Kero Kero Bonito have ruled the electro-indie scene for ten years. Exploring a variety of topics like homework, graduation, grief and even the apocalypse, the band’s discography is far from one-dimensional.
However, lead singer Sarah Midori Perry’s recent solo venture as Cryalot invents an entirely new persona. Icarus is an EDM-infused masterpiece, recounting the intricate journey of her mental health in just five songs. I spoke with Sarah about her artistic inspirations, her experiences of making music and her goals in the music industry.
Your EP Icarus released a while back, how are you feeling about it?
I’m super excited that it’s finally out! I’ve been working on it for a while so it’s kinda surreal that it’s out in the world now.
Why did you choose Cryalot as a name?
It started with me opening an Instagram account called Cryalot around 2018. I was going through a dark period in my life, and I wanted to have an outlet. When I got to naming the account, I was just like, ‘Let’s just call it Cryalot!’ because I was crying a lot at the time, and it was my way of taking back control of those moments, as if those tears could become something in the future. It was like a glimmer of hope.
What attracted you to the story of Icarus?
I first came along the myth of Icarus through a song I heard at school when I was seven years old. I guess the story’s common interpretation is a cautionary tale of ‘Don’t fly too close to the sun or you’ll fall and drown!’ But the first time I heard the song I looked at it through a different angle; I was thinking about his courage, and how he pushed himself to be something more.
As I grew older, I found out that’s not how people see it, but I’ve been obsessed with the idea of pushing yourself. What’s life if you’re not focused on pushing yourself? Who cares if you fall? That’s what makes living so beautiful, I think. This EP is my attempt at rewriting the common interpretation.
What were your inspirations for the EP?
I had a lot of visual inspiration for the album; I paint a lot and I post my paintings on Instagram. Even before music, the first creative thing I did was painting. Visual stuff is really close to my heart.
For the Hell is Here music video, I was really inspired by Francis Bacon paintings, and Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings of Heaven and Hell. One of my favourite Icarus paintings is The Lament of Icarus by Herbert Draper.
I find it interesting that you sing in both English and Japanese; your culture is a huge influence on your music, but the Indie and EDM scenes are very white dominated. What has it been like navigating those scenes as a woman of colour?
When we started KKB, I remember people saying that it’s not good to use another language, that we wouldn’t get radio plays; there was a bit of resistance to it. We always broke down those walls and just experimented with what we wanted.
The progression of your songwriting is very interesting; in the early stages of Kero Kero Bonito you talked about simple topics like homework and graduation, but in the Time ‘n’ Place era you switched focus towards heavier topics, like disassociation and depression. As Cryalot, you’re delving into the topic of mental health and getting more personal than ever. What’s behind this evolution in your songwriting?
In a way, KKB grew up with our fans; you can see it in our early stuff like Bonito Generation and Graduation, and Time ‘n’ Place takes place after that. The songs always mirror what we’re going through in our lives, especially with Icarus. It’s a super personal project that’s really close to my heart. It’s like we’re always evolving.
What’s next for you? Will you make another project as Cryalot or go back to Kero Kero Bonito?
Kero Kero Bonito is always going! I can’t really tell you much about that, but everything’s always going on. I also really want to get back into painting - there’s so many things I want to do and it’s like there’s not enough time!
What’s your big musical goal?
I’ll be so happy if I can do this forever. I love working on new stuff, especially music videos, and building the world within them. I don’t know if that’s a goal per se, but I want to do this forever.