WaqWaq Kingdom, Music of Ultramodern Folklore

The duo of Shigeru Ishihara and Kiki Hitomi soaks experimental club sounds and international rhythms into Japanese myth.


WordsMiranda Remington

WaqWaq Kingdom, Phantomb Limb. Photo: Disrupt.

Under experimental bass duo WaqWaq Kingdom, hard digital drums, chip-tune noises and autotune collide with dancehall, tribal percussion and Japanese mythology. Albums Essaka Hoisa (2019) and Dokkoisho (2020) resound unheard hybrids one after the other, exploring the connections between magic and world music traditions in their configurations next to the thrust of Japan’s pagan minyo music.

Centralising an age-old Japanese sense of determination into club-saturated hyperspeed, their tantalising juxtapositions—between yokai folklore and gabba, sumo wrestlers and footwork—excite the spirits of our past from the present moment.


Rhythmic Sorcery

WaqWaq Kingdom’s folk-tinged rave anthems are created by Shigeru Ishiharu, a breakcore legend known as DJ Scotch Egg and bassist of post-rock band Seefeel, alongside Kiki Hitomi, the singer of experimental bass-delving project King Midas Sound who crafts WaqWaq Kingdom’s kaleidoscopic music videos. Both from Japan but based in the UK and Germany in their musical careers, the duo’s wild musical appetite—drawing Shintoist chimes into trap percussion, taiko drums amidst electro-pop psychedelia—highlights the stylistic strengths of their diverse projects.

Under the forces of pumping electronica, WaqWaq Kingdom makes Japanese traditions shimmer vibrantly. Their albums signify old chants used to incite determination, charging an Edo-era (1603-1868) strength behind musical crossovers. In their first release with their Brighton-based label Phantom Limb Essaka Hoisa, exotic melodies waver and sacred bells ring, casting a spell before its distorted drum breaks. Their other album Dokkoisho erupts with thick synth riffs and tumbling footwork, with lyrics celebrating inner strength and sounds awakening an unconscious magic in the everyday. 


Essaka Hoisa (2019) and Dokkoisho (2020), two albums by WaqWaq Kingdom re-issued by the label Phantom Limb.



‘Essaka Hoisa’, WaqWaq Kingdom. Phantom Limb.

‘Dokkoisho’, WaqWaq Kingdom. Phantom Limb.

WaqWaq Kingdom. Phantom Limb. Photo: Marco Tinari.

WaqWaq Kingdom. Phantom Limb. Photo: Disrupt.