Tokyo Girls’ Style
Interview by DJ Greg Hignight (Tune in Tokyo)
July 18, 2014
Tokyo Girls’ Style occupies an intriguing new frontier in J-Pop. The last few years have seen more Japanese acts performing songs crafted for a widening international audience. Tōkyō Joshiryū, as they are known in Japan, debuted as a five-member group in 2010 with a sound that fuses high-energy idol pop with Sophisti-Pop, disco bass lines and other western elements. In anticipation of their U.S. debut this weekend at J-Pop Summit Festival in San Francisco, the members spoke with NekoPOP about topics including their history-making Budokan performance, recording in Chinese, and what it’s like representing Tokyo on the global stage.
Please introduce yourselves and tell us how you each joined Tokyo Girls’ Style.
Mei Shoji: We are a five-member girls’ dance and vocal group formed on January 1st, 2010. With the concept of “delivering the joyfulness of music through singing and dancing,” the major activity of our group is live performance that consists of singing and dancing. The stories of how each of us joined this group are different, but we were all first contacted by the staff, went through the audition, and finally, the five of us here were selected.
Tell us about the meaning of “Tokyo Girls’ Style”. What does your name symbolize?
Miyu Yamabe: Our goal is not limiting our activities only to Japan or Asia, but we want to reach the entire world. Since we’re an all-girls group from the capital of Japan, Tokyo, we refer ourselves as “Tokyo Girls.” Also, in the meantime, we’re pursuing our own unique style, and that’s how we named our group as “Tokyo Girl’s Style.”
In December 2012, you were the youngest female group at the time to perform at the Budokan. How did you feel about this achievement?
Miyu Yamabe: Performing at Budokan had always been a dream of us ever since we debuted, and it’s still an unbelievably pleasant stage experience for us. Besides that, we feel so honored that we were able to achieve this record. In order to be true to this achievement, we will push ourselves, setting higher goals constantly, and keep making an even greater effort.
Producer Hiroshi Matsui (a.k.a. Royal Mirrorball) just released a nonstop dance album of your most popular singles. What thoughts did you have when you heard the remixes for “Royal Mirrorball Discotheque”?
Yuri Nakae: We always have the honor to have Matsui-San (Royal Mirrorball) to arrange our songs, but when we first heard the remixed non-stop version, we got super excited and thought, “this is so us!”, “We can show something new to our fans!”
Another recent collaboration was your “Maltine Girls Wave” project with Maltine Records. What was it like starring in your own solo PVs (videos)?
Hitomi Arai: I’m used to shooting music videos with all five of us together, and this time was the first time shooting it alone, so I felt a little bit lonely (laughs). But thanks to shooting the PVs separately, we were able to express our own strengths and personalities and make the awesome videos. Please enjoy these new PVs that show a different ‘Tokyo Girls’ Style!’ Also, I had the opportunity to be challenged with a new fashion style in the video — so to me, it’s one of my favorites!
What was the most challenging thing about recording “Onnaji Kimochi” and “Partition Love” in Chinese?
Yuri Nakae: The pronunciation of Chinese is even harder than English! We had a lot of difficulties trying to capture the correct sound of each word at the beginning. Many of the sounds in Chinese we had never heard before, so we were like, “Any ideas on how to even make this sound?!” and it took us a very long time to finish the recording… But since we tried very hard to record it, and had Chinese staff helping us on the pronunciation, we hope that we can perform it overseas sometime in the future!
Your new PV for “Jujika” (the theme for your film Kotodama-Spiritual Curse-) is receiving a lot of attention for its dark and dramatic visuals. Can you tell us what your song “Jujika” is about?
Ayano Konishi: Since this song is the theme song of the movie, if you watch the movie, you’ll find some parts of the song that link to the story of the movie. More than that, you’ll get to enjoy the horror-themed Tokyo Girls’ Style! We also added the pose “the window of the fox” that represents a key element in the movie. And our outfits for this PV are very sexy and mature!
Tokyo Girls’ Style has shown the world many different fashion styles. What were some favorite looks?
Ayano Konishi: Personally, I like more matured-looking fashion styles, but I don’t have any particular preferences. Instead of saying that each of us likes a particular style, I would say we like to be challenged with all different kinds of fashion possible!
Your PVs like “Limited Addiction” and “Himawari to Hoshikazu” featured lively and tightly-choreographed dance moves. How important is dancing for your performance style?
Yuri Nakae: Our dance experiences vary, as each of us has a different background. To me, I started dancing when I was a lower grade elementary school student, and now, dancing has already become a natural thing that is very important and indispensable in my life.
What new things can we expect from your upcoming album Killing me Softly?
Mei Shoji: From the time when we debuted until now, the lyrics of our songs tended to be more mature, but this time, the songs in this album fit right into our actual ages. With the same awesome sound as always, we would love to deliver you this new album with all our hearts. Also, the main song of this album “Killing me Softly,” is a song that has been developed for four years, and was written when we first formed our group. We have many special memories for this song, and wish that everyone will love it!
Image credit: avex/Tokyo Girls’ Style