Interview Exclusive

Interview with BABYBEARD

30/04/2021 2021-04-30 02:00:00 JaME Author: ChrisN, Christine, Ruchesko

Interview with BABYBEARD

Ladybeard's new unit BABYBEARD has arrived to lift spirits and bring kawaii culture to the world.

© BABYBEARD. All rights reserved.
After becoming a viral sensation as part of an unconventional idol trio with two Japanese girls in 2015, Australian cross-dressing pro-wrestler and heavy metal singer Ladybeard pursued a number of different projects, but he recently announced that he would be returning to the format from Nippon Manju to help lift fans' spirits in this difficult time. His new unit, BABYBEARD, which sees him flanked by up-and-coming Japanese idols SUZU and KOTOMI, aims to deliver not just upbeat pop-metal songs and high-energy performances, but also to help spread Japan's "kawaii culture" around the world.

With this in mind, JaME had the opportunity to ask the brand new group some questions about their debut songs NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA and PIENNIZER, which just hit digital stores and streaming platforms on April 28th, their future goals, what to try when visiting Japan, and much more. Read on to learn all about BABYBEARD's "adorable assault on the senses"!

2020 was a difficult year for everybody and it seems like we’ll be feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2021 as well. How have you dealt with the disruptions the pandemic has caused to daily life, and what are BABYBEARD’s plans to put a smile back on everyone’s faces?

Ladybeard: Yes, indeed, world events have been challenging for everyone, and remain so. Whilst we can’t help much physically at the moment, we are sending all our love, energy and good vibes through the web-waves. We hope to be able to physically travel to many locations round the globe just as soon as that’s possible, but until then please accept our warmth from here in Japan. Hopefully it tides you over until we can meet in person and give you a big hug!!

SUZU: I spent the days when I was staying home all the time trying to improve myself, such as studying English and watching movies and anime. I hope this experience will be somehow useful for our group activities! In order to get everyone’s smile back, we will keep singing and screaming!

KOTOMI: Until we can meet our fans face to face, we will bring our smiles, kawaii and happiness through the internet! Please listen to our new songs streaming from April 28th, they will make you smile a lot!

Could you please tell us a bit about your debut songs NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA and PIENNIZER? Is the title of PIENNIZER German for something?

Ladybeard: NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA is our debut release that we’re PUMPED about!! The name translates to “Hello from Japan”. Whilst, at this moment, we might not be able to get out into the world and meet our supporters face to face, we do want to send a huge HELLO out to the world via the wonders of the internet. We’re here to try and make everyone smile again amidst challenges and tough times. And until the day when we can physically meet and give you a hug, we’ll send our love and good vibes out over the web-waves. We’re shouting “HELLO” from here in Japan. We hope you hear us!!

Haha! No, PIENNIZER is not (to my knowledge) German, although German is one of the many languages spoken by our team. PIENNIZER comes from “pien” which is a hot word currently being said by the youth of Japan, and is also the name of this emoji: 🥺 Pien is used at moments of small time sadness, such as stubbing one’s toe, or having rain pour right after you hang out the laundry. Yes, we made a song about an emoji. But, the song is more than that, we focus on the fact that tomorrow is another day. Life has its ups and downs and while you might face a tough moment right now, you’ll get out of it and will smile again.

SUZU: NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA is a song which is based on the Japanese word "konnichiwa", which means "hello". It’s full of kawaii and happiness. Also, it’s a good song if you want to study Japanese because the lyrics are relatively easy and the melody is very recognizable! PIENNIZER is based on the Japanese trending word "pien", which we use when something sad happens to you. The message of the song is “If you face something sad, tomorrow is another day so don’t worry!”

KOTOMI: The origin of PIENNIZER is the word "pien", which is trending now in Japan. We use this word when something sad or painful happens. It is best not to have such experiences, but in case you do, please use "pien"!

KOTOMI and SUZU, idol groups in Japan are usually all female or all male. What was your inspiration for joining BABYBEARD, and what are your thoughts on performing alongside an artist like Ladybeard?

KOTOMI: It is difficult to explain. I’ve never thought about Bea-chan (Ladybeard) with the concept of gender. Bea-chan is Bea-chan. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m very happy to work with Bea-chan, and I admire his toughness and energy!

I found the fact that we have a very unique format very attractive. Working with Bea-chan makes me happy. He is very kind and helps me in many ways. Thank you Bea-chan!

For your debut songs you’ve reunited with Takashi Asano and Natsumi Tadano, who wrote the breakout viral hit Nippon Manju back in 2015. What does their songwriting bring to your signature “kawaiicore” sound?

Ladybeard: Ah, I’m so happy to work with them again! Indeed, Asano-san is a genius and he captures the essence of kawaiicore like no-one else. Particularly his use of the synth and the high ends is incredibly impressive, and I can’t wait to perform his songs live again. And Tadano-san’s lyrics are always very cute and capture a certain Japanese essence perfectly.

Ladybeard, when we spoke with you back in 2015 a few months after Nippon Manju ’s release, it had gone viral and was standing at an impressive 3 million YouTube views. Today, it’s racked up over 30 million views. You were surprised by the song’s success, particularly internationally, back then. How do you feel now that it’s proved to be such a long-lasting hit too?

