What better thing is there than to celebrate the release of LADYBABY’s new single “Pelo” with an interview from one half of the duo?
Alright so, this interview was published in the magazine IDOL&READ 009, the same one as Yuna’s, back in late December 2016. I actually don’t have much to say about it, I could state my opinion but I’ll keep that for social networks soooo… just enjoy, I guess? Oh and don’t forget to buy the magazine(s) if you like it, you can read it for free thanks to the magic of the internet but those guys working on the original material don’t do it for nothing.
Better blast this into your headphones while reading the thing.
People knowing Rei are probably all already aware of that, but the term “entertainment industry” that you can find throughout the whole interview refers to her former activities as a junior idol. This isn’t me trying to be all pure, these are the words they’re using as well.
The Charismatic 16-years-old
It looks like you’ve been arguing with the editor about the meaning of “charisma” while you were shooting. According to you, “charisma = yankee”?
Charisma uses yankee as its base, yes. You can’t have charisma unless you’re a yankee, that’s a fact. Even Seiko (Omoori Seiko) and Kanae (Higashi Kanae, a fashion designer who created the hand-knitted products brand “Rurumu” 縷縷夢兎) said so. And I think it’s also because Yuukosu (Sugamoto Yuko) is somewhat yankee-ish that she has so many female fans as well. She might not look like it anymore, but she gives off the feeling that she actually used to be one.
Do you want to become charismatic?
Yes I want to. Right now I’m 15 (this interview was conducted at the end of October) and I’ve yet to see anyone else my age who has more charisma than me. Although I might be showing off here (laugh). I have no friend of the same age because they’re always off doing their idolish idol stuff, leaving me unable to find any common interest with them. The only ones I can talk to are Mikity (member of the idol group NichoHalo & LADYBABY’s choregrapher) and Rie, so it’s like they’re always with me — especially since I see them everyday at work.
But you’re already 15, if you want to become a yankee, you better hurry up.
That’s right, I have to!
You give me the impression that’s what you’ve been aiming for since middle school.
I do personally think I’ve always had yankee traits ever since grade school. Which is why I was a bit yankee-ish when I entered middle school and skipped school a lot. That’s when things started to get loose for me and I ended up alone.
That’s a quite heavy subject to start off the interview with…
It seems you’ve deleted all of your past tweets on September 6, 2016, why is that? Did something happen?
“Who cares about the past”… albeit it might not be the proper way to say it. As I’ve been in the entertainment industry since grade school, people were looking at me in a weird way. I would often be receiving tweets like “you’re not normal” — do everyone really cares that much about the past? People are way too hung up about it.
Being told that “people are way too hung up about the past” from you does add some weight to your words…
Isn’t what’s important the present? If you’re not thinking about what you want to do tomorrow or looking forward what could happen next, there’s absolutely no point in being alive. Really, people are way too obsessed with the past. Even as I was in LADYBABY, people were still saying things like “that girl’s gonna fall for sure after a while” — it got on my nerves and I erased everything. My fans ended up asking me if I were betraying them though. As all of my previous answers and favorites got deleted, it was a bit sad.
Do you feel like you want to answer your fans in a different way, without using text?
You can’t convey all of your feelings through text alone. Aren’t social networks nothing but a place to flatter your ego? Text isn’t enough, if you want to talk, you can just come meet me after our lives during the goodies sales, and if you can’t come, just call me out in the street! Judging people on looks alone isn’t very pretty. There are times when I talk a bit harshly and some where my tweets are a bit extreme, but I don’t want people to look at my words, I want people to look at the real me. I don’t want to be judged on my past, that’s why I deleted all of my tweets.
This is a pretty grown-up way of thinking.
Nah, I think everyone’s thinking the same thing. I’m just a smooth talker (laugh).
To understand you better, I’d like to ask about your family. You have your parents and an older sister, right? How are your parents?
Whether it’s my face or my personality, I’ve inherited everything from my dad. He’s overall gentle but gets angry when it’s needed, he’s pretty normal I think? There have been people criticizing him saying he was insane for letting his daughter be in the entertainment industry while she was still a grade-schooler, but I don’t think so. Those people are just narrow-minded. I don’t think it’s weird.
