Bo Ningen's Taigen Kawabe On Wearing His Mother's Dress

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AnOther Magazine A/W16
AnOther Magazine A/W16Photography by Sarah Piantadosi, Styling by Nell Kalonji

The charismatic frontman of the Japanese rock band tells Bobby Gillespie about his favourite stage costume

“I used to just wear T-shirts on stage. When I came home from the first Japan tour eight years ago my mum said, ‘I have this dress, I don’t wear it anymore, would you like to?’ She used to wear it on stage, and now I do. It gets a bit dirty and smelly on tour, so I try to wash it every time we stay in a hotel. I learnt a technique from an article on how young wrestlers wash costumes for their teams in hotels. They do it under the shower, wrap them in a towel and sort of whack it – it helps them dry quickly. Putting on the same costume every night turns my switch: my ‘on-stage switch’. It’s like a match. Gender is interesting to me, I enjoy confusing people. I don’t have fantasies to be a girl, but I always wanted long hair. My mother recorded with us a couple of years ago. I hope she’s going to play a song with us next time we tour.”

I first met Taigen at Lynchmob studios. His band Bo Ningen were working in the studio next door, and they ended up supporting us on tour this year. They’ve got great looks, almost feminine. It fits with their music: it’s loud, but it’s not macho. Rock’n’Roll has always been a place where outsiders can meet other outsiders: people who feel different to the established ideas of manhood. I think really hard about what I’m going to wear before a tour, I like to wear silk shirts, blouses; I don’t like men’s stiff white shirts. But I don’t think I could carry off a dress. People don’t want you to be ordinary, they want a transcendent experience, and costume is part of that. It’s show business.

This article appears in the A/W16 issue of AnOther Magazine.