Interview by Greg Hignight (Tune in Tokyo)
September 13, 2013
NekoPOP joined breakout J-Pop group FAKY in Los Angeles recently as they took time out of their busy rehearsal schedule to discuss their desire to bring something “new and real” to the Japanese music scene and work to expand their reach outside of Japan.
Can you please introduce yourselves?
Anna: I’m the leader. I’m 21 and I was born in New Zealand. I grew up in Hong Kong, the Philippines, and went to Japan when I was ten, and I’ve been living there since.
Diane: Hi. I’m 17, and I was born in Okinawa, and my dad is in the military, so that’s why I speak English, and I’ve been going to American school. I won the Avex Max audition this year, I got the Grand Prix, and that is why I’m in this group. I moved to Tokyo about two months ago.
Tina: Hi, I’m 16, I’m the youngest in the group, I was born in Atlanta, Georgia in the States. My father is American and my mom is Japanese. When I was around four, we moved to Japan, and we’ve been living there ever since. But I’ve been attending an American school my whole life, which is why I speak English.
Mikako: I’m 19 years old. I’m from Fukuoka, Japan. I’m always passionate about both dance and fashion, and would love to work with any fashion-related things in particular. That’s why I’m in this group. So please check us out!
Lil’ Fang: I’m 19, almost 20. I love singing, and had been singing in Shibuya’s clubs for many years. I’m really hoping to achieve worldwide success with FAKY. Please support us!
Where does your group name FAKY come from?
Anna: Our group name FAKY comes from the word “fake” – we wanted to be ironic by calling ourselves FAKY because we’re actually really true to ourselves — we’re really strong and independent, and the the complete opposite of fake.
There’s also the concept of “Real Tokyo Girls” behind your image. What defines a “Real Tokyo Girl”?
Lil’ Fang: The real Tokyo girls are the girls who don’t hide anything and don’t mind too much. They don’t give a damn about how people look at them is one important characteristic of Tokyo girls. I’m really looking forward to expressing such characteristics through our performance to more audiences in the near future.
It’s apparent is that FAKY reflects musical styles both inside and outside of Japan. Can you tell us about the influences behind your “fusion” style of music?
Tina: We’ve only released one song so far, but the songs that we’re about to release are very diverse, and we have lyrics both in English and Japanese, and the sound itself is pretty Europop for our first song. I think our inspirations or influences just come from… well, we’re diverse from the start, so just naturally what we make, what we create is going to be diverse. We like to experiment with different styles, and we don’t really originate from either Japan or the States, so we’re kind of our own unique thing. That’s why we have a pretty undefined origin for our music.
What’s it like working in a group that is bilingual, and transcends borders – both culturally and musically?
Mikako: To be honest, I’m learning English right now and there are lots of things that I still don’t understand. Getting to know the world that I didn’t know about before, and experiencing so many miraculous things, honestly, it’s very interesting and enjoyable being a part of this diverse group.
Your performance style involves both strong vocals and dance as well. What dance styles inform your choreography? How much time does it take to learn a new dance number?
Diane: Our dance style — it’s not just one dance style, I feel like its a mixture of like hip hop, jazz–
Anna: It depends on the song–
Diane: It really depends on the song, because the lady that usually choreographs our dance, she does all kinds of dances, so during lessons we also do ballet and all kinds of dancing styles to, you know, make us better– but for a song it usually takes us four hours, maybe, to learn the choreography.
Anna: Learning doesn’t take much time, but I guess things like polishing the moves, that really takes a long time. Even after we’ve released the song and done a lot of live performances, we’re still working on it right now. And style-wise, I’d say we don’t have a specific style, so we came to to LA to try to find what style fits us the most.
Tina: Just to clarify what she said, it only takes us a little while to learn the choreography. We could learn that in one lesson. It’s turning that choreography into a performance — that’s the process that takes a lot of time. Weeks. Longer than weeks. It’s an evolving process.
You’ve been performing a lot recently in Tokyo. What’s the best part about performing for a live audience?
Anna: I think the connection with the audience is what makes it really special — we don’t just show them a performance and that’s it. We actually, really connect with them.
Tina: Instead of us showing them a performance like a “one way path”, I think we kind of enjoy it together. It’s kind of like a party, really. That’s what we try to do at least.
Diane: And at the end of our performance, we sometimes go down to the audience, and we talk to them, and take pictures, sign stuff, and dance with them, and we try to get to know our fans.
Each of you has a very distinct style and personality in the video for “Better Without You”. In what way does your individual style reflect your character?
