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Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

SME Records
Mika, April, Chelsea, Ayaka and Danielle are Coconuts
Musume, and they're holding auditions for member six.

Coconuts girls
in Nihongo world

So you wanna be a
'Coconuts' girl?

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Want to be a member of an international recording group? Coconuts Musume, a Japanese quintet of female singers from Hawaii, is holding auditions for what their label, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan)/SME Records, describes as an "additional member." The bottom line is a young woman from Hawaii will join the group and record in Japan.

Coconuts Musume already has a deal with Sony (Japan) and already has made the Japanese record charts with its first two singles, "Hellation Summer" and "Dance & Chance."


To audition send resume and photo by Monday, Nov. 22, to Tropicolitan Inc., P.O. Box 62026, Honolulu HI 96839. Finalists will be contacted by phone by Nov. 24 to schedule a singing and dancing audition Nov. 28. Phone: 388-9166.

The deal includes talent development and the glitz and glamour of celebrity, but Musume members Ayaka Kimura and Mika Todd caution it also involves many hours of rehearsal.

"A Japanese group will do a full concert and really work hard and look good doing it, and then, almost as soon as the show is over, go for a couple hours of practice before calling it a night. Every show we do and every time we record I want it to be better than the one before."

Kimura and Todd both speak fluent Japanese. The three other original members of the group do not.

Kimura and Todd got a sense of what they were going through when Coconuts Musume played concert dates in Taiwan this summer.

"When we were in Japan they always needed a translator, and then when I came to Taiwan a lot of people there speak English but if the other person couldn't speak English we were all kind of helpless," Todd recalls.

Coconuts Musume's members are known in Japan as proteges of Japanese record producer Tsunku. The band has a younger sister relationship to Japanese pop music group Morning Musume. Tsunku and Sony (Hawaii) launched Coconuts Musume in the context of a Japanese television show, "Search For Idol," in which the Hawaii group sang its version of Morning Musume's hit, "Summer Night Town," and then met the older group.


Coconuts Musume
Mpeg Audio Clips:

Bullet Helation Summer
Bullet Saturday Night Town
Bullet Dance & Chance
Quicktime | MPEG-3 info

Musume can be translated as "daughter" but a contemporary colloquial meaning is "young girl." Morning Musume translates "morning girls"; Coconuts Musume, "coconut girls" -- a reference to its Hawaii origins.

Coconuts Musume returns to Japan at the end of December to record its next release.

"Our producer only speaks Japanese so we have to have a translator for the girls who can't speak Japanese, but he makes it really fun," Todd says.

Todd adds working through interpreters thousands of miles from home can be a daunting experience for the other original members -- April Babaran, Chelsea Ching and Danielle Delaunay. Though Delaunay is learning the language, said Todd.

Todd, 15, is studying music theory, taking voice and dance lessons, and is taking up guitar and piano. Kimura, 18, is planning to attend college in Japan so she can continue working without having to make the commute.

In the meantime, Coconuts Musume is an open-ended project. Successful Japanese recording acts often launch spin-off acts. Morning Musume started off as an octet but three members are now simultaneously performing separately while remaining members of Morning Musume. Another member has a separate career as a solo recording artist and host of a television show.

"If you become popular in Japan you can be a singer, an actress and a model at the same time. You can start off as a model and become an actress and then a singer," Kimura says.

"Working in Japan is a tremendous opportunity. When you're up there you experience stuff that you would never be able to experience (here), but you really have to be interested in Japan. It can't just be something you do for summer vacation."

The group's management provides guidance in negotiating the nuances of Japanese etiquette, but there are times when Hawaii seems very very far way.

Todd explains it this way: "Hawaii is so relaxed and informal, and where we stay in Tokyo the whole feeling is busy, busy, busy always on the go. You look down the hill and the streets are full of people."

At present the girls are celebrities in Japan but almost anonymous here. Kimura says being part-time stars gives the girls the best of two worlds. "When we're in Japan we're treated like princesses. It's easy to get used to it but I'd never want to take it for granted, so it's also good to know that we have a home we can come back to we're like the normal us that we were before."

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