I was watching television from my home in Yokohama, Japan the other day when something caught my eye. A TV program was featuring a beautiful young white girl with adorable curly blonde hair singing in fluent Japanese.
This in itself is nothing special: Japanese people love seeing white gaijin, or foreigners, who can speak their language, and variety shows here make stories out of them all the time. What caught my eye, though, is when I looked closer and realized that this beautiful young woman was actually a dude.
His name is YOHIO, a 16-year-old boy from Sweden who is now the lead guitarist and songwriter of the visual kei band, Seremedy. For those unfamiliar with the Japanese subculture, "visual kei" refers to a type of heavy metal rock music marked by the musician’s flamboyant and often androgynous use of make-up, hairstyles, and costumes while on stage.
According to his profile, YOHIO was born to a musical family in Sweden and from an early age he showed he shared his family’s affinity for music, taking up piano and even writing songs starting at the age of 6. He picked up his first guitar when he was 11 and became captivated with the instrument, receiving basic lessons from his father, who is a guitarist in a rock band.
The band continued to grow in popularity until they were signed to Universal Music Japan last March, releasing their first single, “Bulletproof Roulette".
As mentioned previously, Japanese people love white people, particularly those with pearly white skin, who can speak their language and this likely has something to do with the group’s success: YOSHIO began teaching himself Japanese from about 4 years ago and now writes most songs in a mixture of English and Japanese. He even started a Japanese blog in 2009 and now writes to his fans using a mix of emoticons and glitzy icons spot on enough to fool you into thinking he was a Japanese school girl.
Not bad for a teen Swede boy living in the Orient.