The new girls on the block, SW-000000 (RiRi) and MS-000000 (LuLa), otherwise known as the FAR EAST MENTION MANNEQUINS (FEMM), have been making the rounds in the last few weeks with the latest video for their upcoming single ‘Fxxk Boyz Get Money’. Along with their first international appearance at Tokyo in Tulsa earlier this month, 2014 is shaping up to be the group’s breakthrough year. We caught up with Honey-B and W-Trouble to find out more about the girls, their inspirations, and plans for the future.
So before we get into it, who exactly is Honey-B and W-Trouble?
Honey-B: I’m the agent of RiRi. We support our mannequins in every way. They cannot speak for themselves so we speak for them.
W-Trouble: I represent LuLa. She is a little shy, but no worries, I can speak for her.
There’s a rather complex story forming around the mannequin duo RiRi and LuLa. For those who don’t know, could you give us the rundown?
Honey-B: We believe that dolls and mannequins have feelings like us, but for years they have been mistreated by humans. Our agency, FEMM’S AGENCY SYNDICATE installed a device into these two mannequins and created a highly intelligent RiRi and LuLa. They were sent to the human world with the mission of saving all unfortunate dolls. Through their performances of singing and dancing, FEMM aims to raise the rights of the Doll and us agents support them in every way.
W-Trouble: At our website (FEMM.jp) you can experience a virtual reality playing two roles, as an agent and as a mannequin. Through this experience I want you to feel more close to Dolls and be able to sympathize. Also getting back that feeling as a kid, when you loved your dolls so much…
If you feel weird about playing the role of a mannequin, just sign up as an agent and let your friend play the Doll. It’s OK too. FAS is always looking for talented agents, so when we find one we might come and recruit you for one of the important positions at our main office. FEMM.jp costs nothing. Please come and join our movement.
How did the concept for FEMM come about?
Honey-B: FEMM, standing for Far East Mention Mannequins, is a mission project for our mannequins coming from the Far East (New Tokyo), to send out alerts aka mention to the world through their songs.
W-Trouble: There are many mannequins who are mistreated in this world. We work hard everyday to fix this situation.
RiRi and Lula seem pretty similar at first sight, but what features do they have that makes them different from one another?
Honey-B: RiRi is a combat mannequin and she is the feisty, badass one. She is always ready to fight. You can see that she usually stands on the screen left.
W-Trouble: Are they similar? If you think so, please look more closely. Their characters are quite different. What the fans tell us are the features of their faces, where LuLa has a rather baby face and RiRi has fuller lips.
In 3 words, how would you describe FEMM’s sound?
Honey- B: Hot, Robotic, Sex
W-Trouble: Girls, Money, Catchy
FEMM has worked with maximum10, the record label behind sfpr, waterweed, and FACT. We’ve already seen them collaborate with sfpr, can we expect to see more collaborations with these or other Japanese bands?
Honey-B: FEMM collaborates with maximum10, their main office is FEMM’S AGENCY SYNDICATE. maximum10 label has some very cool top bands and if they are interested in FEMM, we are open to any kind of collaborations. Maybe head banking mannequins?
W-Trouble: Yeah, it would be great to collaborate with Japanese Bands. We’ve never had FEMM sing rock ‘n roll songs yet, but I think LuLa would enjoy it very much. I can’t wait to dress her in rockin’ outfits.
Though they’re essentially a pop duo, being mannequins can they be crafted to fit many different genres and styles? We’ve already seen them touch on the metal side of things with the iTunes exclusive “Break Down Ver.” of their debut EP ‘Astroboy’, will we be seeing more tracks in this style or in other styles?
Honey-B: FEMM’s first gig was at a Rock fes in Japan, so we created that breakdown ver. of Kiss the Rain for it. Us agents too are interested in FEMM’s potential of trying new sounds and styles. RiRi personally is interested in rapping right now.
