CHAI — the beloved Japanese quartet of identical twins MANA (vocals/keys) and KANA (guitar), plus drummer YUNA and bassist/lyricist YUUKI — present their new single/video, “GAME,” from their forthcoming self-titled album out this Friday, September 22nd on Sub Pop. CHAI — unlike previous albums — was written on the road, with the band finding time to record in the days between shows at Grand Street in New York, Ometusco Sound Machine in Mexico City, and Stones Throw Studio in LA, where “GAME” was recorded. Working in studios with vast collections of gear allowed them to experiment with aesthetics as-yet-unheard on a CHAI album. Case in point, CHAI recorded “GAME” with the sole intention of writing something listeners would recognize as new wave, riding a house synth line and minimalist production.
“GAME” might be the perfect distillation of CHAI’s ethic, as it urges listeners to keep moving through this life with joy and passion. Following an empowering trail of singles — the “Barbie-ready” (The FADER) “NEO KAWAII, K?,” the “breezy, groovy” (Stereogum) “PARA PARA,” plus the “fun, catchy” (Cool Hunting) “WE THE FEMALE!” — “GAME” continues CHAI’s streak of immediate, uplifting music. The accompanying “GAME” video is a tongue-in-cheek, ‘80s-indebted romp, directed by Cameron Lew.
Of the video, Lew adds: “CHAI blends chaos and positivity in the best way, and so I wanted to create a video that showcases exactly that. And what better way, then to show them frantically delivering their music, movements, and mindset directly to their fans. It was such a fun experience directing this video, the way the girls are in sync with one another is insane. Not your ordinary delivery service: Come along as the girls hand over packages that will take their fans (and some skeptical patrons) on a musical journey.”
Of “GAME,” MANA adds: “Winning isn’t the goal, it’s the strategizing and challenge that matters♡ So it doesn’t matter if you lose. Take that loss and turn it into an even better strategy! Life’s a game! We made the video with our lovely friend Ginger Root♡ It’s fun and NEO KAWAII♡ As long as you’re living, you can play the game as many times as you want. Be honest to your heart, don’t take it too seriously, and live life.”
Unlike their acclaimed 2021 album WINK, this self-titled collection of songs finds CHAI returning to their roots, drawing inspiration from their Japanese cultural heritage and the music that raised them. Realizing that message applied to people outside of fans in Japan (who screamed in delight when MANA shouted “NEO KAWAII!” into the mic) made CHAI consider what other facets of their upbringing might resonate with audiences outside of their home country. Each CHAI album borrows aesthetic inspiration from specific musical movements, and on CHAI, the quartet wanted to make direct comparisons to city pop, a Tokyo-born sound popularized in the ‘70s and ‘80s. City pop was a Japanese take on Western lounge music, borrowing from jazz, boogie, funk, and yacht rock to create a sound that straddled two cultures; but for CHAI, city pop was just the music of childhood.
Of the album, Mana says: “This is CHAI! The genre is CHAI! CHAI’S BEST CHAI POP! We declare to live as Japanese women♡ If this album gives everyone a little more confidence in living how they want to live, that is the right answer we have been looking for⭐ Listen, feel. You were all NEO KAWAII BABIES from the moment you were born. If you can’t catch up with us, you’ll never feel the NEO KAWAII♡ Are you ready for CHAI?? ⭐”
This Saturday, CHAI will begin their North American tour at Flipside Festival, followed by stops in Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington, DC and more. Full dates, including UK and EU shows, are listed below and tickets are on sale now.
CHAI TOUR DATES
Sat. Sept. 23 - Boise, ID @ Flipside Festival
Sun. Sept. 24 - Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern
Mon. Sept. 25 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
Wed. Sept. 27 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
Fri. Sept. 29 - Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
Mon. Oct. 2 - Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
Wed. Oct. 4 - Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
Fri. Oct. 6 - Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
Sun. Oct. 8 - Boston, MA @ Crystal Ballroom
Tue. Oct. 10 - Washington, DC @ Union Stage
Wed. Oct. 11 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Fri. Oct. 13 - Mexico City, MEX @ Indie Rocks!
Wed. Nov. 1 – Berlin, DE @ Pitchfork Music Festival Berlin
Fri. Nov. 3 – Paris, FR @ Badaboum
Sun. Nov. 5 –Amsterdam, NL @ Tolhuistuin (Paradiso Noord)
Mon. Nov. 6 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique Orangerie
Wed. Nov. 8 – Southampton, UK @ Heartbreakers
Thu. Nov. 9 – Brighton, UK @ Patterns
Fri. Nov. 10 – London, UK @ Pitchfork Music Festival
Sun. Nov. 12 – Manchester, UK @ Yes (Pink Room)
Tue. Nov 14 – Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
Wed. Nov. 15 – Leeds, UK @ Headrow House
Thu. Nov. 16 – Bristol, UK @ Rough Trade