Mademoiselle Yulia focuses on the vocals

September 17, 2011

By SOPHIE KNIGHT / Staff Writer

In a pop scene saturated with boy and girl bands so manufactured they're practically genetically modified, there's something refreshingly organic about Mademoiselle Yulia.

Her electric blue hair might be fake, but everything else about Japan's answer to Lady Gaga feels 100-percent authentic.

A well-established DJ and fashion icon on Tokyo's party circuit, Yulia is hoping to build on her local success with the release of her debut album, "Mademoworld," on Oct. 3. And she is determined to prove that she had a lot more to offer than shocking tresses.

"So far, I've just been doing things for fun, but now I want to be more serious about it," she says. "Music, fashion and my accessories label are all important. If I stopped any of them, I would lose balance. But I want to take everything I do to the limit and surpass my boundaries."

Fresh off a tour of Asia with the rapper Verbal of the Teriyaki Boyz, Yulia has come a long way from the beginning of her DJ career at age 17.

A fan of bands such as the Clash and Kraftwerk when she was younger, she started a "technopop" band in high school. After the other members moved to London, she turned to deejaying as a way of making music by herself.

She soon found herself in high demand at a handful of small but exclusive Tokyo nightclubs. Identifiable by her technicolor hair and outfits almost as bonkers as Lady Gaga's--color-clashing corsets and shorts, red sequined leotards and gold studs--she also made it to the pages of fashion magazines such as NYLON.

She says her outlandish fashion sense has its roots in her high school years.

"Everyone there wore really crazy clothes and costumes, and in order to match or outdo them, I had to dress up even more," she says.

Although she's sticking with her trademark blue hair for now, she doesn't want to be pinned down by one look and is unwilling to be defined by one musical style. While she usually spins electro music as a DJ, her new album breaks new ground.

"I think making the kind of songs that people expected me to would have been boring, so I wanted to express myself through the kind of songs I used to play in my band, as well as rockabilly stuff," she says. "It's not a club record. I've always liked bands with strong singers, from Madonna to Queen, so my album is all about the vocals."

Yulia hasn't yet worn sirloin steak to an awards ceremony like Lady Gaga (although her DJ career did begin at a night club called Meat in Shinjuku, Tokyo), but she is keen to test her own and everybody else's boundaries.

"I'm just doing what I like doing right now, and I'd love for that to be recognized and appreciated," she says. "Once that's happened, I want to aim higher and challenge myself to do things that seem impossible to me now."

By SOPHIE KNIGHT / Staff Writer
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Mademoiselle Yulia (Alcuin Stevenson)

Mademoiselle Yulia (Alcuin Stevenson)

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