POMPOM began as a solo music project in Tokyo, Japan with the debut single, ‘Stronger’, a song echoing 80s nostalgia, ethereal vocals, and frosty synths; an ode to early dream pop and new wave bands. Harking back to her Celtic roots and familial ties to Japan, British-American Artist Audrey Bagley recreates herself with the moniker known as POMPOM; dream pop music inspired by 90s anime, nature, and the Japanese term that is known as ‘Kirakira’ キラキラ; glitter, glisten, shining. Dark Beauty asked a series of questions to dig a bit deeper into her mind as she lays down Japan travel essentials, music production essentials and more…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
I was born Audrey Gayle Bagley, British-American in the Pacific Northwest. I came into the world screaming so the nurse said I’d sing; here I am- not exactly screaming. I grew up in the middle of a beautiful Native American desert just outside Las Vegas in Moapa Valley, Nevada near Valley of Fire and Area 51. After living in San Francisco, New York, and Japan, I’m stationed in Los Angeles for a little bit working on this years album, Esper.
How would you label your music?
POMPOM is Dream Pop, due to the process of how I birth a song, which involves colourful dreams of music and keying through instruments to see what hits my soul in a way that induces nostalgic feelings or reminds me of something I’ve felt strongly about. I am growing in several directions. All of it connects to the heart of one soul thing which could be defined as Dream Pop in derivative of New Wave.
We love the Dream Pop sound; it has layers of atmosphere and sophistication. What drew you to this genre?
Video game music is what first helped me believe in the reality of music as a profession. Nobuo Uematsu was my first love – he is a composer of early Final Fantasy games and Chrono Trigger, which I played extensively in Junior High. Uematsu knew how to build so much emotion out of the earliest 16 bit synth sounds. He’s made people cry with the simplest of tools. That’s the magic of building soundwaves. I began making music and playing from ear since I was 5. My first synth was Jim Henson’s Casio EP-20 Muppet so I gravitated towards composition using Synths. Growing up in society as a teen around the year 2000 was pretty exciting. Movies and music evolved so quickly – I listened to my parents cassette tapes of Enya, the Cranberries, and Duran Duran, etc. So music from the 80s and 90s really impact me nostalgically. My mum is Welsh so she’d play Celtic music and my dad always played classical music on the violin so I ended up loving heart wrenching melodies. I’m a believer in music having more of a impact on the science of our soul than we know and that’s where the seed of POMPOM sprouts.
POMPOM is a self produced project, what tools are you using in the creative writing process?
To produce each song I record and set tracks in Logic. I love to modulate and build instruments using Logic’s built in Alchemy and the Arturia Collection, which is basically a ton of vintage patches emulating the likes of Moog and Prophet synths. My favorite plugins are Soundtoys. My fav Vocal performance tool is a TC Helicon Voicelive. I use a trusty old Nord Electro 2 as a midi controller in my studio. Some days I have to restrain my DIY self from going too wild with 100 layers of reverb mystical instruments. Just ask my engineer / mixer for this album, Lindenfield – my music production methods can be eclectic. After I write the songs and lay out a rough mix of all the tracks he helps me re-balance the sound levels and tonality. He brings it back to Earth a little bit because I tend to create sound as if I’m floating in space and the planets are my instruments. POMPOM is a reverb Alien.
You live and work between Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New York. What special charm does each have for you?
Los Angeles is where I’m currently honing my technical skills in producing music. It’s a claustrophobic place sprinkled with hellish potholes, but you’ll come across hidden archives of paradise. It’s definitely a place of here and now! New York I wander to reflect on the past. It was a magical place that no longer exists in the form that I knew it when I lived there, which wasn’t that long ago. Like the seasons, you can really feel change and the effects of time there. Japan has always been a part of my life, a large portion of my family lives there. Throughout my life they’d send me things that were charming beyond anything I’d ever find in the US. I studied the language and culture in college and lived there for a bit. I often return to Tokyo as a place to reflect on the future and what could be. It’s a place where I evolve and see my future self.
Tell us more about when you’re in Tokyo and what interesting adventures you have going on there:
My soul friends are in Tokyo so I make a point to visit them, but I also love venturing alone to visit shrines and parks. The nature surrounding the city is ethereal. It’s the cleanest place and yet there is tremendous history there. Shibuya and Shinjuku always grab my attention. I look forward to playing shows with friends at my favorite spots there.
Favorite food in Tokyo:
I’m obsessed with a good Tempura Soba and traditional Unagi (Cooked Eel) dish. Japan is my favorite country in terms of healthy veggie and protein based meals. Unfortunately I also love Konbini food. I can’t hold back from the tamago pan which is basically this moist semisweet eggy bread that I usually pick up from Lawsons (ローソン). Saizeriya (サイゼリヤ), also everywhere, is a pretty yummy Japanese take on Italian food. Cheap and delicious! I love late night meals there with friends. From Shibuya (渋 ) you can walk to a restaurant called Rakeru (ラケル) – where there’s a Japanese Omelet called Omurice that I like. It’s considered lovers rice and sometimes couples share it, but don’t share it cuz you’ll want to eat it all.
Best place to visit in Japan:
There are too many! But so far my favorite personal place to visit is Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏 稲荷 社). There is a shrine on a forgotten trail just off to the side that I always go to light a candle and make peace with the universe. I also love Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto for way too many reasons to list here. I will post a list on my website for you!
Favorite article of clothing you own:
I’m supposed to say my Vivienne Westwood top, because Vivienne Westwood is a corset superstar, but truth be told, 90% of my closet are relics from estate sales I visit with friends. My favorites are satin costumes handmade in the 1920’s to 1950’s. They pair really well with platforms.
Super secret! ; )
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
There is something really attractive about a serious nature, which is what the term “Dark Beauty” evokes visually to me. It exudes an intelligence, almost as if someone has come to grips with the hardships of reality, knowing there is the unknown, yet having confidence to pursue ones own truth in brooding optimism anyways. That is beauty.
Photo credit Tommy Ottley