Bandjanaimon! isn't your typical idol group. The six-member unit actually plays musical instruments in addition to singing and dancing, which isn't something you'll see a typical idol group do. Just before Bandjanaimon!'s @JAM EXPO 2015 performance on the Pineapple Stage at Yokohama Arena on August 29th, the group spoke to JaME in an interview about themselves, the origins of their name and more.
First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of JaME for agreeing to this interview. As this is JaME's very first interview with you, can you introduce the person next to you and tell us about one special skill she has?
Miyu: I'm the fairy-tale green Mochizuki Miyu, also known as Miyuchi.
Gumi: I'm the blue Nanase Gumi, also known as Gumi-chan.
Ringo: I'm the apple in love Koishio Ringo, also known as Shiorin.
Misako: I'm the leader and the pink drummer, Suzuhime Misako, also known as Misako.
Yuzu: I'm cotton yellow Amanatsu Yuzu, also known as Yuzupon.
Omomoko: I'm the deep marine blue Amaterasu Omomoko, also known as Chanmomo.
Misako: I've been with Bandjanaimon! from the beginning and the band has been growing from that time, and the last members to join were Yuzupon and Momo. The concept of Bandjanaimon! is being idols but also using musical instruments, and Yuzupon takes it seriously. She joined us as a multi-player who can play different instruments. She also has a kohai (junior) character, sometimes using polite Japanese when speaking to us, and we all tease her lovingly. So she has this cute side, but she also has a serious side, such as hating to lose, and in difficult times she always stands and fights, so she's a member we can rely on.
Yuzu: Momo-chan joined the band together with me last, so we have a comrade-in-arms relationship. She gets misunderstood sometimes, but she has a very open heart and is a philanthropist. She sometimes gets very hot about something and sometimes is very laid back about things, so she's a very interesting person with many sides to her. She also specializes in subcultures and knows a lot about books or manga that no one knows about, so it's always fun to talk to her. And she's very good at singing.
Omomoko: Miyuchi's a representative bassist of Banmon and the idol world. She looks very girly and very idol-like, but when she plays bass on stage, she's very tough and cool, so people from all over the world should know that there's such a cute bassist in Japan. In Banmon, she's very demanding about dances, and she's like our serious, kind older sister whom we rely on.
Miyu: Gumi's a very unique person. She's kind of laid back, but it’s not just that. She has a very interesting character—it’s difficult to describe so you should all take a look at her with your own eyes. You should also see how she does not look human but has a sort of artificial appearance, like a doll.
Gumi: Koishio Ringo’s hmm ...
Ringo: I'm scared.
Gumi: Koishio Ringo’s identity is having black hair with pig-tails and a princess haircut, a kind of idol everyone should strive to be like and worship. She's a perfectionist, but a very kind person. And we're friends. She's stoic and is the ace of Banmon.
Ringo: Misako's the drummer of Shinsei Kamattechan, and is the only girl in the group for Shinsei Kamattechan, but for Bandjanaimon! she's a very important being. She's the origin and the central part of the group. She's the leader, but she can also be silly at times, so she's someone you want to protect. She has a big heart and she cares a lot about people, so you feel surrounded by kindness when you are with her. Her drums, her personality, her energetic leadership and her kindness together make her the one and only, best leader of Bandjanaimon!
Misako: I’ll give you chocolate later (laughs).
Please tell us a little about your band name. Why are you “not a band”?
Misako: At first there wasn’t really a meaning to it. First, there was someone who started the Bandjanaimon! project, someone who's no longer directly working with us. He was asking viewers on Ustream for name suggestions in an open poll for my new unit, and from these suggestions we picked Bandjanaimon! I started this unit as a band, which had a weird name for a band, Bandjanaimon!, but eventually we went “If we do this, let’s be idols!” So the name actually became appropriate! We were going to do a band, but ended up as idols, so we were not a band anymore, but we also were not idol-like idols. We sing and dance while playing instruments and we want anyone to be able to enjoy our performance. So we wanted to break through the concepts of “idols” or “bands”.
Bandjanaimon! has changed a lot since the beginning. Misako, how do you feel about it?
Misako: Our concept hasn't changed in that whatever ways of expression we use, we want to go beyond genres, let go of solidified concepts, and show that it's fine to enjoy whatever you find enjoyable. So our ways of expression may have changed, but the reason for Bandjanaimon!’s existence hasn't changed from the beginning. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our music, and if we can, we also want to go outside of Japan.
You recently re-recorded a PV for one of your first songs, Chocolat Love. Please tell us more about this new PV.
Misako: It's a song we have been singing from the beginning, and as later Gumi-chan and Shioringo, Miyuchi and the others joined, the song changed bit by bit. While the song itself is very idol-like, we were thinking of breaking this a bit with the lyrics. As a result, the “otaku” fans are happy with the mixes, and others would also cry along to the song. It became a really special song for us. It's a song that can be enjoyed from different viewpoints and that really represents Bandjanaimon!
Ringo: Within the song, the Monsters (note: fans of Bandjanaimon!) have created really wonderful vocal messages, which they say during lives and it makes us really happy.
Your fans are called “Monsters”. Is it a reference to something?
Misako: We were using the “mon” from Banmon, and we wanted to make a name not just ourselves but together with our Monsters, so we asked for opinions what they liked most, and “Monster” was the cutest.
Ringo: It's an abbreviation of “Banmon Master”!
Bandjanaimon! is on the cover of French magazine Planète Japon. How do you feel about that?
Misako: We didn’t know! We were very surprised! We looked on Wikipedia what kind of magazine that was …
Miyu: A follower on Twitter sent it to us, and we were like “What is this? Is this a collage?” We thought someone just made it, so we searched and found out that this magazine actually existed, so I shared it with the others (laughs).
Bandjanaimon!: We were happy! It’s cool! We were very surprised.
What is your song recommendation for people who want to discover Bandjanaimon!
Misako: Yes, it would be our newest song Kimi no egao de sekai ga yabai. It’s a bit of a heavy topic. While the society is changing, I think it can reach out on the personal level to every person, and also addresses global problems in the lyrics. It’s very Bandjanaimon!-like, our individualities come through, and we play our instruments a lot in some scenes, so we hope you can enjoy it both on CD and live.
To wrap up our interview, please say a few words to all JaME readers.
Misako: One day we'll play with Eminem!
Bandjanaimon!: Eminem?! (laugh)
Misako: We really want to go outside of Japan.
Gumi: And we'll come to see you!
Omomoko: We will!
Misako: We'll come to see you, and it'd be great if you could also come to see us! Please be friends with us!
Gumi: We want to be friends.
Ringo: We want to cross the borders.
JaME would like to thank PROMIC and Bandjanaimon! for this interview opportunity.
The PV for Kimi no egao de sekai ga yabai can be watched below: