Interview with BALLISTIK BOYZ

interview - 05.03.2019 20:01

BALLISTIK BOYZ aim to reach the sky they’re running toward.

Formed in April 2018, seven-member dance, vocal and MC unit BALLISTIK BOYZ are the first-ever LDH group in which every member sings. The boys are proving to be highly popular — their music video for TENHANE -1000%-, a track off their seven-track eponymous debut album that will be released on May 22nd, has already racked up more than a million views. JaME interviews the group ahead of the release.

Aside from the fact that all members sing, how does BALLISTIK BOYZ set itself apart from other LDH groups in terms of music and style?

Ryuta Hidaka: We have many strengths that I'm proud of. All of us can do acrobatics and some of our members can speak English and Portuguese. In terms of our musicality, we have members who rap and some who have lived in New York. Our hip-hop style is modern and on the edge.

Riki Matsui: All seven of us have our own life experiences from before we came together as BALLISTIK BOYZ. All of that mixed together gives our group our own unique style, which is reflected in our songs and performances. And since all seven of us sing, you can experience the different qualities each of us bring to a song.

Ryusei Kainuma: My dream is for our music to spread abroad. A lot of my favorite artists and entertainment come from overseas, and for each of us, when we listen to music, it's usually something from another country. When it comes to our fashion, the arrangement of our concerts, or our choreography, I think what we bring to the table is different from other artists in LDH.

Miku, Rikiya and Masahiro, what are your thoughts on growing up as EXILE kids dancers and now finally making your own debut with BALLISTIK BOYZ?

Miku Fukahori: After being on the big stage at EXILE’s tour as a kid dancer, I began to feel that I wanted to be the main performer like that one day. Since then, I've been passionately focused on my desire to become an artist. Now that we're having our major debut, it's our chance to repay EXPG STUDIO for supporting us. I think that's our biggest achievement. Regarding our debut, I'm happy that all our hard work until now has paid off, and more than anything, we owe it to the artists who came before us and paved the way.

Rikiya Okuda: I've admired EXILE since elementary school and had the privilege of performing in many of their music videos and concerts, but as I got older, I began to feel that I wanted to entertain people as an artist myself. The road leading up to that dream has brought many new encounters and farewells, but now, I've finally made it to the stage where I'm getting to pursue my own activities. I'm definitely happy that we're announcing our big debut, but I also know I'm going to have to really focus and be more conscious and responsible from now on. Since I was young, I've been very fortunate to have the support of many people along the way, so I want to show them my gratitude.

Masahiro Sunada: I began to study dance at EXPG STUDIO when I was seven years old. I also learned etiquette there and became more mentally disciplined. Since then, I got to participate in EXILE’s concerts as a backup dancer and really grew as an individual, and that built up my strong desire to perform in front of thousands of people just like EXILE. Now that my debut with BALLISTIK BOYZ is set, there's definitely a part of me that feels like, “I made it!” For the first time, we're going to be on the same playing field as EXILE, our seniors in the business. The real battle, though, is from here forward, and I'm going to do my best not to lose to them!

Yoshiyuki, what was it like transforming into a competent dancer in less than two years? Do you feel any pressure being in a group of very experienced dancers?

Yoshiyuki Kanou: Unlike everyone else in the group, I had only focused on singing, so at first, I couldn't follow the dances at all. My dancing was always off, and I felt really frustrated about it every day. I put in a lot of effort toward my dream because I wanted to hurry up and dance with everyone else. I was so happy and relieved the first time I was actually able to dance with everyone. Some of the members have been abroad and dance at a really high level, so I thought it would take a long time before I could dance with them, but they were really kind and worked with me, so, I didn't feel any pressure.

Do you have any input in the songwriting and choreography process? What's it like working together in the studio?

Miku Fukahori: When composing our songs, if we're inspired by something that comes to us in the moment, we add it in. For choreography, we start by trying to express the lyrics with our bodies and then matching our moves to the beat to create a good balance. My favorite time in the studio is when I can close my eyes and try to imagine the choreography in my mind while listening to the music.

