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Yasuyuki Okamura: The Biography

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Full Name 岡村靖幸
Nickname 岡村ちゃん / Okamura-chan
Birthdate August 14, 1965
Height 180 cm / 6'0"
Birthplace 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.

 

Full Biography

     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

All written material here is 2007-2011 Fauna Crawford, along with any images identified as such. All other copyrights belong to their respective owners and creators. Permission is required to use any original material from this site.