Following similar moves from Get Inuit (now Indoor Pets), Viet Cong (now Preoccupations) and the like, Kamikaze Girls have announced that they’ve changed their band name.
“We always strive to learn and do better both as musicians and people,” they explain, “and want to encourage inclusivity and more open dialogue regarding cultural issues within music and across other areas of life and society.”
Following five years – and one album, 2017 debut ‘Seafoam’ – the duo are now working on new music under the moniker Cultdreams. Guitarist Lucinda Livingstone fills us in.
When did you first realise “Kamikaze Girls” was an issue?
A close friend called me one night, and explained they had been having a conversation about problematic band names with someone they were on tour with, and that our name came up as a potential one, given the cultural history of the word ‘kamikaze’ being used in the world war. It got us thinking, and we decided that we’d like to take some affirmative action to rectify this.
Where did that name originally come from?
We took our name from Novala Takemoto’s novel and film ‘Kamikaze Girls’ about a friendship between two girls from a small town in the Japanese countryside. We liked how the name sounded phonetically, and we liked the meaning of the word Kamikaze — which is ‘Divine Wind’ in Japanese — and how the word was often used to portray ‘reckless’ and ‘chaotic’ behaviour, which we felt echoed the traits of our music at the time.
What were the conversations like leading up to making the decision to change it?
We did our research, looking at the cultural history behind the word ‘Kamikaze’. We spoke a lot with the person that initially brought it up with us in the first place. Just because we were using the word for its chaotic and reckless meaning, and had taken it from a novel, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stand for something else as well. We want to respect other cultures, and don’t want our band name to be something that upsets someone or makes them feel uncomfortable.
What are the logistics like for changing a band name?
It’s really not that hard. We’ve been a band under this name for five years, worked extremely hard, and toured constantly, all under this name. Changing your band name doesn’t automatically erase all those years of touring and hard work. Yeah, we have to change our social pages, and all the behind the scenes stuff, but it is possible to do, and it’s not hard. It’s just a bit of extra admin work and a bunch of emails to the people that can help change it.
Some people may think it’s a bad idea for our careers to change it after all these years, but it’s not about that for us—it’s about us wanting to change something that other people could see as problematic, and that’s more important than a band name. It’s gonna take a little while for things like Facebook and digital streaming platforms to adopt our new name and switch it over, but that also gives us the time to share the new name with people, so they know it’s us when it changes.
How did you land on Cultdreams as a new moniker?
We’ve been writing the new album over the last few months, and we wanted something that would reflect our new music. It can be interpreted in a few different ways I guess, like wanting to break free from something and better yourself, the endless repetition that comes often comes with dreams and night terrors. Cult also being short for Culture too… i.e. the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of people. I think a lot of the subject content on the new record really relates to each level of that.
Do you think the name’s slightly different vibe will impact the music you make going forward?
I think it’s more the music we’ve written for the new album that’s inspired the name, to be honest. We’d already written 90% of it when we decided to change the name. The new record is darker and more melodic — it’s still us, but it’s a different vibe to the last one for sure.
What advice would you give other bands dealing with the same issue?
No matter how big your band is, you CAN change your name. If someone raises an issue with your song lyrics, your band name, or anything similar, be open to hearing those people out. It’s not about being more ‘woke’ than your mates, it’s just about respecting people around you, opening up a conversation and influencing positive changes. Many bands have done it in the past (AJJ, TTNG, and Indoor Pets are great examples), we’re doing it now, and hopefully, it shows that it won’t undermine all the positive, hard work you’ve put into your band before that point.
Catch Cultdreams at Un-Convention Manchester (7th March), Washed Out (12th April), Bristol’s Booze Cruise (24th May) and Hell Hath No Fury Fest (31st May) this spring.