W-Trouble: LuLa especially likes ‘Kiss the Rain,’ and enjoys the breakdown ver too. She loves sentimental melodies, so I would want her to sing beautiful ballads. We will have FEMM sing in many different genres, so please look forward.
FEMM have already worked with an impressive amount of talented producers behind some of the biggest names in the pop world including Scott Cutler & Anne Preven (Beyonce), ROBOPOP (Owl City), and Brian Lee (Lady Gaga). Is there anyone you hope to work with on future tracks?
Honey-B: FEMM has been incredibly lucky to be able to work with these amazing producers! RiRi is interested in collaborating with other artists in the future. We believe that it could bring something new to FEMM’s sound and also is a chance for FEMM to grow more as an artist.
W-Trouble: We thought these songs we chose would express FEMM’s message the best. It’s not important whether the songwriter is famous or not, the most important thing is to pick a song that FEMM can relate to and connect with Dolls, mannequins, and fans.
FEMM’s latest video for ‘Fxxk Boyz Get Money’ is proving to be your breakthrough song, catching the attention of listeners, most of which reside outside of Japan. How does it feel to see this sudden boom of interest towards FEMM?
Honey-B: We were so happy and a little surprised to see the outcome. It’s amazing how FEMM is getting acknowledged throughout the world. Still, we have a long way to go, but we are so honored to have this kind of support!
W-Trouble: LuLa’s so happy, and us too, that people are loving this song. It’s about Girl Power, so maybe for boys, it could be a little shocking. When FEMM performed in the US recently, we saw how the audience responded. THEY LOVE TWERKING!!
Apart from ‘Fxxk Boyz Get Money’, what’s your favorite track so far that you think people should check out?
Honey-B: You totally should check out FEMM’s new track ‘Girls Night Out’ fresh out on youtube! It’s a very girlie and cute track, but with the same message as ‘Fxxk Boyz Get Money’. It’s about Girl Power.
W-Trouble: Yes, I think so too. I’m sure in many countries there’s gonna be a girl’s party! We all know how it is. ‘Girls Night Out’ has got its own color, kind of different from ‘Fxxk Boyz Get Money.’ It’s MV is playful and fun. There’s a scene where FEMM plays two very famous muses in this video. Can you find who it is?
Obviously FEMM is quite fashionable, sporting an array of intricate outfits including the trademark latex school girl and maid outfits. What goes into picking out outfits for each video and performance?
Honey-B: We like to have FEMM representing Japan, so we picked these school girl outfits and maid outfits that you can see in Harajuku area. We have them rock latex to fit their uniqueness as mannequins.
W-Trouble: We take pride in Japanese culture. FEMM is from here, so is very much influenced by the culture. We could say that whenever they have a chance to visit other countries they probably would be inspired and new outfits would be created for them.
In videos like the one for ‘Girls Night Out’ and earlier teasers, we saw FEMM blending in with streetwear looking straight off the streets of Tokyo rather than the statement pieces we’re all used to. Are there any brands, in particular, you look to for inspiration?
Honey-B: We like to have fun with dressing FEMM, since they are pros at rocking any outfits as mannequins. We use VOLCOM a lot. They have cool streetwear. But we like to always have some latex on them, so they are wearing a latex white dress underneath in ‘Girls Night Out’.
W-Trouble: Tokyo is a very fashionable city. Just watching the people walking by can be very inspiring. LuLa is often dressed in girlie outfits, so maybe it would be cool to see her in casual fashion sometimes.
One of FEMM’s first public appearances was as part of an art “Femm-Isation” with graffiti artist COOKONE outside Shinjuku station. The final piece was quite spectacular, how did the idea for this art collaboration first come about?
Honey-B: ‘Wannabe’ was quite a crazy project. We blocked the whole area and had lots of men with gas masks. COOKONE is a very unique graffiti artist and we thought it would be perfect for FEMM to collaborate with him. People of Shinjuku were freaking out a little, but the FEMM team was having a blast!
