Top "newcomer" indie acts in the scene right now

Hey y’all, I’m not following the scene closely like I used to do, I’ve been out of the loop and I’m curious about the biggest players in indie vk nowadays… What would you say are the top 5 bands in terms of sales and live house sizes right now? I have a feeling that any list probably includes zigzag and kizu, right?

I know those two I mentioned aren’t really newcomers, but what I mean is to exclude old super established farts like gazette, deg, plastic tree, mucc and etc


Depends on how far you wanna go back in time with the “new”, but I’d say it’s more the metalcore side of vk, at least in the west: Nocturnal bloodlust, Jiluka, Dimlim, Dexcore, Deviloof, Dadaroma, Dezert (lots of Ds here…)

^DADAROMA disbanded in 2020, so I think calling them “top newcomers in the scene right now” is pretty far off the mark…

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dezert, kiryu, kizu would be about as big as relatively new but famous bands go; lynch >>>>>>> most of other vk bands as far as live attendance and pure sales are concerned, and it looks like other smaller acts aren’t trying to expand as hard anymore.

the top live house sensation over past two years is still 『♕:VIЯUS』 on their 600++ days concert tour, and by the time it’s over more bands will quit, but hopefully new ones will also start forming again.

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At first i thought we gonna talk about J-Indie bands. But that wasn’t it.

Is Kizu even a actual indie band? I read a lot of people calling their label “damage” a major label.
Nocturnal Bloodlust are contracted to a major label too, if i remember that right

But if we just talk about newer bands that suddenly made it big, then yeah i suppose we can account bands like Kizu or ZigZag

Also if it’s about VK bands… DimLim ain’t VK anymore 🤷🤷

Can we set a time frame? That would help a lot.

damage doesn’t have a clearly accessible OHP - i didn’t find one - and I’m not sure if there’re any other bands affiliated with them. so, no, it’s not a major label. they don’t print/distribute through a major label either.

they’re charting in top-20/top-30 oricon, which is very good for a newcomer band, but oricon didn’t even bother writing up a biography for their page, which pretty much means they’re a non-event outside of the VK indie scene and don’t promote outside of it.

Damage is a sub-label of Free Will

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per wikipedia:

Free-Will (フリーウィル) is a Japanese independent record label founded in 1986 by Color vocalist Hiroshi “Dynamite Tommy” Tomioka, with branches predominantly in Japan and the United States, as well as previously in Europe.[1] It also continues to co-manage many of its artists after they have signed recording contracts with a major record label.

damage only signed kizu if I understand it right?

there’s also that whole exclusive sub-label for taxes reasons shenanigans, which Tommy is super keen of, lol

I’d say a Free Will deal is probably the closest you’d get from a major distribution deal, together with Danger Crue/Maverick DC

I’d also exclude lynch from that list, they are way too senior for what I had in mind

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OP obviously considers ZigZag a “newcomer” and both bands started in 2015 and nekkichi even mentioned kiryu (active since 2007) and lynch who are soon celebrating their 20th anniversary, sooo

yeah I only added them from a fiscal success standpoint.

the problem right now is that a lot of bands are either starting their own small labels (think rands, etc.), where they don’t really aim very high in terms of venue size and promotion;

also, if you’ve been out of the scene for the past several years, a very big amount of promising fresh bands have disbanded - DDRM frontman has a solo project band kind of thing already btw, but it’s hard to tell how it’s going to do in the long term.
the complete newcomer band count is also very low, more so in the corona years. PSC - which used to be a heavy hitter indie label - has ceased signing new artists; Maverick/Danger Crue haven’t signed anyone really promising in a while, relying on old acts releasing shit because they get the cut from, like, MUCC’s major label.
there’s a good turnover rate at starwave with people starting up activities under them, but they also lost several artists to disbandment and switching to the own label thing, and swave acts are a really small niche.

now that I think of it by the way, RAZOR seems to do fairly well judging by their label (they’re signed to timely ch.), but not at getting movie/anime tie-in deals well level.


I think you diagnosed it quite right, the turnover seems super small, I hope due to corona reasons… We’ve been saying the scene is dying for like 10, 15 years or so, but now it really seems to be the case, there’s hardly any new band news around, seems everything slowed down to a crawl. And I’d definitely put Razor right up there, good call

I think that after seeing some of the bigger boys recently implode from (supposedly) label-related drama (Mejibray, Dadaroma) newer groups seem to be leery of signing to companies and seem to be opting for sub-label deals instead to enjoy greater freedom at the cost of financial success. You can always try to crowdfund or milk your mitsu a bit more for cash, but getting stuck with a label that chokes you artistically and starts wringing the juice out of you is career suicide.

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I think it’s fair to consider any band that either formed or began activities in around 2015 as a newcomer. Now, how exactly do we measure a band’s popularity especially in the current climate of 2021? Number of records sold (lol, do bands even sell music anymore)? Number of absurdly expensive キズ special editions? Tickets sold at live shows? Number of monthly Spotify listeners?

Spotify (and Apple music I guess?) is currently the only thing that actually gives us a clear number to compare metrics between bands. One crucial flaw of this method is not having a distinct number for domestic and international listeners. As VK is 99% a domestic affair, local listeners are, in my opinion, more likely going to engage in supporting artists directly by attending live shows, buying merch and or being a sugar momma - this is why they are the only metric that actually matters.

That being said, judging by monthly listeners on Spotify, one of the biggest bands is Deviloof in the 30 thousands range and bands like XAAXAA and Zig-Zag in the 10 thousands. Surprisingly DIMLIM is at 16000 monthly listeners. (4ever ESSENCE in my heart)

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Eh, I’d be hesitant about using Spotify as a metric for popularity since playlists are a very big part of streaming numbers. I can think of many artists I follow that are not well-known at all (in Japan or overseas) but that manage to get monthly listener numbers that look high-ish since their tracks have been added to one or two very popular playlists.

yeah, I’d argue that for this specific question, spotify isn’t a valid metric at all. DIMLIM is a super great example of skewed data, btw. I mean, look at where they’re listened the most, only osaka made the list, all other 4 cities are on the west…

VK still very much relies on physical sales and venues, right? Do online sales like itunes and all counts towards oricon? I guess during these 'rona times really isn’t the best for this kind of measurement, live activities are just restarting,…

as far as I am keeping up with things, these are the only bands worth following (post 2018 bands): ashmaze, dokuga, ari, hitchcock, karasu, xanvala, virge

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Really hoping Dokuga comes back. They were doing so well.