From playing a toy piano in her room, to dancing around provocatively on stage and playing to packed venues, our swan muse Akiko AKA Keex talks about her early memories living in Japan, switching drumsticks for the microphone, and her punk rock band, Comanechi.
Tell us about growing up in Osaka? Did your family encourage artistic expression or did you always have a rebel streak?
Since I was a little kid, I was always very rebellious. I don’t know why or who made me like that. When my mum told me to stop crying… I cried harder on purpose. When my school teacher told me to stop using bad language, I used only bad language. My parents were very hard working. They worked day and night in a restaurant, and whilst they did, I would get creative. I remember I once made a restaurant out of a cardboard box. I drew so many details inside and out and sat in the middle of the box right in front of my parent’s restaurant feeling so proud of myself. My parents are definitely encouraging of my art… and my music.
Your mother bought you a piano when you were 5 and from an early age you studied classical music. When did your ears turn to punk?
She didn’t buy me a real piano until I was 12. When I first started piano lessons, she bought me a baby toy piano like this below.
Seriously, I thought she was taking the piss. My parents couldn’t afford a real one then, but because of this toy piano, I couldn’t practice properly and hated going to piano lessons. I told her I wanted to quit, but my mum was so adamant that I didn’t give up what I said I wanted to do. So I started to hate classical music even more and more…That is really what made me leave Japan and move to England to start a punk band. Rebel Streak!
Your stage persona is quite raucous and wild child. What genre of music most moved you as a teen and made you dance. Any role models? Poster boyz or girls?
Manic Street Preachers first 3 albums, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Sonic Youth’s albums up ‘till “Murray Street”, Nirvana, the Beastie Boys.
Which came first, the guitar, the drumsticks or the microphone?
Drums, Guitar then Singing…
Did your Mum and Dad come to your gigs on your Japanese tour?
Yes, they did. Comanechi toured in Japan twice. First time they saw us, my dad said it was painful to watch, but this time my mum was right in the mosh pit and dad was at the back but smiling for the whole set.
We read that you bonded with your first band mate Simon over the smoke of a BBQ. Your quite the foodie… what’s your favourite dish du jour? Any snacks you always request on the rider?
Haha, you don’t know how bands get treated in this country! Unless you are in a band which can sell out 2000 + capacity venues, you don’t really have much choice requesting what you really want on the rider! Having said that, if I could get unlimited supply of booze on the rider, then I’d be more than happy. I’m into food, but I don’t eat before stage times, I’ll puke up on stage otherwise!
We saw you guys play an amazing set years ago when you were still a punk rock duo… you were then playing the drums and Simon Petrovich was on guitar. Has it been really freeing to be out in front instead of behind the kit?
Definitely! And Charlie is a great drummer. I still love drumming, but live, I think it’s so important to engage with the audience.
Favourite outfit to wear performing?
For practical reasons I wear something skimpy. I like leotards or a bra and hot pants. I like glittery, shiny, bright stuff.
Favourite piece from the Swanfield tribe?
I really enjoyed wearing all of the pieces I wore for the shoot. I like finding myself new looks. Jenny Jenny’s Tassel Necklace and Earrings! All the jewellery I wore, the swim suits by Seventh Wonderland and the underwear!
Keex new single “Love is the Cure” is out NOW. To keep in touch with Comanechi you can visit their website here.
Photography for the Swanfield Muse Project by Kate Cox.
Garments and accessories by the swans.