What about your mother?
My mother is… cute! (laugh) She’s like a spoiled child, sayings things like “I’m lonely”, “when are you coming home today?”, acting like a burikko. At home she’s all “I’m lonely, would you sleep with me Rei?” (laugh).
Do you sleep together?
We even take our bath together. I can’t take a bath alone. I leave the door open when I take one, because I’m scared.
Is this something you can’t overcome?
Recently as I’ve been coming back home late at night because of work I had to go alone, but depending on your emotional state aren’t there times where you’re feeling scared? When this happens I take my bath with someone else. I usually take one once a week with my sister, she has promised to do so either on Friday or on Sunday.
But you don’t bathe with your father right?
My father keeps his underwears on (laugh).
What’s with that (laugh)?
I dunno, but he normally ends up wearing them. Along with other clothes.
Don’t they become loose with the water?
It suits him (laugh). With one t-shirt and just a parka on top.
How’s your sister, Kuromiya Aya? You said you bathed with her and you two even formed the band BRATS together.
She’s really like a friend more than a sibling. Like we don’t fight each other. But back when I was in grade school she’d try to strangle me to death or hit me (laugh). But now we really never fight anymore.
Does she have a yankee spirit?
She might be a hidden yankee? Every girls is like that underneath, but she’s like that on her hidden twitter account as well for example.
And you even play survival games with your family right?
Rather than my family, it’s more that my sister and father have always liked the shooter video game “Call Of Duty”. Because of that they wanted to try doing the same thing in real life and someone we knew happened to be running a place.
You got dragged into it?
Sometimes there are bullets flying through the house and some end up hitting me by accident (laugh). I may shout that “It hurts!” but in the end ,I let them do.
Hearing you talking, it seems you’re all getting along very well just like a normal family. Alright then, people often say you seem very mature for your age, where do you think this comes from?
I dunno, but I read books, watch movies and learned lots of words that way.
That’s a pretty strong thing to do.
I do think people who are good with words are invincible. There are also movies I watched after having them recommended by Kanae.
What movies do you like?
There are no movies I particularly like. If anything, I just watch what people tell me is “good” and watch those foreign girls movies going all “eh–” in front of my screen.
But you don’t get moved that way, do you?
I don’t, I watch them with a blank state. Like “Ah so this is what youth is…” (laugh).
Why do you treat them as strangers when they’re the same age as you (laugh)?
They may be the same age but I’ve never felt the same way as they do (laugh).
Is there anyone with whom you share feelings?
Eeeh… But I often share the same feelings as Seiko. Since I’ve met Seiko and Kanae at Miss iD I may be sharing lots of feeling with both of them.
What in particular?
Seiko is very good with words. She can speak for everyone whether they’re girls or boys and I think that’s the reason she has so much support on twitter. As for Kanae, she knows how to speak to girls.
Was Miss iD that big of an encounter for you?
Meeting them at 13 was a big thing. They’re the ones who established the “Kuromiya Rei” of today. They showed me what was it I truly wanted to become. Back then it was already “Kuromiya Rei = Idol” but now it’s more “Kuromiya Rei = LADYBABY” or “Kuromiya Rei = Music”. They’re the ones who told the world that. They spoke for me.
Had you ever met them before, those persons?
No, I didn’t. Up until that time I was living in a narrow world, but they showed me a brand new one. They’re my benefactors.
Because of your activities in the entertainment industry as a child, there seems to be a lot of people talking about your family as though it’d have problems… but you actually never talk about it with your family right?
Everyone’s talking about that! But it’s not a horrible family like they’re all thinking. I actually don’t even see what they’re going on about.
It must be an image someone created.
Someone did yes. Someone who isn’t the person concerned is trying to paint us as pitiful. For people feel at ease when they’re looking at pitiful things that aren’t themselves.
Those are some words you wouldn’t expect from a 15-years-old…
What kind of child were you before entering grade school?
Eh? Eh? Eh?
Why are you shaking (laugh)?
I was normal? I think I was already a big talker.
Who influenced you for you to be like that?
My genetic? I don’t know about the other members of my family so I can’t compare but, there haven’t been anything or anyone special (laugh)! Let’s just go with the story that I was “a normal girl in a normal family”!