W-Trouble: It was very exciting working with him. Out of nowhere, there was a stage created and COOKONE’s art was amazing. We also had a dancer, Ryuta (No:Z) who also appeared in Astroboy MV. Dance, graffiti art, and FEMM, all combined together was such a unique piece of work.
Hidali (the masterminds behind Genki Sudo’s World Order) have been doing choreography for FEMM since they formed, correct? How has it been working with them? Were there any videos that were particularly challenging to get the moves down for?
Honey-B: Hidali is pure genius. They always come up with crazy amazing ideas for FEMM and somehow it always works. ‘Astroboy’ was the first project they came in for and we had 20+ dancers for it. Combining the complex moves with FEMM and dancers were quite a challenge for all of us, but in the end it was a great success.
W-Trouble: Challenging? Every single one! (laughs). But I’d have to admit the more challenging was Astroboy. It was the first MV for FEMM and for us too. Everything was a first time experience for us. Hidali creates cute moves like in ‘Kill the DJ’ and hot twerking seen in ‘Fxxk Boyz Get Money’. They’re super important people for the FEMM team.
FEMM have a rather mysterious site that allows visitors to create avatars and collect points for items spreading the word of FEMM. Or at least that’s what it seems. Can you tell us more about the site?
Honey-B: At FEMM.jp, anyone can sign up as an agent and also choose their own mannequin to manage. What type of mannequin as well. It will appear as two avatars and you are playing two roles. It makes us closer to dolls and easier to feel what they feel through this virtual reality.
W-Trouble: We’ve got lots of fun content. Countdown starting at random for FEMM’s new tracks, being able to buy new items via MENTIONS points etc. For those agents who spread FEMMs news via SNS fast and lots, they get paid MENTIONS points. We post the top nine agents every month and every season. The top nine of the season would become the “secret nine” and are given special prizes. Especially for the top three, we’ve got some really nice surprises waiting. So please keep up your SNS skills and you shall become one of the “secret nine”.
You took on Tokyo in Tulsa 2014 earlier this month, how was the response from the crowd? Were there many people who already knew FEMM’s material?
Honey-B: We were so surprised to see how the audience were rooting passionately for FEMM. A lot of the fans knew all the lyrics and some of them knew the dance too. RiRi was so excited to see all the fans in Tulsa. They were so sweet to FEMM.
W-Trouble: It’s been only 3 or 4 months since FEMM has released their tracks, so we were very surprised to hear the big cheering. Americans are so expressive and they sang and danced with FEMM and it was amazing. LuLa says she very much wants to do more performances in other countries too.
Where do you see FEMM in two years time?
Honey-B: We are enjoying every baby step and taking it one thing at a time. Fans are the most important to FEMM, so we hope to release songs that will make FEMM fans, agents, mannequins happy and keep them dancing!
W-Trouble: I hope that FEMM’s songs will connect all the mannequins and fans. There are no borderlines, and only FEMM’s music will be the connection. That is ideal.
What’s the overall aim for FEMM? World domination?
Honey-B: We don’t wish for world domination. We just fight for the freedom and rights of Dolls. We are one and anyone is welcome to join the party.
W-Trouble: Yeah, we could say “World domination” but only to help the mannequins. It’s not about us trying to take this world from humans. It’s more like we want them to get to know the mannequins and understand. World peace is where we stand.
Got any last words for our readers here in the UK?
Honey-B: Hi, UK! FEMM is a brand-new duo with quite a unique concept. I hope you like their sound! RiRi is hoping to visit you guys soon in the future. She has learned about your country and is fascinated by it. In the meanwhile, let’s keep in touch via youtube, Twitter and Instagram!!
W-Trouble: Hey there! LuLa loves fashion and she is really interested in your country. FEMM usually wears latex and we usually get the material from UK. It’s where latex Fetishism started, isn’t it? We also hear that you have lots of nice vintage shops and can’t wait to check it out. Dear fans in UK, whenever FEMM shall come please teach them more about your country!
