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About D=OUT

This Tokyo band, formed in 2006, rose swiftly from obscurity to become, in the space of a few short years, one of the most popular acts on Japan's visual kei indie scene with their unconventional blend of jazz, funk, punk and pop and their bold, vibrant looks, which often incorporated Japanese traditional costume. The band's name is a corruption of the English word "doubt"; they claim they changed the spelling because the negativity of the word didn't reflect the content of their songs. Although stylized as "D=Out" on their early releases, the band's name has been written exclusively in Japanese katakana characters since the release of their first album, which transliterate into the Roman alphabet as "dauto," the Japanese pronunciation of "doubt". After the dissolution of his former band Mist of Rouge in 2003, vocalist Kouki launched a short-lived solo career before deciding to form another band. Through mutual friends, he met guitarists Ibuki and Hikaru, bassist Reika, and drummer Minase, all of whom were from different cities in Japan, and the band formed in 2006. Their gigs around Tokyo soon garnered them a respectable following and, after two self-released singles, they signed to leading indie label Speed Disk. There followed two more singles and the bizarrely-titled mini-album Rouman Doumyakuteki Chabangeki ("Romantic Arterial Farce"), before their first full-length album, Zipang (an antiquated name for Japan), was released in 2008. The album's unusual, jazzy sound combined with Kouki's unique nasal voice and the traditionally Japanese subject matter of his songs, led to increased interest and popularity and later in the year the album was released in Europe through the German label CLJ, which had already signed several other high-profile VK bands. Following this, the band toured extensively in Europe, accruing fans as they went, and released three more singles which saw their sound maturing and incorporating elements from different genres; the last was a double A-side which juxtaposed the lush piano ballad "Aoi Tori" ("Bluebird") with the harshly metallic "Kimon" ("Demon Gate"). Following the ironically titled mini-album Touryuumon ("Gateway to Success") which comprised solely covers of mainstream female J-Pop singers such as Ringo Shiina, in early 2010, their second album, Carnival Ukiyo ("Carnival Fleeting Life"), was released. With a more unified sound than its predecessor, it showed them becoming comfortable with the style they had developed. It also received a European release from CLJ Records, and the band devoted 2010 to playing as many shows as possible, especially overseas, and appearing in mainstream media in an attempt to spread their music to non-VK fans. ~ John D. Buchanan

December 2006

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