KAO=S was founded in April 2011 by Kaori Kawabuchi, Shuji Yamagiri and Jack. Combining elements from Japanese culture with influences from rock and musical theatre, they developed their music and performance into a ‘Japanism Rock Band”.
Out of the turmoil that followed the 2011 earthquake, the band distilled a new style of Japanese art to bring to the world, which it termed ‘chaos’ or, following the Japanese pronunciation, KAO=S (‘Kah-oss’).
Their sound is a blend of vocals and acoustic guitar, overlaid with traditional Japanese instruments like the shakuhachi flute and the three-string Tsugaru shamisen, using a full range of effects. Complemented by Kaori Kawabuchi’s spellbindingly powerful sword dance, KAO=S quickly gained attention.
In March 2012, within a year of its formation, the band was invited to perform at SXSW, the world’s largest music showcase in Austin, Texas.
Immediately following an enthusiastic audience reception at SXSW, the band embarked on a nationwide U.S. tour, putting on shows in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vergas. Returning home to Japan, KAO=S performed for Ground Self-Defense Force troops, at the Japan-America Society general meeting and at other ceremonies and celebrations, such as the birthday party of famed inventor Dr. Nakamatsu. In the fall of the same year, the band appeared at music festival TOKYO BOOT UP!, where they scored the event’s largest turnout.
Aside from their music, the members engage in a variety of promotional activities. The KAO=S manga, written by Shuji Yamagiri, was published worldwide through the Amazon Kindle store, where it debuted at the top of the new manga release chart on January 14, 2013. The French version, published on June 21, reached the no. 2 position.
The music video for their single ‘Ogre Of The Cherry Tree’ spent 7 weeks in the Top 10 of France’s Japanese pop culture cable show Nolife TV, which saw it inducted into the channel’s Hall of Fame. In March 2013, the band performed at SXSW for the second consecutive year, delivering its first solo performance outside Japan and receiving a raucous reception from the audience. A capacity crowd also greeted their first European appearance, at the Nippon Connection film festival in Frankfurt, Germany, in June. At the same festival, band members gave well-attended workshops in shakuhachi flute playing and sword fighting, making a much-appreciated contribution to cultural exchange between Japan and Europe. Afterward, the band traveled to England to perform live in London. In July KAO=S flew to Paris, France, to appear at JAPAN EXPO, Europe’s largest Japanese pop culture convention. Its main stage live performance drew great response and extensive media coverage.
Back home, the band continued to appeal to a wide range of audiences, playing at festivals and conferences, such as the official party for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA.
October 2013 saw the launch of the band’s official debut album ‘Monogatari’, which KAO=S celebrated with a solo show at Tokyo’s new epicenter of contemporary culture, Shibuya WWW, finishing the year on a high note.
Taking full advantage of its unique blend of old and new Japanese cultural elements, the band continues to mix influences from many sources, creating a new style of art and music that it intends to unfold beyond Japan and into the world.