About Puffy AmiYumi
PUFFY (パフィー, PUFFY) or Puffy AmiYumi as they are known in the United States (due to legal naming conflicts with Sean Combs, also known as "Sean 'Puffy' Combs" or "Puff Daddy"), is a Japanese pop/rock duo.
Ami Onuki was born on September 18, 1973 in Machida, Tokyo, Japan.
Yumi Yoshimura born on January 30, 1975 in Neyagawa, Osaka, Japan.
Ami Onuki, whose nickname is "Jane", and Yumi Yoshimura, nicknamed "Sue", were scouted by two different talent agencies and put together in 1995, and soon PUFFY-Mania would begin. PUFFY-Mania is a term that was used by the Japanese media to refer to the craze for all things related to Puffy, from key-chains to CDs. It began in 1996 and continues to this day. Puffy-Mania reached its peak in 1998 to 1999, following the release of the Jet-CD and the Jet-Tour. Their first release "Asia no Junshin" ("True Asia") sold a million records and their success continued with several more full-length releases (totaling 14 million sales in Japan).
A talent search brings Puffy together
In 1995, Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura separately learned of talent searches underway in Tokyo. Ami sent a demo to Sony; Yumi auditioned for a management company. When paired together, their voices blended well and they had a close rapport. Producer and American pop musician Andy Sturmer christened them "Puffy", for which they dubbed him "the godfather of Puffy".
Their debut single, "Asia No Junshin", launched Puffy-mania. Asked if they were surprised by the attention after its success, Yumi told an interviewer ". . . everything that was put together for that song all came together and made it happen, but we didn't expect it. It was luck."
They hosted their own weekly TV show, Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Puffy, with guests such as Lenny Kravitz, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, and rock band Garbage.
Puffy comes to the United States
Puffy made their first US appearance as part of Music Japan's "An Evening with Japan's All-stars" showcase at the 2000 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. After their performance at SXSW, attorneys for Sean "Puffy" Combs sent the band a cease and desist letter asking them to change their group name. After changing their name in the US to Puffy AmiYumi, they told Entertainment Weekly:
"Yumi: It doesn't bother us at all. We respect the fact that Puff Daddy is Puffy in the U.S.
Ami: The bottom line is that we don't know what puffy means. We were given our name by somebody else six years ago, and we really don't have a clue."
After Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Puffy ended production in 2002, Puffy focused on performing in the United States. Several previous Japanese albums were released for the US market and they recorded theme songs for the animated series Teen Titans and SD Gundam Force. They have also done a cover version with Cyndi Lauper of her hit Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
They become an animated series
On November 19, 2004, an animated series featuring the girls, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, premiered on the United States' Cartoon Network. Although they are voiced by American actresses, the real Ami and Yumi star in short live-action segments taped in Japan. The show also features some of Puffy's music. Cartoon Network's Japan service started airing episodes of the series (in English with Japanese subtitles) in 2005. In October of that year, TV Tokyo began airing a Japanese-dubbed version of the series, which eventually also went to CN Japan on January 8, 2006.
Puffy AmiYumi made an appearance and performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2005 where they were also represented by their own Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi float.
On January 16, 2006 Ami and Yumi were appointed goodwill ambassadors to the United States as part of the Japanese government's campaign to encourage tourism in Japan. They kicked off their 10th anniversary tour in Japan on April 14, 2006, then toured the East Coast of the United States with the PuffyAmiYumi Tour '06 Splurge! Splurge! Splurge! from July 8 to July 19, 2006. coinciding with the premiere of their new television show, Hi Hi PUFFY Bu.
Their music has been largely a collaboration between producer Tamio Okuda, American singer-songwriter Andy Sturmer, formerly of the band Jellyfish (who is referred to as the "godfather" of Puffy for naming the band), and Ami and Yumi themselves. Ami and Yumi's vocals are likened to U.S. vocal sister group The Roches. They often sing whole songs together with harmonies and their sound borrows heavily from the Beatles and other artists such as ABBA, The Who and Carpenters. Their genre is usually defined as J-Pop/J-Rock (more specifically it can be categorized as Shibuya-kei). Both Ami and Yumi themselves have openly admitted that their music is hard to put into just one genre because of the many different influences.