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Japanese idol culture has nothing to do with Keith Urban or jazzy interpretations of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.”
The idol performers are interchangeable figurines who, unlike American pop culture icons, are not individualized. Idols typically sing saccharine, Kawaii-styled J-pop, but there are rare occasions in which these teenage performers jump genres, moving away from the existing, seizure-inducing model. Yuimetal, Su-metal, and Moametal are the trio behind the Japanese sensation Babymetal—a group that both embraces and defies the Idol genre.
Before her turn to the dark side, Su-metal was a member of two bands, Sakura Gakuin and Karen’s Girls, both of which produced up-tempo dance pop. Now, with the help of the Fox God, their fictitious, benevolent spiritual overseer, Su-metal and the rest of the gang have transitioned into hardcore music overlaid with j-pop vocals. The result is undeniably fantastic and bizarre. Babymetal is a craze, drawing tens of thousands of diehard fans into arenas around the world. Read the transcript below, or watch NYLON’s interview in which we sweat under the sheer force of this epic teenage trio.
Hi this is Mickey from Nylon and this is…
Su-metal: We are…
What is the craziest thing you’ve seen at a concert?
Moametal: Once when we performed at a festival there were between 50, 000 and 60, 000 people in the audience we were so shocked. It was crazy.
Nylon: Who is your favorite singer?
Yuimetal: Ariana Grande.
Oh! Mine too. Can you sing any part of any Ariana Grande songs for us?
Who is the Fox God and what is his purpose?
Su-metal: we don’t really know a lot about the Fox God, but we believe in him. We never imagined ourselves in this unbelievable situation that we’re in today such as having concerts all over the world and we believe this is all given to us by the Fox God.
How do you communicate with the Fox God?
Su-metal: We receive revelations through Kobametal the only person who can receive revelations directly from the Fox God.
And who is Kobametal?
Yuimetal: The producer.
What are the Babymetal fans called?
Su-metal: We are called ‘the one.’
Oh, so all of them together are ‘the one.’ Alright. Powerful. Who are your typical fans and what do they look like?
Su-metal: Depending on the country there are different types of fans from older generations to kids, males, females, pop fans, and metal fans, there are varieties of fans that like different genres.
What happens when your pop fans and your metal fans come together and mix it up in the mosh pit?
Su-metal: Well, I think the pop fans were surprised by the metal fans in the beginning but now they all enjoy moshing and getting together.
So how do you guys talk to your fans? Is there a scream or is there a gesture or is there a hand movement?
Su-metal: We always do this fox sign that appears in our choreography very often. Our fans enjoy doing this sign together at our shows.
What is one thing that you love about America?
Yuimetal: I like the freedom America has in Japan people tend to think too much about others’ opinions and how to be like everybody else but to Americans it seems more important to be who you are and find your own way.
So as a very rad and intimidating metal singer yourself is there anything you’re afraid of?
Oh ghosts? Me too. I’m terrified of ghosts. And you?
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Translation courtesy of Suzanne Nguyen. Thank you! Interview posted by Associazione Ochacaffè but blocked on YT
Here is my very very very roughly, badly, horribly English translated (based on the Japanese that I heard) of this interview! I really love this interview because its not always about the fox god and what not, it focuses on a lot of other things. So I got a little desperate and wanted people to get the messages. Hope I got at least the main ideas across. Again, I apologise for the VERY bad translation! Please feel free to correct me in the comment below! Any criticism is very much appreciated! Thank you! m(_ _)m
Interviewer: Welcome to Italy!
BABYMETAL: Nice to meet you!/ Please treat us kindly!
Interviewer: Within the Music World you have met many famous Artists, you have even been asked by Lady Gaga to open as her support act. This time who would you like to meet? Who would you like to collaborate with?
Moa: We would like to meet Metallica again to try a collaboration, as well as Limp Bizkit that would be good too.
Interviewer: Up until now what is the happiest moment and the most distressful moment in your work/activity (career)?
