The Buttersprites

Photo Credit: Peter Jameson

Buttersprites is the brainchild of guitarist Elizabeth Jameson, who is internationally recognized as a visual artist; vocalist Haruko Nishimura is a Butoh dancer and founder of Seattle’s Degenerate Art Ensemble. Bassist Lunarre Omura is also a member of the nouveau cocktail lounge group Lushy, and Buttersprites is rounded out by keyboard player Julie Grant and drummer Jen Gay. Their sound is bright, up-tempo and quirky and demonstrates affection for the so-called “post punk” music of the early 1980s. Nishimura, as vocalist, oozes charisma and serves as a focal point in their live performances, which are generally done in crazy costumes designed by Jameson and Gay and made by Gay. Sometimes Buttersprites dress as nurses, at others in matching tennis outfits or Chinese communist military garb. The varying styles of dress creates an irreverent counterpoint to their gleefully nutty music and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, mostly sung in Japanese.

Buttersprites was born out of Jameson’s idea to start an all-girl Japanese pop band in the mold of Shonen Knife, and played their first gig in Seattle in 2003. Buttersprites soon found themselves out of step with the rest of Seattle’s typically grungy music scene, but got a boost of confidence with a well-received appearance at the Ladyfest in Seattle in June 2004. Their first demo recordings soon followed, produced by Tiny Hat Orchestra alumnus and Lushy member Andrew Sodt with Lynval Golding, of The Specials. The demo was received favorably by Dionysus Records in Los Angeles, who issued Buttersprites’ debut CD in June 2005, utilizing the same production team and adding Johnny Horn (KEXP DJ and Purefire recording artist). Gradually finding its way onto the College Radio charts across America, Buttersprites is an infectious and ultimately irresistible debut that is musically fulfilling well beyond what may be its perceived novelty value. In the rather dour, dark and polluted climate of post 9-11 American music, Buttersprites represent a welcome burst of sunshine.

Uncle Dave Lewis

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