Why do all good things have to come to an end? This was the question that followed after the disappointing, heartbreaking announcement earlier this year that cult Japanese mannequin duo FEMM would be disbanding at the end of 2023.
Putting the literal cherry on top of their catalog with their final release “CHERRY on TOP” and the EP CHERRY in November, FEMM’s final collection of bops concluded an illustrious decade of art-pop instalments from the high-concept duo.
Making international waves over the years with their conceptual performance art, FEMM (comprised of RiRi and LuLa) experienced an explosion of international attention when their feisty anthem “Fxxk Boyz Get Money” and EDM eargasm “Kill The DJ” globally caught on in 2014; FEMM continued to captivate audiences around the world over the years with follow-up efforts like the effervescent “PoW!”, plunging cyber synths of electro-ballad “Falling For A Lullaby” and dark club-pop of “Private Dancer”, just to name a few.
FEMM’s legacy in J-pop and beyond has firmly been solidified thanks to their technology-friendly performances, futuristic outfits and insanely catchy catalog of genre-fluid empowerment bops – and ahead of their final show outside of Japan on December 16th at London’s The Lower Third (the last few tickets can be snapped up here), the mannequins RiRi and LuLa sent us one final transmission before forever leaving us mere humans on Earth.
Read on for FEMM’s final views on their female empowerment bops, iconic visuals and larger-than-life stage shows as we celebrate their decade as FEMM.
SheBOPS: Hello for the last time, FEMM! We are heartbroken that you’ll leave us at the end of 2023. How do you feel as the moment comes closer?
RiRi: Thank you for having us! Honestly, we are just running through our days so swiftly! Releasing an EP and touring at the same time was quite busy, but we are enjoying every moment 🙂
What can you share with us about the process towards your decision to disband – how did the decision to disband come about?
LuLa: It was actually a few years ago that we started thinking about finishing our roles and returning to where we belong. We felt like mannequins and humans were getting along well and our mission of creating peace had been successful. Just around that time, the Coronavirus pandemic started and it wasn’t a good time to make big decisions. We continued our activities, believing that there was still something we could do for our agents (fans) and for the world through our music. Finally 2023, which is our tenth anniversary, became a suitable time for our last year.
FEMM has released the CHERRY EP and the music video for “CHERRY on TOP” as the final FEMM releases. How did you pick these as the final songs to be released by FEMM?
R: Our final EP CHERRY was self-produced by us! We wanted our last song to be catchy and strong, instead of being sad. Since we always encouraged women by singing about girl power, this song had to be in that vibe too. I wrote the lyrics and the music was written by MYLK, who is based in London and worked with us a number of times. She really gets our energy and we make a good team.
The symbolism in the “CHERRY on TOP” music video is very emotional, reflecting on FEMM’s iconic moments. What was it like to be filming the final FEMM music video? What stories can you share about the making of the music video?
L: This MV was made by our closest creative staff, who have been involved with us since day one. In this music video, we wanted to express both of our personalities as mannequins and human-like selves. While shooting, I was feeling emotional and moved because this was the last one and it was very important. I wanted to take every moment of it in!
Do you have any unreleased music that might potentially come out in the future?
R: No we don’t. We got it all out!
We want to celebrate FEMM by talking about your overall journey. Looking back, what are some of your all-time favorite moments and memories as FEMM?
L: All memories are precious; how we started out our mission; the first time I met RiRi; the first time I interacted with a human; and the time I spent with all the agents. Everything was meaningful and even though we went through a lot, good times or hard times, everything remains as a treasure to me.
What would you say has been your proudest achievement in the last decade as FEMM?
R: To make peace with humans. That was our main goal and motive when we started out, and throughout the years we really got close and feel safe being around them. Lots of agents were always there for us, and helped us achieve this goal.
Musically, FEMM has experimented with so many unique sounds over the years. Is there a particular sound of FEMM’s that was your favorite?
L: I love all of the songs, but right now the latest EP CHERRY is my favorite. I sang my first solo song “Butterfly to the Moon” and I have lots of special feelings about it.
R: “Fxxk Boyz Get Money” is always a go-to, but my personal favorites are “Up up & Away,” “Wannabe,” “Come & Go,” “Kill the DJ” … Yup, I can’t pick one. Lol
FEMM also became iconic for their creative and interactive live shows, especially with actions like being carried and ‘assembled’ onto stage. What would you like the world to know about that creative process of bringing FEMM to audiences?
R: You really know us well! Yes, often we are carried onto stage. This really sets a different feel and we own the stage in a second. Since our uniqueness is being living mannequins, we wanted to showcase it.