Su: The happiest moment is travelling around in our world tour, at first I felt there are language walls (barriers) however as the shows continue up until the last song “Road of Resistance”. In this song, there is a part of “wowowooo” where everyone sings together, at that moment it feels like there are no language barriers and I feel very happy every time.
Up until now, the most distressful moment is when we have to play outdoor festivals in like 40°C, it was very hard.
Interviewer: Have you ever written your own BABYMETAL songs?
Yui: Yes, YuiMetal and MoaMetal has written a song called “Yon No Uta” (Song 4). It was during our bus trip and we had some time so we played around and made that song.
Interviewer: Before the show, is there anything you have to do to relax your nerves or wish yourselves good luck?
Yui: Before we get on stage, us, the staff and the band (all 3) will huddle in a circle and “engine” ourselves with our voices.
(Note: Think of it like Sakura Gakuin’s ‘Sa! Oh! Ku! Oh! Ra! Oh! Gabaruzo! Oh!’)
Interviewer: Like teamwork?
Interviewer: Now that you are beyond Japan, nationwide, famous Artists. Have you realised this yourselves and how do you feel?
Moa: No… We think that we still have a long way to go. We are still not at all famous, whether it is in Japan or overseas. We are trying our best and we still want more and more people to know about BABYMETAL!
(Note: God Moa, you’re so humble… Are you sure you’re only 15 (soon 16) years old? ><)
Interviewer: Oh… That’s wonderful!
Interviewer: How do you feel about Fans from all over the world remembering Japanese lyrics to sing with you during your concerts?
Su: Well that’s true. One year ago, we didn’t believe that it was possible. First, they waited for us to visit their countries and that alone already made us really happy, yet, now they are studying Japanese to sing our songs with us. But really, waiting for us was already more than enough. Still, singing together makes us very happy.
Interviewer: Among your overseas Fans, do they like Idol Music or Heavy Metal Music?
Su: Well there is a wide variety of genres. Of course there are Fans who like Idol Music, Jpop, and of course there are Fans who like Metal Music. And they range from little children to adults and even teenagers. Really, there are various types of Fans and during shows it’s fun to watch how they rouse up (get excited).
Interviewer: Do you play any instrument?
Moa: I play the guitar.
Su: No, I haven’t tried any yet.
Yui: Ummm… I used to play the piano once but not anymore.
Interviewer: Your outfit has always been red and black. If you could change your outfit, what would it be?
Yui: We once did a show with a white dress-like outfit, I would like to wear that again, however a longer white dress.
(Note: Yui, wouldn’t that be difficult to dance in though…? ><)
Interviewer: Aside from music, do you have any hobbies?
Moa: Yes, I love anime. Often, when there is free time at home, I watch anime. Also, I like sleeping, so I often sleep.
Su: I like to walk. In Japan, normally even if there are places I could just take a train to, I usually walk there.
Yui: I like to watch the stars.
Interviewer: Isn’t that romantic?
Yui: At first I don’t watch it, but as I watch it, it became a hobby. I like that feeling.
Interviewer: What is your favourite food?
(Note: Somehow I know this question will pop up (laughs))
Yui: I love tomatoes the most.
Interviewer: That is perfect for Italy!
Su: I love cheese.
Interview: Again, that is also perfect for Italy!
Moa: I love my mother’s cooking!
Interviewer: Many Italians travel to Japan as tourists. Do you have any suggestions for them when they come?
Su: In Japan, I am from Hiroshima. But generally a lot of people visit Tokyo or Kyoto. Yesterday, we walked around Bologna city and there were a lot of shops like in Hiroshima, so I thought that they would find there fitting.
Interviewer: Please do your best in today’s concert!/ Good luck with today’s concert!
BABYMETAL: Thank you very much!
One from Consequence of Sound in which the interviewer explains the circumstances of the interview and politely bemoans the scripted nature of the interview while saying it was a great interview. I personally agree with his sentiments.
The second interview is an great interview from Revolver and features some great English from Su! She is a total sweetheart in this interview!