Puffy (パフィー, Pafī, romanized as PUFFY in Japan) or Puffy AmiYumi is a Japanese rock duo that is currently signed with Sony Music Japan. The group continues to go by the moniker of PUFFY in Japan, but in order to avoid legal naming conflicts with Sean Combs, it has adopted the name Puffy AmiYumi outside of Japan.
Ami Onuki, whose nickname is Jane, and Yumi Yoshimura, nicknamed Sue, were scouted by Sony-affiliated talent agencies and put together in the mid-1990s, and soon Puffy-mania would begin. Puffy-mania reached its peak in 1998–1999, following the release of their Jet CD and the Jet tour.
Their first release "Asia no Junshin" sold a million records and their success has continued with several more full-length releases (totaling 14 million sales in Japan).
Talent searches brought Puffy together
When she was in high school, Ami sang for a band called "Hanoi Sex". In her sophomore year, the band auditioned during the Sony SD Audition and passed, becoming employees of Sony Music Entertainment. Years went by with little action by either the band or the record label, as Ami took vocal lessons and attended a professional school to learn how to become a better performer. Eventually the band dissolved, leaving only Ami under Sony's employment. She was encouraged to stay, despite lacking a band and a clear musical direction.
Separately, Yumi had learned of the Chotto Sokomade talent search underway by Sony Music Artists when she was "around 18". She also auditioned and passed. She moved on her own from Osaka to Tokyo, where she eventually met Ami by chance in the Sony Music offices and then at a concert after-party, when the two hit it off. Both felt alone within the large Sony organization and neither were confident in their abilities as solo artists, so even though Ami had already recorded a solo CD under the guidance of former Unicorn front-man Tamio Okuda (it would later become half of solosolo), they requested Sony pair them as a duo.
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".
Ami had previously met Tamio Okuda at a SPARKS GOGO concert, and he had produced her then-unreleased solo CD. He was eventually signed on to produce Puffy's first album amiyumi. 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."
As "Puffy-mania" exploded, they become multimedia stars, including hosting their own weekly TV show Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Puffy with guests such as Lenny Kravitz, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, and rock band Garbage.