Rikiya Okuda: Since we're creating our own performances, we definitely try to challenge our own skill levels, but we also try to include moves that can involve the people rooting for us and others our age. We put together our choreography thinking about making a performance that leaves an impact on people who see it, so it's constantly getting revised over and over. My favorite time in the studio is when we turn on the music and relax while taking a break from rehearsal. Everyone just dances freely, and it helps re-energize us so we can keep going hard for the remainder of rehearsal.

Riki Matsui: When I imagine the song or choreography in my head, I focus on every detail and think about how I can connect to myself personally. I obsess over every single lyric and get caught up in the flow of the choreography because I want to make the song into something no one has ever seen or heard before. My favorite time in the studio is when we're dancing and I'm focused on myself in the mirror without thinking about anything else, and I get excited finding the moment during recording when a song starts to really come alive.

What are some of the prominent lyrical themes of your upcoming eponymous debut album?

Masahiro Sunada: You could say our debut album is our self-introduction as BALLISTIK BOYZ. You can see our personality and energy as BALLISTIK BOYZ in the lyrics of every song.

Ryuta Hidaka: The line, “till we reach the sky we’re running toward,” in our song TENHANE -1000%- expresses our strong desire to continue running forward from here on out. The Mushashugyou event we went to in March also had the theme of running onward.

Ryusei Kainuma: The lyric “running toward” is our theme as newcomers.

Yoshiyuki Kanou: That same line is important to me, too. Since forming our group, I've experienced a lot of different things, but I think an artist’s real start is their debut. I'm going to push forward passionately with the knowledge that no matter where we go, the seven of us will put our strength together and climb to the top.

Please describe your experience filming the MV of TENHANE -1000%- in the USA.

Rikiya Okuda: Since this was our first time shooting a music video overseas, we were all pretty pumped during rehearsals. We also revised our choreography countless times. Basically, Miku, Masahiro, and I made up the basic moves, and then everyone else banded together to help out, so we were able to create really great choreography! We have regular dance scenes and scenes where we're in a car or playing cards. It was really fun during rehearsal coming up with choreography that is different from the norm.

Yoshiyuki Kanou: I was really excited to film our music video in Los Angeles since it would be my first time going abroad. But when you film overseas, the expectations for the final result become exponentially higher, so I was constantly thinking of how we could make a music video that would exceed those. We tackled the shoot through trial and error. In our rehearsals leading up to the production, all of us contributed our opinions, and we stayed focused on presenting our story and our vision.

What can you tell us about PASION? Is there any particular reason the title is spelt “PASION” instead of “PASSION”?

Ryusei Kainuma: It has a Latin feel to it, and the song is brimming with passion. It's written as “PASION” in Spanish and Portuguese, so we tried to match the feeling with the spelling of the title.

Masahiro Sunada: The three members of OMW produced this energetic song for us that expresses our passion towards music. For us, the word "passion" creates the image of burning hot fire, so they took that idea and gave the track a Latin sound, adding the title “PASION” in Spanish.

Which song from the album is your favorite or fits your personality best? Why that song?

Riki Matsui: BLAST OFF. It's an energetic song that has a sprinting kind of feel, and the lyrics express our personal feelings and the goals we're aiming for as a group.

Ryuta Hidaka: For me, it's the song BADDEST FIRE. All seven of us sing in it, and I think it represents the best qualities in each of our voices. I like this song the most, and when I listen to it, it inspires me to think of the future of BALLISTIK BOYZ.

What do you hope to achieve as BALLISTIK BOYZ?

Miku Fukahori: We have members who speak English and Portuguese, so I definitely want our music to spread overseas. I studied abroad in New York and I can see things from a foreign perspective, too, so I want to create different types of music and performances and do a world tour that reaches out to everyone.

Masahiro Sunada: I want us to become a group that captivates people with performances that no one's ever seen before, and to be able to hold large concerts not only in Japan, but in many other countries as well.

Please leave a message for JaME readers.

Ryuta Hidaka: We're working towards our dream of bringing our music from Japan to the world, and we're always trying to create something new and deliver the kind of performances that are unique to us. We're striving to make the kind of music that expresses our full level of emotion. We hope to make a new path within LDH, and we greatly appreciate your support!

JaME would like to thank BALLISTIK BOYZ and Resonance Media for this interview opportunity.

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