Rock band bridges Vietnamese and Japanese cultures

March 26, 2023 - 10:06
Kurrock, the first Vietnamese rock band in Japan, are winning both Vietnamese and Japanese rock enthusiasts’ hearts through their songs.
ROCKS STARS: Kurrock consists of five Vietnamese members (from left to right): Danna, KJO, Heather, Sang, TroK and one Japanese member, Daisuke. — Photo courtesy of Kurrock

By Lương Thu Hương

The music video opens with stimulating electric guitar, and the rock band appears on the roof of an iconic Japanese iconic skyscraper at dawn, a new day about to come.

Viewers might easily assume it is a music video of a Japanese rock band until they hear two vocalists singing in Vietnamese and Japanese.

It is a scene from Vượt (Overcome), the debut track of Kurrock, the first Vietnamese rock band in Japan, who are winning both Vietnamese and Japanese rock enthusiasts’ hearts through their songs.

Kurrock has six members, five Vietnamese (KJO, Heather, TroK, Sang, and Danna) and one Japanese (Daisuke). From different backgrounds, they share the same passion for music and established the band at the end of 2020.

At their beginning, the band mainly covered popular songs such as Pretender, Neko or Little Thing, and have performed at many stages and live houses in Tokyo and Yokohama.

Their first music video Vượt was released in August last year, two years after they debuted. As their first and "manifesto" song of the group, Vượt took the band about half a year to complete.

Their elaborate efforts paid off when the song immediately received attention and positive feedback from the media and rock fans of both countries.

Following the success of their first music video, the band released three further singles: Lạnh (Cold), Redemption, Thoát (Escape) and most recently, another music video, Mộng (Dreams).

Thoát was voted as the most popular rock ballad in 2022, while Vượt was voted in the Top 2 most popular Vietnamese rock songs by VN Rock magazine.

“I already loved Japanese rock, but now that I know Kurrock, it’s like listening to Japanese music and understanding the lyrics,” Nguyễn Hữu Phúc, a Vietnamese rock fan, said.

Kurrock's ability to self-compose in multiple languages, self-produce all the audio-visual stages, and connect and understand Japanese and Vietnamese culture are all huge advantages for the young rockers.

“The combination of the two languages in the band's music video is distinctive and exciting. I was impressed with the backing sound, particularly the guitar solos, the strong and emotional voice of the two vocals, the elaborately created visuals and the meaning they wanted to convey. I look forward to their next videos,” YouTuber Roselia said.

The band’s music features typical elements of both Vietnamese and Japanese music, distilled and interwoven to create their distinctive sound. With lyrics written in Vietnamese and Japanese to speak out to Vietnamese expatriates in Japan, Kurrock wishes to touch the hearts of audiences in both countries.

GOING LIVE: Kurrock has been invited to perform at various major stages in both Japan and Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of Kurrock

Discussing the production process of their first music video, Vượt, band leader KJO said it was filmed while Japan was still applying many restrictive measures to prevent the pandemic spreading.

Director Watanabe Tomonori therefore decided to have the whole band perform on a green screen, then remotely direct the post-production in Việt Nam.

The video is set on the rooftop of the Nagoya Mode Gakuen skyscraper at dawn, with a view of the bustling Shinjuku district. The backdrop expresses the idea of "a new day coming".

"Not just the debut music video, we consider it a landmark of the band, confirming that our ability does not only stop at audio production. Through the music video, we want to send the audience a message: Vietnamese expats in Japan as well as in other countries can create quality art," KJO said.

“Kurrock hopes that the music video can encourage the spirit of daring, passion and being consistent with what we believe in, no matter how different the circumstances.”

PROMO: Kurrock at the launch of their debut MV 'Vượt'. — VNA/VNS Photo Đào Thanh Tùng

The band’s songs are inspired by their personal experiences as Vietnamese living in Japan, conveying their stories, moods, memories, philosophy, feelings, and determination to see life positively despite many difficulties.

Their most recent song, Mộng, is a reminder for everyone who feels like they’re not good enough for their dreams.

“Stop making excuses, stop questioning yourself. Get up and do the thing. You might not have all the answers now, but it’s okay, as long as you keep doing what feels right to you, the answers will come along,” said Kurrock vocalist Heather.

One of the big stages that the rock band has performed on is Club Citta with a capacity of 1,300 guests, where many famous bands have appeared such as Nirvana, Green Day, Radiohead, Black Sabbath, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Since September 2022, the band has been selected to regularly perform at Guilty Live Stage, a famous live house in Tokyo, in the heart of Shibuya, and become key artists at community stages such as the Vietnam Festival in Tokyo or OneAsia Festival 2022.

Despite their initial successes in Japan, the band have always aspired to contribute to their homeland.

At the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, they conducted their first Việt Nam tour at five venues as a greeting and gratitude to the domestic audience. They were featured at the countdown programme held in Ecopark urban area in the northern province of Hưng Yên in January that was attended by 20,000 people.

The band plan on releasing their first album featuring Vietnamese-Japanese songs this year and will perform in events celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Việt Nam and Japan.

“Kurrock will deepen the beauty of Japanese-Vietnamese music, and at the same time perfect the compositions in a way that is easier to receive and share," the band leader said.

“We are exerting more efforts in conquering the Japanese market and nurturing the ambition of winning international markets as well by composing English songs. We hope to receive a positive response from the audience.” VNS