Japan's culture of "Idol bands" is one that on, first pass, seems very different from anything we have here in the U.S. With their manufactured producing, sweet-personas, and ultra-youth, J-POP idols seem like a foreign concept, until you take a closer look and see that similarities to our own stars such as Miley, Justin, and Selena go deep. Both groups are groomed to perform at a young age. Both groups are often trained in singing, dancing and acting, and both groups garner a near-rabid devotion from a wide range of fans of all ages who simply enjoy the upbeat positive musical message being created.
But what is it like to actually BE in an Idol group? And what is it like to take your idol group overseas and play for a foreign audience for the very first time? Style Wylde sat down with Japanese Idol Group, TOKYO GIRLS STYLE just moments before they took to the stage in the U.S. during the 2014 J-Pop Summit Festival to find out.
SW: Welcome to San Francisco! I think this is your first ever trip here is that true?
Yuri Nakae (Pictured above second from right) : Yes, it is!
SW: and how is it going so far?
Miyu Yamabe (pictured above second from left) : It's been very fun so far!
SW: And what has been your favorite thing about visiting San Francisco?
Hitomi Arai (pictured above center) : It's such a beautiful place! I love all the older buildings, and the hills it's such a beautiful city to see, that is the thing I like most.
SW: Let's get right to your music, how would you describe your sound to an American audience that maybe hasn't heard it before?
Mei Shyoji (pictured above far right) : Well of course we are all still teenagers, but our sound is more towards rock and guitars, even though we are young our sound is more mature and expresses more mature emotions.
SW: Tell me about the name "Tokyo Girls Style". It sounds like it's about fashion, so how would you describe your fashion as a group?
Miyu Yamabe: We wear uniforms on style, and they are usual black and white. It's more towards a "cooler" style less "sweet." But today, for J-POP we are wearing more of a colorful, "cute" look for the festival.
SW: So last night was the first time you have ever played in the U.S., how did it go?
Hitomi Arai: It was so great! We couldn't believe it was our first time because the audience was so warm and accepting. During our show we passed out sunflowers and asked people to dance, and we couldn't believe how much the audience was dancing with us!
Mei Shyoji: and we have one song in English, and when we sang it, it seemed like the audience really liked it. We were so happy.
SW: So you have another show today, are you excited after last night's success? What do you think it will be like?
Miyu Yamabe: We will be doing many of the same songs as last night, including the one with the sunflowers so we are hoping the audience will react with the same happiness and dance with us. But we are also adding a few songs we didn't play, songs with a cooler sound, and we hope it will show everyone more of our tastes, our emotions and more of our different styles.
SW: Okay, I know you guys have to head to the stage, one last question. Any plans to tour the U.S. again when J-POP is over?
Everyone: Yes! Yes! We hope soon
Hitomi Arai: We really want to come back for a tour. We want to learn more English first so we can have a better conversation with our audience, but we do really want to come back and do a tour.