As we all know, Visual Kei tends to be a male-dominated genre. Though people on youtube comments might constantly question whether so-and-so is really a man, the answer tends to be yes. However, there is the oft-neglected subgenre of visual kei, that of “all-female” or “female fronted” visual kei bands. Some fans seem take a special interest in these bands (one in particular tried to compile every known group and even used us as a source. Thanks for reading guys!). Like its parent genre, it has almost nothing to do with an actual style of music; just whether the members are in fact good looking women and not good looking men attempting to look like the former. While there have been some well-known groups in this category, (Exist Trace and Danger Gang come to mind) and bands like Light Bringer and Destrose who were sometimes grouped as such, there was one GREAT female-fronted project you probably missed entirely:
KILHI + ICE (キルヒアイス) is:
TARAchan – Vocals, synths, programming
Favorite Food: Washoku (Japanese food)
Hobby: Medicine, reading manga, gardening
UNI (ex Jelsomena) – Guitar, bass, synth
Favorite Food: Kimchi Yakisoba
Favorite Sports: Volleyball, Soccer
Hobby: Playing WonderSwan
Le 7e Art, 7/17/97
Analogue Fortune, 4/3/99
Keep Cool, 4/3/98
New Material, 12/95
Dead Leaves, 3/1/01
The wonderfully named Kilhi + Ice started way back in September 1995. Uni, formerly the guitarist of influential goth rock group Jelsomena started a project with new vocalist Tarachan. Mixing goth, electronica and pop sensibilities, the band released a demo tape at the end of the year; their first show was at Meguro Rock-May Kan the following January. They toured for the rest of the year, including stops in Osaka and Nagoya. They were also featured in an issue of well-known VK mag Shoxx. In addition the band created their own fanzine “Tarantuala Project.”
K+I’s first album “Le 7e Art” was released through Damage Office, a label run by the band themselves. It was well received and quickly sold out; subsequent pressings also sold fast, and this album is even now highly sought-after among fans. Next on the release schedule was 1998’s “Keep Cool,” which received much wider distribution. This led to them being featured in, of all things, a video game.
Great Hits, from famed developer Enix (of Dragon Quest fame) revolved around making music videos for different songs, including a few KILHI+ICE numbers! They also collaborated with Bandai, the video game and toy maker, on the omnibus “Black Market 1998.”
The band’s good fortune continued with the announcement that their 3rd official release, the album “Analogue Fortune,” would receive international distribution. In 2000, the German label Center of Desire (C.O.D.E.) records decided to make inroads into the Japanese music scene. To do so, they signed KILHI+ICE and paired them alongside German goth cult favorite The Angina Pectoris. The 2 bands did magazine interviews together, and fans eagerly awaited the next chapter in what would surely be an even better year for the band.
2001 started relatively quiet. The band released their first video collection “Dead Leaves.” Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, their oneman at Koenji Showboat on May19th would be their last. Things stalled after the group sued their label C.O.D.E. for nonpayment. This ongoing lawsuit effectively put an end to all band activities, and UNI left sometime thereafter. The band’s website closed in 2002, but later returned, though further lives and releases did not follow.
With Center of Desire shuttered at some point after 2003, Tarachan would update the band homepage from time to time, offering to sell the band’s back catalogue through the website itself. There haven’t been any substantive updates since 2008.
Where are they now?
According to her now-defunct travel blog, Tarachan spent time living in The Netherlands, and posted regularly about her thoughts, travels, and gardening. Unfortunately, much of it seems lost to time; the blog shut down and has not been updated in about five years.
UNI, sadly, has not resurfaced in the music industry. Though his former band JELSOMENA revived and played shows in 2010 and 2015, UNI has not been among the members.
However, the KILHI+ICE website is still up. Also still available is the option to request band goods! To my knowledge, this is the actual band site, and not the international site created by CODE. I’m not certain whether TARAchan still responds to requests, but for those of you who are curious, why don’t you try to order?