More Than Twee: Pajama Pop with Lullatone
Once a week on a local television channel in Nagoya, Japan, viewers can catch a short segment in which a lanky white American guy teaches kids how to make instruments from household objects — in fluent Japanese. The DIY instruments range from rubber-band guitars to cardboard drums and a xylophone made from a paper roll.
The host of this unique little production is Lullatone — a husband-wife musical duo (one part Japanese, one part American) who have pioneered a genre that Shawn James Seymour (the American half) calls “pajama pop” (not to be confused with “twee”). With a blend of lo-fi instrumentation, soft vocals (from wife Yoshimi Tomida), and simple (like really simple) lyrics — Lullatone’s songs range from “Growing Up” to “Going to Buy Some Strawberries” — Lullatone has emerged as a critical voice in commercial sound design. They’re also just about the cutest band on the face of the planet. James fills us in on their easy mystique.
My favorite quote [emphasis added]: “When you hear a lot of twee bands, I feel sort of embarrassed, like, “Oh, I hope no one catches me listening to this.” Our goal is to be … more than twee, to be optimistic.”
The Softies, anyone? —Sarah