It all started back in the beginning of sixth grade. The year was 2007 and I had just made the transition from the ridiculous elementary school to the equally ridiculous middle school. In hindsight, it wasn't that big of a deal but back then in my eleven-year old mind it was one step closer to becoming older and wiser! You know that age where you feel inclined to show the whole world that you've aged mentally and matured away from that silly and immature elementary school you? That happened to me in middle school and I found myself growing out of a lot of the things I enjoyed in elementary school. Suddenly my Barbies weren't as fun to play with, The Magic Treehouse Books were too juvenile to read, the Disney Channel shows I watched had somehow turned to shit, and biggest of all I grew out of the kids music I'd listened to so frequently when I was younger. Actually, pop music in general just stopped appealing to me and unfortunately that was all I could find on the radio because my little mind hadn't expanded enough to seek other genres.
Today, I'm still not sure if that happened subconsciously or by my own choice but either way there I was, a gangly little sixth grader with no idea of what to do with herself. I didn't want to be immature!Nia I wanted to be cool!Nia. Somewhere along my journey to reinvention of myself, I figured if I wanted to be a new person, I needed to have new, cooler and edgier interests! So I spent most of August spazzing around trying to do that with little to no progress; I was still that same, gangly little sixth grader. Then September came. I was using the family computer when I thought to myself "What is the weirdest and most out-there genre of music I can think of?" I remembered when I was younger I'd watched Sailor Moon but all I could remember about it was how weird it was with all the bright lights, strange animation, and ridiculously short skirts. I then remembered what country it originated from.
And that was when everything changed.
Five years later, I still can't figure out how my mind connected its thoughts to Japanese music. Maybe it was my growing disinterest/disgust with the English music I heard constantly. Maybe it was a rekindled interest I'd been suppressing. I think it may have been boredom; one minute I was just sitting at the family computer and then I just thought about it. Somehow my thought process led me to type in "Japanese pop songs" on Youtube, curious but very, very skeptical I'd find anything of interest. I'd always thought of Japan as this really weird country that made about as much sense to me as Wonderland did to Alice. The bits I'd seen of Japanese music were also very, very weird to me but then again, I hadn't seen much. It was the most out-there genre of music I could think of and I honestly didn't expect to find anything that would interest me in it. But obviously. I came across a list of top 10 J-pop songs (a list which I unfortunately can't find now probably due to copyright claims) and it had all the weirdness I expected it to have. In hindsight, I think there might have been a Mini Moni song on the list but it's been so long now that I can't remember.
But it was this strange variety of all these different genres of music: hard rock, cutesy idol pop, rap, it was quite the culture shock for me! I almost stopped watching it but thank god I stuck it out because I reached number one and that was the first taste I ever got of Perfume. The song in the video was Chocolate Disco, but I didn't know that at the time; I didn't even know what I was looking at it. But I loved it. It was literally like nothing else I had ever seen in my very short life. The lights, the catchiness of the song, the dance, the techno, I was completely and totally entranced. I can't remember my specific reaction other than thinking it was the three girls in the PV were the coolest people in the world. I didn't even know their names or what they were saying but the way they danced and looked so happy and innocent and their equally happy techno music just drew me in because I'd never seen something like it before. Girl groups in the US had dissolved with the Spice Girls so to see another one was not only nostalgic but the music felt cool and edgy compared to all the stale pop music I'd been listening to.
Unfortunately, there was no information on the video about what the song was or who they were. For the next few months, I fervently tried to find more about this mysterious trio of girls. The main problem was that I shared a computer with my family so my access to the Internet was limited and I'd been brought up believing the Internet was full of viruses around every corner. As much as I wanted to dig deeper into these girls, I was scared of what I'd find and I especially didn't want my parents to know that their daughter was doing something as weird as searching for Japanese music. So I just sort of put my fascination aside and focused on school and other things that were going on in my life. But not matter how hard I tried not to let it bother me, I still wanted to hear that full song. I knew it was weird to have such an obsession with a group after one song but it was just so intriguing and after relentlessly trying to find them, I went back to the original top 10 list. Now this was around the time the Baby Cruising Love/Macaroni single was released.