It’s the first time I receive someone who chooses her own story! So then, after you entered grade school, how were you?
I think I stood out but I thought of me as normal. Everyone around me was crazy, just like me (laugh). We’d suddenly start messing around right in the middle of the class and turn it into a chaos as we felt doing so (laugh). But the teacher was an old woman so she didn’t get angry all that much and would just say “okay have some fun for 10 minutes then we’re going back to the lesson”.
Was there anything during those times that got you used to standing in front of people? Like singing maybe.
Eeh, I don’t think so. I dunno (laugh). I don’t think there was anything. I didn’t take any actual music class neither. I always skipped physical education too. It was normal at our school (laugh).
What led you to form the band BRATS with your sister in 2011?
I was already working in the entertainment industry prior to that, so it wasn’t anything special. I thought SCANDAL were “super cool” when I first saw them, and I was bored at that time. Simply going to school and work was no fun, I wanted some new stimulus so I thought why not form a band. Isn’t school boring?
You then performed lives at Shibuya’s TAKEOFF7 and Club Quattro in 2012.
Oh yeah, that was huge (laugh). I can’t remember anything else than that it was huge (laugh). While playing I couldn’t stop thinking “this place is huge, what should I do” and ended up mistaking lyrics.
Still, for a 11 years-old, you had some guts to be able to stand on such a stage. Where did they came from?
I dunno, I was born with them? But personally I don’t think I have guts, or maybe I do? I often get told I’m good at keeping a cool head, but maybe that’s because it’s yankee-ish? Maybe I want to do everything yankees do.
Doing all those activities, how did other people see you at school?
People gave me weird looks. When I entered high-school people told me to “go do some porn” (laugh). They were all looking down on me. But I didn’t pay it attention at all, as they were nothing but kids after all. Like they would all look up infos about me while in the computer lab and the teacher would have to tell them to stop.
What kind of student were you in middle school?
People were saying things like “this girl is scary”. My sister was a third year while I was a first year, but people in the same grade as hers were fond of me, so I would often be on my way back home with her and one of her friend. I felt protected a lot. But because I was in that entertainment industry I would get told stuff like “I bet you think you think you’re cute” — there was no end to it, no one in front of me in the classroom would keep their mouth shut. But I didn’t care. It is to be expected if you’re in the entertainment industry. If I were to cry because of being bullied, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place.
How come you didn’t break at this point?
Because I was certain it would sell. I thought that “something may change”.
And you were right!
Yes, I think I was a genius back then (laugh). I was super lucky during those two years.
Why did you participate in this Miss iD contest two years ago, in 2014?
I didn’t know anything about it but it seemed like a contest where somewhat weird girls went, so I got passed the papers, filled them out and auditioned to give it a go anyway.
How did it feel like actually taking the audition?
Everyone was boring. They were all either singing, doing hula hoops or acting, so that’s why I tried to do something different and came in a swimsuit playing guitar, which the judges liked.
The other girls were boring?
Yes, that’s what I thought. It was nothing but girls acting, crying or singing, so there was no one else like me.
You managed to rank but you didn’t get the grand prize, how frustrated were you about that?
I wonder… That “frustration” might have been comparable to wanting to kill someone. But, only comparable (laugh). But frustration eventually turns into motivation right? The fact that I couldn’t win the grand prize became a driving force to me, so if I think about it positively, being 3rd was a good thing. The 3rd place is neither good nor bad, it can be whatever you want it to. Everyone who’d rank in Miss iD would think so.
At that time, what did you think about doing afterward?
At that time I didn’t understand what Miss iD was at all, so I was a bit anxious about “what was going to happen after”.
Later on, it seems you were in the entertainment department in high school, what was the ambiance like?
It was similar to how it is here (they’re in the meeting room of a record company). A bit like we were working. It didn’t feel like a school. Everyone was doing his own thing, and there were those desks and chairs, plus a teacher. None of us seemed like high-schoolers so it didn’t feel like we were in classes neither. It was another world.
What about the rest?
