The Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie is an incredibly esoteric unit. The up-and-coming band, consisted of the lead singer Chi- and Whoopies 1 and 2, has finished its first EP that summarizes its journey so far, titled, PLAY WITH ME. The iconic orange hair, distinctive crooning, Mixture-rock sound reflecting its unique sensibility, and catchy name—The band cannot be described solely with one word and exudes a mysterious presence, which makes us question, ‘Who are they?’ Through this interview, you will be discovering about the quirky band as we look back together at Chi-’s childhood memories and how she started music.
There was nothing left but the ‘final option’ of music
――First of all, I would like to hear about your childhood memories, as I remember you saying, ‘There’s no point of me living, and that hasn’t changed since I was little.’ —This remark made me wonder what your childhood was like.
Chi-: I think I was an energetic child, but there has always been a bit of darkness in me. When I was in middle school, my friends told me, ‘You have eyes like a dead fish’ [laughs]. I wasn’t depressed or anything, but I had a cold attitude—always thinking, ‘We all die in the end anyway.’
――You were probably looking at things with a bird’s-eye-view.
Chi-: I think so. When you’re in school, you’re often enforced to be in a group. Especially girls [they like to form cliques]. Whenever there was a dispute in the group, I was mostly seeing the situation from the perspective of an outsider.
――What led you to start music while you were holding on to the melancholic feelings?
Chi-: I’ve never been a person who’s passionate towards living life, and I became even more jaded at the time when I graduated high-school. ‘What’s the purpose of living?’—that thought became stronger. But at the same time, I thought, ‘Why not do whatever I want as if it’s my last chance.’ I contemplated deeply, trying to figure out what I really wanted to do, and came to realize that music was it—and I’m continuing it to this day.
――So, you were living life thinking, ‘There’s no point of living life,’ since you were little—Were you ever scared to live life like that?
Chi-: It’s certain that I’ve always had obscure feelings towards life. It got worse right when I graduated high school. Since I was little, I’d strongly felt that I didn’t want to exist, and even longed to be a water flea [laughs]. I had the urgency to pull myself out of the rut, and that’s probably the reason why I started music.
――It seems difficult to turn that negative feeling of not wanting to exist into music.
Chi-: I agree [laughs]. Normally, I’m demure and prefer to live discretely, but I can be different with music. I started music thinking that ‘I could disappear anytime,’ so I’ve never feared of anything in doing music. With music, I want to stand out, and feel like I can embrace all my flaws of not being able to get along with others, and turn them into my uniqueness and strengths.
――So, you can be different from your usual self with music.
Chi-: That’s right. Basically, when I make music, I let out my negative emotions like sorrow and anger, and I think these pessimistic feelings can often be conjured and released through music. I play music hoping for the listeners to perceive my messages.
Loneliness and negativity could become your strength
――I see. So, you met the two Whoopies along your music journey—can you tell me about how you guys started Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie?
Chi-: A month after I started pursuing my career in music, I began playing live shows once a month in Tokyo. The Whoopies were watching my second show in Tokyo, and it all started from there. Back then, they played a song for me as a reference and told me, “We want to play this type of music,” but that song was so damn dark… [laughs]. At that time, the music they shared was new to me, but nowadays, you see artists like Billie Eilish and those slightly dark tunes are in. So, I guess the Whoopies were like foreseeing the future. The songs they played for me were really cool.
――Have you ever asked the Whoopies why they chose and asked you to start a band with them?
Chi-: They wanted me to join the band since they heard me sing. They found out about me on the internet, and came out to see my show!
――I agree, you have an amazing voice! By the way, the name of the band, Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie, is an exquisitely mysterious name.
Chi-: There is an American snack called Chocolate Lime Whoopie Pie, and one day, the Whoopies came up and asked me, “Wouldn’t it be cute if this was our band name?” So, we were inspired from that name and changed ‘Chocolate’ to my favorite animal, ‘Chameleon.’ I have a thing for chameleons—I love the way they live [laughs].
――That’s interesting [laughs]. Can you tell me specifically what you like about chameleons?
