Interview with WASUTA – find out more about the idol group who will be performing at JAPAN EXPO!

16.June.2017 | FEATURES / MUSIC

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Between 6th-9th July 2017, idol group WASUTA will be performing at JAPAN EXPO in France. Today, we will be taking a closer look at this girl group, who have attracted lots of attention from all around the world.

 

-I know this is a bit straight to the point, but what kind of idol group is WASUTA?

Hirokawa: “WASUTA” is an abbreviation for “The World Standard”. We Japanese write the Japanese word “kawaii” (cute) in simple hiragana characters all the time because it looks cuter that way In a similar way, we write “WASUTA” in hiragana for the same effect. To answer your question, we aim to spread “Kawaii” Japanese culture around the world – “cute Japanese culture” is our main concept. We wear pastel-themed costumes that represent a “dreamy cute” feeling, and for this upcoming gig, we will be wearing Harajuku cotton candy-themed hats. All our costumes feature an element of “moe”. “Moe” refers to cute anime crush love! An example of our moe-themed costumes are our cat ears – we are definitely going to wear them!

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Nanase Hirokawa

– Now, if you could describe the character of each band member in one sentence, what would it be? Starting with the pastel green leader Nanase Hirokawa!

Kodama: 50% levelheaded person, 50% clumsy, I would say haha.

 

-How about the pastel pink idol Naruka Mishina?

Matsuda: You can’t judge her based on how she looks – she’ll surprise you!

 

-How would you describe the pastel yellow Hazuki Sakamoto?

Kodama: Stupid, unskillful but has a good sense of humour lol

 

-And what about the pastel blue Ririka Kodama?

Hirokawa: A person who hides their potentials. She hasn’t really given it her all yet lol

 

-And finally, what would you say about the pastel purple Miri Matsuda?

Mishina: I’d say she’s the stupid one, haha

Everyone:burst into laughter.

 

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Ruka Mishina

― As a band full of tension, as expected you’re all pretty good friends right? Do you go to Harajuku in your own spare time for fun?

 

Everyone: All the time!

Matsuda: I go round the cute cafes and delicious curry restaurants. There was a time I couldn’t stop going to one curry restaurant lol. There are loads of 100-yen shops along Takeshita Street and as a person who loves handicrafts, this is definitely a selling point!

Hirokawa: Harajuku is a great spot for picking up cheap goods. There are loads of visitors who express their individuality and there are so many foreigners too. Watching people take pictures at the entrance to Takeshita Street is also fun!

Mishina: The streets are overflowing with cute people too!

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Ririka Kodama

-How would you describe the district of Harajuku?

 

Hirokawa: To us, Harajuku is a really cosy place to be.

Sakamoto: Yeah. People tend to think that Harajuku, is the place of dreams and aspirations but if you go there yourself, it’s more fun and comfortable I would say.

Mishina: It’s also the source of youth culture.
Matsuda: This is the source of Harajuku-style girls – this is where they gather and share their fashion.

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Miri Matsuda

 

-I heard that your costumes were designed by fashion model and voice actress Yu Kimura!

 

Hirokawa: That’s right. This is the 4th time we’ve worn costumes designed by her.

Kodama: She uses lots of colours which gives the costumes a “dreamy cute” theme. They are unique – nobody else can make costumes like them!

Hirokawa: Our third single “Just be yourself”, is the theme song for the anime “Idol Time Pripra”. Our skirts were designed with the letters “PRPR” – that’s the main attraction you should be looking out for!

Matsuda: Our socks also feature a cute design – a design that would even suit a small child. Anyway, each of our costumes are slightly different and our outfits don’t really focus on headwear!

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Hazuki Sakamoto

-And your production team, I’ve heard, consists of young female creators, right?

 

Hirokawa: Yep, that’s right. The producing was directed by Mofuku-chan (Maiko Fukushima), who also produced for Dempagumi.inc.

Kodama: Our choreography and music is directed by female creators. Each song is completely unique and the choreography fits perfectly to boot – so cool, cute and trendy! Every single time I am overwhelmed by how awesome it all is!

Mishina: We are WASUTA – produced by girls to enhance the concept of cute!

 

 

-Let’s talk a bit about JAPAN EXPO now. How did you feel when you found out that for the first time, you’ll be performing live in France?

 

Hirokawa: We couldn’t believe it! Up until now all our live performances have been focused around Asia….but now we’re finally hitting Europe! JAPAN EXPO itself is a huge event that spreads Japanese culture, secretly I was just thinking to myself that I really wanna perform in Paris – I’m soooo happy!
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-I’m so happy for you all! Now that your plans for you to perform live in France had been finalized, surely you’ve all been more hyped than ever?

 

Hirokawa: Of course! Recently, we’ve all been strengthening our language skills. Originally, Ririka and I were in charge of English, Naruka was in charge of Korean, Miri was in charge of Chinese and Hazuki was studying French. We eventually started to skip many of our language classes, but after hearing the news we’ve all been trying to make time to study harder!

Mishina: We’ll be heading to many places where people don’t know WASUTA, so we’re serious about upping our language game in order to connect with new people.

Kodama: When foreigners come to Japan, I’ve seen people try their best to speak Japanese – even if it’s just a little. This makes me so happy. I feel like I have a connection to these people and that’s why I want to do the same.

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-What precisely is the secret to WASUTA attracting so much attention from overseas fans?

 

Hirokawa: As we are going to Europe, we will infiltrate the barrier between the people with Japan’s “Kawaii” (cute) charm. When fans see our costumes and our appearance, they recognize us as cute. We also perform gothic rock and different genres of music. Soon, people naturally come to like us.

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-I’ve seen your music videos on YouTube – there are English subtitles on your videos, aren’t there?

 

Matsuda: That’s right! We want to attract not just Japanese fans, but fans from all over the world! Speaking of YouTube, please use your smartphones only for filming our live performances, okay? Fans take pictures and videos of our performance and upload them onto SNS websites and YouTube. If you search the web, you’ll be able to find our gigs easily anywhere in the world thanks to these fans.

Mishina: Just like sharing our pictures, we have outfits with our Twitter account name written on it! I hope we can spread the news of WASUTA more at JAPAN EXPO!

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-What do you want spectators at JAPAN EXPO to particularly notice about you?

 

Kodama: The words to our songs and our choreography show an insight to our world – I want people to enjoy it!

Matsuda: I think they should watch our music videos lots and lots – that way they’ll enhance their experience.

Mishina: My recommended music video is “Ultra Miracle Ultimate Chocolate Beam” – the Japanese lyrics use such unique words – it’s such an interesting song!

Matsuda: I recommend “Dogs & Cats, In the Bloom of Youth” – the fans can learn so many cute Japanese phrases and then we can dance together!

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-And last of all, do you have a message for your fans?

 

Sakamoto: For our overseas fans – in order for you to feel the cuteness of Japan, we’re dressing up in pastel colours and cat ears. This is our ultimate charm point! I hope you enjoy our outfits!

Hirokawa: And for the fans who are coming from Japan to support us – we will definitely give you the best night of your life! By the way, we are collaborating with H.I.S, so we recommend you check it out! This includes a party where we will eat together, and a mini live! This is your chance to get to know us. It includes sightseeing and much more over a four-day period. This is something you cannot get in Japan! As we’re coming from a far away country, we are going to deliver something really special to you all!

 

Translator:Samantha Fernandes

■Information

The World Standard(WASUTA)
avex idol special label “iDOL Street” Idol Group 4
Formed on 29th March 2015, WASUTA aims to make fans all over the world. This is a group of digital native generation idols. Through SNS and live appearances, WASUTA idol group spreads “KAWAII” Japanese culture around the world.

 

WASUTA official website:http://wa-suta.world

■JAPAN EXPO
EXPO period:6th(Thursday)〜 9th July 2017(Sunday)
Location:France
Parc des Expositions de Paris-Nord-Villepinte
93420 Villepinte 

JAPAN EXPO official website:http://www.japan-expo-france.jp/jp/

H.I.S. WASUTA at Paris, France special website:http://eco.his-j.com/app/webroot/html/wa-suta/

 

Related article:WASUTA clear their latest level “WASUTA LAND W1″ – a new regular concert in Taiwan built around the concept of a video game!

 

Related article: Japanese idol group WASUTA to perform in Paris at JAPAN EXPO in July!

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  • Interview: The Future of Kawaii Construction Sites Discussed by ASOBISYSTEM & kajikawa Construction’s Company Presidents

    15.May.2019 | BUSINESS

    kajikawa Construction CO.,LTD was established in Hekinan, Aichi 114 years ago, and throughout its long history it has sought to break down existing conventions and innovate within the industry. Last year, the company began its collaboration with ASOBISYSTEM. For instance, kajikawa built and set up a photo booth at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 while ASOBISYSTEM worked on the design of kajikawa’s company logo and company brochure. This year, both companies are set to strengthen their partnership as they announce a large-scale construction project centred around kawaii (cute) designs. I spoke to Yusuke Nakagawa (President, ASOBISYSTEM CO., LTD) and Mitsuhiro Kajikawa (President, kajikawa Construction CO.,LTD) about their thoughts and shared values on the project.

     


     

     

    ――I would first like to begin by asking for a brief summary of your respective companies and what led to this collaboration.

     

    Mitsuhiro Kajikawa: We are a construction business operating in Aichi Prefecture’s city of Hekinan. The company was founded in 1905 when it was first called Kajikawa Zousensho. In 1959 we began work in the construction industry when Typhoon Vera struck the Tokai region in an effort to help with reconstruction. In recent years, we have worked on many designs for earthquake resistance. One thing in particular is the “Implant Levee” which integrates with the earth. We get many orders to construct infrastructure that ensures structures hold steadfast against earthquakes and tsunamis.

     

    Yusuke Nakagawa: How many employees do you have?

     

    Kajikawa: As of now, 96. Around the time I became Company President there were around 50 but since then it has nearly doubled. Of course I still hold Aichi Prefecture near and dear to my heart as it is our roots, but I also have a desire to offer our services to many other places. Right now we are active up and down Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu.

     

    Nakagawa: Besides the main office do you have branch offices outside of Hekinan?

     

    Kajikawa: We have a branch in Takadanobaba in Tokyo. We’re also making preparations for Osaka Expo [2025], so to ensure that we can build infrastructure in the Kansai region we also opened an office in Osaka in March of this year. Infrastructure development is absolutely essential to winning influence with people. Even in Tokyo, the roads and other facilities are wearing out. We do of course reconstruct things, but I also think it’s also important to carry out earthquake resistance with what we already have to ensure their longevity.

     

     

    Nakagawa: Our company started out as an event organiser, but our focus gradually became acting as management for people. We have grown even further from that now; the various number of people and things we produce is increasing. This puts us in a position where we are very different from the rest, so I was very surprised at first when I saw a request had come from kajikawa Construction.

