Sasara Sekine (Houkago Princess)
Interview by Dru Bastedo
September 18, 2017
The idea of a “princess” is a familiar one across the world, and idol group Houkago Princess is making a splash in the industry by wearing it like a badge of honor. NekoPop spoke with member Sasara Sekine about English, Disney, and how the “after-school” princesses are aiming to become musical royalty.
How long have you been performing with Houkago Princess? How did you get started?
Sasara: First I was scouted in Harajuku, and that’s how I came to know Houkago Princess and decided to join. I became a Houkago Princess cadet/HouPri Youth member in March of 2015, and then became an official member in August of 2016. So it’s been two years and five months since I joined.
What do you think makes Houkago Princess different from other idol groups?
Sasara: Houkago Princess is a group that transforms at 4 P.M. from uniformed school idols into princesses. By taking something familiar like schoolgirls and turning them into princesses, we embody the idea that anyone can achieve their dreams! The princesses we’ve become so far include Cinderella, Snow White, Marie Antoinette, The Little Mermaid, Princess Ann (from the movie Roman Holiday), Yang Guifei, and Princess Odette. On stage our songs reflect our princess theme and give us a different feel, along with our carefully-planned outfits.
Houkago Princess always has such unique concepts. Could you tell us more about the most recent, “Sayonara Duarena”?
Sasara: For our July release “Sayonara Duarena”, we transformed into Princess Odette from the ballet “Swan Lake”. To represent a girl wavering between two feelings, we divided up into “white swans” and “black swans” for the song. The music video depicts the dark side and hardships of performing on stage.
What is your favorite Houkago Princess song?
Sasara: Personally, my favorite song is “Himitsu no Tiara to Gelato”. It was my first song since becoming a regular member, where we transformed into Princess Ann from the movie Roman Holiday. Princess Ann leaves the palace, disguises herself as a normal citizen and goes around the city, and from there a heartbreaking love story unfolds. The song is full of our determination to keep on going as idols, in the same way that Ann decides to live as a princess and return to the palace. In live performances, we mimic the scene where Princess Ann decides to leave behind her civilian disguise and live as a princess through “quick change” outfits, and at the end of the song we crown each other with tiaras. There’s a video on YouTube from our one-man live at Zepp Diver City last year, so please give it a look.
Your overseas fans are growing quickly, too. What do you think about the chances of performing in other countries?
Sasara: Of course we’d like to start in Asia where Japanese idol culture is well-known, but someday I’d like to perform in Florida at Disney World! When I went there for New Year’s Eve six years ago, I was really moved seeing all the different artists on stage at Cinderella Castle. As a member of Houkago Princess, my main goal is to have a concert at a Disney park!
What are your feelings about the recent HouPri Youth auditions? Was the turnout bigger than you expected?
Sasara: Yes! So much more than I expected! There were more than 1,000 applications for the HouPri Youth auditions this time, and the new members are all unique and full of anticipation for the future of Houkago Princess. The path from candidate to apprentice, and then from apprentice to official member isn’t easy by any means, so I’m looking forward to the emergence of some wonderful, strong-willed princesses!
Many fans have remarked on your positive attitude. How do you stay so optimistic?
Sasara: I guess I am well-known for that! It’s not like I have a specific belief or anything, but if you think negatively, then nothing will happen. I think humans are creatures with the ability to make things they imagine into reality, so I do my best to be positive in all my thoughts and actions. I think that if you try something and it’s unsuccessful, there must be something you can learn from that failure. My opinion is that things aren’t going to change just by complaining, so I’ll do something about it on my own! Negativity is contagious, and it’s true that positivity is also contagious. I’ve been influenced by my friends when I was in school and studying abroad, so I learned to approach things positively, and now I think I’m just naturally proactive. It’s not easy, but by changing my way of thinking my life became many times more fun!
Your English is very good — where does your interest in the language come from?
Sasara: My interest in English comes from my dream, becoming an actress in Hollywood. When I was in junior high school, I set my heart on becoming an actress but didn’t have the courage to start acting, even though there was a lot of pressure to decide my career after graduating from high school. At that time, I reconsidered my dream and intended to be an actress not only in Japan, but also in Hollywood because I thought that Hollywood was the best place for all actors. But I couldn’t even read a book in English — actually, I couldn’t write, speak, or understand English at all — so I decided to study English in college. My English is still not as good as I want it to be, though, but I hope to go to Hollywood as an actress someday! But first, my goal is to visit the U.S. as an idol in Houkago Princess and do live concerts there!
You say you’ve visited every Disney Park — that’s quite an accomplishment. Tell us more about those experiences.
Sasara: Yes! I’ve been to every Disney park in the world! The first Disney park I went to abroad was Walt Disney World in Florida, and I was surprised by how big it was! After that when I studied abroad in Los Angeles from the end of 2014 to February 2015, I bought an Annual Pass and went to Disneyland in Anaheim and California Adventure all the time! I have a lot of memories there, and as far as places I’ve gone by myself since becoming an idol, that’s been the most fun out of all the Disney parks! I think Mickey’s Fun Wheel at California Adventure is the scariest Disney ride in the world! (laughs) I went to Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disney Resort on my college graduation trip. Paris had a cute, princess-y sort of feel throughout the whole park, and I went to Hong Kong Disney during Chinese New Year so it felt completely different from other Disney parks! Then I went to Shanghai Disneyland last year by myself when it opened! It’s the biggest one in the world and has the biggest castle, so I was exhausted but had so much fun! Even so, Japan’s Disney is the most memorable, and the place I love most in the world!
What are your aspirations as a member of Houkago Princess?
Sasara: I want to be able to spread Houkago Princess’s songs to more people all over the world. We’d like to try and do a world tour stopping in the places where the princesses we turn into were born — France for Marie Antoinette, China for Yang Guifei, Italy for Princess Ann, etc. I feel like there aren’t many idols with a noble, princess-like image, so it’s something unique. We’d like to grow into a group that’s revered in both the idol scene and the music business. Also, like I said in a previous answer, my dream is to have a concert at Disneyland. Starting in Tokyo, then of course moving on to California and Florida, I’d also want to have concerts in Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and at the Disney resort in Hawaii! As a group themed after princesses, which is a theme understood worldwide, we want to spread our music to people all over the world, and show them our concerts where they can feel energy, courage, and excitement through our performances! We just announced that we’ll release a new single on December 20th, so we’ll get to end 2017 on a high note, and I think we’ll have the chance to make Houkago Princess even more widely-known!
Houkago Princess Official Site: https://houpri.fanmo.jp
Houkago Princess Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/houkagoprincess
Houkago Princess Official Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/houkagoprincess
Sasara Sekine Twitter: https://twitter.com/sasaluv_0114
Sasara Sekine Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iam_sasara
Sasara Sekine @ Cheerz: https://cheerz.cz/p/419070