First President of Japan drop second single “Haunt You,” supernatural-themed diss track speaking to real-world concerns

You want your j-horror fantasy? 
A cursed little ghost girlfriend?
Sadako from “The Ring” shit?
Purgatory in your TV? 
Obsessing over you after i’ve died?
—First President of Japan “Haunt You”

Words by Jason Lee. Cover photo by Mary Dorn Photography.

Here at The Deli we’re inclined to give musicians the benefit of the doubt even when some of their claims may seem fantastical like when Kendrick Lamar opens his most recent diss track directed at Toronto-via-Degrassi High’s most famous son (Drake, duh!) claiming that “I see dead people” and we totally believe him cuz clearly he’s nothing less than haunted by Drake (“Not Like Us” followed less than 24 hours after “Meet the Grahams”) with Drake just as clearly haunted by Kendrick (even going so far as to resurrect Dead Tupac in AI form on a now-deleted installment in the beef) as Kendrick by Drake (these two need to get a room!) which just goes to show how you don’t have to be dead to haunt someone…

…but when Non Kuramoto repeatsI’m not gonna haunt you / I’m not gonna haunt you” like a haunted mantra on First President of Japan’s new single (their second) called, wait for it, “Haunt You” we’re not sure whether to believe it or not cuz for one thing we’re already haunted by the way the line is delivered, first in a taunting, sing-songy, double-tracked vocal no less creepy-cool than the little girls in all those Nightmare On Elm Street movies that you see skipping rope in slow motion whilst chanting ominously, “one-two / Freddie’s coming for you / three-four / better lock your door” as Akifumi Nagae (guitar), Yoko Sawai (bass; see also: Hard Nips), Duncan Lockard (keys) and Zeév Banks (drums) gradually build up the musical texture…

…moving from a vibey hum to a steady thrum to a fervent guitar solo to frantic organ arpeggios leading to the song’s whirligig coda careening into a double-time thrash with Non’s formerly conversational tone mutated into primordial yowling rage concluding with a final declaration of “I’MMM NOOOT GOOONNAAA HAUUUNT YOU!!!!!” which fair warning even if you’re sitting at home alone you may be tempted to start a moshpit at this point with the overall impact of the song’s whiplash transitions and inexorable progression in their totally reminiscent of riding Coney Island’s Spook-a-Rama with its carny operator MIA (probably on a smoke break) as it short-circuits and sends your car careering off the tracks and straight into the giant animatronic rats feasting on some poor guy’s entrails so in other words yeah it’s pretty badass…

…and speaking of badass once you’ve regrouped from your first listen to “Haunt You” and go back and dig into the lyrics you’ll see it’s a song about just that, being a total badass, which is this case means standing up to the random creep who approaches the song’s narrator on Flatbush Ave. at 2 in the morning (“I like you a lot, can I walk you home?”) whose patter soon goes from merely creepy to murdery (“I’m gonna fucking kill you”) with a sense of entitlement over his prospective victim extending from the body to the soul, the latter perhaps stemming from some kind of “I wanna be haunted by a yūrei” fetish developed from too many viewings of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (1998) and/or the English-language remake in 2002

…to which Non essentially responds, I don’t even give enough of a shit about you to bother haunting you after you murder me and certainly don’t plan on spending my afterlife trapped in some dusty old VHS tape with a glitchy picture quality with the takeaway being as much “I’m not gonna let you haunt me” as it is “I’m not gonna haunt you” so in other worlds refusing to give in to fear and its traumatizing aftereffects, promising instead that “I’m gonna outlive you” and come to think of it Drake and Kenny could stand to take a listen to “Haunt You” cuz they’d maybe learn a thing or two re: their tit-for-tat battle raps and the folly of being haunted by the specter of their fragile masculinity being undermined…

…plus, what’s more, Non tosses off disses far more devastating (and fabulous to boot) than Drake and Lamar do put together as in “My great grandma might haunt you though / lay one hand on me / you’ll die chocking on my clit / you sad sack of shit” so take that K-Dot and Champagne Papi and if you wanna talk devastatingly fabulous we also recommend seeing First President of Japan play live as we did for the first time a few weeks ago…

…cuz the boundless energy they bring to the stage is pretty jaw-dropping and in fact so much so that we suspect it had something to do with us losing our phone soon after the show cuz the footage we shot of FPOJ at Bar Freda is certainly imbued with the haunted, mystical power of an ikiryō to the point where we have little doubt that whoever found our phone watched the vids and thus had a spell cast over them and ended up dead not more than a week later…

…so be forewarned if you happened to attend the band’s single release show this past weekend at Rubulad then you may wanna think twice before watching those videos you took of “Haunt You” cuz all those thrashing chords and vocal-cord shredding is a supernatural force perhaps meant to stay contained to the room where it took place and what better room than Rubulad cuz granted it’s a cool and chill venue, with a premium placed on tolerance and inclusivity, but it’s also got a far-end-of-the-earth fortress outpost fever dream kinda feel too (impressive for a venue located squarely in the middle of Bushwick…it’s location is secret for a reason) what with all the trippy psychedelic art adorning every surface and every outdoor sculpture thus making it a place you may wanna stay away from if you’re currently being haunted…

…or not, cuz you don’t wanna be haunted by *not* going either, which is what so-called hauntology is all about namely being haunted by unchosen “lost” futures (which at its most extreme may lead to out-of-body experiences) and/or by the “undisclosed traumas of previous generations [which] disturb the lives of their descendants even and especially if they know nothing about their distant causes” so in other words being haunted by absented things from past, present, or future plus other lacunae and intangible sensations which may be tied into liminal identities as well like being “a sad boy trapped in an empowered femme™ body” for instance and hey maybe we’re biased but we believe there’s no better way to dispel of these wraiths and be wholly present in the moment than to start a band, or even just to go and see one play live, and it it seems maybe Non agrees based on a fairly recent Substack post: 

And this is how the band has solved at least one of my problems.
It gave me a place where I can be without justifying my presence.
It gave me a project where my competency in my role isn’t constantly subject to scrutiny.
It gave me a receptacle for all of my seemingly random skill-sets.
It gave me songs that feel good and exciting to sing.
It gave me an outlet that actually feels electric.
And most, most, most importantly…

it gave me a team I am grateful to get to create with—a holy grail that I had nearly given up on (why do you think stand-up and solo shows were where I ended up).

And to be corny as always, YOU.

photos above by Joe Foldes (day-glo colors); Human Flower Productions (megaphone); Nico Malvaldi (the remaining shots)

Released May 30, 2024 
Non Kuramoto – Vocals, lyrics, melody
Akifumi Nagae – Guitar
Yoko Sawai – Bass
Duncan Lockard – Keys
Zeév Banks – Drums

Recorded at Rift Studios in Brooklyn, NY
Jun Yang – Engineer
Mixed and mastered by Zeév Banks

Official band bio: This is what happens when a clown starts a punk band. first president of japan is a Brooklyn based band that’s punk as in I love you, and queer as in fuck you. A chaotic DIY explosion that you need to see live.

FFO: Otoboke Beaver, Boredoms, Boris, Pons, Shybaby, Josie & the Pussycats

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