For the third year, the International Examiner and Emerald Queen Casino present “Arts, Etc.: A Celebration of Asian American Arts” on Saturday, Nov. 4. We get an insider’s view of the hip headlining band, the Buttersprites, the creative stained glass designs of Joby Shimomura and up-and-coming fashion designer Tuan for Le Soleil. See the back page of this issue for information on tickets.
BY NHIEN NGUYEN
Every girl dreams about being in a rock band, whether it’s belting your lungs out, banging on drums, sliding your fingers over the keyboard or strumming the electric guitar.
For the five women of Seattle’s Japanese pop band Buttersprites that schoolgirl dream has become a reality. Nominated for Best Pop Rock Band 2006 by the Seattle Weekly, the all-girl band describes their sound as “bright, up-tempo and quirky” that is influenced by the “post punk” music of the early ‘80s.
No one is more surprised by the band’s success than founder-guitarist Elizabeth Jameson. An internationally acclaimed visual artist by day, Jameson says she always wanted to be a musician, but thought it was something only her husband could do.
The idea for forming a band first came to Jameson when she was devising an act for a cabaret style party. She got together with her Japanese girlfriends, none of whom were musicians, and began to jam for this one-time show. After more practice sessions, Jameson realized, “I actually can do this!”
Though the original band members went their separate ways, Jameson had had too much fun to give up the idea of starting a Japanese Girl Band. Trying out different women for the band, Jameson ended up with four other band mates: vocalist Haruko Nishimura, bassist Lunarre Omura, keyboardist Julie Grant and drummer Jen Gay. With Japanese music icons Cibo Matto and Shonen Knife to inspire them, they played their first Seattle gig in 2003.
Like Jameson, each of the recruits had strong artistic backgrounds: Nishimura, a butoh dancer, is also part of the performance group Degenerate Art Ensemble, which is currently on a West Coast tour. Gay is co-owner of Cicada, a custom design bridal shop in Seattle. Omura is also part of another group, Lushy, a “bossa beat flavored alterna-pop” band. And Grant, besides keyboard, plays the accordion.
Rehearsing every Tuesday night for the past three years in the basement of Jameson’s Beacon Hill house, new music for the Buttersprites comes about organically in a casual, artistic environment.
With backgrounds in visual, music and performance arts, the Buttersprites have carved a niche in Seattle’s music scene. Taking advantage of their novelty as an all-girl band, the band has intentionally focused on their visual presence, from a mesmerizing lead singer to custom-designed eye-catching outfits.
We want to give the audience something fun to look at while they are performing on stage, says Jameson.
With a do-it-yourself attitude, hot looks and cool music, the Buttersprites is the total package.
Visit their Web site at: www.buttersprites.com.