Smile, dance and scream!

It would be tough to cast an eye over the world of idol pop without acknowledging the presence of one of its more eye-catching denizens. Ladybeard is difficult to miss with his imposing frame and stylish beard, contrasted by his taste in colourful outfits. He’s also a performer of seemingly endless energy as anyone who has seen him grace a stage can testify.

Originally hailing from Australia, Ladybeard has enjoyed many different roles, including pro- wrestler, actor, stuntman and heavy metal screamer. Trained in performance arts from a young age, Ladybeard lived in Hong Kong from 2006 to 2012, establishing his acting talents. His voice roles includes the English voices of many characters from beloved Japanese and Chinese anime series, including roles in Ge-ge-ge no Kitaro, Chibi Maruko, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf plus many more.

Ladybeard moved his base of operations to Tokyo late in 2013, where he would gain a reputation as the “One who gives others energy” plus “strange but also cute”. From 2015 to 2016 Ladybeard was the front man of the globally popular idol group LADYBABY, who achieved success care of 2015 hit ‘Nippon Manju’ whose combo of catchy J-pop and metal screamer vocals became an example of the emerging ‘kawaiicore’ genre. Post-LADYBABY, he formed the world’s physically strongest idol group, DEADLIFT LOLITA, teaming up with bodybuilding idol/pro-wrestler Reika Saiki.

BABYBEARD represents Ladybeard’s newest pop-metal idol outfit, armed with new tunes penned by musical geniuses Takashi Asano and Natsumi Tadano (the song writers behind ‘Nippon Manju’). The new group also features the pop idol talents of Suzu (skills: running fast) and Kotomi (likes: spicy ramen and sleeping).

J-Pop Go caught up with the BABYBEARD members to get the low-down on their plans for global domination…

Obviously, the music world has taken a serious blow due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. How has the Covid crisis affected you as a performer?

Ladybeard: It allowed A LOOOOOOT of downtime! Actually, it was a much needed rest coz I’ve been working very hard for many years without substantial breaks. So, the pandemic gave me an opportunity to rest up and heal some injuries. It was also excellent for body building, since there was literally nothing else to do all day except eat, sleep, and lift weights. To that end I’m much stronger now than I was in 2019.

I do not for a second want to take away from the seriousness of the pandemic. It’s an awful situation and my heart goes out to those who’ve died, or lost loved ones. With that said, from a personal perspective, the rest was well needed. Ironically, it took a global health crisis to bring me back to good health after years of wrestling, dancing, and sitting on aeroplanes.

How did BABYBEARD come about?

LB: Well ever since I was unceremoniously relieved of my duties in my first group in Japan, the one that produced ‘Nippon Manju’, I’ve been asked every day why I left, and asked to return to that group. So it seems very clear to me that this is what the world wants from me: me screaming and dancing, flanked by 2 adorable Japanese girls, singing and dancing. If the world wants it, then let’s do it.

You’ve teamed up once again with Takashi Asano and Natsumi Tadano. How does that feel?

LB: Oh, great! I’ve been wanting to work with them again since the early days. I was unable to up until now, but finally I’m in a position when I can work with them again, and it’s awesome! They’re geniuses!!

How would you sum up the music of BABYBEARD?

LB: Practically Perfect in Every Way.

Kotomi and Suzu were drawn from a series of auditions, but what were the crucial elements you think they both bring to BABYBEARD?

LB: Well they’re both adorable rays of sunshine, which is what we were looking for. Both of them were selected from a pool of candidates from all over Japan in an audition. Both girls set themselves apart with their beaming smiles, and amazing cuteness. Suzu walked into the audition and lit up the room, and Kotomi was one of the best dancers who came through the auditions.

Are live shows planned and if so, how are you planning to make them stand out?

LB: As soon as we can get on a stage, we will! We’re all chomping at the bit!

What are your thoughts on J-pop and Idol music generally?

LB: It’s a weird, weird world!! Lots on offer, lots of colour, something for everyone. With a fanbase that cannot be questioned on its dedication.

Are there other idol acts you currently admire?

LB: Well I really love my friends in Desu Rabbits and it’s sad to see them bring their activities to an end. Recently I think Atarashi Gako No Leaders have been doing the most interesting work. They’re pioneering idol activities on Tik Tok. Which of course is now a major, important platform.

How would you describe the average fan of Kawaiicore?

LB: An example of a Superior Human!

Over to you, Kotomi and Suzu! Tell me a little about your backgrounds in music?

Kotomi: I was inspired by Japanese idol group Kamiyado. They made me an idol otaku and also they made me think I want to be an idol in the first place.

Suzu: I was inspired by the song ‘FOREVER YOUNG’ by BLACK PINK. I considered this song as “the songs whose theme is about singing praises of the eternal spring of life”, and I was encouraged by this song very much when I was a student.

Who designs your colourful outfits?

K: It’s designed by Motonari Ono. Each of our costumes represents our image colour, so I like them very much!” They’re very cute!

S: These costumes are designed after cupcakes. My costume has all our image colours (mainly green and blue, but a little bit of pink) so it’s very cute!

Who are your favourite J-pop acts?

K: I like Kamiyado! I love them very much!

S: I like Nogizaka 46 and Yuzu.

Kotomi, I understand that you’re pretty good at basketball?

K: I played basketball for 5 years in elementary school, but I wasn’t good at it to be honest… The story is , when I was asked what I’m good at I couldn’t think of any good answers… I’ll try to find one in the future!

Suzu, you’ve described yourself as a movie fan. What is your favourite film?

S: My favourite movie is About Time. In the movie there is a line “I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it as if was the full, final day of my extraordinary ordinary life.” It especially touched my heart.

J-Pop Go expresses its warmest thanks to Ladybeard, Kotomi, Suzu and the BABYBEARD team. Learn more about BABYBEARD via the links below: