A 5-piece idol outfit signed to the Avex Trax label, TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE originally launched in 2010 and drew comparisons to former female Avex groups such as dream and SweetS. Their most recent release ‘Never ever’ also features in anime series Fairy Tail.
This summer’s Hyper Japan event saw TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE making their debut, although the the 5-piece group were actually down to 4 with Ayano Konishi taking time out to focus on treatment for back pain. Fellow TGS members Hitomi Arai, Yuri Nakae, Miyu Yamabe and Mei Shyoji were instead on hand and they kindly set aside time for us to fire a few questions at them…
Are you surprised at the level of interest in J-pop that there is in the UK?
Miyu: I am surprised that a lot of the British people like Japanese pop music. So nice to be face-to-face with the fans so you can feel the warmth from the fans.
Hitomi: I would introduce more Japanese music to the British audience. Also, in reverse, Japan embraces a lot of British music!
You covered SweetS’ ‘Love like candy floss’ in 2011. Were you big fans of Avex outfits such as SweetS and Dream when you were younger?
Yuri: When we were young we didn’t really know them. But of course as our seniors, we got the chance to cover their songs, we got to watching them on YouTube.
You performed for the first time in America last year at the J-Pop Summit Festival in San Francisco. How was it?
Mei: It was the first time that we had travelled and performed outside of Asia. We were curious about how the reaction would be from western audiences. For example, in Asia they sing along together with us, but in San Francisco they just watch and. It was kind of nice to be seen as an artist.
In 2012 you performed at the Nippon Budokan as the youngest female group to perform there. What was that experience like?
Miyu: It was an honour to perform there – and at such a young age – so that was our dream to perform.
Yuri: Also at the beginning, we didn’t want to publicise our ages, but being the youngest to perform at Budokan, it felt like something meaningful to mention. So we told our ages. Though thanks to that it became a lot easier to talk about things.
You’ve also starred in two films (Count Five To Dream Of You and Kotodama – Spiritual Curse). How scary was it filming Kotodama?
Yuri: It’s the first time we’ve been on film. It wasn’t scary, but it was hard to act scary! (laughs)
Was it still fun to do?
Yuri: It was really fun. It was amazing.
Would you like to do more acting in the future?
Yuri: From our experience we found it quite fun, to do acting, so we’d like to take on more opportunities.
Would it be a challenge to strike a balance between acting and music?
Yuri: We’re happy to be given such experiences, we’re happy to do both!
You also made an announcement suggesting that you’re keen to move away from idol music in the future. Could you talk a little but about that?
Mei: We’d like to produce music by ourselves. For a start, we’ll start writing and making music and also start designing our own things.
Will that change the style and sound of TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE in a significant way?
Miyu: We want to keep the style of TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE so that people will still understand that it’s still our style. We still want to focus on that same vision. But we are also teenagers, so would like to make young, energetic music as well.
J-Pop Go extends its thanks to TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE, Avex Trax and to the staff at Hyper Japan. Special thanks to Karen Kemp.