When you think of ATARASHII GAKKO!, you probably usually smile to yourself. The schoolgirl-themed quartet projects a light-hearted vibe, known for their comical skits and dance routines. But their latest release, a remix of “Pineapple Kryptonite” by Yohji Igarashi, has decidedly darker themes. It starts off tense, with stuttered screaming over pummeling industrial techno kicks. The track evolves as it progresses, with acid squelches worming their way through through the beat until it transitions into a hardstyle section. Ultimately, it finds a cathartic resolution, like they worked through inner demons by shedding excess energy on the dancefloor.
The remix began its life on an episode of ATARASHII’s web series, “After School KARAOKE –Episode: In the BOX”. While the track’s prototype plays, the girls are head banging in a KTV room. The kind folks at 88rising were digging the remix, so they commissioned the full version. “The song has a rough theme of rave revival, but I wanted to link it to the current state of dance music, to make sure it was more modern,” Igarashi explains.
Igarashi was born and raised in Tokyo and started producing at 15 years old, using samples from a Roland 404 drum machine. At first he was inspired by classic Japanese rap, the whole boom bap 90s wave. But he eventually started making dance music leaning a bit towards EDM styles. Unfortunately, the crowds for instrumental dance music were too small, so he began gravitating towards vocalists. Luckily he found Hiyadam, a Japanese rapper interested in spitting over house beats. “There aren’t many club music producers in Japan, but he was really trying to find the right person,” Igarashi says.
Hiyadam had already dropped the “Fuckbois” remix in 2018, which hinted at his intentions. When Igarashi started working with him shortly afterwards, they fully realized the “New Hip House” sound that he had been seeking out. “It took a lot of trial and error to get to this,” Igarashi says. “We use house beats, but I’m careful not to make it too much like party rap. I aim for a style calm enough so you can listen to the rapping, but energetic enough that you can dance to it too.” The bouncy synth stab rhythms and quick tempos are instantly recognizable. You can hear some of that in another recent project he worked on with Japanese singer Daoko as well.
He’s currently busy producing Hiyadam’s entire upcoming album. But the ATARASHII remix has also inspired him to make more instrumental dance music: “After all, I love dance tracks. It’s sort of like returning to my roots.”