By Kat Bein
Kero Kero Bonito's Sarah Midori Perry need not whisper a kawaii word to rile up the Coachella crowd. A simple flash of a fuzzy stuffed flamingo does the trick. The British bilingual trio, rounded out by musicians Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled, blends J-pop cuteness with 2000s-era video game sounds to craft a nostalgic effervescence that's taken fans around the Internet by storm.
The group's latest album, Time 'n' Place, pushed its sound even further, incorporating experimental noise, metal growls, and all manner of punk destructiveness to blow fans away with edgy inventiveness. Electronic superstar Porter Robinson is a very vocal fan, and the first-weekend crowds at Coachella emboldened the group's debut with rapturous cheers and happy sing-alongs.
KKB made their Coachella debut on Friday (April 12), joined onstage by two new touring members who help bring a new element of sonic chaos into the performance. There was sugary sweetness and anarchic meltdowns. They played a snippet of the Super Mario Bros. theme and even dedicated one song to Jafar from Disney's Aladdin. After, MTV News met the band's founding three members backstage to chat about their newfound wildness, latest releases, and more.
MTV News: Congratulations on your awesome Coachella performance. This is your first time playing the festival, right?
Gus: Yeah, first time ever here. Debut in every way.
Sarah: We were super excited when we found out we were gonna play this festival.
Gus: Coachella has this cache no other festival has, for whatever reason. For us to be involved, to be able to represent KKB, is a moment of huge pride for us.
MTV News: And everybody was chanting “KKB” during the performance.
Sarah: Yeah, that made me emotional. I came off the stage and just shed a happy tear. It was crazy and amazing.
Gus: It felt like a home crowd, which is insane. That's never guaranteed at any festival anywhere. To come out here and feel like that is mind blowing ... London is great, but I've got to say, actually, L.A. and New York and all over America [is great] as well. We have a lot of fun touring America. For some reason, the crowds here, we feel like we connect with them. New York and L.A. feel almost as much like home shows as London does.
MTV News: I read that you guys met Sarah because you posted for a third member on a Japanese expat bulletin board?
Gus: We put a few adverts online, and we were just looking for any singer really. We were playing with this friend who was half-Japanese and half-German at the time, and he told us about this website MixB, where Japanese expatriates in London post for jobs and stuff. He was like, “I'll write an advert for you,” and funnily enough, the best person we met by far was through that unlikely alley.
MTV News: How were the bilingual lyrics originally received, and is that something you've found resonates with your audience in any particular way?
Sarah: I always wanted to do something that used both of my heritages. I grew up in Japan and the U.K. I always wanted to mix both together when I express myself. It just came naturally when I started writing. I usually think in both anyway. That's how I naturally am, and I wasn't expecting [this reception]. Even at Coachella, people are singing the Japanese bit. I'm like, how is this happening?
MTV News: In your earlier work, there was more emphasis on cute pop, and on the last album, Time 'n' Place, there was this wonderful juxtaposition of those elements with a really glorious noise. What drove that experimentation, and where does that come from in your background?
Gus: Growing up, we were listening to dance music and video-game music, but also there was other stuff. Sarah, when she was really young, was listening to, like, Avril Lavigne. Me and Jamie, we were playing in GarageBand, listening to the Klaxons, CSS, My Bloody Valentine, that whole thing. It was these two strands always that we were raised on. We've always just done what we wanted to, what feels really good to do. At that point in time, for various reasons, we just felt like we needed to make noise. We need to thrash about, hit drums, turn knobs. We need to fuck about with our electronics, break things and make some noise. We did, and Time 'n' Place was the result.
MTV News: Is there a certain level of confidence in yourselves that helps?
Gus: Confidence or utter stupidity.
Jamie: Somewhere between confidence and ignorance.
MTV News: And Sarah, your growling, are you loving it? Do you have growlers that you look up to in the music scene?
Sarah: Well, I have been listening to Marilyn Manson. It's just always been there, it's just finally trying to let it out.
MTV News: What's it like to have Porter Robinson as a super fan?
Gus: We have a lot in common with him. We all love playing [Nintendo 64] and video-game music. We're really into deep dance music culture but also disillusioned with the more arbitrary machinations of the music industry, and trying to do something different – breaking it a bit into something really cool, something we're really passionate about. That kind of marks a lot of the people we hang out with, and Porter as well. All of this stuff about him being an influential EDM artist — he just feels like a mate, really.
MTV News: You guys just put out a video for “Swimming” three weeks ago. It looks like it was filmed in the U.K.
Jamie: Yeah, a place called Dorset. There's a couple seaside – I don't know the word but like – things.
Jamie: Landmarks! Devil's summit. There's a lighthouse. It was a no brainer again, and we woke up very early to do it. We caught some of the good stuff at about 7 a.m.
Sarah: We saw the sunrise.
Jamie: It was actually probably the easiest one to shoot because of the landmarks. They just did it [laughs]. We're really happy with that one.
MTV News: Is there anything else you guys are working on that you want to shout out?
Gus: We're headlining London on May 23 at the Electric Ballroom, our biggest London show. That will be super exciting, and we'll be back in America soon.