Someone had asked for a full list of the songs and the owner replied, allowing me to finally figure out the group I was watching was called Perfume and the song was called Chocolate Disco. Afterward, I was easily able to find the song and hearing the entire thing only made me love it more. At first it felt a little weird hearing Japanese in a song but the more I listened to it... I just really loved how happy and catchy and fun it was. It was so different from what I'd ever heard before and I felt kind of cool for hearing a song that none of my friends had ever heard of. Something I always tend to do when I discover a new song is that I repeat it over and over again for several days or several weeks; with Chocolate Disco I was replaying that song for several months. It wasn't until April that I started looking into Perfume past that song and even then finding information was hard with such a vague name like Perfume. Often I came up with more results about various Japanese perfumes than the group I was looking for. And their Wikipedia article back then stunk too. But I did find enough about them that I just started binge listening; oh my god, did I binge on them.
I remember replaying the hell out of anything and everything I could find by Perfume. It was like I had discovered this new drug that I couldn't get enough of! I listened to their indies, I listened to their major label stuff, I listened to Complete Best and most importantly, I listened to GAME. Now something you have to understand is at the time I started really listening to Perfume, I was barely twelve years old; I didn't know squat about the Internet or downloads or anything of that nature. I barely even knew how to work Youtube! I had to work my ass off to try and find and their music but in a strange, it was kind of a fun little quest to embark on. Each new Perfume song I found was like finding a little Easter egg filled with chocolate and I found myself loving every new song I found by them. The hardest songs for me to find were the songs from GAME since the album had only been out for a month or so but eventually I was able to find all the songs on the tracklisting.
To this day, GAME is my favorite Perfume album and probably just one my favorite albums in general and over time my love for the album has only grown even more. The release of GAME was also the time when Perfume's Wikipedia page was massively updated with so much more information than before! It was around this time that not only did I just start listening to Perfume's music but I also began to look into the group's history. I found out that Perfume had been around for years and only now were they finally starting to have success in Japan. Before GAME and Polyrhythm, this amazing group had really struggled to sell and find revenues, even performing in bowling alleys to promote their singles. Finding all that out made me root for Perfume even more; I wanted them to be the most famous and successful group in Japan. I wanted everyone to love them to make up for all the years where they'd perform in CD shops with five people in the audience. When they hit number 1 with Love the world, I was ecstatic beyond reason; finally, all the years Perfume had remained in obscurity paid off!
I won't go into the full history of Perfume but I will say it was pretty much what made me a huge fan of the group. And if you don't like Perfume, see if looking into that history will at least give you an appreciation of all the hard work the girls have put forth to get where they are today. When I first read that it had taken six years for Perfume to become successful, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that they had stuck so long to pursuing their dreams, even when they seemed so far away. Perfume taught me that yes, if you follow your dreams and work hard enough, they can come true and ever since then, I've really looked up to them for never giving up on their dreams. That's one of the reasons why I love their song Dream Fighter so much; it's a hopeful, uplifting song about chasing your dreams no matter how far-off and impossible they may seem. It was an inspiration to me back in seventh grade and over time, Dream Fighter has become my favorite A-side the girls have released. Dream Fighter also stands out as pretty much the point where I realized that I loved this group and I wanted to hear more of them.
Now I usually say that I've been a fan of the group since 2007 but even I admit, that's kind of stretching it a little bit. I discovered the group in 2007 but I didn't start becoming an active fan of Perfume until 2009. 2008 was the year I was tentatively looking into them with limited access to the Internet and proper resources to look up a Japanese girl group. So what happened in 2009 that fully transformed me into a Perfume fan? Well... I got my own computer. Yes, my birthday present/incentive to get straight A's that year was a laptop and by golly, I was gonna get straight A's! For me, a laptop meant more independence and my own hardware to browse and store data without sharing it with anyone else! So seventh grade ended and with straight A's on my report card, I received the promised laptop in June of 2009! Ironically it short circuited the summer before my sophomore year but that's a completely off-topic (but very hilarious) story.
With a computer of my own, I really learned how to navigate around the Internet and as a result, I learned more and more about Perfume. I began to figure out when they were releasing stuff, what concerts they were doing in the future, what they were up to next... and then I hit a wall. With all this newfound love for Perfume an my eagerness to support them, I wanted to buy their upcoming ⊿ album, especially after I'd listened to the amazing album that is GAME. So on the day ⊿ came out, I went onto iTunes and I scoured that store searching in vain for the album and for Perfume. To my dismay, I couldn't find anything. What I didn't know at the time due to my lack of knowledge about how the J-pop music industry worked was that Perfume wasn't available to international markets, only Japan. The idea that I couldn't buy music because I didn't live in that country was a new concept for me, and it made me both angry and sad. I wanted to support Perfume so much and their music was right in front of me yet at the same time it was so far away. And so with this dismaying knowledge brought to light in front of me, I was subsequently introduced to the wonderful world of piracy. Or downloading to put it more nicely.
