Interview Exclusive

Interview with WARPs UP

26/01/2022 2022-01-26 01:00:00 JaME Author: Christine

Interview with WARPs UP

LANGYI and MINGJUN of Japanese-Chinese boyband WARPs UP discuss their powerful new single and their plans for 2022.

© WARPs UP. All rights reserved.
WARPs UP, a boy group consisting of two Japanese members and two Chinese members, debuted in November 2020 with the digital single Hali Gali. Performing songs in a mix of Japanese, Chinese and English, they are part of the WARPs (short for "Wind Assemble Radical People-syndicate") collective, a group that aims to transcend existing categories and frameworks of the entertainment industry through projects across a variety of fields.

In early 2021, WARPs UP's Japanese members RIKIMARU and SANTA appeared on the popular audition show "CHUANG 2021" (a Chinese program similar to "Produce 101" that attracts over 5 billion views per series), vying for a spot in a limited-time international boy group. They were selected as two of the 11 finalists, and will be active as part of the group INTO1 in China until April 2023 as a result.

Naturally, this has created some complications for WARPs UP. However, rather than going on hiatus until their return, the group is continuing activities with Chinese members LANGYI and MINGJUN as its centre. In August and September 2021, LANGYI and MINGJUN released acoustic covers of three songs, sung primarily in their native Chinese, as consecutive digital singles. Earlier this month, they released their very first original song as a duo, POWER_xin. Just before it hit digital platforms, JaME had the chance to ask the duo about the powerful new track, their history and their plans for the future.

As this is our first time interviewing you, could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?

LANGYI: Hello! My name is LANGYI, I’m from Guangdong, China. Also known as Suzu in the group now!

MINGJUN: Hello, I’m WARPs UP's MINGJUN, also known as XiaoHei, I like singing, dancing, anime, etc.

What inspired you to pursue a career as an idol?

LANGYI: When I was in middle school, I liked Jay Chou's songs a lot, so I wanted to be a singer-songwriter myself. Later, I turned my interest to a boy group, which gave me the idea of being a boy group myself. Although my parents didn't support me going into this industry, they were bar singers when I was a kid, and I often saw them being themselves shining on the stage, so I wanted to shine on the stage myself too.

MINGJUN: I really liked Michael Jackson when I was a child, which made me fall in love with dancing. Dance was also the opportunity for me to enter this industry, which influenced me the most and made me determined to be on stage.

How was WARPs UP formed?

WARPs UP: Both of us participated in "Idol Producer" together when we were in China, and formed a limited group for half a year. However, due to the company's arrangement and planning, the limited group did not go on. At that time, Avex came to interview and seek out members for the WARPs project. After several interviews, we finally signed a contract with Avex and came to Japan. And later we were introduced to the Japanese members, and all of them are masters with great achievements in dance. With their help, we made progress and became closer and closer to each other little by little. And during the pandemic, we held many meetings with our staff and members, and finally decided on the name WARPs UP.

What were your initial impressions of each other when you first met? Knowing what you do now, were they accurate?

LANGYI: When I first met MINGJUN, he was a very shy person. Now, I know he is in fact a very straightforward person, but sometimes a little naughty, but that’s his charm too.

MINGJUN: When I first met LANGYI, I found out that he is very good at dance, and he can even choreograph by himself, and he is also a very nice and gentle person. Now, he is still very nice and gentle, but he's grown a lot more.

We’ve heard that you originally trained to be idols in China. Is there anything new that you’ve learned or that you’ve been surprised by while working in the music industry in Japan?

LANGYI: What I like is about the teaching style in Japan. They ask you to find the style that fits you, not to be exactly the same as everyone else.

MINGJUN: I feel like Japan gives me more freedom, but also, I’m amazed by how different the lifestyle is to China.

Could you please explain the message behind your new single POWER_xin?

WARPs UP: POWER_xin is about our strong feeling of protecting WARPs UP, and also the bond between the members and fans of WARPs UP, because the power of the group gives us more power to move forward and to face difficult songs. “POWER” also refers to the powerful dance performance we do with the song.

