mardi 31 juillet 2018

TRF (Eng)

While they just performed exceptionally abroad in Paris at Japan Expo for their 25th anniversary, I propose to (re-)discover this must-know J-Pop / Dance band of the 90s-2000s...


The TK's Rave Factory

1st publication : 31/07/2018
Last updated: 31/10/2018


TRF is at first called... trf 😛, for TK Rave Factory. TK is no one else than Tetsuya Komuro (小室 哲哉), the main songwriter of the Major Avex who, in these 90s, writes hits in combo and turns all the artists he provides, and sometimes produces, into Japanese pop stars (Amuro NamiehitomiHamasaki Ayumi...) ! He participates himself in some bands which greatly influenced J-Pop like TM Network and globe. He is thus not expected to play on stage with trf, but as the name suggests it, he still wishes to explore this new sound from the West called house.

trf is thus created by Avex in September 1992 with 5 members, and starts in Major in February 1993:

YU-KI (北村 夕起: Kitamura Yûki), born on the 19th of December 1966, is the singer in charge, coming from the ZOO band.

DJ KOO (高瀬 浩一: Nakase Kôichi), born on the 8th of August 1961, is indeed the DJ but makes also some rap. He was part of several other projects, less known.

Probably inspired by the success of ZOO in the previous years, and wishing to surf on the dance fever that this ancestor of EXILE inspired, Avex adds dancers from the MEGA-MIX unit who participated in a TV show about dance:
SAM (丸山 正温: Maruyama Masaharu), born on the 13th of January 1962, is also known for his wedding with the popstar Amuro Namie, barely 20 at that time, who divorced little time after, in 2002.
ETSU (西岡 悦子: Nishioka Etsuko), born on the 11th of August 1964, below on the left.
CHIHARU (村木 千春: Muraki Chiharu), born on the 28th of February 1967,  below on the right.

Like ZOO, the extend of the troop are in fact a bit changing at the very beginning. Other danceers from MEGA-MIX and Sanche (サンチェ) participate from time to time, while SUZI KIM and Matsumoto Hiro (松本 博之) sometimes appear as singer and rapper respectively, for a total of up to 11 members, before getting fixed to the 5 listed persons at the Major debut.

Their 2nd single is the good one: EZ Do Dance, a typical Eurodance tune, supported by a... fascinating MV, in which YU-KI dances in a mini-short and bandeau top 😳, is released on the 21st of June 1993. The specialists are subjugated: the clip wins a price from the JRA ^^ ! The wider public discovers progressively: although the single doesn't go higher than the 15th rank of the weekly  Oricon chart, it goes on being sold week after week up to nearly 800 000 units in the year (and over 1 million a little later).

Released on the 25th of May 1994, Survival Dance becomes their 1st million hit within the year, the 1st of a quite long series : nearly one year after their 1st clubber hit, Boy Meets Girl is another huge success (22th of June 1994), and the album Billionaire which includes them (July 1994) ranks 1st of the weekly Top Oricon, selling over 1.7 millions units ! These 2 singles are more oriented like the Western pop "summer hits" of that time.
In 1995, dAnce to positive (March, with the A of Avex in exergue ^^) goes over the 2 millions. It is the climax for the band, who realizes then a last million-sale album in December, Brand New Tomorrow
The change of writing style during the Spring of 1996 to TRF may reveal the search for a second momentum, while in Occident too the Eurodance trend is fading in front of the trance or RnB. Their Best Of WORKS of 1998 reaches the million sales and ranks in addition at the 1st place of the weekly Oricon. This is no more the case of the original albums but they still enter in the Top 5 !

The band goes nearly in a break at the end of 1999, releasing a series of remix to celebrate the year 2000, and takes part to some lives, in particular the a-nation, festivals organized by Avex. YU-KI continues a solo career started in 1997, while CHIHARU and SAM become choreographs, noticeably for Hamasaki Ayumi and SMAP respectively.

They come back to activity between 2006 and 2009, year during which TK undergoes some judiciar troubles. Since then, they go on appearing on stage from time to time, especially for their anniversary dates, while DJ KOO in particular has some success in a second career as talento, guest in several TV shows.
One can also highlight the original training DVD realized by the 3 dancers using the band's songs, EZ Do Dancercise, released in June 2012 which is sold over one million units in 8 months, making EZ Do Dance to become the 1st Japanese single to sell over 1 million both in CD and in DVD reedition ! Beside their Best of 15 and 20 years, there is an interesting tribute Best Of covers for the fans of electroVOCALOID3 meets TRF !

Music Videos

Here is a summary of their different hits and live performances, made for their 25th anniversary:


Missing link between the bold Eurodance of globe and the dance-oriented bands like ZOO and EXILE, TRF is an excellent concentrate of the J-Pop scene of the 90s. Like Amuro Namie who debuted at the same time as part of the Super Monkey's, the dancers, "emancipated" rather than sexy, brought a fresh wave of cool lifestyle to the depressive post-Bubble Japan still stuck in its uniforms, either at school or as salarymen...
It is very interesting to note that the performances of the dancers are still excellent 25 years later, which proves them always healthy and professional. They influenced many other Japanese artists even after their half-retirement, especially regarding the urban dance, through their activities as choreographers or coaches. DJ KOO is still a funny eccentric character, regularly invited in variety shows on Japanese television.
Briefly told, a must-see, even nowadays, historical band, who will recall in addition their parties' memories to the late 30 and 40 years old ones ! 😉

Similar Artists

Japan: globe, ZOO, TM Network, Amuro Namie sur ses titres dance, Every Little Thing à son tout début, mihimaru GT, titres club des Sandaime J-Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE...

World: Haddaway, Dr Alban, 2Unlimited, Masterboy... pour les titres anciens; Martin Solveig, David Guetta... pour les plus récents.

Great Standards :

As original performers:
- EZ Do Dance
- Survival dAnce
- Boy meets Girl

Discography (selection) :

Affiliated links CD Japan. Some audio/video samples are available. Thank you for allowing cookies in order to support the site if you enjoyed the article m(_ _)m.

07/1994: 1st million-sale album; includes Boy meets Girl, Survival Dance...

Dance to Positive / TRF
03/1995: more than 2 millions sales !

12/1995: last million-sale original album

1998: over 1 million sales

01/2006: reband.




TRF Respect Idol Tribute!! / TRF Respect Idol Tachi
TRF Respect Idol Tachi
12/2012: reprises en collaborations avec des groupes d'Idols d'Avex (Idoling, BiS...)

03/2013: reprises par divers artistes Avex (mihimaru GT, Girl next door, Every Little Thing, Hamasaki Ayumi, Kôda Kumi, moumoon...)

03/2013: reprises par des Vocaloids v3 (GUMI, IA...)


Other Sources: wikipedia JP, TV reports...

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