Travel

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?

一番近いラーメン店はどこですか?

Ichiban Chikai Ramenten wa Dokodesuka?

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

鴨南蛮を一つ頂けますか?ありがとうございます。

Kamo nanban wo hitotsu itadakemasuka? Arigato gozaimasu.

4. Where are the harajuku girls?

原宿ガールズはどこにいるんですか?

Harajuku garuzu wa dokoni irundesuka?

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

日本では自販機でビールが買えるんですか?日本って最高。

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

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

このウォシュレットはどうやって使うのですか?

Kono Woshuretto wa douyatte tsukauno desuka?

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

本当に美味しいですね。私の人生で一番美味しい食べ物だと思います。

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. 

人前で叫んでしまい申し訳ありません、私はただの無知な外国人なので。

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. 

日本のレストラン業の労働者は公正な賃金が貰えるから、チップは必要ないんですね?本当に不思議。

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.

日本は安全ですね。アメリカでは、銃規制政策や国民医療制度が不足しているので、全てが悪夢のようです。

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

Photography: Iván Darío

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