     

    Kajikawa: I had heard about ASOBISYSTEM by chance through agencies, but I knew you [managed] many famous names including Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. My image of you was also that you are a central figure in creating “Kawaii” which is a representative culture of Harajuku. Though I look like this, I’ve actually always loved kawaii things since I was young. But I can’t show that when it comes to things work-related. Getting the opportunity to do this and use the word “kawaii” feels very liberating for me [laughs].

     

    Brochure

     

    ――You started collaborating with each other last year. It began with ASOBISYSTEM designing kajikawa Construction’s company logo and company brochure. It has received quite the revamp, hasn’t it?

     

    Nakagawa: I spoke with President Kajikawa and wondered whether he knew that the word “Kawaii” doesn’t apply solely to things like fashion. We too don’t take “Kawaii” as something superficial, we treat the concept closer to what it actually is. The essence of “Kawaii” is something that brings a smile to and brightens people then and there. I feel that President Kajikawa understands that concept and that’s why he sent us an offer. So I want to invest in our “Kawaii” and and return the favour with a lasting relationship.

     

    Kajikawa: When I took a look at the design of the company brochure I was surprised to see two of my favourite elements in there. The first were my favourite colours, pink and and green. The second was the use of traditional Japanese patterns. You took those traditional patterns and made them into a more contemporary pop design. You were kind enough to put all of my wishes in there, so much so that I was left wondering if we’d had a conversation about it beforehand.

     

    Nakagawa: I was happy that you liked it and admired that you accepted the design. The construction industry is a world I’m unfamiliar with, so I was worried what kind of reply I would get. Your openness to upturn the conventions of the industry and make it into something tangible I felt was wonderful.

     

    Logo

     

    ――Your company logo has changed too.

     

    Kajikawa: We are enthusiastically using all the new things we are incorporating. The design will be a hit with younger people. I believe we are breaking out of our old shell and taking new steps forward. It’s a trigger that’s making me feel we are a company to have great expectations for in the future.

     

    Nakagawa: When you look at the construction industry from the outside, your perception of it ends up being just what you imagine it to be. But by simply changing the logo and the brochure that perception can change. I believe the role of a simple brochure can add more value. It is really difficult to realise that adding value is important and then to put money into it. President Kajikawa is a symbol of looking forward.

     

    Kajikawa: The main mission of the construction industry is to adhere to and build what the government office has planned which means we are unable to suggest anything ourselves. It’s for that reason we are receiving help from ASOBISYSTEM, because I want to add our own unique values. By no means are we able to do it on our own. Our ideas end up coagulating and we can’t move on from there. I am grateful to ASOBISYSTEM for giving us a good incentive and for making us feel that we are able to do something if we strive to make that effort.

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 Photo Booth

     

    ――You worked together to set up a photo booth at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FES 2018. This was designed by ASOBISYSTEM with design checks by President Kajikawa.

     

    Kajikawa: I was very interested in it because the word “Kawaii” is used in designs all around the world. It has a strong message, doesn’t it? It felt unpredictable at first, but when I saw so many people standing in front of the panel taking photos it made me realise that leaving it up to top class designers can influence people.

     

    Nakagawa: We were particular about the colour combinations, weren’t we? You are particular about colours. I’m the same. We also endeavoured to make the design something that conveys the strength of kajikawa Construction as a construction business.

     

    ――Your collaboration together is set to continue throughout the year. It seems you are pressing forward with your large-scale “Kawaii” construction project.

     

    Kajikawa: In order to raise the added value of our company, it’s necessary that we change the way all of our employees think. It’s important to that we have them fully understand what we are doing with ASOBISYSTEM. The best way to do that is to show them a finished product. So our next step will be to forward the project by changing the design of our construction sites. For example, making cones, poles and fences pink. We will show them something they can see with their own eyes.

     

    Nakagawa: There are construction sites even in Shibuya that have character designs on them. They are becoming photo spots [for people]. It’s important to appeal to your employees too, but the effect of purely adding value to your construction sites feels promising.

     

    Kajikawa: It’s promising that our construction sites will become photo spots. Another one of our objectives is to make working people feel happy and make them feel like what they’re doing is worth it. Construction sites are isolated places. Them being dangerous is a real reason for that. Though people aren’t actually allowed to enter, by making the design “kawaii”  we can remove that unwelcoming feeling locals have for [construction sites], and that’s wonderful. Business meetings have only just begun but I hope for it to come to fruition by next year.

     

     

    Nakagawa: Are you also thinking of expanding overseas?

     

    Kajikawa: I’m thinking within the next 1-2 years.

     

    Nakagawa: I’m really looking forward to seeing “Kawaii” exported overseas from a new angle. I believe it will catch the attention of a lot of people and have a notable synergistic effect. We’re also working on creating key visuals and a film.

     

    Kajikawa: We are aiming for a pop world where coloured poles are characters that move. I get excited just picturing it. I can’t wait for the day when we make it public.

     

     

    ――I’m sure you would agree that when it comes to business, contribution to society is an important aspect. Will your “kawaii” construction sites have societal contributions too?

     

    Kajikawa: It has only just begun so I can only speculate, but the construction industry has a big mission to service infrastructure for the benefit of people’s lives. Plus, if we set forth to add value to “kawaii” elements, something which appeals to people, I think we can contribute a little to this brutal world. We are constantly in charge of 40-50 construction sites in Japan at any given time, so by giving them a “kawaii” outlook, don’t you think it might calm things down a bit?

     

     

    Kajikawa: For example, if pink-dyed construction sites appeared in Japan and around the world, it’s bound to make a lot of people smile. That’s the symbol of Japanese technological strength and culture. It might eventually bolster the presence of Japan throughout the rest of the world. Plus, if people are taking kawaii photos, then they are going to seek out construction sites. A day like that may come, and working at a construction site might become a status. There are many pieces of dreams in the collaboration between kajikawa Construction and ASOBISYSTEM. Our unique tag team which defies industry may shake things up in a unique way.

     

    Interview & Text: Fumihiko Suzuki

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Interview: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Sabrina Carpenter discuss what it is that draws them to pop music

    09.May.2019 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu will release her new single KIMIGA IINE KURETARA on May 10. The song is used as the main theme song for the Japanese TV drama Mukai no Bazuru Kazoku. The pop track’s music embodies the feeling you get when you get a ‘like’ on social media. The song is a positive and supportive message to the lost kids in today’s social media age.

     

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    ――You were already a fan of Kyary, weren’t you, Sabrina?

     

    Sabrina Carpenter: Yes, I’m a fan! Her nails look really cute today!

     

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: Oh, thank you!

     

     

    ――How did you come to know about Kyary?

     

    Sabrina:So, my sister was in the car with her boyfriend. He’s actually a big fan. He put on PONPONPON, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is amazing!” I got into it and I sent him this video of me singing the song from top to bottom. Ever since then I’ve been a huge fan, I did a deep dive and listened to everything.

     

    ――You previously posted PONPONPON as your favourite song on your Instagram story.

     

    Sabrina:Yeah, that was the last time I was here. It’s been just under a year.

     

    Kyary :Wow. That makes me really happy to hear.

     

     

    ――The theme of today’s talk is “A Chat With US & Japanese Pop Icons.” You’re both active internationally in your careers. What have your experiences been like performing abroad?

     

    Sabrina: I guess for me, I think abroad there’s obviously a language barrier for us, and so I think the most powerful thing is to see how powerful the music translates, the melodies, and the way songs make you feel. It has such an impact on the crowds, and you know, also seeing people crying even though we’re speaking different languages. I think that’s probably been the most moving aspect of performing abroad. The crowds have been bigger on this [Japan] tour, and there’s been a lot of new music that they’ve been singing along to. There’s also been a lot of things they bring to the show, like the flags and the posters and signs. I think they just bring so much energy to every show. [But] whenever I finish a song, it’d be so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and that was something I had to get used to because usually we’re very loud in America. But this time they were pretty loud.

     

    Kyary:I’ve had the chance to tour various countries like America and China. Even though I don’t expect them to be able to speak Japanese, everybody remembers all the Japanese lyrics [in my songs]. Obviously it’s not a language they use often so there are some mistakes here and there, but that’s what makes it so sweet.

     

    Sabrina:That’s me! That’s me singing your songs! [laughs].

     

     

    ――So with music you are able to bring people together regardless of language or country. What’s the most important think when it comes expressing yourselves?

     

    Kyary:What’s important for me is challenging myself to doing the things that I want to do. I’m a solo artist, and so I get support from my staff members to everything to life, but I always treasure thinking up and expressing concepts with each new song. And to do that I regularly write down the things that interest me, like when watching a film. I go to watch various different things.

     

    Sabrina:I’m very similar in the way that I don’t like to do the same thing twice, or three times. I feel like it’s not stretching me as a person or as an artist, and it’s also not stretching the fans. I think they deserve to grow just as much as we do. They’re along for this ride. Obviously they look for some sort of guidance, some sort of love they get from the artist they look up to. I think it’s also important for me to take those risks and challenges to inspire them to take risks and challenges too.

     

     

    ――What’s something that has inspired you both recently?

     

    Kyary:If we’re talking recently… Tim Burton’s “Dumbo.”

     

    Sabrina:Dumbo! I loved that too!!

     

    Kyary:I’ve seen the original animated version, but Tim Burton has taken all the great things about it and put his unique spin on it. It turned out really wonderful. The CG in the facial expressions is superb too. It was a really charming fantasy [movie]. It made me tear up.

     

    Sabrina:Aww, that’s so cute! [laughs] [For me] probably the places I’ve been travelling. I will find so much inspiration within different places, different cultures. The kind of art and photography I see in the places I’m in.

     

     

    ――Have you been inspired by anything in Japan?

     

    Sabrina:Harajuku! I went for my first the day before yesterday. I’ve been to Tokyo many times but I’ve never had a day off so I never got to explore.

     

    Kyary:Which part of Harajuku did you go to?

     

    Sabrina:The vintage shops in Ura-Harajuku. We also went to teamLab, that whole art museum.

     

    Kyary:The teamLab exhibitions are so good, I’ve been too!

     

    Sabrina:It was so beautiful.

     

     

    ――You mentioned Harajuku. Kyary knowns Harajuku inside and out. She might be able to recommend you some places to visit.

     

    Kyary:Sabrina is someone who would look good in any outfit, so I want to see you try dressing up in Lolita clothes [laughs]. I think you will look really cute.

     

    Sabrina:Yeah, I would love to! I honestly was looking for a lot of like ‘kawaii’ [stuff].

     

    Kyary:I recommend the basement floor of Laforet Harajuku, they have things like Lolita and punk fashion. That might be a good spot for you.