Chi-: Chameleons can camouflage themselves to match the environment, and that’s an ability that I definitely don’t obtain. I’ve never been good at blending into a social group or new environment…. So, I have this respect towards chameleons, as they can adapt according to their surroundings.
――I can tell from the lyrics of the songs in the 1st EP, PLAY WITH ME. I assume you have this negative notion against people in groups and certain sentiment towards loneliness, which you feel on a regular basis.
Chi-: That’s something I’ve been feeling since I was younger. I used to have negative feeling towards loneliness, but as I get older, I’ve come to realize that everyone feels lonely at some point. Being part of a crowd makes me feel smaller, and whenever I try to do something in a crowd, I’m bound by rules in order to protect the crowd—That makes me feel burdened and feeble. On the other hand, when I’m alone, there’s nothing for me to lose, and I feel stronger and invincible. I know I have the Whoopies to back me up, but it’s imperative for me to keep my head up high to fight through my own life’s challenges.
――I’ve noticed that your lyrics involve some shadow aspects, but they always end in light, and seem to be representing what you’re seeking in this world—what are the messages you want to deliver to the listeners through your songs?
Chi-: I was at rock bottom when I started music, so right now, I’m not scared of anything. I think being in an incredibly negative state makes you indomitable in the end. People who are positive as a result of overcoming negativities, are extremely strong; and I believe there’s always something good after negative events—I want the listeners to capture this message.
――I guess that’s similar to the concept of what you mentioned earlier, ‘Let’s play in the world of insanity.’
Chi-: Regarding our lyrics, I think they fit well to the circumstances of the modern world. I’ve never predicted that the world was going to be like this, but I’m surprised how the lyrics exactly match the present age [laughs].
As representatives of ‘Punk,’ we want to alter the Japanese music scene
――I think another characteristic of the 1st EP, PLAY WITH ME, is probably the unique sounds. I personally think the Mixture-rock-ish sounds are incredibly fascinating—what kind of sounds is Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie aiming to pursue?
Chi-: I’m essentially a fan of artists like, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Michael Jackson, and James Brown, but the Whoopies love Beastie Boys, and mixed genre music like rock-meets-digital music and rock-meets-hip-hop. So, I think our tastes in music are conflated and mashed up in our songs. In other words, every member has its own musical preference, and they are all fused into one. However, Whoopies often claim, “We are doing Punk music,” so, I guess we fall in the genre of punk… [laughs].
――So, you guys have something like an unyielding sprit?
Chi-: I do have a strong will to change the Japanese music scene. It might sound obnoxious, but from the bottom of my heart, I really want to alter J-POP—so, I guess that part of me is punk.
――You seem to have a punk-ish sprit. Why do you want to change J-POP?
Yeah, I think I have a punk mind [laughs]. Personally, there’s no one in the J-POP scene that I admire. And that was sort of another reason why I started music. I thought, if there’s no one I could look up to, why not I become the one. I always imagine my alter-ego, and think how my alter-ego should behave and say in order to attract myself and become a fan of her. For example, if I did a street live in Ginza, I imagine myself as a fan and consider what I should do to please myself as a fan. I hope Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie could play a part to change the music scene.
――I see. It seems like the chance has come for you this year. You are featured in Spotify’s RADER: Early Noise 2021, which means you will be exposed to more audience this year.
Chi-: I believe so. But I’m not willing to change the style and with what we are doing right now. So far, we’ve been authentic to ourselves and doing whatever we want to. So, our ultimate hope is to have as many people as possible to listen to our music. We want to be widely accepted and garner more audience with our latest EP.
――Tell me about your future vision.
Chi-: It’s been four years since we started the band, and it feels like we’ve finally reached the starting line—We’ve solidified our own performance style and began enjoying ourselves as Whoopies, so we’re looking forward to showcasing ourselves in front of everyone at events and festivals; we want to make the EP sort of like our business card, and have a lot of people listen to our music—hoping this year to become the year that Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie gains recognition.
――Are you guys currently creating anything?
Chi-: Yeah, we are. The 1st EP was made under the concept of ‘Let’s play in the world of insanity,’ and the next song is written based on our thought, ‘Isn’t it time for the world to shine’—so, in the future, I hope we can deliver the messages to the world as our propositions for its next step.