MUSIC

Anime-Inspired Alt J-Pop Duo Bakénéko Is Back with Glitch Electronic Bop, "Stay"

"Stay" lures listeners in with joyful, exciting energy that masks an inherent darkness hidden in the lyrics.

Bakeneko

Hot on the heels of their stellar debut single, "Remember," LA-based alt J-Pop duo Bakénéko is back with an electric new song⁠—"Stay."

Inspired by anime music and light novels like Doki Doki Literature Club, otaku fans will feel right at home with singer/songwriter Mai and composer/producer Brandon's chosen aesthetic. Further carving out a niche true to their namesake (Bakénéko is a shapeshifting cat yōkai from Japanese folklore), "Stay" is a bilingual bop that effortlessly alternates between English and Japanese. The musically complex track blends dreamy electronica with upbeat pop rock in the vein of J-Pop idols like Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Frequent shifts between Mai's haunting vocals during the soft verses and glitchy, robotic vocals during the amped up refrains create a captivating sense of dissonance that is aptly reflected in the lyrics.

"Stay" tells the story of a possessive girlfriend attempting to coerce her former lover back into a relationship through surveillance and harassment. Much like a real abusive relationship, "Stay" lures listeners in with joyful, exciting energy that masks the inherent danger of lyrics like: "Stay, stay, stay / Tell me you'll obey / Doing whatever I want to / Oh, no way / I can make you play / Try me once, you'll never escape." If we're too busy focusing on the fun exterior, we might not spot the red flags until it's already too late.

Mai said, "'Crazy ex' is what the girl I'm portraying is called, right? But when a guy actually showed this kind of behaviour to me, people reassured me that he was just 'committed to love.' That's why I stayed so long in that relationship, and I hope flipping the genders helps others see how manipulative and messed up that double-standard is."

Alongside their projects as Bakénéko, Mai and Brandon's audio work can also be heard on film and television, across series for Netflix, E! Network, Facebook Watch, Amazon Prime TV, and an upcoming unannounced AppleTV+ production. Make sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter, too, especially if you like engaging with talented musicians who know what's happening in My Hero Academia.

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MUSIC

Bakénéko Blends J-Pop, Alt Rock, and Anime in Stellar Debut Single "Remember"

Strong themes of duality bleed throughout Bakénéko's fantastic premiere.

Borrowing their name from a shapeshifting cat yōkai (or supernatural creature in Japanese folklore), LA-based alt J-POP duo Bakénéko effortlessly blends genres and languages in their first single, "Remember."

Much like a cat that can turn into a human, Bakénéko also excels at dualities. "Remember" opens with an upbeat guitar/synth track in the tradition of legendary electronic artists like Porter Robinson and CHVRCHES. Then the vocals cut in and "Remember" transforms into something familiar but also wholly original. Singer/songwriter M performs the main verses in Japanese and the chorus in English, but her voice remains constant—pretty, soft, and drenched in melancholy. The dissonance between the upbeat composition and downbeat vocals conveys a deep sense of pained nostalgia. "Remember" would fit in effortlessly amongst some of the best anime ending themes.

Bak\u00e9n\u00e9ko

Centered around a personal reflection on fighting within a relationship built on genuine love, "Remember" aptly expresses themes of duality through its lyrics, too. The first pre-chorus translates to: "If the world sees only black or white / Then lets mix a grey zone together." This message of blending black and white into grey lies at the very core of Bakénéko's identity. "Until the viral growth of anime, I grew up shunned by two cultures," said M. "Wielding both languages is me finally embracing my Japanese heritage and American upbringing. Both have flaws, both have wonders, and that's okay. I'm okay."

Bak\u00e9n\u00e9ko

While "Remember" marks Bakénéko's premiere, both members of the two-person group (composer/producer, B, and M, who did the sound design along with vocals and songwriting) have been working in the TV and film audio production industry for years. Their work can be heard everywhere from E! Network to Facebook Watch and Amazon Prime. We look forward to hearing what they'll put out next, but in the meantime, be sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter for some "otaku trash" opinions.