(from ‘Far East Mention Mannequins – World‘ facebook fan-page)
Michelle – London, UK
Who’s been FEMM’s biggest inspiration so far?
Honey-B: FEMM’s musical inspiration comes especially from artists who’ve got the drive of Girl Power.
W-Trouble: FEMM is inspired by so many artists. I don’t even know where to start. Many DIVAs all over the world have their own style and dope tracks and if we could ever have FEMM collaborate with them that would be so crazy amazing!
Grant – Somerset, UK
Can we expect to see a full album this year? Maybe a physical one rather than download only?
Honey-B: As for now, we are releasing all tracks via digital download on iTunes etc. We don’t have plans for a full album yet, but are looking into other ideas of merchandise.
W-Trouble: We are not looking into selling CDs of their music yet, but we are happy to hear your interest! Please enjoy FEMM’s world by digital download for right now.
Miguel – US
Why did you choose to sing in English?
Honey-B: It is the most spoken language in the world, and we think it will help to send out FEMM’s message worldwide. Maybe we can install new languages into FEMM in the future too!
W-Trouble: We thought singing in English would help spread the word wider. Maybe we could program Japanese or Spanish into them, that would be cool too.
David – US
Will there ever be a film or anime based around the concept of FEMM?
Honey-B: If we reach a point where people are not getting enough of FEMM, then this magic could happen. It would be like a dream come true to have a film or anime of FEMM.
W-Trouble: People think that FEMM’S AGENCY SYNDICATE is just an imaginary place, but it actually exists and the problems we are dealing with are serious as can be. But anyhow, making a movie about FEMM, I think is a great idea. LuLa’s character is gonna be so adorable, I know it! You just made my new goal here.
Emily – Pennsylvania, US
What are your inspirations for your music videos? I always love the setting of your MVs and the outfits you two wear as well!
Honey-B: We try to work with various creators to make a wider range, mainly with fresh and young directors, who have the cutting edge. People who are not scared of taking risks, just like FEMM. We have more coming so please stay tuned!
W-Trouble: Oh! Thank you for loving FEMM’s world! We always look forward to seeing how the directors deliver FEMM’s message. All the people we worked with so far brought amazing ideas to the table and totally made it happen. We’ve got much more fun surprises for you, so hang in there!
Heather – California, US
What are your objectives for your music career? Do you have a specific message to get across to your fans? Are Mannequins good or evil?
Honey-B: Mannequins have both elements to them, good and evil. They are just like us. It might be hard to believe, but they’ve got feelings too, and our job is to protect them. FEMM’s mission is to free all the unfortunate Dolls and they send their message out by singing.
W-Trouble: FEMM’s mission is to deliver and communicate the heart of Dolls and mannequins. They are feeling many emotions just like us humans. We want you all to join us, become an agent and share these experiences of what mannequins feel. Let’s all connect by FEMM’s beautiful music.
Dārta – Riga, Latvia
Who makes your costumes? I want them!
Honey-B: GM Atelier designs and makes all their costumes. We are looking into creating fan merchandise in the future so anyone can dress like FEMM! Maybe we can start with small items like nurse hats and FEMM sunglasses.
W-Trouble: Pretty much all wardrobe items that FEMM wear are made of latex material. The designer Mr. Matsuoka perfectly understands LuLa’s features and always creates outfits that suit her best. We really love our designing team.
Alexis – Ohio, US
What was the inspiration for the costumes we see in each of your music videos?
Honey-B: Mainly cosplay. Meaning you can dress however you like and become whoever you want. FEMM are like chameleons. The minute you look away they could transform into any character.
W-Trouble: We have had FEMM wear Japanese school girls uniforms, Gothic & Lolita wear, nurse and army clothing etc. We choose the outfits that match the image of each song.
Words by Charles Shepherd