||岡村ちゃん / Okamura-chan|
||August 14, 1965|
||180 cm / 6'0"|
||Kobe, Hyougo Prefecture|
|Main Influences (The Triangle)
||Seiko Matsuda, Prince, Tatsurou Yamashita|
Notable trademarks include his little logo and mascot, the smiling heart named the Peack Mark, and his Americanized pronounciation
of "baby" as ベイベ / beibe, which sounds like "bay-buh" when uttered. His songs most known outside Japan
are "Super Girl" for the City Hunter 2 ending theme and goofy teaser beat "Bushaku Loop".
He's also known in some places for having a strong resemblance to Prince around the time his second album DATE debuted,
including strongly sexual performances and lyrics, Purple Rain-esque suit and cravats, and high "owwww!" shrieks.
In his childhood, Yasuyuki moved frequently because of his father’s career, ending up in
places like Osaka, Niigata, London, Daizaifu and Tokyo. He began studying music at Niigata East High School, began sending
demo tapes frequently to record companies, and debuted as a composer at age 19. While helping produce Misato Watanabe, his
first single “Out of Blue” was first performed at the TBS Broadcasting 35th Anniversary Rock Festival in December
1986. Yasuyuki’s career immediately went on the fast track, with five albums and numerous recorded concerts following
suit, as he asked his female fans to call him Okamura-chan. His little trademark character, a smiling heart called the Peach
Mark, became his personal logo and even sometimes was a stand-in for his signature. He even directed and starred in the 1990
movie "What Do You Want Me To Do?".
His discography from 1987-1995 was wild and colourful…Yellow introduced him as a bold and original independent performer,
Date brought in elegant modern design with a clear Prince influence, and Yasuyuki – named after himself because he couldn’t
pick a song that encompassed the album’s mood – anchored him as a charismatic, unstoppable performer. Home Tutor
took his music to a level of dark, edgy sexiness he never could top again, and Forbidden Life ended the series with a careful
blend of his original style and the Yasuyuki that was emerging. He had finally reached the status of being self-managed.
He retreated from the media for a few years starting in 1996, only releasing a few original singles while he worked with
remixing and collaboration with other artists. The most prominent release during this period was The Album, an electronic
experimental album, the efforts shared with follow DJ and friend Takkyu Ishino.
Sadly, in 2003, Yasuyuki was caught by Epic Records staff using stimulant drugs – heavily illegal in Japan –
before a live appearance, immediately launching him into two years probation, although he plead that the stimulants were “required”
while working on the Fresh Boy Tour 2003. He released his novel Pure Love Counselling and sixth album Me-imi in 2004. Mei-mi
showed a side of Yasuyuki’s music that had never been shown before…something sharp and intense, sometimes even
threatening. Yasuyuki looked radically different, too…he wore long, curly hair in a slicked-back ponytail and American-style
hoodies, a good deal of promotional photos featuring him with forlorn or scowling.
A year later, Yasuyuki was arrested after attempting to take amp pills in a record store bathroom. His fan club DATE shut
down for a while as he went through an eighteen month prison sentence. Upon being released in 2007, Yasuyuki released the
single Clearly More Brave, all sources swearing he would never touch stimulants, and he returned with an image and dress style
very similar to his 1989 mode. Just as he was about to go on tour, all performances had to be postponed after severely injuring
his ankle in a park in Osaka.
Although details behind the reveal aren’t clear, Yasuyuki was arrested for amphetamine usage in 2008, effectively
cancelling all concerts and fan clubs until his release in 2010. From there, he began to upload demos and photos from home
to his Myspace page, and after complete confirmation that he had been rehabilitated from drugs, he was announced to be part
of the 2011 Sweet Love Shower concert lineup. Two self-cover albums, the colourful Etiquettes, followed suit in mid-2011.
At this time, he has returned as great as ever.
A younger Yasuyuki in late 1988
How I discovered Yasuyuki Okamura:
This is probably not the best story I could give. In early 2010, I was watching a mashup
of City Hunter opening and ending themes, and I recorded the Youtube link in the "Listening To" blank in a Livejournal
post. I forgot about it until September 2010, when I found the post and forgot what it went to, so I watched the video again.
Only one of the clips really intrigued me, and I took the kanji of the singer's name and song title and searched them for
the full version. The next thing I knew, I was watching the full 1988 music video for Super Girl, featuring a young Okamura,
and I couldn't just play it in the background while I worked. Something about this man commanded my full attention as he performed.
He was just so electric and cartoonish, and I spent the rest of the year doing everything I could to find his other music.
I have very fond memories of walking through music stores in Calgary's Chinatown in October that year, searching.
It was December when I discovered he had a Myspace, and January when I realized he hadn't done anything for a few years...he
had been in jail for amphetamine use, his third arrest. Records said he wasn't using them to enjoy them, he was using them
to keep up for his fans. Now, it takes a very, very special person not to lose my respect after I learn they use drugs, and
with Yasuyuki, I was more concerned with how scared and unhealthy he was at the time. But he was clean now and still making
music with a perfect voice, and I kept following his music. By the time he announced the Etiquette duo, I'd already gotten
most of his discography.
He's inspired me to start really living, to stop being an otaku and be more optimistic, I've learned from his music and
his life, and an article series isn't even enough to show my gratitude to Yasuyuki. I want to thank him in person some
day for inspiring me after all this time, and I hope I can meet more people that respect him like this.
J.P. "Fauna" Crawford, 2/29/2012