Sometimes I need a break from all the new music my ears absorb everyday, and despite being one of the things I love the most in my work, I think our “favorite artists” perfectly fit in this need of laying down with familiar sounds, which is basically the reason why yesterday I found myself watching the entire Perfume videography. I didn’t watch some of these Music Videos for years, and looking at them again I still feel that unique sensation you get when discovering something special, representing a pleasant and much needed revisitation imposed by the fact that my favorite artists are the ones I listen to the less. While this may surely sound like a contradictory statement, I’m convinced that an artist permanently looped every single day kinda loses its charm, at least in the way we perceive it once our ears get overly used to it.
And so, while browsing Perfume’s YouTube channel to watch their most recent videos, I stumbled upon 2012’s hit Spending all my Time, second single under Universal Music and the one that divided the entire fandom for its western sound and notorious repetitiveness. Despite loving overly repetitive compositions (‘sup Daft Punk) at first I couldn’t enjoy this track as I was failing in finding a real meaning in it, but once I listened to a decent quality of it (e.g not a radio rip) and finally watched the Music Video, I totally fell in love with it.
The video in particular is the main reason why the artistic value behind Spending all my Time was and still is so stuck in my head today: It’s hypnotizing, cryptic, mysterious, all qualities that are a magnet for the fans eager to understand the concepts behind a group. Just trying to grasp the several meanings and messages both these girls and their artistic team tried to convey blows your mind, and shows not only the talent of Team Perfume, but also the artistic power of visuals applied to music, a field where the three girls from Hiroshima represent Japan’s finest.
This song and its music video where released shortly after Perfume announced their label shift and finally opened to the world, releasing their singles globally other than finally being present in Social Networks, all basic actions denied after years under a label that helped them be the huge act they are today but also clipped their wings when they tried to avoid the stagnant routine of Japanese groups.
The Spending all my Time music video is (probably) the representation of their pre-Universal situation, and it’s made in such a cryptic and detailed way that after three years fans still haven’t completely figured out all the meanings behind this greatly shot video. Several interpretations of these looped (but slightly different every time) scenes have surfaced over the years, though: A-chan knocking and trying to open a locked door is seen as a metaphor of the girls’ will of spreading their music to the world yet finding themselves trapped inside a room, where the room itself is a metaphor of the dangerous stagnation of the artists’ routine in the Japanese market, that sees several acts struggling to spread their works overseas due to some labels’ rigidness. A-chan and Nocchi joining their hands can be interpreted as the will of getting in touch with their fans outside Japan, while Nocchi and Kashiyuka doing cryptic gestures with their hands to each other is seen as the impossibility to communicate with foreign realities due to language barriers. Kashiyuka’s hands movements destroying objects (pointing several times to her head) translate into the power of their music and love tearing down the barriers between different cultures, while her hand movements on the table and the consequent oppressive look at an imposing figure in front of her implies the will of “flying away” and adventuring into new territories denied by someone higher and more powerful than her (that can be interpreted as their previous label). Lastly, the scene where A-chan is making objects fly while staring at them is particularly interesting: I see these objects (the flower in particular) representing the identity of Perfume as one of the biggest and most influential groups in Japanese music, manipulated by A-chan as the founder of the group: In a particular scene, she’s sitting down with the flower floating in front of her while she’s looking the other way, a metaphor of A-chan acknowledging the power of what she created in her country yet still looking somewhere else (overseas) to then look back at the flower, showing the desire of expanding the project she created abroad.
There are more and more details to be analyzed in this video (the numbers on their arms, Nocchi’s powers, and so on) and yes, trying to find the real meaning behind this cryptic music video it’s genuinely funny. When music and visuals are merged with such synchronicity and offer a wide interpretation of an artistic output it’s not only pleasant and satisfying, but also a great representation of the group’s personality, conveying feelings in an indirect way to let the fans use their imagination and consequentially making them feel closer to the artist. It’s pretty fantastic.
Oh, and I’m glad they finally unlocked that door in the end.