Indie Pop Duo Twinkids Teach Us Japanese

Indie Pop Duo Twinkids Teach Us Japanese

Jael Goldfine

Twinkids are the LA indie-pop duo of Gene Fukui and Matt Young. Fukui and Young aren't technically twins, but both artists — hailing from Tokyo and Florida respectively — share a love of Japanese culture and unapologetic queerness that defines their music.

The pair, who formed Twinkids while in school at Oberlin College, refurbish the gay term "twink," and their debut EP Boys Love was named after the genre of queer Japanese manga. Boys Love sees them spill their hearts with vulnerable lyrics about queer relationships, over delicate but hyper-danceable, 70s and 80's J-pop-inspired tracks. Plus, a killer cover of singer-songwriter Kazumasa Oda's classic, "Love Story Wa Totsuzen Ni."

Their sound always has a distinctly retro tint, whether its evoking 1975 Tokyo or suburban American playlists from the '00s, loaded with Grouplove, Young the Giant, and Matt and Kim, who the band recently toured with.

The duo most recently dropped the song "Psycho" off their sophomore EP Lizard House, on which they pull a Robyn: contrasting their own lush synths, pretty harmonies and disco glitter, with brutal lyrics like "Oh I'm fuckin' with somebody else, cannot keep your love for me."

"Instead of writing a song from the perspective of somebody who had their heart broken by being cheated on, this song is about being the cheater," the duo tells PAPER. "Doing something awful while not necessarily meaning to hurt somebody, and realizing how easy it is to hurt and manipulate someone." The rest of the EP sees the band continues to draw on disco and other vintage dance-pop tropes, combining their influences in unpredictable ways behind falsetto-laced vocals and blunt, tender songwriting.

If you're wondering about the wistful vibe, well... it was literally created in a lizard house. "We recorded the songs in Gene's bedroom, in a little house in the outskirts of the city," Young says. "There are parks in the area and there are lizards everywhere; in the backyard, around the house, and sometimes even in that very bedroom."

To celebrate Lizard House Fukui put together a cheeky phrase guide for travelers and aspiring J-pop fans. It has all the hot tips DuoLingo lacks, especially for Americans looking to talk politics abroad. English pronunciation provided — happy translating!

​1. Good Morning / Good Afternoon / Good Evening

おはようございます / こんにちは / こんばんは

Ohayo-gozaimasu / Konnichiwa / Konbanwa

2. Where is the nearest ramen shop?


Ichiban Chikai Ramenten wa Dokodesuka?

3. Can I get one warm duck soba noodle soup? Thank you.


Kamo nanban wo hitotsu itadakemasuka? Arigato gozaimasu.

4. Where are the harajuku girls?


Harajuku garuzu wa dokoni irundesuka?

5. You can buy beer in vending machines in Japan? This place rocks.


Nihon dewa jihanki de beeru ga kaerun desuka? Nihon tte saiko.

6. How do you use this electrical toilet/bidet called a Washlet?


Kono Woshuretto wa douyatte tsukauno desuka?

7. This food is delicious and tastes better than anything I've ever had in my life. 


Hontouni oishii desune. Watashi no jinsei de ichiban oishi tabemono dato omoimasu.

8. I'm sorry for yelling in public, I'm just an ignorant foreigner. 


Hitomae de sakende shimai moushiwake arimasen, watashi wa tadano muchi na gaikokujin nanode.

9. Oh, there's no tipping in Japan because restaurant businesses pay their workers a fair wage? How strange. 


Nihon no resutoran gyo no roudousha wa kousei na chinkin ga moraeru kara, chippu wa hitsuyou naindesune? Hontouni fushigi.

10. Wow it feels so safe here. In America, we lack gun control policy and a national healthcare system, so everything is a nightmare.


Nihon wa anzen desune. Amerika dewa, juukisei seisaku ya kokumin iryou seido ga fusoku shiteirunode, subete ga akumu no youdesu

Photography: Iván Darío