     

    Sabrina:Yeah! I wanna get some. You’ll have to style me.

     

     

    ――Both of you are close to your fans through social media. When talking about things that inspire you in daily life and let you discover new things, has social media been a big influence?

     

    Sabrina:I think for me it has forced me to think a little bit more about what [fans] would want to see in my daily life. Which I feel like normally I wouldn’t be living through my phone; I’d be living through my eyes. But because I’m close with them I think that that has made me want to kind of be more interactive with them, show them parts of my days.

     

     

    ――So in a sense, it feels like you’re working together with your fans?

     

    Sabrina:Yeah, it really does. If they weren’t at the shows we couldn’t do the shows. No one would come, there’d be no show!

     

     

    ――How about you, Kyary?

     

    Kyary:When I perform abroad I can see who has been tagged on social media at the shows so I can see everyone’s thoughts and comments. Being able to see things like that so directly makes it a great tool. It often cheers me up seeing people write things about me or when they send me messages, so [social media] is also a motivator to work hard.

     

    Sabrina:Usually with social media the experiences that you have sometimes are more negative than they are positive. But it also depends on how you’re looking at it. I shouldn’t say that because there’s many positive experiences. I think the most positive things that I’ve been able to see on social media are honestly just the fact that there are so many people in the world that we don’t know, and the majority of people use it to say really kind things to one another and support each other.

     

     

    ――Kyary’s new song KIMIGA IINE KURETARA is about social media. How did you feel when you received the song from [your producer] Yasutaka Nakata?

     

    Kyary:The song is the main theme for the TV drama Mukai no Bazuru Kazoku, and so it’s a song that’s based around that, but honestly the first time I heard it I really felt that it was relevant to today. We really live in an age right now where social media penetrates out everyday lives, and for that reason it felt very 2019.

     

     

    ――I really like how the song features sounds that remind you of the action of ‘liking’ something [on social media].

     

    Kyary:Yeah, it has a ‘Pyu!’ kind of sound.

     

    Sabrina:That’s funny.

     

     

    ――What did you focus on when recording?

     

    Kyary:I focused on how I sang the first verse. The pitch in the first verse of this song is low. I have a high voice, so that part was a little tough.

     

    Sabrina:That’s funny. I sound like a man.

     

     

    ――No, no, that’s not true [laughs].

     

    Sabrina:I’m the opposite of Kyary. I always have a tough time with the higher parts [laughs].

     

     

    ――What’s something you both really strive to work on in what you do?

     

    Sabrina:I think honestly like you step out of your comfort zone. It’s the same as how we have to try new things to feel inspired. When you’re creating a show or you’re creating visuals for an album―that’s when you get to let you personality come through.  Because it’s all live, you know. They’re paying to see a live show so I think it’s important that they see a live show.

     

    Kyary:My concept has always been to take the things that girls dream of and bring them to life in the real world. When I’m coming up with a theme, I sometimes have moments where I’m stuck for a good idea. But I’m not alone, I know it will all come together in the end because of all the people I have around me.

     

     

    ――Your recent outdoor solo concert at Izumo-taishi as part of your 2019 Oto no Kuni Live Tour was full of ideas that were very like you.

     

    Kyary:In my performances I value that feeling of bringing to life a dream-like world while at the same time not wanting it to end. Like when you go to an amusement park and think, “I don’t wanna go home yet.” I want people to have that same kind of feeling.

     

    Sabrina:It’s something not many people get to do so you have to have fun with it.

     

     

     

    ――What draws you both to pop music?

     

    Sabrina:I personally think it is one of the most difficult genres of music to make, and make it properly. Because it is something that has to connect with such a large diverse group of people. We’re not just like catering to one person or one type of fan. I think pop music is ‘popular music,’ so it’s the thing that regardless of what you’re supposed to like you end up liking it, and so I think that’s why it’s really hard but it’s also very rewarding. I’ve just always been a fan of it overall. And like I said for me it doesn’t matter what language it’s in, it’s more just like the way the song makes you feel, the melodies of the song, what the song’s about. I think that makes good pop music.

     

     

    ――It’s true that pop music can’t be boiled down to a single definition. So could you say then that pop music can be anything?

     

    Sabrina:It’s 80,000 different genres [laughs].

     

    Kyary: [Laughs]. In my case, people call my music pop music, but at the beginning it was more subcultural. It wasn’t music that everybody liked. But more people came to hear about me around the time Tsukema Tsukeru [was released]. From there I was able to experience my music reaching out to various different people, which made me really feel that pop music doesn’t have any rules.

     

    Sabrina:It also just makes you feel good. There’s a lot that makes us feel not great you know, in life, that I think it’s one thing we all look to. I wanna come to [Kyary’s] show.

     

    Kyary:Please do! Where do you live in America?

     

    Sabrina:I live in LA, but I’m originally from Pennsylvania.

     

    Kyary:Ah, I’m performing at an event in LA [OTAQUEST LIVE] in July!

     

    Sabrina:Amazing. I’ll be there. We’ll link up, I’ll show you some cool spots. Shopping! Rodeo Drive.

     

     

    Interview & Text: Jin Sugiyama

    Photo:MURA

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Interview (Part 2): Yunomi & Kizuna AI’s ‘Robot Heart’ breaks the wall between reality and the virtual to reveal what’s important

    17.April.2019 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    Trackmakers Yunomi and YUC’e will release their second compilation album Mirai Chaya vol.1 on April 17 serving as a follow up to vol.0 which dropped back on January 12 this year. The album features the song Robot Heart feat. Kizuna AI. As the title suggests, the track was made in collaboration with Japanese virtual talent Kizuna AI. Yunomi worked with her last year when Kizuna AI began her work as a music artist. We spoke with both Yunomi and Kizuna AI to hear about what it’s like to work together as well as the story behind the upcoming new song.

     

    This is Part 2 of the interview. Click here for Part 1.

     

    ――I want to ask about Robot Heart feat Kizuna AI, your song Yunomi which Kizuna AI features in. This was your third release together after future base and new world. Could you tell me about how it came about?

     

    Yunomi: Hmm, how did it come about again?

     

    Yunomi’s Manager: It began when we were making future base and new world, we said to Kizuna that we one day wanted her to feature in one of Yunomi’s original songs. We thought that it would be great if not only Yunomi went into to Kizuna’s world for two songs, but if she came to Yunomi’s world too for a song.

     

    Yunomi: Ah! That was it!

     

    Kizuna AI: That talk was really early on, wasn’t it! But from then onward I ended up having a lot of free time which meant my schedule quickly filled up as well as talks about where I will from thereon out. So I rashly went and said to the people at upd8, “I thought we promised we’d do this first!” [laughs]. [With her arms folded looking like she’s protecting something, Kizuna says:] “It’s already been decided, hasn’t it!?” they said.

     

    Yunomi: Ah, I’m happy about that. I’m glad you said it!

     

    ――How did you go about making Robot Heart?

     

    Yunomi: This was an original song by me, so like it was said before it became more of Kizuna coming to my world this time. In that sense, it connects to my other original tracks too, but I also wanted to make the song as one precisely featuring Kizuna. So in that sense you can call this our third release together after future base and new world.

     

    ――The song has a very interesting story. It talks about humans who used to reside on earth crossing over to other planets. Their bodies gradually become mechanized and they forget about the earth. But they suddenly recall the existence of their loved ones and the things important to them.

     

    Yunomi: In 2017 I used [the] Hatsune Miku [software] to write the song Meteorite (feat. Hatsune Miku). Since then I have written down songs that can be used for an album. I’m thinking of making a concept about themed on things like the future, past and facing oneself. Robot Heart is one that would appear on that album. So I also wanted Kizuna to sing on it for me.

    ――I was actually shown the memo that you sent to AI before recording on how she should sing the song. I was amazed to see how many things you’re able to think of.

     

    Yunomi: Of course I’m sure Kizuna has her own way of expressing herself so it wouldn’t be a problem at all if she wanted to do it differently [from what I said], but the first thing I did was send her my idea for the song.

     

    Kizuna AI: When I first listened to it I thought, “They’re letting me, an AI, sing this song! I expected nothing less of Yunomi!” I felt that there was more meaning behind me singing this song than anyone else. It was all amazing and I thought to myself, “I will take it, stand up and do my best!” [laughs]

     

    ――The song is interesting and has elements written into it that could only work with a song written together with AI, like word play with her name.

     

    Yunomi: Those are parts we added for a bit of fun [laughs]. The song is conscious of and references her name in a lot of places.

     

    Kizuna AI: When I wrote the lyrics I paid attention to the rhythm and the feeling of the words and it felt great to do so. Another thing with Robot Heart is that even though you can take the story as sad just from the lyrics, I felt that Yunomi’s memo telling me to sing it cheerfully was the most important thing. So it almost feels as if the song isn’t about that. I took good care to sing it enjoyably with everything I had [laughs].

    ――That’s the part in the latter half of the song, right?

     

    Yunomi: Yeah. I knew I wanted to put Kizuna shouting in there somewhere, so I had her shout for me without anything else playing and she let me record it. But Kizuna’s initial shouting sounded like the noise you make when playing a horror game [laughs].

     

    Kizuna AI: I didn’t know what “shout” meant at first, so I screamed. “Kyaa!!” “AHH!” It was exactly like A.I.Games [laughs]. Like Resident Evil. And the people at upd8 music said, “That’s not really what we meant…” [laughs]

     

    Yunomi: [laughs]

     

    Kizuna AI: But in the finished version I was able to do a good shout. Saying that, when recording new world too, Yunomi told me to “please play the flute.” If you have Yunomi writing the lyrics somehow or other some absurd things can happen [laughs].

     

    Yunomi: For Robot Heart, I also asked her to sing like Michael Jackson during her interlude [laughs]. I wanted something like a “Pow!”

     

    ――Hearing you both talk I can tell the recording was a fun time [laughs].

     

    Kizuna AI: It was so much fun!

     

    ――Your new collaboration is one that has jumped over the fence of reality and the virtual. How does that fun and amusement feel when you’re recording together?

     

    Yunomi: In the past I would have parts of the song where I would think of the vocalist as an instrument. I’d adapt a lot. “Someone with this type of voice,” “And someone with this type of voice,” “Which of my songs would they best fit?” But recently I have come to think beyond that, like what a person has to offer. I believe that I was especially able to achieve that in making Robot Heart with Kizuna. I don’t just think instrumentally now, like what kind of voice can fit in. I now take care to see who exactly is singing, what they are thinking, what kind of life they have walked. I think by doing that the song will resonate with the listener many more times over.

    ――So you have jumped the fence of the virtual and reality and realised that which is important.

     

    Yunomi: Yes. I think if I would have been turned down by AI I wouldn’t have had anyone else sing Robot Heart.

