Label feature: Kawaii Records
For over a decade we have build a DIY punk geek relationship with David Carville and his label Kawaii Records
I was 16 years old when I first got in touch with xDAVIDx (yes, we used to write sXe for Straight Edge and X-up our screen names) through Myspace (yes, Myspace), at that time he released the first bunch of records through his DIY label Kawaii Records. Very soon we became pen friends both through email and snail-mail. We used to talk about hardcore punk, radical hip-hop or obscure grindcore from the most underrated places in the world.
Back then yours truly was discovering both French screamo and classic punk like Métal Urbain or Bérurier Noir, while David was interested to learn more about the current state of affairs in Bulgaria and other ex-Eastern Bloc countries. Our punk geek relationship was going well and he asked me to write a Bulgarian scene report for his Mononoke Zine (yes, named after one of the best Ghibli movies ever), a zine in French language where reports about underground scenes in places like Pakistan, Uruguay, Philippines, China, Peru, etc. were standing next to anime / manga reviews.
And then my teenage mindset led me to an idea: to start my own DIY label! I went to the post office and sent a CD-r to France with live rehearsal recordings of my friends’ band called Old Joe’s Anger, asking Kawaii Records for a coproduction on releasing their first CD. David said yes, and later on I received a package with most of Kawaii’s releases so far: Straight Edge bands from Japan and South Korea, fastcore from France, anarcho-punk from Peru and much more.
Well conceived inside the record sleeves was hidden the cash: Euro banknotes and no coins (we weren’t allowed to use Paypal yet). Then, my friends went to a studio to record their songs, but unfortunately the guy who was working with the masters fucked up everything and the final mix was sounding as if they were playing in a bathroom. Although, we decided to release the CD and organized gigs in Varna and Sofia selling the CDs for €1. The remaining copies were sent to France and, I guess, Kawaii Records was giving them away for free with mailorders from his label and distro.
In 2008 I was already experienced in the whole DIY hardcore punk thing and co-produced another release with Kawaii Records. This time it was the full 2001-2007 discography of Macedonian band FxPxOx. I was really excited to be part of this and everything went really smooth, the record came out with a huge booklet with lyrics/translations and I was really satisfied to be involved in such a project.
To this day in April 2016 Kawaii Records have released 72 records of hardcore, punk and hip-hop artists from all over the world! And besides his label and Mononoke zine, David is also publishing a journal for cinema reviews of movies in all genre called Délivrance, a hardcore punk photography page called Purikura Hardcore Party, and an online store for his anime / manga inspired paintings and photography called Mokuso Art. He is also running a blog for free downloads and info on obscure underground bands called This is Kawaii Not Hawaii, go check them out!
Here are some of my favorite releases of Kawaii Records in a chronological order, starting with the most recent releases:
KW071: My Man Mike – Will You Marry Me? 10″
Fastcore trio based in Seoul, South Korea, inspired by the likes of Spazz and What Happens Next? The three members come from three different countries: France, USA and South Korea. The band has been touring a lot around Asia, Europe and America.
KW067: PILOOPHAZ – Self-Titled CD
Underground hip-hop artist from St. Etienne in France, awesome old school beats and intelligent lyrics: personal and political. The CD contains 22 tracks recorded between 2006 and 2011.
KW066: Demokhratia / Mondo Gecko – No Religions-No States LP
Political punk from Algeria meets fastcore from Israel! A big fuck you to both fascislamist and nazionists.
KW065: Fanzui Xiangfa – Self-Titled 7″
Six tracks of fast and angry hardcore punk from Beijing, China. This band is really good. Beijing Hardcore.
KW062: Tropiezo / Vivisick – Split 7″
Tropiezo raw hardcore punk thrash from Puerto Rico meets Japanese fastcore veterans Vivisick. Full-speed thrashcore violence and no thrills from both bands.
KW061: Second Combat – Count On To Survive
Pioneers of melodic hardcore from Malaysia. They have been around for quite a long time now and managed to build a solid foundation for the Malaysian hardcore and Straight Edge scene. The CD kicks in with 10 songs with a positive message plus a Bane, Have Heart inspired sound.
KW059: L’oiseau mort – Soubresauts Acte 1 LP
L’oiseau Mort is a hip-hop duo from Grenoble, I must say they are simply amazing, one of my favorite French hip-hop artists and I listen to a lot of underground hip-hop. Gotta love them!
KW027: FxPxOx – 2003-2007 Recordings
Absolutely stunning political thrashcore from Skopje, Macedonia. As I mentioned earlier, I also co-produced this release with Kawaii Records and many other labels around the world. The members of FxPxOx are no longer straight edge but are still playing music in other bands, among which Bernays Propaganda, probably the most famous band to have come out of Macedonia in the last decade.
KW017: Golem of Flesh – Les Charpentiers
Dark and apocalyptic hip-hop from France, check this out if you’re into French hip-hop with harsh lyrics against all organized religion.
KW01: Make Mention of Sight – The Beginning
The first Kawaii Records release from 2004. Make Mention of Sight was a youth crew band from Japan, probably the first Japanese straight edge band I’ve ever heard. 7 songs including Unit Pride cover.
David Carville is one of those passionate people that I’ve met early in my life thanks to the International DIY hardcore punk network. And as long as there are labels like Kawaii Records I’ll be sure that the DIY punk exists even in the most distant places on Earth and in all these places there are individual and collective efforts to make it something much more than a musical and subcultural scene.