Anna: I think visually, I’m exotic, the “cool” kind — the mature one, grown up. But I’m not sure if that’s really me. In the music video, my performance might look that way, but in the group I don’t think its like I’m the “mature one” –- that’s just my personal opinion. I do silly stuff.
Diane: In the music video I’m not the “crazy” one, but the one with the red hair. In the video, I’m the sexy one — not “mature” sexy but “cute” sexy — and personally I’m actually a little bit shy. But I do act that way in real life too, so that’s me.
Tina: Through our clothing, and our makeup and our dancing, I think I showed my youthful and playful side in the music video. It was a pretty clubby song, so did a lot of jumping and smiling. But I was also kind of tomboyish just a little bit, I mean in comparison to the other girls in the group.
Mikako: The music video and the song itself are very party-ish, and my character inside this music video is supposed to be calm and mature. But no matter how “cool” I looked in the video, I don’t want people miss out the real me, the girl who always has big smiles and energy.
Lil’ Fang: In the music video, I did a “regent” hair style to emphasize the boyish part of my character. And I had another outfit that had a cute hairband, a denim vest and shorts showing my arms and legs. This is to show the feminine/girlish part of my character. I want to be dressed more girly, but I’m also willing to play the cool, androgynous character inside the group.
How did each of you become interested in performing? And who were your influences that got you into performing?
Anna: I grew up listening to Britney Spears, and she was the reason I wanted to become a performer — a singer who can dance. And when I was ten, when I came back to Japan, I was in a musical called “Annie”, and it all started from there. I started doing small musicals, and then got into Avex, and then kept singing, and here I am now.
Diane: I’ve always done choir when I was little, and I really, really liked singing in a group. I liked classical music too, and then I fell in love with Lady Gaga when I was in elementary school. So after that, I was a crazy fan, and I just copied everything, and I had blond hair with the bangs, and she just influenced me a lot. I started practicing singing, and then went to auditions.
Tina: My parents are both big music fans, and so I grew up listening to really amazing singers like Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin, Björk, just all kinds of vocalists. So I’ve been just singing for fun from a really young age, doing small jobs for small agencies, and doing school musicals, and then I joined Avex around two years ago, and now I’m in this group.
Mikako: When I was in kindergarten, I sang and danced at every Parents’ Day, and found out that standing on the stage is a super pleasant thing. Ever since, I started wanting to be a performer. Later I had some influences from some artists I saw on TV, and started learning singing and dancing… so that’s pretty much how I got to where I am now.
Lil’ Fang: I love hip-pop music and I discovered my interest in singing through listening to these songs. After watching some shows like American Idol, it really made me want to stand on the stage and perform in front of crowds. That’s why I started singing at the club in Shibuya, and later joined this group.
For those of you still in school, how do you combine your school life and musical career?
Anna: I’m a university student. You don’t need to commit as much as you need to when you’re in elementary school or middle school or high school, because you can choose your classes, so it’s not that hard for me, I just like try to put them all in the morning, but if I can’t, then I’ll have to do it in the evening — its not that hard for me. I have a lot of assignments, which does take a little bit of time. But it’s not like you can’t make time.
Diane: I’m a student too. I’m a senior in high school, but I do online school this year. So just like Anna – I mean I don’t have to go anywhere, I do classes in my room. So, after I come home from dance, I’m really tired, and I have to do it then. But its not really hard for me either.
Tina: I go to a high school. I’m a junior in high school, so I don’t take online classes. I have to actually have to go to school for six hours and then come back. And there is a fair amount of homework, SATs. It does get pretty hard at times, but I’ll do my homework on the bus rides to school, or maybe after practice, during lunch breaks and things like that. I have to miss a lot of days of school for work-related reasons, but my teachers and parents are very understanding about it.
What are your plans for the future? What’s next for FAKY?
Anna: Our mini-album is coming out early next year, so that’s the next big thing for us.
Diane: Our next music video comes out in November, so I’m excited!
Anna: It’s called “Girl Digger”.
Diane: It will be on YouTube.
Tina: Our very, very long term goal is a Japan tour, and then one day, a world tour.
Please give a final message to the readers of NekoPOP.
Anna: Thank you for reading NekoPOP! We’re FAKY. We’re starting in Japan, but hopefully we’ll be able to come out here again and have live performances here as well, so keep an eye out for our new stuff.
Lil’ Fang: Thanks for reading NekoPop. We are FAKY! Please also don’t forget to follow us on Twitter. We will constantly update with more new videos, photos, concert information and clips, so please check us out! Thank you for your support!