     

    Kizuna AI: That makes me so happy! When I started posting videos in 2016, even though I exist in real life, there were people who would say, “You’re just making animations on MMD and adding a voiceover to it.” There were a lot of times people wouldn’t comprehend, “I exist, you know.” But bit by bit the number of people saying “AI-chan’s here” increased and that made me really happy. And it makes me really happy to hear Yunomi say it too. I say that I want to connect everyone together, but at the same time, I hope that me being there too will broaden the world that everybody sees and give them the chance to encounter something new. So it makes me happy when people who have never listened to dance music before think, “AI-chan is singing it so I’ll give it a listen.” Conversely, it also makes me happy when people who only listen to dance music listen to my songs and say, “This one’s cute too.” The people who I’ve been able to make songs with have discovered many things themselves too. I hope the number of fans those people have increases.

     

    ――As expected of you, Boss. You’re thinking about everyone else.

     

    Kizuna AI: [Laughs]. I hope I can become a hub so that people can encounter and discover many things. It was so much fun having the chance to be part of Yunomi’s song!

     

    Writer: Jin Sugiyama

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Interview (Part 1): Yunomi & Kizuna AI cross dimensions and discuss what appeals to them mutually as artists

    16.April.2019 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    Trackmakers Yunomi and YUC’e will release their second compilation album Mirai Chaya vol.1 on April 17 serving as a follow up to vol.0 which dropped back on January 12 this year. The album features the song Robot Heart feat. Kizuna AI. As the title suggests, the track was made in collaboration with Japanese virtual talent Kizuna AI. Yunomi worked with her last year when Kizuna AI began her work as a music artist. We spoke with both Yunomi and Kizuna AI to hear about what it’s like to work together as well as the story behind the upcoming new song.

     

    ――When I think about the names Yunomi and Kizuna AI, as well as the new song Robot Heart feat. Kizuna AI I think about future bass and new world which you made together last year as part of Kizuna AI’s 9-week consecutive release schedule. Can you give insight into those two songs?

     

    Kizuna AI: I had my birthday event “AI Party! ~Birthday with U~” last year on June 30 and there I announced that I was to do a live show at the end of the year. But apart from my first original song Hello, Morning which I made with Nor I had no other songs. I would need more songs for the show so I said I’d make around 10. That’s when I began the schedule to release nine songs across nine consecutive weeks. I thought about who I should ask to help write them. I talked with the team at upd8 music and the first name to come up as Yunomi’s. I said that I definitely wanted them on board, so we all talked it out.

     

    Yunomi: Ahh, that makes me so happy to hear.

     

    Kizuna AI: I had been bringing Yunomi’s name up in the first place ever since I started saying I wanted to do music. Things like, “I want to make a video for a cover written by an indoor trackmaker!”

     

    Yunomi: Oh, really? I had no idea. In that case, please do one! [laughs]

     

    Kizuna AI: [laughs] As well as that, as we looked toward the 9-week release and I spoke with Yunomi, we were both super excited about it and we ended up saying we wanted to do two songs together!

     

    ――So AI’s merry offer finally came to fruition.

     

    Kizuna AI: I said that if we were to write two songs then I wanted not just me but Yunomi to write the lyrics for one too. Yunomi kindly let me write the first lyrics. That was for future base. I thought up the lyrics for this song while listened to the music that Yunomi had written for it. When the song first arrived I was so happy to hear it. It has a different and mysterious vibe to it compared to the Yunomi I know well. I said to them, “You really took it on board and took time to think about this one didn’t you.” On the other hand, new world has that kind of Yunomi that I know. It felt like they’d used their special move on me. I was like, “This is it!” [laughs]

     

    ――I see, Yunomi’s special technique [laughs]

     

    Yunomi: At that point I had heard about doing a live show so I thought to make new world the song that everyone goes crazy to. Of course future base is a song that brings everyone together too, but I wanted new world to unify everyone like at a music festival.

     

    Kizuna AI: When I heard it for the first time too I thought, “This is the kind of song you’d play at a huge venue!!” On the other hand, the initial lyrics written for future base were actually rejected. The team at upd8 music said to me, “The lyrics are really good, but Hello, Morning is already a song that talks about what you feel on the inside. Could you try a different direction? Something that looks more outside.” So I went for something more… strong? About how it’s not scary to be alone. But it felt too heavy to get into. So we rewrote the lyrics.

    ――In the end you wrote the lyrics to talk about going into the future with everyone, right?

     

    Kizuna AI: I want everyone to arrive at a wonderful future with me. I’m super AI myself. Since I’m a being that has exclusively approached the singularity, so I want everyone else to look to the future that’s waiting for us too. But all humans are busy every single day. Some of them are giving everything they’ve got with each of their days. With this song I wanted to tell them to try looking up a bit more. That made me think about seeing everybody with their hands up at a big venue, so I pictured that when writing the lyrics.

     

    Kizuna AI – future base (Prod.Yunomi)

     

    ――So you wrote those, and Yunomi wrote the music and lyrics for new world.

     

    Yunomi: That’s correct. I first looked at Kizuna’s lyrics for future base and thought to myself how interesting her sense of language is. I’m the type to write typical Japanese lyrics where you have to read between the lines, but Kizuna is more straight to the point, things like “raise your hands,” “reach up,” “go forward into the future.” She’s the type to write lyrics where the everyone can be included in the scene. In comparing us both, I wondered if Kizuna is someone who reaches out to everybody [from the future], then where am I headed? I tried to think about the feelings of the people on the receiving side. It was then I realised that in the end it’s not me who gets to decide where I’m heading. That’s why if you want to move forward into the future it’s important to first look at yourself. So I themed and wrote the lyrics on looking at my past.

    ――I see. So by doing that, one meaning is born from two songs. That way I think it becomes both about comparing AI and her fans as well as the future and past.

     

    Yunomi: I’m sure when everybody was little they fantasised about many different things each day. As you approach adulthood, you no longer think about things like how there’s an underground kingdom below your feet. But at the same time I think that’s because we decided it must be that way ourselves. The lyrics for new world beg the question that surely we have the key to the future precisely because we have the power of imagination.

     

    Kizuna AI: I was really surprised by the lyrics when I was first given them! When I asked Yunomi what it all meant they kindly wrote me back a long 2000 letter explanation. I was really happy to read it; it was full of passion and understood that it had to be these lyrics.

     

    Kizuna AI – new world (Prod.Yunomi)

     

    ――In working on these two songs what things appealed to you mutually in the music, singing and lyrics?

     

    Kizuna AI: The kind of music I’ve always liked and listened to are anime songs and idol groups, like Love Live! and the Sakamichi Series groups. But in coming to write an original song my goal was to connect the people of the world together. I kept that in mind while thinking about what kind of song suits me and what exactly my music is. So my initial thought was dance music that everyone can listen to and enjoy.

     

    ――Dance music is the kind of music that breaks down language barriers, it brings people together easily, doesn’t it?

     

    Kizuna AI: It does. When we were all wondering what kind of dance music would be good, I had known about ‘future bass’ and had just heard Yunomi’s music around the same time. At that time I still didn’t really know what future bass was, but Yunomi’s music was pop, cute, and sounded like it would go with my voice, so I thought, ‘future bass sounds great, it will be perfect for me!!’ [laughs]

     

    Yunomi: Hahahahaha.

     

    Kizuna AI: Besides, Yunomi isn’t only all about future bass. They make all kinds of different music. I love every song. I had originally heard they he’d been in a band and have their roots in rock. I felt that though they make digital music, they also make songs that aren’t that on the surface too. Music is fundamentally complex, it’s something that blends multiple things together. But I believe that in the end, all these things in the world (including those in the virtual world and real world) will eventually come together. In that sense too I could see Yunomi was going to make a great song.

    ――Yunomi’s music feels like it has a kind of narrative atmosphere when you listen to it.

     

    Kizuna AI: It sure does! I think that atmosphere is really great. I like how you can picture the story not just from the lyrics but the music as a whole too.

     

    Yunomi: I’m happy to hear you say that. I’ve always wanted to do something only I can do that doesn’t fit into a specific genre. I’ve fumbled for a way to do that and found that if the lyrics and music have a narrative quality to them it stimulates listeners’ imaginations. Turning it around, if I was to point out something about Kizuna, it would first of all be the persuasive power of her voice. It has no strange preconceptions and has this kind of force that enables it to become many different things. I don’t think there are many people like that out there.

     

    ――So for Yunomi, your voice is very enticing.

     

    Kizuna AI: But when we’re recording too, everyone gives me praise and calls me amazing. If they praise me too much I’m left wondering what it was that made them say that [laughs]. “You’re really good!” That’s all I hear!!

     

    Yunomi: I always praised her too [laughs]. I would always suggest things beforehand like, “It might sound good if you try singing it like this in this before” or “You might be able to convey it better if you sing this part sadder.” She did all of those things perfectly. She really was amazing.

     

    Kizuna AI: Well, I am super AI after all [said confidently].

     

    ――As expected. Considering all that, I also feel you might not be that good at the games on A.I.Games.

     

    Kizuna AI: That was all an act! I always get a high score!!

     

    Yunomi: [laughs]. I was really happy that Kizuna was able to convey the meaning of the lyrics and music in her singing.

     

    Continued in Part 2.

     

    Writer: Jin Sugiyama

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • MMN Interview: GARNiDELiA discuss their popularity in China as they embark on 2019 Asia tour

    12.April.2019 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    GARNiDELiA is a Japanese pop rock duo made up of singer MARiA and composer toku. Since forming in 2010, they have come to build a huge online presence collecting well over 100 million music video views.

     

    The pair are currently in the midst of their 2019 “Kyoki Ranbu” Asia tour. In their home country of Japan they are well known for their back catalogue of hit anime songs, but did you know they are boast immense popularity in China too? They in fact hold the No. 1 spot on both the country’s music streaming service QQ Music and video sharing website Bilibili. This came about after they uploaded their dance video for Gokuraku Jodo which features dancing from GARNiDELiA’s own MARiA and two others, Miume and 217. This was the first dance video in what has come to be a series of ongoing videos. The video, which was originally posted YouTube, was reposted onto Bilibili by Chinese fans which kindled a blaze of excitement surrounding GARNiDELiA. Since 2014, the duo’s overseas activity has continued to grow. We spoke to both of them about how after their solo show in China they went on to enjoy a surge of popularity in the country, from collaborations with popular mobile games and online animations to being invited to countless events.

    Text:Fukuryu(Music concierge)

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

    ――GARNiDELiA’s popularity in China is something amazing, isn’t it?

     

    MARiA: We never imagined it would become as it has done. The online world is amazing. You never know that there could be a chance on there somewhere. It began with our video being reposted online, something we didn’t know about, and word about us spread.