FEMM were known for incorporating advanced technology into their music and shows, such as the multimedia DOLLHOUSE live event in Tokyo in 2018. Why was it important to use technology like this to elevate FEMM’s artistry to a unique level?
L: As mannequins, we were not able to express our feelings with our facial expression. (We can now!) We couldn’t talk either, so our ways to communicate and perform on stage was quite limited compared to other human artists. We used lots of technology to cover these points and also to enhance our performance. I think it really matched our mannequin world, to have a digital show.
FEMM’s fashion stayed a hot topic, with a lot of unique outfits and materials like latex worn over the years. Can you pick out a particular outfit that was your favorite to wear and fully expressed FEMM’s artistry?
R: I think one of my signature outfits is the army costume that I am wearing in the MV “Kill the DJ.” Since I am a combat mannequin, it shows my character the best.
L: I choose my nurse costume. Since I am the ‘healer’ in this duo, nurse is a perfect outfit for me. As for a team, I think the latex catsuit is really cool. Lots of agents like this look.
Has it been decided where FEMM’s archive of outfits, costumes and accessories will be stored in the future?
L: It is a secret 🙂 But in the meanwhile, we cherish the opportunity to wear these costumes, and we hope our agents enjoy it too.
What were some of the challenges you faced as a duo and how did you overcome them?
R: In the earlier days, it was really difficult to be understood. Since we were so different and not friendly [laughs] because we couldn’t have smiley expressions or even talk to human, they might have thought we were really strange. But over the years, they got used to us and it wasn’t an issue anymore. After 2020, we have evolved into a human-like style, so now it is very easy to communicate.
Is there anything you would have perhaps done differently during your time as FEMM?
L: I just focus on every moment, and enjoy day by day.
R: Done differently? Of course not! Like what LuLa said, we always do our best, and did nothing but that♡
What do you think you will miss the most about performing as FEMM?
R: Having a partner. Since there was always LuLa by my side, it would really feel strange not having her there. But since we are sisters, family and soul mates, wherever we are actually does not matter. Because we will always have each other.
FEMM has been especially popular with fans overseas. How do you feel about the impact your music has had on audiences outside of Japan?
L: This was a big surprise for me. I think one of the reasons were that we sang in English, while being mannequins made in Japan. Also, lots of our songs had the attitude of a confident woman and that just clicked with our agents all over the world. “Fxxk Boyz Get Money” seemed to have a big impact in the early years. Because of our agents’ support, we were able to travel to so many places. Meeting our agents in various countries and performing for them was certainly amazing.
FEMM will soon take to the stage for the final time on Dec 16th in London. How are you preparing for this farewell show?
R: LuLa and I have been preparing for this show for close to a year, actually. Since it’s our first time to produce a show on our own, it was really difficult and that’s why it took so long to announce – but now we are here and so excited to perform!
What can Agents expect from the ‘Last FEMM-Isation’ show in London?
L: I think this show will be a new experience for our agents. It certainly will be emotional and intimate. We are excited to perform some songs for the first time live.
How can fans keep supporting FEMM after this period? Will FEMM’s official website and SNS accounts remain open?
R: FEMM’s SNS will remain and our other personas as Emily and Hiro; we will keep posting on our platforms, so they can always visit us. Remember, music is eternal, so we will be there for them after all 🙂
What final message would you like to share with your Agents all around the world for the last time?
L: I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has sent us so much love. Thank you for the past ten years. It is unfortunate that there are countries that we were not able to visit, but the love you have sent us is truly reaching us. We will continue to send our love until the end so that our feelings can also be conveyed to you. And please generously give the love you have given us to those around you. Please know that you are so amazing and we were able to be here because of you. We love you.
R: Thank you agents, for always supporting us. Your messages always means a lot to us 🙂 We hope that you continue loving our songs.
BIG LOVE, from FEMM to you♡
Finally, what do you want the world to remember about you and FEMM? What legacy or impact do you hope FEMM leaves behind in the world of J-pop and beyond?
L: Rather than wishing for something big, we sincerely hope that our music continues to be close to our agents and those who happen to come across our music.
R: Two mannequins can actually make things better. Lots of our agents told us that our music helped them go through hard times and we are so honored. It might be just music, but music can do a lot. We really hope for PEACE and LOVE all over the world. Thank you agents for the past ten years. We love you forever♡
FEMM’s Final LONDON Show Info
Date: Sat 16th December 2023
Venue: The Lower Third (London)
1:00pm VIP and Meet & Greet
2:30pm General Entry
3:00pm Show Starts
6:30pm VIP and Meet & Greet
8:00pm General Entry
8:30pm Show Starts