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?
Moametal: My mom when she’s mad…
Here a translation of BABYMETAL interview from japanese site Nikkei Business online
Babymetal is a Japanese music group that gets best attention worldwide not by its idol-ness but by its performance. By researching its popularity coming from, we might see the new possibility of advertising Japan Culture, Cool Japan to be said.
Its success began with MV of Gimme Chocolate in ’14, its viewcount is over 32 million now. Its album was on Billboard Chart. It hit No.1 on iTunes Metal and Rock chart in western countries and southeast asian countries. Babymetal did its world tour last year in UK, France, Germany, U.S. And Canada. In the UK they performed in front of 65,000 audience at Sonisphere Festival, their quality of singing, dancing, songs, plays were praised.
Then they made their appearances on other music festivals over the world, now in their world tour again at 15 sites in 10 countries. Big names like Metallica, Megadeth and Dragonforce are on the same festivals. And they were awarded in two of popular Metal magazines. They’ll perform a solo live at famous Wembley Arena with 12,000 audience next year.
This is a series of accomplishments as Japanese artist, and exceptional as an idol. They are the youngest solo performers at Budokan, also did at big arenas like SSA and Makuhari Messe. On the other hand, they rarely appear on TV, don’t do any handshake event like other idols. Release periods of songs are slower, they’re far from “National Idol”, even their idol-ness is getting disappearing in Japan.
Then, what in them gets attention from people around the world? I (the author) am a huge fan of them, my wife sent doubtful eyes on me being excited about watching underage girls singing and dancing on YouTube. Now I believe two of us are fans…I assume these eyes are familiar to many middle aged men. Ages of Babymetal audience are varied. Men and women. Their types of music too, from Metal to idols. Fans in their 40s and 50s are not so rare.
I stood alone at a platform of Keiyo line in Tokyo station, in the band tee with red and black, to their concert at Makuhari. I felt weakness remembering my wife’s glare, but noticed many men, like me, in the same tee. Solo attendees were there. So I was much encouraged to Makuhari.Metal in Japan is said to reach its peak in 80’s, then lost its moment. So they would be that old boys who loved Metal and its heroes in these days. After long years, they found Babymetal, their love of Metal firing up again, and took their feet to the venue again. There’s a reason why people distant from idol culture accept Babymetal. They don’t use Metal as a flavor of idol performance, but they try to pursue Metal as their own power, in a high level.
The concept of Babymetal revealed through Kamishibai, is Metal Resistance (a movement of three girls taking back the moment of Metal). Each member of the back band is top notch players in Japan, their solo performances are in a program. The girls barely talk in their lives, songs performed nonstop. A lot of homage to metal songs grab metal fans’ hearts. From their lives we feel that they aims to be more Metal than idol.
Here’s the point why Babymetal is getting its success over the world. Heavy Metal has dedicated fan base in western countries and Babymetal ran straight into it, not as an idol with Metal fashion but as Metal with girls singing and dancing.
Regarding Metal is western culture, Babymetal can be said to localize idol and Kawaii boldly to western Metal culture. Not to mention, it’s not about deodorizing a smell of idol, but about making a fusion. Metal instinct of pursuing performance skills and idol ones of appealing to majority are two opposites, so making fusion of the two in a higher standard results in a unique performance never been for a Metal fans, gives an impression vividly. There’re discussions going about Babymetal is Metal or idol, or a real thing or not. The fact itself is some kind of proof that Babymetal makes the fusion to some extent, and it’s innovation.
An uncompromising fusion of opposites in a high standard – to generate something new. Babymetal might be the case of it. They even make this attempt to their ongoing story as Metal Resistance.
This can be adopted to other Japanese contents making their way to overseas? It would be just about combining something different into one. But pursuing it to the limit, new contents for new markets would be made. A problem is that such things could survive long or not. Babymetal just released its debut album. As a fan I hope their release of the second and keeps us surprised.
Here a japanese report from Oricom website translate by Redeared_Slider on Reddit
Besides the success of solo live at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City, which is part of their world tour and a triumphal return, BABYMETAL also received the BREAKTHROUGH AWARD, an award presented to artist who take a big leap in that year, from METAL HAMMER, a long-established metal music magazine in England.
BABYMETAL keep making rapid strides in their home land and overseas. Their charm has already been mentioned many times in other media, but for their success in breaking the boundary of girl group and obtaining support from core metal friends around the world, no doubt that a big credit goes to the KAMI BAND which is formed by brilliant musicians. I guess this band who are backing the girls on stage will once again be under the spot light.
-KAMI BAND’s outlook is basically monotone white make-up and white clothing
The stage of BABYMETAL compose of SU-METAL who use her powerful vocal to sing those difficult songs, YUIMETAL and MOAMETAL who deliver high quality dance, and KAMI BAND which are all brilliant musicians. They together spread out high degree of entertainment. Being summoned to be the incarnation of Fox God, members of KAMI BAND are all top and true heavy metal musicians. in order to present the BABYMETAL’s music fusion elements of thrash metal, black metal, metal core and grindcore, superior technique is definitely required.
In addition, they also need to present the view of world in this project visually on stage (KAMI BAND’s outlook is basically monotone white make-up and white clothing). Band members who could satisfy all these requirements are of course a big driving force behind BABYMETAL’s world breaking. In overseas live, the girls are of course getting big cheers, in fact, members of KAMI BAND are also getting big cheers too.