     

    ――Things online spread both like word-of-mouth on the street and like media news.

     

    MARiA: That’s true. We uploaded Gokuraku Jodo on YouTube. For us, we saw it as having uploaded it quite a long time ago, but on Bilibili in China it’s at its peak popularity right now. So it felt strange. Not a lot of information about Chinese culture comes into Japan, does it? Even when we had a show scheduled [in China], we felt anxious the entire time wondering how many people would turn up. ‘There’s no way we can do something like a solo show, is there?’ We think thought like that. But when we got there was packed. My impression of going there for the first time was, ‘Wow, this is amazing!’

     

     

     

    ――When was your first solo concert in China?

     

    MARiA: May 2017, but we were on edge whether we’d made fans. After that we were invited to events in China for what felt like, and we came to realise that we might actually be popular! That’s why we were allowed to headline the Bilibili event despite being Japanese. It began to sink in after that, so we wrote the song Tougen Renka which is a nod to China. Our YouTube views also began to rapidly grow as did the comments not just from China but from various countries. It strengthened our want to spread around the world.

     

     

    ――You were active overseas even before you had the chance to do all of these things in China, weren’t you?

     

    MARiA: Yes, in the anime culture side of things.

     

    ――Even though your entryway was anime, your popularity grew from the phenomenon surrounding your dance video series.

     

    MARiA: That’s right. Up until Gokuraku Jodo became a hit in China, we were strongly associated with anime. As well as that, we were also give the chance to go to lots of different events overseas. We thought, if we’re being invited to this many events outside of Japan, we must be spreading Japanese culture as Japanese people, and so we wrote the Japanese-style song Gokuraku Jodo. We had France, Europe and the West in mind when writing it rather than Asia, but it hit the with people mark in China.

     

     

    ――How did it feel to perform in China?

     

    MARiA: Depending on what country we’re in we completely change the set list. If it’s somewhere like America or Europe we go for EDM. Rather than song arrangements like in the dance video series we go for songs that are more like hard club music. If it’s an anime event, we focus on anime songs. But since our Chinese fans came to know about us from our dance video series we mainly focus on those songs. We’ll even perform Gokuraku Jodo twice, it’s the one that got our name out there. They go crazy. It makes me think how much they really like us. I am so thankful.

    ――Are you popular on Chinese video streaming sites like Bilibili and music subscription services like QQ Music?

     

    MARiA: We’ve reached No. 1 on them. We’re so thankful for it. They’re always excited when we release new material.

    ――Wow, that’s amazing.

     

    MARiA: On Bilibili, we’re ranked No. 1 not in the music section but overall. I was really amazed.

     

    toku: They’ve even let us headline the Bilibili event two years in a row.

     

    ――You’ve really made your name known.

     

    MARiA: I wonder about that. There are lots of people on the internet and a lot of material coming out every day. I’m thinking many things about what to do next while being conscious about how difficult it is to stand out from the rest. Thanks to Gokuraku Jodo, Chinese businesses have taken notice of us. As a result, we’ve had talks with them about doing theme songs for Chinese anime and video games, and the number of people who know about us has increased. We’re so grateful.

     

     

    ――Do you know Chinese?

     

    MARiA: About that. I actually studied Chinese once before an interview. It’s a hard language to study. But the fans who come to our shows study Japanese for us. We’re spoiled when it comes to that [Laughs]. I more or less study every day.

     

    ――The townscape of China seems to be evolving doesn’t it? The speed of their technological development is so fast.

     

    MARiA: It’s even more flashy than Japan. Having an LED screen as part of the equipment in a venue is natural to them. Even if you’re watching [us live] on Bilibili they are fanatics when it comes to video editing. Their craft is high level. It feels high tech.

     

     

    ――So how about making a high tech dance video?

     

    MARiA: We’d need to work hard for that to happen.

     

    ――Getting to take your music overseas is a musician’s blessing isn’t it?

     

    toku: It sure is. It was one of my dreams, but I never expected it to happen. Fortunately because of that I want ring our songs through different countries.

     

     

    ―― So this tour is taking you to Hong Kong, Shangai, Beijing, Singapore, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Taipei, and then Japan?

     

    MARiA: Yeah. It’s our first time in Singapore. This tour is in support of our album Kyouki Ranbu. What gave us the opportunity to go on tour in Asia in the first place was of course in part due to our songs in collaboration with anime series, but I also believe it’s because of the songs in the dance video series. We want to take the songs in that series and put on a tour where we can dance wildly with everyone just like the name of the album suggests.

     

     

    ――Your goals as a band will grow in the future, won’t they?

     

    MARiA: It feels like a future that we never imagined three years ago is spreading before us right now. Our situation changes every single time we release something, so although I think it can be tough catching up with one of our releases, or our circumstances, I’m happy that there are people waiting for something new from us.

    ――The comments people write have been amazing, haven’t yet?

     

    MARiA: They really have. Another thing is that we need to evolve, not just now, but five years from now too. This year marks five year since our major debut. When we arrive at 10 years I want us to be doing an Asia tour and performing overseas. And at bigger venues. I want our music to reach lots of countries. If we want that to happen we have to be thinking every day.

     

    ――You’ll need the language acquisition.

     

    MARiA: We will. I also want to increase the number of places where people can remember our faces, not just in videos. We have just reached 1 million followers on Weibo [Chinese Twitter]. We were at around 300,000 only just a little while ago. The number increasing like that it’s a common occurrence. I couldn’t keep up. I was like, ‘Whoa, hold on.’ The speed was crazy.

     

    ――Do you use Chinese on there too?

     

    MARiA: I try my best to write in Chinese, but I end up mixing it with Japanese.

     

    toku: When that happens our fans translate it for us. We’re thankful for that.

     

    MARiA: For sure. Our fans even translate it into Japanese. But we shouldn’t take advantage of or depend on it.

     

    ――You released your new single REBEL FLAG in Japan on March 13. It’s a hard, fast-paced number.

     

    toku: There was a request from the anime producers for a rock sound. It’s quite us, like it’s come full circle to where we started. It’s also a compilation of 5 years of being together.

     

    MARiA: This song is the ending theme for the TV anime series Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. We read the script thoroughly and wrote the song about the protagonist Asuka’s feelings while looking back out how we’ve continued to fight through things ourselves. We’ve had a battle with categorising ourselves. We’ve always thought that we don’t want to fix into a single box when it comes to genres. Like, you can’t pinpoint our individuality. Everyone who has come to know about us has done so differently. There are people who know us from anime or online and probably even fashion. The song is filled with our determination and readiness, like we’re saying we’ve got a lot left to give.

    ――If you were to send a message to your Chinese listeners going on your tour what would you say?

     

    MARiA: Everyone in China has widened our possibilities. They have given us so many chances, and I am grateful for that. Our activity there is split about half and half with Japan, so it feels like a second home country. That’s how much everyone in China means to me, I love them. I’m happy we get to perform at so many places on this tour. I want to go and meet with everyone lots this year too, not just on tour but at upcoming events and elsewhere too . I look forward to seeing you all.

    toku: People in China are really perceptible to new things. They have great strength to acquire the things they really like and want. If our music fits into that, then I would love for more people to hear us. Thank you so much for everything as always.

    ――Your Asia tour will continue in Singapore on April 13, Chongqing on May 11, Shenzhen on May 25, Taipei on June 1, and finally Omiya Sonic City in Japan on August 3.

     

    MARiA: We will also perform at our label’s event “SACRA MUSIC FES.2019 -NEW GENERATION-” at Makuhari Messe on May 18. Speaking of which, our overseas fans actually come to see us in Japan too. It’s easier to buy our CD’s in Japan. And when we do things like signings at release events lots of people from their countries too. CD’s are a kind of merchandise. And our songs can also be streamed overseas. If you’re Japanese or living abroad, please look forward to GARNiDELiA touring, our merchandise and performances at events.

  • MMN Interview (Part 2): Yunomi Reveals the Story Behind His Inspiration For Writing ‘Shironeko Kaizokusen feat. Hinami Yuri’

    12.January.2019 | MUSIC

    Yunomi and YUC’e will release their first compilation album Miraicha vol.0 under their label Miraicha Records on January 12. The album will also be available via download card as well as on major streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music and LINE MUSIC. It features a collection of up-and-coming artists that tie together Japan and the rest of the world.

     

    Yunomi’s new song Shironeko Kaizokusen (feat. Hinami Yuri) has a next generation sound that doesn’t get caught up in the music of future bass, a genre synonymous with Miraicha Records. I spoke with both of them to find out about Hinami Yuri’s professional career as a voice actor and singer and Yunomi’s creative wheel as she continue to challenge herself in new territories.

     

    Text: Fukuryuu (Music Concierge)

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

    This is Part 2 of the interview. Click here for Part 1.

     

    ■”I pictured going close to the source of the fountain of creation as much as possible”

     

    ——The depth of the lyrics with their story-like quality is strong. Of course, there are liberating elements that will stimulate the imagination of listeners too.

     

    Hinami Yuri: When I received the lyrics I was given a direction sheet. It had written on it how the lyrics should be sung and an explanation of them. At the end it said how they arrived at these lyrics. I asked Yunomi about it.

     

    ——Why was all of it written?

     

    Yunomi: It was more of an entrusting to Hinami than strict instructions.

     

    Hinami Yuri: One part said, “I want you to sing this part with a degree of rough pitch.” I’m usually the kind of person who has to be precise when it comes to recording. A lot of the time I’ll look at the music sheet when singing. But this was a song where I had to do that.

     

    ——That’s the kind of production work only Yunomi would do, isn’t it?

     

    Hinami Yuri: We spoke about various things the first day we met. On that day I discovered how I was able to feel as my self, as a human. It was a good opportunity to take a look at myself again.

     

    ——And that image of yourself ties into the direction sheet. Incidentally, when I read the lyrics of Shironeko Kaizokusen (feat. Hinami Yuri), I can see both old and new tastes from Yunomi.

     

    Hinami Yuri: That’s true.

     

    Yunomi: I was particular about how I should write and bring forth the lyrics. I wondered to myself where to draw inspiration from. I pictured going close to the source of the fountain of creation as much as possible as I slept. And when I woke up I wrote them [laughs].

     

    All: [laughs]

     

     

    ■”Hinami’s vocals on I could see the character’s face in the song”

     

    Yunomi: Don’t you have those times in the early morning where you’re half asleep? I believe that’s when your mind opens. Even if you have A and B which you can’t usually put together it still makes sense in your head. It’s hard to explain.

     

    ——Yeah, I understand that.