The chorus has the line “Show the world our power”. With that in mind, in your opinion, what is your greatest strength as a performer?

WARPs UP: For us, the greatest strength is to love and spread positive energy to every single person that has seen our works, and to try to become better people ourselves everyday. To love, and to not blame the world and spread positivity is our greatest strength.

We’ve heard there is a music video for POWER_xin on the way as well. What can you tell us about it?

WARPs UP: As the teaser also has shown, and as the title suggests, we made a very powerful music video this time. We think what fans are looking forward to is the dance, and this time we were able to have YUMERI do our choreography. She also did the choreography for our song Hali Gali, and this time, she was able to make a very strong and powerful dance especially suitable to WARPs UP. We also have back dancers from our junior organization WARPs ROOTS, which has also made the dance very powerful, so don’t miss out on the dance.

As RIKIMARU and SANTA will be busy with INTO1 until April 2023, are you planning to adjust your older works to be performed by a duo in the future, or will you be performing with support members or guests?

WARPs UP: We will try our best to protect WARPs UP, and as we mentioned this song POWER_xin also expresses our feeling of protecting the group. But at the same time, we will also do our best to make the WARPs project better along with our junior organization WARPs ROOTS.

Many overseas fans likely discovered WARPs UP through Pleasure, your theme song for the anime “Fruits Basket”. Are you fans of anime yourselves? What were your impressions after seeing your song set to the animation?

LANGYI: I was just very happy and shocked, so I had my friends along with me, cheering for hearing my voice on TV.

MINGJUN: I have always been a fan of anime since I was very young, so it was new to hear my own voice coming with the anime, and it made me feel very proud.

In August and September you released three acoustic covers, including a self-cover of Pleasure. As WARPs UP seems to be best known for upbeat dance tracks, what inspired you to cover all of the songs in an acoustic style?

WARPs UP: We have always liked singing and it has always been something that’s very important to us, so we wanted to show our fans what we have besides dancing. We were excited to show our fans how much we have improved not only dance-wise but also in vocals.

Why did you choose Ai Otsuka’s Planetarium and Lambsey’s PLANET in particular to cover?

WARPs UP: We both really liked both of the songs, so it was such an honour that we were able to cover them. We have always been using them while we were practising vocals, or dancing. Also, as younger artists from the same company, we felt very proud and honoured to be part of the same agency as so many well-known artists, so we also wanted to do it to show our respect to them.

Is the acoustic format something you’d like to revisit again in the future?

WARPs UP: For sure, I wish one day we can do it live with all of our members and have the fans sing along with us, to create a moment and strengthen the bond between us and all our fans.

LANGYI, you have a cooking video series called “RestauLANG” on WARPs UP’s YouTube channel, and it seems like you’ve introduced a lot of Chinese cuisine. Do you have a favourite Chinese dish, or one you would recommend for any of your fans who visit China to try (once any coronavirus-related restrictions on travel are lifted)?

LANGYI: Of course, first of all, I would recommend coming to Guangdong to try some of the very traditional food such as Dim Sum, etc.

What can fans look forward to from WARPs UP in 2022?

WARPs UP: As WARPs UP, we want to release a lot of songs this year, and we are also planning to perform live with ROOTS, so please look forward to that. We'd also like to communicate with our fans more, and we hope to have more opportunities to meet them in person, despite the global situation.

Please leave a message for your overseas fans.

LANGYI: I hope you all will be able to receive power from our new song, to do all the things you want, chase your dreams, follow your heart and achieve your goals. Please keep supporting us in the future! We are looking forward to seeing all of you one day!

MINGJUN: Believe in yourself, be yourself, love yourself! And I will always love you guys! Stay tuned!

JaME would like to thank WARPs UP and Avex for this interview opportunity.

The music video for POWER_xin can be viewed below, and you can turn on captions to watch with English, Chinese or Japanese subtitles. Links to download and stream the song on various online music platforms are available here.

 Download or stream "POWER_xin"  WARPs UP - Official YouTube Channel

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