-KAMI BAND is formed by top musicians in Japan
First of all, the bassist BOH, who seems like leader of the band. He has been involved in NANA starring MIKA NAKASHIMA and a band called BINECKS which is leaded by guitarist DAITA (ex. SIAM SHADE). There are only very few 6 string bass players in Japan, his unmatched play are not only backing the sound of BABYMETAL, but his flashy solo with slap and right hand play tapping are also attracting lots of attentions.
Then, here comes the guitarists, Takayoshi Ohumra, Leda and Mikio Fujioka. Ohumra is also backing Marty Friedman and LIV MOON and is well known for his high speed and beautiful play style (The first time I saw him, he was in a Jazz-Funk band called DCPRG which is leaded by Kikuchi Naruyoshi and I was overwhelmed by his super high speed play). Leda has been in DELUHI, TM Revolution, and also joined the back on stage live show of DAIGO☆STARDUST. BABYMETAL absorbed the decent look and elements of different metal branches starting from the 90s and their play made the audience go nuts.
The drummer is Aoyama Hideki. Hideki’s father, Aoyama Jun (1957-2013) was a famous drummer. Hideki started his career in JAM Project where high performance quality is required, then he joined KAMI BAND in 2012. Crazy speed beat and killing acoustic pressure are obviously needed in BABYMETAL ’s play.
-Players showing their characters and senses
BABYMETAL also received high motivation from KAMI BAND members. leader BOH wrote in his blog “BABYMETAL is growing fast and being able to work in this project, to me, hardly anything can replace this valuable experience.”, “Non-stop growing, always serious and challenge things with sincere attitude, from the bottom of my heart I deeply respect Ms. SU-METAL, Ms. YUIMETAL and Ms. MOAMETAL” [EDIT: Ms. ?? I find it a bit weird when translating this, putting さん after the girls’ name shows BOH is taking them seriously] I think with respect to the girls and showing their true colors freely in their play are major factors for the success of this project. In addition, the presence of BABYMETAL and KAMI BAND are no doubt a big reason why core metal fans are showing their support and the heavy metal genre could once again be heated up after the 90s.
BABYMETAL will soon be performing in big festival including SUMMER SONIC 2015 and Ozzfest Japan 2015 and they will carry out their first time ever Japan Tour, BABYMETAL WORLD TOUR 2015 IN JAPAN, from Sep. to Dec. With superior technique and view of the world on stage, BABYMETAL’s backing KAMI BAND seems will catch everyone’s eye balls.
Babymetal-ish Moa-chan with English subtitles
Translation of a YT by Atarashi Ichirou-san.
Title: JaJaJah〜n! 【=Ta-dah!】
Good mornooning❤ It’s Moa.
This year’s our first show “The Road to Graduation 2014 〜Happy Valentine〜” ended. Thank you very much for coming!!
I know there are many people who wanted to come but unfortunately couldn’t…..we always play each one of shows imagining every Fukei-sans were with us. Our days in 2014nendo are numbered and I hope we can make our hearts into one in the remaining days!
There was a merch of the concert “Turning into a club-member” photo-set. At the shooting of th photo-set, we Sakura members were all hyped. Because…..oh, can’t you see the reason?? It’s too apparent! We could wear the club-costume which we usually can’t wear, and we could play a role of a club-member we don’t belong to♪♫
We didn’t know who plays which club member untill the morning of the shooting. We knew it seeing a script when we enterd the shooting studio. We could play our role in all seriousness and it was so fun♥❤
Moa played not only a club member but also…Mori-sensei!
Fukei-sans, did you guess correctly who played Mori-sensei’s role? 【On the official Sakura Gakuin web site, the sample photo of the merch was pixelized and we couldn’t see who played which role untill the day of the concert】
For those who have not seen the photo-set, I show you my personal snapshot!!!!!!
It’s not MOri-sensei, But MOa-sensei!! 😀
Hehehe❤ Looks like him? 😀
Sakura members praised me saying ‘A dead ringer!!’♫
Cherish students the most☆ It was Moa.
BABYMETAl presence is confirmed at the Rock in Vienna 2015 festival! The concert is held from Thursday 4th to Saturday 6th June 2015, BABYMETAL concert date will be available later
【Date】June 04 – 06, 2015（※Performance date TBA）
【Festival】 ROCK IN VIENNA
【Venue】 Donauinsel Wien
【City, Country】 Vienna, Austria
【General Sales】 ON SALE NOW!
【Ticket Link】 http://en.rockinvienna.at/
New for 2015 Rock In Vienna Festival takes place from Friday 4th until Sunday 6th June 2015 on the Danube Island, Vienna, in Austria.
Latest additions are A Day To Remember, Airbourne, BABYMETAL, Bonaparte, Broilers, Gojira, Heaven Shall Burn, Opeth, Saint Vitus, The Hives , Triggerfinger, and Within Temptation.
The first acts confirmed were headliners Muse, Metallica, and KISS. Other featured acts include Limp Bizkit, Body Count feat. Ice-T, Incubus, Faith No More, Testament, and Arcane Roots.
But after rinse and repeat one thing is clear: the strange combination is extremely likeable. Cute meets metal: the three adorable Japanese girls are delivering their very own style to the hardrock scene. The band is mesmerizing their fans with awesome dancing, punk Lolita Outfits and fantastic light shows. Even though Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal didn’t know what metal actually meant they enjoy how much their audience loves it. The musicians of the band are also well known for their hard sounds and together with the girls and their new invented style “kawaii metal” they will blow you away. So… SEE YOU IN THE MOSH’SH PIT!