Interview with nobodyknows+

interview - 04.03.2007 08:00

An interview with nobodyknows+ shortly before their American debut.

Set on the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, the special TOKYO NIGHT 2007 brought over numerous DJs although none were so highly anticipated as the five MC and one DJ act, nobodyknows+. The Nagoya-based unit, signed to Sony Music Japan, is already well-known thanks to their various contributions to animes, such as Naruto and one of the Gundam series, and films although this was their first time to perform in America. Hours before the event on March 24th, they took some time out of their schedule to speak with JaME.

For our readers who may not be familiar with you yet, please introduce yourselves.

DJ MITSU: Hello, I'm DJ MITSU. I do track making and producing.

NORI DA FUNKY SIBIRESATH: I'm an MC.

HIDDEN FISH: MC.

CRYSTAL BOY: MC.

YAS the NUMBER ONE?: MC.

g-ton: MC.


Where did you get your nicknames from?

DJ MITSU: It comes from my real name.

NORI DA FUNKY SIBIRESATH: I sampled "DEL: the funkee homosapien".

HIDDEN FISH: It's based on my last name.

CRYSTAL BOY: I got it from an anime character.

YAS the NUMBER ONE?: I got the idea from the name of a Japanese comedian, Haru Ichiban (Note: "ichiban" means number one).

g-ton: My grandfather was the mayor of Allington, Allin-g-ton.... No, that's a lie (laughs). I got it from my last name, Goto.


How did you all first meet each other?

g-ton: MITSU was a DJ in Nagoya city and we were all customers of his club. We were also all rappers. One day, we got together and said, "Hey, let's make a song."


Were you all friends before?

g-ton: Yeah. We always saw each other at the club, but didn't really know each other at first. But we started to talk and discovered our friendship.


How did you all first get interested in music?

DJ MITSU: Hip-hop was starting to get big in Japan and I got interested in that scene. As a DJ, I was always playing somebody else's music. Then I thought that I wanted to play my own.

CRYSTAL BOY: Any instrument I studied.... I quit after three days. When I saw the rap scene, I thought that seemed easier. But the more I do it, the harder it seems. I have to work harder.


What artists or musical styles have influenced each of you the most?

DJ MITSU: Soul music.

NORI DA FUNKY SIBIRESATH: Beastie Boys.

HIDDEN FISH: Farside.

CRYSTAL BOY: Jackson Five.

YAS the NUMBER ONE?: A lot of various styles.

g-ton: Sly & the Family Stone.


And what artists would you like to work with?

DJ MITSU: I can't come up with a name right now but I want to work with great artists from all over the world.

HIDDEN FISH: It would be tough for me to work with artists from other countries since I don't speak English (laughs).

g-ton: Underworld.


What do you feel is the biggest difference between the Japanese hip-hop scene and the one in America? Or is there no real difference?

CRYSTAL BOY: There's a language difference of course in our rhymes.

YAS the NUMBER ONE?: In America, there are number of hip hop shows on the radio but in Japan, there's unfortunately very few.


How do you feel about being in front of an American audience for the first time?

NORI DA FUNKY SIBIRESATH: What kind of audience we're in front of really doesn't matter to us; we never change.

HIDDEN FISH: We play the same, no matter where we are.


Have you seen many Americans or other international visitors at your lives in Japan?

NORI DA FUNKY SIBIRESATH: Not really, though our friends sometimes come to our shows.


Do you think you'll return to America in the future?

CRYSTAL BOY: We don't mean to target any specific audience; we just do what we love. If an American audience happens to like us though, then we're happy.


Although then your main audience is in Japan, do you have any plans to see your fans in Europe, etc?

DJ MITSU: Well, we're all from Nagoya and when we started out, we just wanted to have fun; we weren't thinking about audiences or things like that. We started to stand out and people all over Japan began to listen to us and like us. But we've never changed, our style has never changed; people just started to get the word out about us. But if we have international fans who like us and our style, then we'd love to go see them.


You do have a lot of American and other international fans though from your exposure thanks to different animes and movies, like Kung-Fu Hustle.

DJ MITSU: Oh (laughs). That's exactly what we want. Like I said, we haven't changed ourselves or targeted any audience. But if American or international fans like our style, then we're very happy to play for them.


In 2005, you organized the NAGOYA MUSIC EXPO. Can you tell us more about that?

DJ MITSU: We did two events on that day; one is a free event featuring artists who play different types of music and the other is hip hop artists, but both featured local Nagoya artists. A lot of people came and it went great.


Do you think you'll be doing something like that again?

DJ MITSU: It's sort of a tradition; the artists of Nagoya go out to the world and we have to come back to Nagoya and do that for the city. So it's fun and something we do every year.


Have you had a chance to look around Long Beach at all?

g-ton: (laughs) We just got here so we haven't had much of a chance yet.


For someone visiting Nagoya, where would you recommend going?

YAS the NUMBER ONE?: Shop (laughs). Go shopping. The ramen shops are really good.

CRYSTAL BOY: Nagoya's not really a place for sight-seeing (laughs). You can go to Toyota (Note: Toyota and Nagoya are both in the Aichi pref. Toyota, the city, is famous as the hometown of Toyota's founder) and get hired by them (laughs).


Because many Americans don't speak Japanese, there's a language barrier when it comes to understanding your lyrics. Can you give us any insight as to what they're usually about?

CRYSTAL BOY: We don't write our own lyrics. We get odd American lyrics that we don't understand and have to translate them into Japanese -- I'm kidding (laughs). But seriously, when I grew up listening to American music, I wanted to understand the lyrics and tried to translate them. So if you like us enough, why don't you try and translate our lyrics yourself?

DJ MITSU: We have some themes but our lyrics aren’t about just one thing. Each of us brings in different angles and perspectives and the lyrics reflect those things and our experiences.


Your covers always feature cartoon-ish drawings; can you tell us more about those?

g-ton: The artist, Moshiro Katsura, is a friend of ours. He's well-known internationally and has been doing our artwork since we were a indie band.


What are some of your other plans for the year?

DJ MITSU: On April 25th, we have our new single, Hero's Come Back!!. Then a new album is scheduled to come out this summer.


In closing, please give a message to your international fans.

DJ MITSU: Thank-you very much!

NORI DA FUNKY SIBIRESATH: Thank-you very much.

HIDDEN FISH: If you hear us somewhere and like us, please support us.

CRYSTAL BOY: It's a rare thing for international fans to find us, but if you find us and like us, please get to know us even more.

YAS the NUMBER ONE?: Please come to Nagoya; MITSU has a soul bar in Nagoya and will treat you (laughs).

g-ton: We're unique in the world and if you're feeling it, we're glad.

---

Special thanks to Yaz Noya, Sony Music Associated Records Inc., and nobodyknows+.
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