Broadcast 8: Charisma.com
Welcome back to another O!Susume broadcast. This time around we’re looking at a quirky duo who found a way to combine their disparate musical talents, creating a musical force that propelled them up the charts with a trajectory towards a national breakout. However, after six short years, they walked off the stage as quickly as they had arrived, leaving only their legacy to live on for them.
Years Active: 2011 – 2017
Core Members: MC Itsuka, DJ Gonchi
Point of Origin: n/a
One member of our duo, Itsuka, had intentions of forming her own project after dropping out of another band as a vocalist. She was interested in developing her rapping style; many nights at karaoke had made her realize that not many people would attempt the rap portions of popular songs, while she herself was inspired by groups that included such elements. Through mutual connections she asked Gonchi to join her project as a DJ, as Gonchi had some experience using her brother’s turntables. And thus, Charisma.com was born in 2011.
I expect the project’s name gave them more grief than they bargained for, as far as search engine optimization goes. The name came from an old nickname Itsuka had been given, who then added the ‘.com’ to the end. She professes that at the time, she thought it stood for “company”, rather than identifying a website as a commercial property. I have to admit it gave me my own spot of grief when I effectively had all my notes for this article erased because my computer thought the ‘.com’ in the file title was a file extension, and thus refused to open it under any circumstances.
The pair had some early success by uploading their first singles on Youtube from 2011-2013, with “Hate” and “George” helping them to form a fanbase. They ended up re-recording “Hate” a couple years later, which broke the top 50 of Billboard’s singles chart. Their rise continued when itunes staff promoted them as ‘up-and-comers’ in 2014 alongside the release of their first album Ai Ai Syndrome, culminating in a record deal with Sony Music Japan in 2015.
Charisma.com’s musical vibe of speed rap bars laced with electronic dance beats and rhythms likely worked in their favor when contrasted against their other idiosyncrasy: both women were only ‘moonlighting’ as an online-based breakout project, while they also held jobs as OLs (Office Ladies) at unassuming Japanese companies. They continued these double lives throughout their entire musical career, basing many of their songs on situations or conversations observed at their workplaces. Several of their themes also resonated with their younger millennial audience, producing songs that address diet fads, social media anxiety, or the general feeling of being left behind in the world.
At the end of 2017, the duo announced that Charisma.com would be on indefinite hiatus. DJ Gonchi retired from music to focus on her work at her family business, while MC Itsuka continued to collaborate with other projects, as well as produce solo work. The most recent thing as of the time of this writing on Charisma.com’s Youtube channel is an MV for “Introduction的な” (Introduction Tekina), a solo production by Itsuka uploaded in 2018.
Charisma.com’s ‘signature sound’ is their buzzy, twisty mashup of electronica and rap/hip-hop, with many of their best hits fully embracing Itsuka’s brash, “yankee-poi” rapper persona, while Gonchi has the freedom to oscillate wildly between wide-eyed alien and giggly thirty-something onee-san. No matter what tone they take over the cameras or the stage with, they make it hard to look away, and even harder to avoid grooving along. When they’re in full swing, their sound is genuinely mesmeric.
It was hard to choose one of their ‘A-side’ songs to recommend first, but I settled on “イイナズケブルー” (Cuckoo’s Blue) because it shows just how much intensity and energy the two of them can build up with their respective personas. It’s also a great showcase of Itsuka’s flow meshing with Gonchi’s beats in a funky and hypnotic way.
“お局ロック(Otubone Rock)” is another A-side hit of theirs with a bizarre yet fun MV. I don’t know if it was a directorial decision or what, but giving Gonchi various items to keep her hands busy, like a back massager and a pair of baseball noisemakers, added an entertaining dimension to the video.
I wanted to round out the recommendations with something from the tail end of their career; “#hashdark” was one of their final projects, produced in 2017, less than a year before they would announce their indefinite hiatus. The MV has a more reserved quality compared to their earlier productions with incredible effects and backup dancers; this time it’s just Itsuka and Gonchi strolling around Tokyo at night, showing off their wide array of stylish outfits. Worth noting, this song has a similar vibe to their series of “自撮ーる” (selfie) videos, which are worth watching to see both of them singing to a camera on a selfie stick and generally acting adorkable.
Artist Site: http://official-charisma.com/
Official Youtube Channel: link
Broadcast written by: Nagi