Succeeding in captivating the Japanese music scene with their unconventional style and poignant narrative, the End of the World rides their momentum to reach a worldwide audience. The Tokyo-based electro-pop band, known as SEKAI NO OWARI in their home country, adopted several colors and stories over a span of seven years to deliver their first English-language album, Chameleon.
Complete with commissioned cover art by renowned artist Takashi Murakami, Chameleon serves thirteen tracks imbued with personal love stories, romantic daydreams, and heartbreak journeys. The album features the hit single “Rollerskates” along with international artist collaborations with Joe Jonas’ DNCE, Indonesian singer-songwriter NIKI, and British acts Clean Bandit and Gabrielle Aplin.
Fronted by Fukase, Nakajin, Saori, and DJ LOVE, the End of the World rounds over a decade-long musical journey with a promising global footprint. The band recently released the first offering of 2021 with the single “Fangs” featuring Martin Vogt.
We had the opportunity to ask the band some questions on Chameleon, taking the stage at Spotify’s first virtual livestream concert Tokyo Best Hits Live 2020, their experience working with Mick Guzauski and Takashi Murakami, their distinctive sound, what is to come from the band this year and more.
Could you please introduce yourselves and explain your unique musical style for any listeners unfamiliar with your work?
End of the World: Hi, we are End of the World from Japan. We are a four-piece band with a piano, DJ and guitar with NO drums, which is quite unusual. We go by SEKAI NO OWARI as another moniker, so we are almost running two different projects.
Can you elaborate on the album’s title “Chameleon” and the significance of the echoed themes threaded through each track of overcoming heartbreak, romantic daydreams to addressing mental health?
End of the World: The title Chameleon is not a sum of the contents of the lyrics or mode of each song; it rather represents the whole attitude and theme of the album making process. We’ve spent almost seven years putting this album together, we started from basically translating Japanese songs into English and we’ve tried many different styles and sounds trying to find our color, by changing its color which we thought CHAMELEON best described.
What works and/or artists have influenced your songwriting and overall distinctive sound?
End of the World: Each one of us has personal influence from different genres of music so that is at the core reflected in our works. For example, Saori comes from classical background so I’m sure you can see some of that factor in our sounds.
Fukase: I have always been a fan of electro music, especially Daft Punk, so you can see us using a lot of synthesizers on this album.
The album is said to encapsulate the band’s personal stories over seven years. Can you explain your creative process and did your approach change over time from the album’s original idea?
End of the World: Yes and No, we’ve always tried to achieve to call this album our own and personal. But as we moved forward, there were times we thought we were disguised in someone else’s color or tried to be someone else. We realized we were in search of our color. This album making process was basically our whole growth. We just went for it and tried everything we could and wrote music we felt was right at the time. As it took 7 years to come to a point we were happy to release, we have rewritten many songs, rearranged thousands of times finding that right match.
Over your career, the band has collaborated with some big-name artists, including Epik High and Owl City. ‘Chameleon’ features impressive artists collaborations with DNCE, Clean Bandit, NIKI, and singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin. Why did the band decide to collaborate with such unique artists of varying genres and nationalities for this English language debut album, and how was each style and sound blended in each respective track to achieve End of the World’s narrative?
End of the World: Basically, we started approaching artists we loved first. The very first artist was Owl City, I think, I really liked his music and I could see some similarities we had. Clean Bandit also. When we started to have a bit of connections and chances to meet other artists, the collaborations started to happen quite naturally.
How was your experience in completing the final stages of this new album over Zoom with Grammy Award-winner mixing and sound engineer Mick Guzauski?
End of the World: It was amazing. His sense of placing the sound in the spectrum was just mind blowing. By working with Mick the goal was met 120%. It was such an honor to work with Mick, he paid so much respect for what we were trying to achieve and made us so comfortable to work with him. We had to work over Zoom but we would love to work with him in person next time.
How did the creative process with Takashi Murakami look and how did he best capture the album’s message and the group’s style for the cover art?
End of the World: He was really communicative, he had shared almost every process and asked for our opinion. When we first saw that first draft, I was already in love with it! The title spoke quite strong and it is definitely reflected in the artwork.
Can you explain your experience of being one of seven artists chosen to take the stage at Spotify’s first virtual livestream concert ‘Tokyo Best Hits Live 2020’?
End of the World: It was a great opportunity for us to perform the new music from the album. It was actually one of our first online live, so it was really a first experience. I found it really hard to feel real though, there is no one responding to you, you can’t see the faces who are listening to your performance. It’s a very different feeling compared to actually live show, but we are really glad to have had the chance to play new music from the album.
How has Spotify help promote your music and reach global audiences, especially during these times of lockdown given the current public health crisis?
End of the World: We didn’t have a streaming platform back then, it was all physical CDs, and it was so much harder to find new music from outside of the country. But digital streaming platforms definitely helped to connect with fans and listeners that we have never visited, which I’m still digesting and getting used to but that is an amazing thing. The current situation has really put us away from visiting different cities and countries, so it means a lot to us.
What has been the most memorable highlight in your career to date?
End of the World: We’ve been making music for a long time, but we feel the day we all got together in our home studio to listen to the final mix of the album is the highest mark, it felt so exciting that this is finally going out to the world and this project is actually starting.
What is next for End of the World in 2021 that fans should expect, and are there any particular goals you would like to achieve?
End of the World: Doing shows! Really want to start performing this new album in many different cities and countries. And our goal is to see the faces of those who listened to this album and likes this album. We want to see them in person!!
Chameleon is out now via Land Music. Stream and download on all major music platforms here and watch the music video for their hit single “Rollerskates” below.
Adriana Chavez is the editor for Vacancy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org