Ami and Yumi relax at Bot restaurant in NYC, 2001
Photo by Yaz

Margaritas or blue Gatorade?
Photo by Yaz

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Interview with Ami and Yumi

Puffy are some of the best moments on your all-time favorite records.

Puffy are the reason I became interested in J-pop. The twin pleasures of Ami and Yumi, backed up by great songs and a vintage sound, make Puffy the perfect primer for anyone interested in pop, Japanese style.

I interviewed Ami and Yumi at the SXSW music festival, where Puffy made their American debut. Since then, Puffy have released two albums stateside (Spike and An Illustrated History), toured around the country to sold out audiences, and proved that with quality songwriting and the right image, Japanese pop can indeed break through. Ami recently gave birth to a baby girl, while Yumi spends her time studying English in Los Angeles.

Read more about Puffy's prolific career

CCC: First, can you please explain how Puffy came together? Were you auditioning to be in Puffy?

Ami: I think the way Yumi and I got together was a bit rare. We were both recruited by the same management company at different times- as we both wanted to pursue solo careers. Although I joined the management company on my own, before I joined I was recording a demo tape with this band. Six months after our management recruited me, Yumi was recruited. At that time we were both preparing for our solo careers. And so during that process, Yumi and I became quite good friends. Since I felt pretty lonely doing everything by myself, I thought it would be a good idea to team up with Yumi, and to approach our management company with this idea. And that's how Puffy came together!

CCC: Who came up with the idea for Puffy?

Yumi: Ami was the one that suggested we form a duo. And Ami and I obviously had many ideas for Puffy, but there were so many people around us (management, record company) that gave us suggestions on how to put Puffy together.

CCC: On your album it says "Godfather of Puffy/ Andy Sturmer"- (Editor's Note: Andy Sturmer is a member of the band, Jellyfish) why is he the Puffy godfather?

Ami: Andy was the one who named our group "Puffy."

CCC: Do you fight a lot? Or do you get along pretty well for the most part?

Ami: We hardly ever fight.

CCC: What were you doing before Puffy?

Ami: I was a student.

Yumi: I had a part time job.

CCC: Describe yourselves in 3 words.

Yumi: You mean how we, ourselves would describe us?

CCC: Exactly.

Ami: Fun, easy going, and hardworking (laughs).

CCC: Since you are obviously very successful pop stars, and have probably made a lot of money- what do you spend your money on?

Ami: (laughs at the question) I'm saving up.

CCC: You toured outside of Japan- China, Taiwan, etc. What was that like? How did the audiences differ from those in Japan?

Yumi: Hmm.......What was it like? Well, the live shows were really fun. The differences between the fans are obviously cultural, but at our shows everyone was there because they loved our music. So the vibe between Japanese audiences and the other Asian audiences was really similar.

CCC: Did you speak Chinese?

Yumi: Just a little bit- for the usual greetings.

CCC: What's your favorite song to play live?

Yumi: Wherever we go, the first single that we released, "Ajia No Junshin" always gets the crowd going!

CCC: Why do you think Puffy became so popular? What is it about you two?!!

Yumi: When I read all the fan letters, the fans tell us that Puffy's songs give them positive energy. So I assume that's why people enjoy Puffy. That makes me feel really good.

CCC: Are there any strange fan letters that you've received?

Yumi: Basically everyone writes us letters of encouragement.

Ami: And a lot of people send us illustrations of Yumi and I.

Yumi: Yeah, we just received a BIG drawing of the two of us on a large picture frame.

Ami: A lot of little kids love to draw pictures of us as well.

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