by Ben Wener
July 31, 1998
Dreams Come True: Even a few industry folk seemed baffled at the news that this duo sold out its gig this Monday at El Rey Theatre in a matter of moments. Who in the world is Dreams Come True, they asked? So did I.
We need to get out more. Maybe to Japan, where DCT (enchanting vocalist Miwa and pop wizard and ’60s R&B acolyte King Masa) hail from and where they routinely dominate the charts. Begun in 1988, the act has since sold more than 25 million records worldwide. Now, with the morbidly titles “Sing or Die,” its first English-language album, the Dreams team is hoping to conquer America.
Masa, an extremely chipper fellow who does more of the talking in interviews than the soft-spoken Miwa, says it’s only natural that they would invade U.S. radio. “We wanted to years ago, with our first record (this is their ninth). … We were brought up amid American culture, and our sound is very much based on American pop.”
Then, he added, clearly beaming, “We are rock ‘n’ roll!”
“We have a rock ‘n’ roll mind!” adds Miwa, with a glee not heard since, um, Ginger Spice yellow “Girl Power” for the first time.
Not to undermine their possibly calculate exuberance, but what DCT creates is far more sophisticated than three-chord rock. Miwa rarely wails (a la Celine Dion) but packs as much punch as the best belter. Masa loves Marvin and Smokey and Stevie, but he also digs King Sunny Ade and Yousou N’Dour, who makes a guest appearance on “Sing or Die.”
So something slightly exotic such as “Ahaha” or “Kelo Kelo” — “you don’t think American audiences will go for a song with that title?” Masa asks me hopefully at one point — rub up against more traditional pop gems such as “Will to Love” and “This Is Not Love at All.” In that sense, the closest comparison to DCT is Basia’s unheralded work, minus the samba bits.
Will it fly? It’s a tough call, and names like Miwa and Masa may prove just too weird for some. Clearly, though, the Japanese communities in major cities are eager for this to be a success (that’s the secret to the El Rey gig selling out).
“We have a tiny, tiny hole to fit through in America, and we are like a needle trying to get through that hole,” Masa said. “But we are very hopeful.”