are like little
girls who are excited, We don't want to
lose that and be professional and adult
and look like we know more than the
audience. We'd rather appear like little
girls who are enjoying the stage. It's
closer to the truth."
"We do enjoy the stage."
Frank ones have just returned from
appearing in Europe and America and are
hoping to tour Japan soon. Both have only
been back once to visit since they left
some six years ago. On that occasion
Kazumi's parents thought she'd become
"a tramp or something."
It will be good to play there. Just to
show people that they can do what they
decide to do. We started Frank Chickens
by going on stage with a backing tape but
then got on radio and TV, made records
and had lots of fun. But Japanese people
don't think of that. If we play they
might think we are really bad but just
doing it would be really good".
the Chicken talents would admirably lend
themselves to video. But the twosome are
sitting on the pause button until they
find a way of participating in the
creative process rather than merely
appearing in the finished article.
however. harbour a secret ambition to
appear on a Japanese TV New Years Eve
"They have a programme which is
really popular and lasts about three
hours where male and female singers are
divided into two teams. It's very
prestigious if you're on it your
fee goes up! It's a government TV station
and they spend a lot of money on it,
there are revolving stages, snow coming
down and every song has a different
"It's watched by about fifty per
cent of the population. It's a ritual to
finish the year."
"You con even see it here if you get
tickets from the Japanese consul. I saw
it two years ago at a cinema in Leicester
Square. It was a Sunday morning and there
were thousands of Japanese people in
Leicester Square, someone said it was the
third world war.
music is very popular on TV too, They
play the music and the lyrics come up at
the bottom of the screen so you con
singalong. One supermarket even had a
competition where people brought in their
Karaoke tapes and song their favourite
song on TV.
I was back last year I saw Michael
Jackson's 'Thriller' video on TV but that
"There is one channel (out of 12)
which shows Western music but a lot of it
is middle-of-the-road music from
differs from the stage set by containing
nine original tracks and only one cover.
The music too is provided by Englishmen
Steve Beresford and David Toop.
"There was a copyright problem
anyway but we didn't want to make covers
of Japanese songs with English musicians
as was suggested to us. If we did that we
would want to work with Japanese
musicians. We are lucky that we have a
certain amount of freedom in choosing the
songs we want to do. There are no other
Japanese women around in bands so there
is no competition and we're nor forced to
compromise because we are so unusual. I
don't mean unusually talented but just
face the fact that we exist."
what people who have never seen you
perform will think of the LP?
"They will think that we have very
strong Japanese accents!"
they'd be right!