Ladybeard: Well, that’s obviously great. It’s a very well written song, and the dance, the music video, and the translation of the subtitles all came together to make the perfect storm for a viral hit. I’m glad people are still enjoying it. And I’m glad we can have a second take at the three-member group structure, because clearly that’s what the world wants to see from me. I’ve been asked to go back to the old group literally every day since I was unceremoniously relieved of my duties there in 2016. It’s obvious to me that this is what the world wants from me: me screaming and dancing to Asano/Tadano songs alongside two little Japanese sweethearts. So I’m thrilled that we’re FINALLY in a position to give that to the world again.

Ladybeard, Takashi Asano and Natsumi Tadano have a lot of experience composing for idols, but in your past works you’ve also had contributions from big name heavy metal stars like former BABYMETAL guitarist Isao Fujita. As a metalhead at heart, are you planning to get more metal artists on board for BABYBEARD?

Ladybeard: I loved working with Isao, that guy's a killer guitarist and a great dude. I’m not making any promises about bringing in more metalheads, but if the fans want it, I’ll see what I can do. I’m finding that, as I get older, my pop tastes become more poppy and my metal tastes become more metal. So I’m listening to a lot of deathcore at the moment, which is nigh as heavy as metal gets. If the fans want it, we’ll have to see how the girls’ voices mix in with deathcore.

Maybe we should do a collaboration with Japanese deathcore superstars DEVILOOF. I would love that!!

and SUZU, since you’ll be performing songs that feature elements of metal, are you fans of rock or heavy metal yourselves, or is this project the first time you’ve become acquainted with heavy music?

KOTOMI: I’ve listened to BABYMETAL a little, but that’s all. I want to know more about heavy metal from this point on! To those who read this interview, please recommend me your favorite songs!

SUZU: This is the first time for me to expose myself to heavy metal music. Since I became a member of this group, I’ve been listening to some heavy metal songs and now I’m a fan of them!

It’s been mentioned that part of BABYBEARD’s mission is to share Japan’s “kawaii culture” with the rest of the world. KOTOMI and SUZU, if you had a friend visiting Japan from overseas for the first time, are there any particular foods or activities you would recommend that they try?

KOTOMI: In Tokyo, I recommend visiting Asakusa to wear kimono and eat around! You can enjoy various cuisine as much as you like, such as huge melon-flavoured bread which is almost the same size as your face, fresh-baked rice crackers, and candied strawberries!

SUZU: I want to do my usual activities together, which is taking Print Club photos and going to a café! You can take cosplay photos at Print Club, so I want to wear a sailor school uniform!!

Ladybeard, you’re something of a polyglot, being able to speak five languages. Could you tell us a bit about the challenge of coming up with comedic lyrics in Japanese and getting the humour to land with both Japanese and international audiences?

Ladybeard: Yea it’s tough...translating lyrics between languages, and not having them sound really lame or childish, is a particular problem. The Japanese phrase things is ways that we would never use in English, so writing “English version” lyrics for Japanese songs is very tough...

Thank heavens for my manager Shiori!! She’s a linguistics specialist, so I’d be in real trouble without her!

While Ladybeard has a lot of experience travelling the globe, have you been overseas before KOTOMI and SUZU? Are there any countries in particular the three of you would like to visit during your activities with BABYBEARD?

KOTOMI: Actually I’ve never been overseas...I want to go to literally every country where our fans live!

SUZU: Yes! I’ve been to Los Angeles, Singapore, Australia, Hawaii and Guam! Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I went to Hawaii and Guam at least once every year! I particularly want to go to Los Angeles again because people there are very nice and friendly. Also, I want to go to any other places I’ve never been to!

Ladybeard, can we look forward to a special commemorative single if the Crows win this year's grand final?

Ladybeard: Oh wow! No one’s spoken to me about the AFL Grand Final in years!

...I gotta tell ya, you just hit me with a notion I have never before considered in my career up until now...

Maybe we should! We’ll write a song called “6 points South Australia” and we’ll get the girls playing footy in the music video. That’d be amazing!!!

Please leave a message for your fans around the world.

Ladybeard: Ah, dear BABYBEARD fans around the world, thank you SO MUCH for your continuing support over the years!! I deeply appreciate every one of you, and I hope you will love what we serve up for you with BABYBEARD!! We’re doing everything we can to bring the singing, the dancing, and the DESTROYING right to your doorstep, in the way that only Japan can, so please get online and stream our debut tracks NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA and PIENNIZER with great frivolity from April 28th! We’re here to make you smile, make you dance, and make you SCREAM!! And we’ll leave no stone unturned until that’s happened!! All our love from here in Japan, let the adorable assault on the senses begin!!!

KOTOMI: We’ve been going through a very tough moment, but we are going to bring you as much genki and comfort as possible through the internet until we can actually meet in person! Please love our new songs launching on April 28th! I’m looking forward to seeing you after everything settles down!

SUZU: I’m very happy and thankful that we receive a lot of support from all over the world. We’ll prepare ourselves a lot until we can perform in front of our fans, so please keep your eyes on us!

JaME would like to thank BABYBEARD for this interview opportunity.

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