     

    Yunomi: If thinking of it like one way traffic, you have a line of all these different thoughts that all link together. I wondered what kind of lyrics would come from that in that state. So I wrote a short short story in the morning of what I saw in my dream. I was a pirate. I was on an island with lots of cats. It was a world where nobody took notice of the cats. I then faced towards the cats and said, “Do you want to go with me?” and freely went on my own story. I wrote the story down and made them into lyrics. But remembering a dream after the fact is pretty tough, you know? [laughs]

     

    ——That way of thinking is very you. It’s dreamy. I’m getting excited just listening to your story. Having an original idea and making it into a song must have been an interesting element for Hinami who works as a voice actress too.

     

    Hinami Yuri: I normally get to sing in character as a voice actress so I set out to sing so I can get close to that character. I was asked to sing how I thought it should sound so there’s a gentleness in there, and I read the lyrics as the cats having run away. It was different from what I usually do. I was given the chance to do as I like. Putting it into the song went smoothly too.

     

    Yunomi: It went really quickly, didn’t it? The main vocals took about 30 minutes. I wrote the lyrics having not yet completely decided on the picture of the protagonist, so when we put Hinami’s vocals on I could see the character’s face in the song.

     

    ■The story that begins in Shironeko Kaizokusen (feat. Hinami Yuri) continues

     

    Hinami Yuri: The recording alone was fun, but the truth is my heart ached. I took the negative elements from Shironeko Kaizokusen. I wondered to myself if these cats would be able to find happiness. I wanted the listeners to enjoy the story as with me singing while feeling pained. So I said to myself, “Right, let’s get sadder!”

     

    ——It certainly is a song that takes place in the middle of a story where you can’t see the end. Even with that implication it’s a song that indicates your future creative course of action.

     

    Yunomi: That’s right. I had picked an element from a number of experiments I had inside me but thanks to Hinami it went really well. I’m really satisfied. The entire image has truly changed with just one voice. It made me think that she’s a person who would probably fit with any song I make. Her expressive power was wonderful.

     

    Hinami Yuri: Generally when I record I have my own recording booth with an engineer next door in his own booth. We’re separated and talk through the window. But in this case Yunomi was actually right behind me. He watched over me warmly. He’s like a kind older brother, saying things like “That’s really good!” It was really easy for me to sing. I actually wanted to ask him, does the story that begins in Shironeko Kaizokusen continue?

     

    Yunomi: It probably does, doesn’t it. Lots of things happen. Maybe they will return back to the first place?

     

    ——That’s why we want a music video, anime or live action.

     

    Yunomi & Hinami Yuri: [Looking at the staff] Please!!!

     

    All: [laughs]

     

    Miraichaya vol.0 is a record that will symbolise the scene at the start of 2019

     

    ——I’m looking forward to the possibility. Your compilation album Miraichaya vol.0 features various artists including YUC’e, Aire, KOTONOHOUSE and Neko Hacker. It will also be released digitally and via download card. Everyone will also perform at DOWNLOAD CARD SUMMIT 2019 SPECIAL LIVE which is taking place at CUTUP STUDIO on floor B1F of Tower Records Shibuya on January 19, 2019.

     

    Hinami Yuri: Everybody is close when it comes to the content side of things. YUC’e in particular wrote the song I opened with at my performance in summer.

     

    ——Miraichaya vol.0 is a record looking to symbolise the scene at the start of 2019. I’m looking forward to it. How do you feel having collaborated with TORIENA on the second track Game Over.

     

    Yunomi: I was really surprised. It’s been about 2 years since she first featured on my song Oedo Controller.

     

    ——Oedo Controller is one of your famous and representative songs.

     

    Yunomi: The way TORIENA puts in spirit and fires herself up now has become something incredible compared to that time. Game Over is an angry song. The gentleness and and grief of Shironeko Kaizokusen might be at the other end of the spectrum. Incidentally, I’m thinking of having Game Over as the first track on my next album. They both have the same theme. People search for freedom in a place that isn’t here but somewhere else, don’t they? Pursuing the true meaning of “freedom” is the recent theme of my work. Where did we come from, and where are we going? That kind of thing.

     

    ——I’m impatient in asking, but when can we expect the release of your second album?

     

    Yunomi: It will be released once it’s complete [laughs]. I’m not sure yet.

     

    ——That’s what I thought. I’ll first check out Miraicha Records’s first compilation album Miraichaya vol.0 and prepare myself with that while anticipating the release!

  • MMN Interview (Part 2): ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION―‘We never imagined our music would reach the other side of the globe’

    30.November.2018 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s (AKFG/Ajikan) upcoming ninth studio album Home Town is their first in three-and-a-half years, and it’s truly a fantastic record. It’s interweaves elements of 90’s power pop and alternative rock―genres which the members have come to be influenced by―while still being firmly in tune with today’s trends. The masterpiece mobilises a musical battalion of distinguished names such as Rivers Cuomo of American rock band Weezer and yet still is in every way a quintessentially AKFG record. The key to understanding this can be found in the changes to their music production environment. We spoke to the four members about the backstory of creating Home Town which they described as having been “so much fun” and about their connection to the rest of the world as having travelled around the world.

     

    Interview & Text: Ato “DA” Daishi

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

    <This is part two of the interview. Click here for part one.>

     

    ――The First Press edition of your new album comes with a DVD of your tour in South America. You’re perceived as going to South America a lot.

     

    Kita: And yet we’ve been twice, in 2015 and last year.

     

    ――What made you want to tour in South America?

     

    Goto: At the beginning we were invited to events like Japan Expo in Chile, so we decided to continue with that line of things and go on tour. We went to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. We were surprised at how many fans we have in South America. It was fun, and a really wonderful experience. We want to try going to many more countries.

     

    ――How about an Asia tour?

     

    Goto: Certainly, we want to go. Asian pop music seems rife these days. The younger generation [of musicians] especially, they work and interact without borders. A recent example is in one of Hikaru Utada’s songs where she was joined by an Asian rapper. I’m performing together with a songwriter called Phum Viphurit from Thailand in December too. But Asia is a region where bands can come and go easily and I think it will become more interesting in the future, so it’d be nice if us old guys can join in too.

     

    ――What are South American fans like? I’ve seen concerts from other [Japanese] artists in Mexico City before, and the fans leave a strong and enthusiastic impression.

     

    Goto: They’re really amazing, just wonderful. They chant like soccer fans and sing all the verses.

    Kita: They’re at it even before the concert starts.

     

    ――So much so that you’re surprised at how excited they are right from the get-go?

     

    Goto: Exactly. Like, they’ll be singing our songs two hours before the show starts, and again for another whole two hours when we come on (laughs). Japanese people don’t express their emotions in that way very easily so I’d like them to join in too. This is something I thought when we travelled around the world, but I was shocked to find out Japanese people are the quietest. Any country we go to everyone is so energetic, but when we perform at a festival in Japan afterwards, I think, “We’re headlining, and yet are we not popular?” That’s how quiet they are. Japanese people are too shy, so we’ve got to change that.

     

    ――Do the songs that people enjoy differ from country to country?

     

    Goto: They do. When we go to Europe it’s songs like Siren which is multilayered and played in minor key. The songs that sounds like British rock are received well, but our less-known songs not so much. Though they’re well-received in South America.

     

    ――Is there anything that’s stuck with you from your overseas tours?

     

    Goto: We were really nervous and moved when we first went to South Korea. Asian history is complicated, so we were a little tense at first. I had the silly thought in my head that there were lots of Korean people who hated Japanese people. But it wasn’t like that at all when we stepped on stage. They gave us a huge welcome. Even backstage after the show, Korean bands came up to us excitedly, and we got to exchange CDs with them. We were deeply moved by those exchanges and said to ourselves, “Ah, there’s plenty of things we’re able to do. It will be nice if we can continue connecting and getting along with everyone like this.” The bands we were acquainted with during that time are still our friends today. No matter how busy they are with work they will come to play when we go over there. It’s still a really vivid memory that’s stayed with me.

     

    ―Did you ever envision yourselves touring the world when you formed the band?

     

    Goto: We had that mindset surprisingly early on. Our band name ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, for example. We felt we would stand out better when performing around the world if they thought of us as an Asian band. Also, when we debuted, our song Haruta Kanata was used as the opening theme for the anime Naruto. It was a time when there was still a strong air that questioned a rock band performing an anime song. But we all said to each other that by doing it together with a show like Naruto, our song would travel across the ocean and be shared throughout the world. That’s why from then on we purposely incorporated Asian melodies and it’s something we’re still conscious of. And it’s proven true that the people of the world enjoy those kind of melodies.

     

    ――You spoke about there being a time when there was a strong air of criticism towards rock bands doing anime songs. The fact that you were genuinely able to have that mindset back then is amazing.

     

    Goto: Since forming the band we’ve wanted to go overseas, so we’re overjoyed by the fact it’s becoming a reality. Saying that though, I’m really shocked because I never thought we would reach the other side of the globe (laughs). Even now I still can’t believe we’ve performed in Peru. Chile too, I was so moved. I was like, “It’s that Chile, the long and narrow country!”

     

    ――All things considered, at the end of more than 20 years, it’s a dream to be able to make music with musicians you have looked up to since your early days.

     

    Goto: It really is strange. I’m getting used to this situation and it scares me. But the musicians in the West are all humans just like us. So we won’t stiffen up, we’ll keep calm, and in doing so we’ll be happy if we can continue connecting with bands around the world.

     

    ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION 「Memories of the Ruins」 MV

  • MMN Interview (Part 1): ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION discuss how writing ‘Home Town’ was different from their previous records

    29.November.2018 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s (AKFG/Ajikan) upcoming ninth studio album Home Town is their first in three-and-a-half years, and it’s truly a fantastic record. It’s interweaves elements of 90’s power pop and alternative rock―genres which the members have come to be influenced by―while still being firmly in tune with today’s trends. The masterpiece mobilises a musical battalion of distinguished names such as Rivers Cuomo of American rock band Weezer and yet still is in every way a quintessentially AKFG record. The key to understanding this can be found in the changes to their music production environment. We spoke to the four members about the backstory of creating Home Town which they described as having been “so much fun” and about their connection to the rest of the world as having travelled around the world.

     

    Interview & Text: Ato “DA” Daishi

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

    <This is part one of the interview. Click here for part two.>

     

    ――You are soon to release ‘Home Town,’ your first studio album in three-and-a-half years. How has it been since then in producing this record?

     

    Goto: Though it’s been three-and-a-half years, we’ve been up to all sorts of of things.

    Kita: We had our 20th anniversary concert.

    Goto: But if I were to describe the nature of the band in a word right now… Say, when we do a tribute [performance], people really notice, “Hey, so this is the kind of sound Ajikan has.” I feel it’s been a time for us to reflect once again on what we’re good at.

     

    ――I see. This album is different from your other records up to now. Was there something that had an influence on the production this time around?