When I first discovered downloadable Perfume content, I was hesitant. It felt like stealing to download their music (and it was) and I felt like I wasn't a real fan if I didn't support them by buying their music. But I couldn't buy the physical copies of the ⊿ album and it wasn't looking like they'd release material internationally on iTunes anytime soon. So I was left with quite a moral dilemma: download Perfume's music and further appreciate them and listen to them more or. It was several months before I finally caved in and decided to download Perfume music. And so around early 2010 I downloaded my first Perfume album, GAME, and then I downloaded ⊿. I still felt uneasy about doing it but over time, I gradually felt more comfortable with downloading Perfume material. But nothing felt better than actually buying Perfume's music on iTunes; I was overjoyed when it was announced that Perfume's music would be available internationally on iTunes. This year I was even able to purchase physical copies of JPN and the Global Compilation album! I was excited beyond words when the albums came in the mail and even more excited that I was finally able to give a little something back to Perfume after all the years that I'd looked up to them so much and how much they'd affected my life.
Around 2011 was when I started branching out to other people about my love of Perfume. I've always been a very private person when it comes to my musical tastes because I hate that feeling of showing something I love to someone and then they don't feel the same way I do. I get this pit in my stomach and I feel so bad for wasting their time on something they show little to no interest in and also disappointed. Naturally, that happened a lot with Perfume. I didn't throw Perfume at a lot of people but often I would bring them up and say something like "Hey, have you heard of this group called Perfume? You should check them out!" The person would then never check Perfume out and if they did, they hardly ever showed interest in them again. It was disheartening that I couldn't find anyone else who appreciated Perfume as much as I did so I started looking to online forums for other fans. And what do you know? Perfume had an entire forum filled to the top with Perfume fans! It was amazing to read the opinions of so many people who felt that same love for Perfume that I did.
I joined the Perfume City forum in late 2011 and although, I felt a little awkward for the first few months in the forum as a newb, I'm very happy I joined. We discuss Perfume-related everything from lyrics to PVs to other strange topics and it's such a relief to find people to share Perfume opinions with. Sure, sometimes the fandom gets split down the middle but overall the Perfume fandom is a great fandom and everyone gets a long pretty well. In 2013, I was able to do something else that really made me happening: I finally was able to join the PTA, which is the Perfume fan club. Before 2013, the PTA had been exclusive to Japanese residents only but finally the club has opened its gates to international members, and I had never felt so excited. I'd always wanted to join the PTA but couldn't because I was a foreigner and registering for it was nigh impossible. But now I've registered and I'm counting the days until the international fan club opens up!
Now in 2011, I was getting into idol music along with diligently following Perfume and as I got into idol music, I started getting into idol blogs too. As I found all these new blogs I started thinking "I wonder if any of these bloggers like Perfume..." And then I found out that nope, not many bloggers that frequently updated wrote about Perfume. Sure, I found a few blogs that mentioned Perfume and even had a small post here and there about them but not a blog that really wrote about Perfume. Then I thought "Why don't I write about Perfume?" It seemed to make sense; I love the group and I wanted to show some form of my love and respect for them so why not a blog in which I could review and just praise Perfume in general? And that is how Nia's Wonderland was formed. Of course, there were a few other elements into the formation of my little blog but Perfume was one of the key aspects; hell, my first post on this blog was My Top 20 Perfume Songs. Since then, I've strived to write about Perfume news, review their singles and albums, and just write Perfume-related posts because I love doing it.
I love writing about them almost as much as I love their music, their stage presence, and everything about them. Perfume has helped shaped who I am as a person and has taught me so many values and I really look up to them. I think that's one of the reasons why I bring up Perfume so much on my blog. I know it seems like I gush about them at any opportunity I get but honestly, my blog is the one way I can showcase Perfume to the world. It's easier for me to write about how great Perfume is than to go up to people and personally ask them to look into Perfume (although I sometimes show friends Perfume music but not very often). All I can do is hope that maybe one day, someone who reads my blog will get curious about this group I constantly praise and look at their music and develop the same appreciation and respect I have for Perfume. And if I can get even just one person interested in Perfume, just one person to become a fan of their music... I'd be the happiest girl in the world. I feel like whenever you grow attached to an artist, so much that you want them to be successful. I know I won't always like everything Perfume does but as a fan, I'll do everything I can to support them and I'll stand by them until the day they disband.
So in short, an 11-year old girl found Perfume on Youtube and they subsequently changed her life. The end!