Oishii!Ichigo are a new UK-based idol outfit that are managed by Beckii Cruel. Oishii!Ichigo (part of the global Oishii Project) also features Hyper Japan Kawaii star Scarlett (who won Kawaii Star of the Year at HYPER JAPAN 2011).
The outfit had their second-only live performance at the November Hyper Japan event and demonstrated a talent for infectious melodic pop that appeared to be inspired by both Japanese idol groups and also electropop.
J-Pop Go sat down with Beckii and the Oishii!Ichigo girls Kelsey, Cherry and Scarlett to discuss the outfit…
There’s three of you here today, but obviously Oishii!Ichigo has many other members judging by the website.
Beckii: It’s difficult because everyone’s so spread apart. We would really like everyone to perform at the same place. That’s probably the No. 1 dream that we all have, doing a big show together and hopefully that could happen one day. But there are a lot of girls and I think that that’s something uniquely Japanese-inspired, like very big girl groups like AKB48, there’s millions of them. I think it’s really nice because all of the fans can like pick their No. 1. I think it’s good, there’s a lot of variety! (laughs)
Can I ask each of you, what inspired you to become part of Oishii!Ichigo?
Cherry: Well I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture since I was a kid because my dad’s really into sci-fi and stuff so he was telling me about anime. When I got a little bit older and I was listening to anime soundtracks and stuff was sort of when I discovered the world of Japanese idols and they just intrigued me because there’s nothing like it in the rest of the world. The idea of the Japanese pop singer is so different from over in the UK and America and everywhere else. So I got really into the girl groups and then when I saw Beckii’s documentary and I saw all about the girls doing their dancing and stuff on YouTube I thought it looked like fun so got involved in that. When I saw the auditions for Oishii!Ichigo I kind of thought this is a really good idea to showcase Japanese pop idol culture in the UK. Because I really enjoy performing as well I thought it would be something quite fun to do and I’m quite pleased that I auditioned and enjoying it so far.
Any particular Japanese outfits that inspire you and you’re a fan of?Cherry: I’m a big fan of AKB48 because they used to be a really, really unknown idol group who had no fans and no one knew about them and now they are possibly the biggest pop icons in Japan. So they inspire me quite a lot, that if you keep working hard then you can definitely achieve something. Besides that, obviously some of the more flagship groups like Morning Musume are quite inspiring to me because, again, they’ve worked their way up and kept their popularity. Generally most Japanese pop idols that can keep their name going despite maybe not having the popularity to begin with. Because it just shows that hard work does pay off.
And Kelsey, what inspired you to become part of Oishii!Ichigo?
Kelsey: Basically, it’s more or less the same as Cherry but I’ve always loved dancing, singing and performance since I could talk and walk! (laughs). But I’ve also loved Japanese culture from when they played anime on TV and, like Cherry, listened to the soundtracks and then I found that people danced to it and I was like “Wow! People dance to things that I like, why don’t I join them both together and do that”. I’ve been doing YouTube dances and stuff and then I found out about Oishii!Ichigo and I thought it was a really, really good idea, because I love the fact that you can get people from all over the world together on one thing. I think that’s an amazing idea. I like the style of music that we’re doing as well. You put out some demos before we auditioned and I really liked electro, Kyary, capsule kind of stuff. So I was really interested by that and I just think it’s a brilliant idea overall. So I wanted to be a part of it.
I noticed there’s a bit of a Kyary influence with your hair!
Kelsey: (laughs) Just a bit! Yeah I’m a bit of a big fan!
And Scarlett, what inspired you to become part of Oishii!Ichigo?
Scarlett: Well, I got into some Japanese culture first of all from anime and I started looking at the different soundtracks and stuff and I found out that people danced to these things. I think the main point when I started dancing and singing on YouTube was seeing Beckii on the BBC and my dad was like “Oh, look at this girl. She does the kind of things you do” and I was like “Oh that’s really cool, maybe I should start uploading videos to YouTube and stuff”. I love singing. Singing is my main passion and I saw the auditions for Oishii Project and I really wanted to get involved so I put forward an audition and I’m really pleased to be a part of it.
And what sort of Japanese bands inspire you?
Scarlett: My favourite group is Momoiro Clover Z. I really love them because they’re so crazy and awesome and I just love their music so much. I’d love to see them live one day.
Did you see Hotei perform here at Hyper Japan on Friday?
Scarlett: I didn’t but I know he did one of the songs for Momoiro Clover Z recently so I was really sad that I couldn’t make it yesterday. I really wanted to go see him but unfortunately as I’m in Bath I couldn’t. I had a lecture at 4! (laughs)
So Beckii, what’s your role with the group? Are you just coordinating them and looking after them?
Beckii: Yeah, pretty much what I do is sort of shout at everyone! (laughs). That’s basically my job, but it’s much nicer than that. I sort out the website and I update all the information. I sort of talk with the other staff. We set challenges and stuff, we set deadlines. I was in charge of printing and producing the CD. Well not producing it, I was making the physical copy of it and packaging it up. We all share the work basically. One of the other staff members, Berry, she’s very good at being very organised and she sets everyone timetables and schedules and we all just work together really. We all take on all of the jobs. Nobody’s got a set thing to do. So yeah, it’s hard work and it takes up a lot of my time but I really enjoy doing it.
Any plans for more live shows for Oishii!Ichigo coming up?
Beckii: Well we’ve done two already in the space of two months and I really hope that we can continue to perform live together. I think it’s a really good thing to bring something which is very, very internet based into the real world. I think it gives the fans something to really enjoy, everyone being together. I like seeing it when the Mini Cherries meet the Ichigo Girls. I think it’s just nice to bring it off the internet a bit and let everyone see their true performance style! (laughs)
Do you think there’s a future for these types of groups in the UK?
Beckii: Certainly not now. The English music world isn’t this style at all. I think it would need a lot of time or we would need to change our tact quite a lot. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think our main sort of audience at the moment is English people who are fans of J-Pop. I think that’s quite a niche audience, but it’s one who we really speak to I guess because that’s who we all are. I think it’s got a better chance in Japan or the UK with that market than mainstream pop UK at its current state.
So can you envision Oishii!Ichigo going to Japan and performing there?
Beckii: I think we would all love to do that and I think we don’t want to say “Oh we’re going to Japan” because we don’t know how things are going to turn out, but we would definitely love to do that and I think, given the right opportunities, we would more than be up for that! (laughs)
What does everyone else think? Japan?
Everyone: Yeah! (laughs)
J-Pop Go extends its warmest thanks to Beckii Cruel, Scarlett, Cherry and Kelsey. Thanks also to the HYPER JAPAN press team.