As a girls’ anthem with a darkly humorous message, mannequin rap duo FEMM’s acclaimed song ‘Fxxk Boyz Get Money’ found an audience with teens and influencers in the United States, quickly spreading around Europe, South America and Asia. Before long, FEMM fans – known as “agents” – were everywhere around the world. FEMM’s debut album ‘Femm-Isation’ brought Japanese female rap to a whole new audience, reaching the Top 10 of Billboard’s World Albums chart in the US.
Recently it was announced that the previously stiff FEMM1.0 mannequin units had received a firmware update to FEMM2.0, allowing them to achieve convincingly human-like levels of emotional expression. And then today, November 6, the newly upgraded FEMM released double A-side single ‘Level Up’ / ‘Summer Dream’ (FEMM + Duke of Harajuku) in partnership with rising independent label and longtime FEMM cohorts tokyovitamin.
Also, the music video for ‘Level Up feat. Duke of Harajuku’, which marks Chapter 2 in FEMM’s story, was also released.
FEMM: ‘Level Up feat. Duke of Harajuku’ music video
The video is a remarkable work of cyberpunk visual worldbuilding, showing FEMM undergoing the firmware update to version 2.0 in a world with polluted air. The overly vivid colours on screen feed a growing sense of anxiety. The video was directed by Yuki Tsujimoto, whose work is known for its eye-catching use of colour and edgy editing. The members of FEMM themselves handled the styling.
Additionally, on November 20, ‘Level Up feat. Duke of Harajuku’ will be included on a brand-new six-song EP titled ‘404 Not Found’. The title will be familiar to fans who encountered the error message displayed on FEMM’s official website these past few weeks, which caused FEMM agents to worry about the duo’s future. It was a teaser for the new EP.
The members of FEMM say that they chose the title ‘404 Not Found’ to suggest “brand-new music that doesn’t exist (yet), no matter how hard you search for it.”
The EP offers radical rap styles over fierce industrial tracks, pulling in elements of ‘dark pop,’ a style that combines musicality and message and is now sweeping the world’s music scene. Rather than merely riding this trend, FEMM draws elements into their sound to offer a whole new musical experience and a rich seam of emotion.
‘404 Not Found’ includes production by DaBaby and Lil Uzi Vert collaborator Star Boy and female Japanese trackmakers ANJULIECAT a.k.a. YUA, and Diana Chiaki. They were approached directly by the members of FEMM as fans of their work.
Other talented producers on the EP include Danny L Harle, a key member of London-based next-generation label PC Music who has produced for the likes of Charli XCX; Japanese bass music scene players HABANERO POSSE; Japanese hip-hop linchpin KM; and Radical Hardcore Clique, pioneers of the Japalanta genre that blends traditional Japanese music and trap.
London-based illustrator Max Prentis designed the cover art. It depicts a lonely AI character that wanders the internet in the distant future, long after humankind’s extinction. It continues to attempt to access websites that will never be updated, displaying only the error message “404 Not Found”.
With an unpredictable sound that overheats quietly, FEMM’s latest music melds the boundaries between humans and machines, borders and languages, to deliver “a world that this world has never seen.”
Artist: FEMM + Duke of Harajuku
Double A-side single: ‘Level Up’ / ‘Summer Dream’
Release date: November 6, 2020
- ‘Level Up feat. Duke of Harajuku’ (producers: Star Boy + Loesoe + RHC)
- ‘Summer Dream feat. FEMM (S+ Ver.)’ (producers: Aztro Boy + RHC)
EP: ‘404 Not Found’
Release date: November 11, 2020
- ‘Sit Down’ (producer: HABANERO POSSE)
- ‘Bury Me (with all my $$)’ (producer: ANJULIECAT)
- ‘Peach’ (producer: Danny L Harle / Radical Hardcore Clique)
- ‘Play By The Rules’ (producer: Diana Chiaki]
- ‘Boss’ (producer: KM)
- ‘Level Up feat. Duke of Harajuku’ (producer: Star Boy / Loesoe / Radical Hardcore Clique)