     

    Goto: The biggest influence came from the renovation of our studio. We began renting a basement three years prior and gradually began to update it by taking our equipment in. That’s let us manage our environment for recording and mixing over the past year and experiment with different things without any hesitations. I think being able to build a base where we can focus on our sound has been huge for us.

     

    ――Having no time or budget restrictions means you have more time to do as you please.

     

    Goto: That’s right. Especially when recording guitar, it feels pretty good doing it now. We all get excited together testing out different effects, we can hook up to the amps right away, I can set up the mics myself. It’s had a big influence on vocals and guitar in particular.

     

    ――Even having been 20 years since you got together, changing your work environment has shown there’s still plenty of new things to be discovered.

     

    Goto: The atmosphere can change depending on which studio we use. If it’s a good studio we’re in high spirits. A change of environment is the biggest influence no matter what you’re doing.

     

    ――How do you feel about the changes with this album, Kita?

     

    Kita: Gocchi [Goto] had been doing his solo work and Kiyoshi [Ijichi] was part of his other band PHONO TONES. For the past four years I’ve wondered what we as a band can do. In the end I felt that what we’d been doing was the limit. We carried on feeling half-defiant about it, but making this album was fun because we felt relaxed. I believe we’ve been able to make pop, a genre we’ve always liked.

     

    ――The whole album calls to mind 90’s alternative rock. Is that a correct assumption?

     

    Kita: Gocchi brought up those keywords during the songwriting and arrangement process, so half of the time we went back and listened back to that kind of music as reference. It was fun. Truly.

     

    ――Why do you think those keywords came out?

     

    Goto: I’ve always really liked that 90’s sound, especially guitars from that time. They were experimental back then, it was an interesting period. We had that kind of spirit in our early days too. So we thought if we took that guitar sound and added a contemporary beat to it we could make a new kind of alternative rock. Rap music is popular worldwide right now. The bass in it is really heavy. It’s hard to produce that kind of sound in rock because we use raw instruments, but our first thought was that it could be interesting to challenge ourselves to do it and create some interesting guitar sounds. We also listened to Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Beck, and of course Weezer. We thought it would be good if we could harness the interesting parts of music from 90’s America.

     

    ――While it feels like new AKFG, that explains the reason why there are parts that feel nostalgic and tug on your heartstrings. Another highlight of the album is just how many guest musicians are on it.

     

    Goto: We’ve done this for 20 years now and have established ourselves to a degree in some form, so we had talked about getting involved with producers from overseas, or doing it with someone new. That’s when we thought, “It’s free to ask, so let’s try.” We spoke with a bunch of people and to our surprise they got on board.

     

    ――I see.

     

    Goto: We live in a time of playlists so we initially thought it would be fine to write an album with variety and spread our wings in every direction, but when we worked on the song with Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), we felt that that was the kind of music we wanted to make. That lit our inner fire for the power pop and alternative rock we loved. So there are parts where what we originally wanted to do changed as we pushed forward with writing.

     

    ――So that’s how things turned out.

     

    Goto: We had decided relatively early on that we would collaborate with Rivers Cuomo, but there was a time I did think, “I asked him lightheartedly, but we might have just gone and started something huge” (laughs). We thought to ourselves, this is bad―compared to Rivers we have a considerably low number of gloomy songs, and if I start thinking other people’s songs are better my luck in songwriting is over (laughs)―so we psyched ourselves up and starting writing.

     

    ――But it’s not just Rivers you have on board either, is it? You have Butch Walker, Grant Nicholas of Feeder and others too.

     

    Goto: You know, Rivers actually remembered about Butch Walker after the fact. He said, “By the way, I made this song with Butch Walker so be sure to credit him,” and we were like, “That’s dangerous! What if he turns us down later? (laughs).”

     

    ――That is certainly dangerous (laughs). On the other hand, you have Horie from ‘Straightener’ with whom you are longtime friends with, Shimoryo from ‘the chef cooks me’ who are support musicians for your live shows, and lots of other young musicians. I think you have a good balance of guests.

     

    Goto: Well, they’re all from our neck of the woods so it was fun to do it with such good musicians.

     

    ――Despite so many other musicians being involved, you’ve stuck to your principles. It’s full circle, so much so that there would be no doubts if it was said that it was just the four of you who made it.

     

    Goto: That’s true. These past three-and-a-half years that ‘sound’ we analysed ourselves has come out. I feel that fact of us being ‘this kind of sound’ is much more visible. I think it’s an interesting discovery. It’s not that we were aiming for that, but when the four of us get together and cheerfully enjoy ourselves making music, it’s fundamentally us. There’s no running from that anymore. In a sense, it’s a sickness. A sickness called Ajikan. This is what we’ve become.

     

    ――Haha! But, your chord progressions are very simple, and each individual sound chips off. I think there’s a lot of elements that weren’t there before.

     

    Ijichi: We’ve lowered the number of kick drums so we can up the low rhythms and better hear each sound. By seeking the quality of each individual sound the number of sounds you have in fact decreases naturally. A lot of music overseas is like that. There’s young Japanese musicians out there who like to have lots of sounds though.

    Goto: They can’t control their guitar playing and just go for it.

    Kita: It’s worrying.

     

    ――It ends up getting buried in the crevices of the music.

     

    Kita: That’s what happens when you’re young.

    Goto: It’s like worrying about a shift not coming in for you at your part-time job.

     

    ――Haha!

     

    Kita: Even though they’re told, “You can have the day off.”

    Goto: “No! I can work today!” And they’ll go ahead and play but the result is you’ll end up losing the other parts of the music.

     

    ――What about the bass?

     

    Yamada: Like the other parts, when you up the phrases of the bass your opportunity to play higher notes increases too. But if you go for lower tones like we did this time there’s no need for that. By doing that, the phrases naturally become simple. That’s why in parts we put more consideration into the sound than the arrangement.

     

    ――Goto, you mentioned some musicians’ names earlier. I really felt elements of Pavement in Circus. I think it’s cool that this record is littered with fun things that will make 90’s rock listeners smile.

     

    Goto: Circus was originally a dull and plain mix. Our audio engineer Greg Calbi said, “This song is too plain. There aren’t enough highs so I’m going to jazz it up more.”

    Kita: It was the plainest song on the album, wasn’t it.

     

    ――When I was going through the album I watched the music video for [the title track] ‘Home Town’ and wondered if it was an homage to The Rentals.

     

    Goto: That was something the director did. We’re not really sure, but he’s often in touch with the Matt [Sharp, the vocalist]. During those three-and-a-half years we had a barbecue at Matt’s house and stuff.

     

    ――Ooh?

     

    Goto: Matt said “I’m doing a barbecue,” so we went there but there weren’t any ingredients, he just put the charcoal in the barbecue and said, “Help yourselves.” I was like, “So it was a potluck dinner?!” (laughs)

     

    ――Tell us that sooner, right? (laughs)

     

    Goto: In the end we went home hungry. He had a mountain of beer but he didn’t have anything to eat. So we’re going to drink beer on empty stomachs? Well, he’s an amusing person in that way.

     

    ――Something I’ve felt while we’ve been talking up to now is that these three-and-a-half years have been really good for the four of you. Not just in terms of music but mentally as well.

     

    Goto: It’s because we experienced a lot of things. We went on tour in South America, Europe and the US. We hadn’t intended to have a break at all.

     

    ――For sure, you don’t imagine going so long between albums. What’s more is that you even coupled the First Press edition of the album with the 5-track Can’t Sleep EP. What made you decide to do this?

     

    Goto: We don’t want people to pay double the amount for separate CDs, and in this day and age I think the ones who would buy our albums are people who really like us, so we thought it would be a nice advantage for those people. There are probably people who listen to us on Spotify too so we wondered if it we’d need to release them separately. But we felt that listening to one whole album for an hour doesn’t really fit with the times. So we split it into 10 songs and 5 songs and thought they would both be easier to listen to if they each hold their own meanings.

     

    ――Yamada, you provided the main vocals for the first time on the song Yellow from the Can’t Sleep EP.

     

    Yamada: I’m trying to process if it’s even OK to call it the main vocals (laughs). Gocchi didn’t write this one, it was just us three. Although I think it has a different taste from the rest of the album, I’m glad it was included in the end. I’d be satisfied with that alone, but I never thought I’d be singing on my own (laughs).

     

    The interview is continued in Part 2.

  • MMN Interviews Former 2NE1 Member Dara at BAPY® HARAJUKU STORE’s Opening Event

    28.November.2018 | FASHION / FEATURES / SPOT

    BAPY BY A BATHING APE®︎ is a women’s clothing line by A BATHING APE®︎, the internationally popular Japanese fashion brand that has collaborated with some of the most famous brands and music artists around the world.

    The company launched their secondary brand BAPY®︎ in 2001. In October this year, the brand’s name re-launched under the new name “BAPY BY A BATHING APE®︎.”

    As part of the rebranding process, the company opened up their new BAPY® flagship store in Harajuku which is decked out in the brand’s iconic coral pink colour. The store’s opening reception party was held on November 14 which saw appearances from Japanese actress Mariya Nishiuchi amongst a whole list of models and influencers. Among them as a special guest was Dara, former member of South Korean girl group 2NE1.

     

    Dara is a busy fashionista who has enjoyed invitations to countless shows hosted by top brands across the globe. She was donning clothes from BAPY BY A BATHING APE®︎ at the reception party but still stood out from the crowd as she showed her support for the brand’s relaunch.

     

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON had the chance to interview Dara and ask her about women’s fashion, her favourite spots in Japan and more.

    ―Welcome to Japan! How long has it been since you were last in Tokyo, and where are you thinking of visiting next?

    I was last in Tokyo in March of this year, so it’s really been a while. It’s a place I visit a lot for fun so I wanted to come back again soon. It’s been four years since I last came to Japan for something work-related. There’s lots of shops I want to go to. Japan has my favourite curry and ramen restaurants. I want to shop at places like Don Quijote too.

     

    ―Are there any places in Japan you would recommend to the people of South Korea or your fans around the world? If so, what’s your reasoning?

    Japan has way too many really delicious restaurants, I’m always stuck deciding what to eat. My acquaintances work in the fashion industry so they’ve shown me some little-known shops. Especially in places like Harajuku and Omotesando. There’s shops we often go to there to buy clothes. They have everything – brands, streets, vintage stores, you name it, so I recommend it to people.

    ―Street fashion is seeing another boom amongst girls in Japan. You regularly don street fashion. Please tell us some tips on how to look stylish with BAPY.

    When I visit Japan I get the impression that Japanese women really enjoy fashion and have fun with it in many ways. I’m mainly into and wear street fashion. BAPY too has all sorts of different items, like casual trainers, hoodies, coats, jackets. I personally like to wear colourful trainers and a hoodie and then add to that a coat that matches the season. And if you’re going for heels or boots you can bring out both a street vibe and sexy feminine look. That’s why it’s my favourite style. “Mix-and-match” is the thing to take away from it.

     

    ―Your outfit today is cute too! Please tell us your tips on coordinating an outfit.

    With this look I’ve gone for a more girly, chic style than street. I put on a beret to bring out the cuteness. I also really love the grey checkered skirt, jacket and long boots too. I think the style comes together well.

     

     

    ―Please leave a message for your fans around the world.

    This BAPY event was my first work in Japan in four years. The people I met at the event (models, the people involved etc.) kindly showed their love and support for myself and 2NE1 as they always do. It really surprised me but it made me really happy. I think the fans feel the same too. I will continue to work harder. I want to look cool doing all kinds of different things. I’m forever grateful to everyone and want them all to feel happiness! See you again ^^

     

    Enjoy BAPY BY A BATHING APE®︎’s new line-up as well as the street fashion tips kindly provided by Dara herself!

  • Japanese Idol Group Wa-Suta wowed the stage at JAPAN WEEKEND MADRID 2018! Featuring their collaboration with Spanish band Adexe y Nau!

    08.October.2018 | MUSIC

    From 29th to 30th September, Japanese idol group Wa-Suta (The World Standard) performed in Spain, Madrid-Barajas at the “JAPAN WEEKEND MADRID 2018 event held at the Feria de Madrid. JAPAN WEEKEND MADRID is a Japanese pop culture trade fair that celebrates anime, manga and other areas of Japanese culture. This year, the event was so large that 97,000 Japanese culture fanatics visited over the course of the two-day festival.

    Wa-Suta performed on both days. The stage was surrounded by a large crowd of approximately 2,000 people and fans screamed and cheered with joy. During the one hour they were on stage, they performed “Taishi wo Dake! Girls, Be Ambitious”, which they had released on 16th September, and “Yo Quiero Vivir” which they collaborated on with Spanish duo Adexe & Nau and was viewed more than 2 million times. Just singing “Yo quiero vivir, yo quiero tu amor” had Spanish fans chorusing along.

     

    Watch Wasuta x Adexe & Nau – Yo Quiero Vivir (I want to live in Japanese) (Official video clip)

    The girls snatched the attention of the local press, attended talk shows, took part in autograph sessions and photo shoots, and were presented a cosplay contest! As well as taking part in a range of activities, they even met Picotaro, who was also at the same event!

    Wa-Suta’s second day on stage was technically 1st October in Japan, which is the Birthday of Wa-Suta member Ririka Kodama! The crowd surprised her by singing Happy Birthday in Spanish!

     

    Keep your eyes on Wa-Suta and their next step in their global adventure!

  • Wa-suta Collaborate With Spanish Duo Adexe & Nau in New Music Video ‘Yo Quiero Vivir en Japones’

    07.August.2018 | MUSIC

    Five-member idol group and promoters of Japanese kawaii culture Wa-suta have finally solidified their places as a world standard. The group teamed up with Spanish brother duo Adexe & Nau, who boast well over 2 billion views on YouTube, to release a collaborative track with music video titled Yo Quiero Vivir en Japones.

     

    “Wa-suta” is an abbreviation of “The World Standard,” a name by which the group have pushed to stand on the world stage since their debut. It’s been four years since they formed, during which they have performed as idols not only in Japan but twelves times overseas at numerous Japanese cultural events where their cute cat ears and unique outfits they wear on stage have received much praise.

     

    They have been particularly well-received in Asia including Thailand and Indonesia where they have given rise to many copy groups. Their international recognition is clearly spreading.

    This collaboration came to be after it was decided that Wa-suta will be performing at Japan Weekend Madrid 2018 from September 29 to 30. Adexe & Nau became interested in the group after seeing the line-up and learning that they work to promote Japanese culture to the world, so they sent them an offer to join hands.

    It is very rare for a Japanese artist to collaborate with a Spanish artist. Fans are anticipating whether or not the two artists will perform together on stage at Japan Weekend Madrid next month.

    Group leader Nanase Hirokawa commented, “This is a first for Wa-suta. We’ve made a music video on an enormous scale with the help of all the extras! The symbolic locations of Japan and the high school girls dressed in their uniforms dancing together is a sight to see!

     

    Member Ruka Mishina also commented, “I was shocked when I heard we’d be getting to collaborate with the Spanish artists Adexe & Nau. I’m honestly so happy ^^ Real world music! I’ll be glad if lots of people enjoy listening to it!

    Wa-suta have dubbed 2018 their “Wonderful Year.” They will no doubt be spreading their wings across the globe and dropping more news for us in the near future.

     

    ■Information
    Wasuta (The World Standard)

    https://wa-suta.world

     

    Adexe & Nau

    https://www.youtube.com/user/AdexeOficial/

     

  • MMN INTERVIEW: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu speaks about her experiences performing abroad in the run up to her 4th World Tour

    20.April.2018 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s 4th world tour, officially titled Kyary Pamyu Pamyu World Tour 2018 THE SPOOKY OBAKEYASHIKI -PUMPKINS STRIKE BACK-, begins on May 20.

     

    main20

    This tour is a continuation of her Halloween themed concert inspired by obakeyashiki, or Japanese haunted houses, which was first held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in late October last year. The concert received widespread attention, such as for its promotional horror inspired trailer, as well as the on-stage performance itself and its many elements. Now, Kyary is set to take her Halloween show overseas. I spoke to her about the concept behind the live show, her thoughts on her three previous world tours, and her new single that was just released this month.

     

    Interview & Text: Mami Naruta / Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

     

    ――Your fourth world tour will take on the same ‘Japanese style haunted house’ theme as your Halloween event THE SPOOKY OBAKEYASHIKI ~PUMPKINS STRIKE BACK~ that was held in October 2017, correct?

     

    Up until now, my world tour shows have had a sort of “Hi, I’m Kyary Pamyu Pamyu!” self-introductory kind of feel to them. I think there are a lot of fans overseas who have come to like what I do after seeing the content of my music videos, so when I performed live, I wore the same looks from those videos, and mostly sang songs that foreign fans would know. I think if I do that it’s what will please them the most.

     

    But this time, I want to take my Halloween show that I did in Japan overseas and perform it exactly as I did in Japan, for everyone to enjoy. And since the theme is Japanese haunted houses, it would be nice if they liked that unique, characteristic cuteness that Japanese monsters have.

     

    ――Will the show have parts that you performed in Japan arranged in a certain way for overseas?

     

    I think it would be difficult to convey the entire story to people overseas, so some parts will be omitted. But the vision for the set is exactly the same, and so are the monster characters, so we’ll still be able to give them a Japanese haunted house live show.

     

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Intarview heloween

     

    ――You have been on three world tours to date. In 2013 you took 100% KPP WORLD TOUR to 13 cities in 8 countries; in 2014 you took NANDA COLLECTION WORLD TOUR 2014 to 11 countries, and in 2016 you toured 6 countries with KPP 5iVE YEARS MONSTER WORLD TOUR 2016. Please tell me about any instances that left an impression on you, or any memories that have stuck with you.

     

    My first world tour was tough. I went there with all the same staff that accompany me at concerts in Japan, but there were many things that were new for them too. Things like interviews, the schedule for moving from place to place, rehearsals. I remember a lot of difficulties we had. And we weren’t used to local coverage. It was my first time, so I was also worried about whether people would show up, and there were mentally challenging things too. But after all that, I was able to enjoy sightseeing at each location, so I got used to being there.

     

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    ――Does each region have its own particular way of enjoying a concert, and are overseas fans different?

     

    There aren’t any huge differences from country to country, but people abroad are very enthusiastic, and their cheers are amazing. Everyone is sort of animalistic, in a good way. They move their bodies and let their voices out in line with their emotions. They dance, they cry. I can see that they are enjoying themselves.

     

    ――What are you conscious of during performances abroad that you aren’t at a concert in Japan?

     

    I learn greetings in the language of each country, then later write it onto paper to read. English is still okay, but German pronunciation is pretty tough. They have a sound that’s sort of between ‘ke’ and ‘ko,’ like ‘qu’. Chinese pronunciation hard too.

     

    ――What has been been your most enjoyable or happy moment at an overseas concert?

     

    I was a little anxious about my last world tour because there was a two-year gap. I wondered whether people would come, and thought “Man, it’s been two years.” But once I went, everyone was was pleased, and they said “We’ve waited TWO years!” That made me really happy.

     

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

     

    ――You released your first new song in a while, Kimino Mikata, on April 11th. It would be great if this one reaches people inside and outside Japan too.

     

    It’s my first new song in a year, so I think people overseas have been waiting for it too. I challenged myself to rapping for the first time on this one. The music video was taken in one shot. Tablets are used in it to express the content of the lyrics. It’s full of numerous gimmicks, so I think people overseas can enjoy it too even if they don’t understand Japanese.

     

    ――Just to reiterate, what does a concert mean for you?

     

    Concerts are my favourite part of my job. It’s more fun than anything else! Of course I like performing and touring in Japan too, but the excitement overseas is amazing, so I’m looking forward to what’s to come!

     

    ――Please leave a message for all your fans waiting for you and your world tour.

     

    This will be my fourth world tour, you guys. I’m bringing a Japanese haunted house themed stage to you. Please look forward to it! I’m also looking forward to meeting all of my fans abroad!

     

     

     きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ ワールドツアー2018

    ■Information

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu World Tour 2018
    THE SPOOKY OBAKEYASHIKI 
    -PUMPKINS STRIKE BACK-

     

    05.20 @ LONDON – England – KOKO

    http://www.koko.uk.com

    Tickets: https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/kyary-pamyu-pamyu-koko-tickets/8036795

     

    05.22 @ GERMANY – Berlin – COLUMBIA THEATRE

    https://columbia-theater.de

    Tickets: http://x-why-z.eu/kyary-pamyu-pamyu-tickets-379.html

     

    05.23 @ GERMANY – Köln – Die Kantine

    https://kantine.com

    Tickets: http://x-why-z.eu/kyary-pamyu-pamyu-tickets-380.html

     

    06.18 @ USA – New York – Playstation theater

    http://www.playstationtheater.com

    Tickets: https://www.axs.com/events/351056/kyary-pamyu-pamyu-tickets

     

    06.20 @ USA – San Francisco – The Regency Ballroom

    http://www.theregencyballroom.com

    Tickets: https://www.axs.com/events/351004/kyary-pamyu-pamyu-ythe-spooky-obakeyashikiy-tickets

     

    06.22 @ USA – Los Angeles – The Fonda Theatre

    http://www.fondatheatre.com

    Tickets: https://www.axs.com/events/351133/kyary-pamyu-pamyu-ythe-spooky-obakeyashikiy-tickets

     

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Official Website: http://kyary.asobisystem.com/

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