I only went about 2 to 3 times but, it looked like the idol girls grouped together. And that people who already knew each other beforehand stayed together as well. It might’ve been the entertainment department but there were people who were doing sport — those ones were the normal ones and I was friend with them. I may be distancing myself from girls who are nothing but chit-chat. I can’t stand those who are like “Hey everyone let’s talk a photo together, Rei come here too~!” (laugh). Rie is the same as I so that’s why I’m friend with her.
What is Rie to you?
Rie is, in a good way, different. Her aura is something else. Because people can’t seem to bring themselves to talk to Rie I’m the one they ask to take a photo with. Wouldn’t a normal girl die trying to withstand LADYBABY or “Kaneko Rie’s life”? Only Rie herself knows about her personal experience and thoughts but, I think a normal girl wouldn’t be able to cope up with everything she’s lived. Rie is strong.
Is that why you feel sympathy for her?
There’s that, but also because of her way of thinking. She often gets told she’s “not thinking about anything”, but that’s because she’s only being judged on her appearance. She doesn’t say what she has on her mind and she hides her feelings, but when it’s only the two of us, she opens up herself to me. That’s what I like about her. When I get irritated and start crying, Rie takes the time to understand the situation and clears things up. It’s so amazing I respect her as a human. I can’t have a proper interview without her (laugh).
What made you join LADYBABY in 2015?
I got approached by someone from a cosplay company and its president (ClearStone) during Miss iD, all they told me was that they were going to do an event with Bear-chan (former LADYBABY member Ladybeard). Then, the day after, they asked me to have an interview with him, which I did, before informing me of a few things. At first I only thought it’d be about cosplaying and spreading the cosplay culture to the world, not about singing. But after the recording of “Nippon Manju” the direction changed and it became an idol group where we were both about cosplay and music.
When you started out, had you imagined it would have so much impact oversea?
We didn’t even know what we were doing, we were simply like “so… we only have to sing?” during the recording, which is why when we got told it was being a huge hit oversea and it’s replays numbers were skyrocketing, I simply nodded “Ah, really?…” (laugh). Even my friends told me “Isn’t your unit awesome? You’re even making it into the top 50 of YouTube!”, but I could only answer “Really? All we did was a normal recording though.”
We weren’t especially aiming for it to become a great hit, we simply did our best at recording a music and shooting a MV. Wasn’t it thanks to Bear-chan? Because it wasn’t only two girls but also him. And on top of trying to spread the japanese culture to the world, the video had been uploaded on YouTube where it’s easy to watch, plus the lyrics were translated in various different languages so that might be why it had been a hit.
How did you feel about it being a hit oversea?
I told Bear-chan “Thank youuu! It’s selling!” and he answered “Yaay! Thank you too!” (laugh). He was the perfect person for the role. There aren’t many idol groups singing about such down-to-earth japanese stuff right?
Can you share your thoughts about touring oversea?
We might’ve had a one man live in America but, at first when I was riding the shinkansen in order to go to a release event, I was reading our planning when I first saw “One Man Live in America” written; I thought it was a mistake. Along with Rie we asked the staff if they were stupid (laugh). I told them I couldn’t speak english, to which they answered it wasn’t a problem because it was in a far future. It turned out it wasn’t in a far future at all (laugh).
Then, we went to America, had our live and made it a success. After that, we had a live in London and although Rie couldn’t come and it wasn’t a one man, we still had a full house. I was like “we’re pretty good, uh?” and that’s when I started getting caught up in the excitement (laugh).
How did you feel when Bear-chan announced his retirement from LADYBABY?
As you can expect, since it had always been the three of us performing together and LADYBABY was basically “Bear-chan + Rei + Rie”, I felt anxious about it. Thinking about the fans who were cheering on the three of us, I was very unsure about whether we would be able to succeed or not if it were only us two.
And now that you’ve rebranded as The Idol Formerly Known As LADYBABY, how is it?
Since we’ve lost the visual power of Bear-chan, we’ll have to work in order to compensate for his loss, and make the best out of what he taught us up until now.
What kind of feelings do you harbor as you two are waiting for your major debut?
There’s pressure…. but… yeah… pressure…. We can feel the pressure, but since the number of people taking care of us increased we’re also more relaxed. At first, there was only one other staff person with us, so we were doing everything with 4 people. And since he had a lot of things to attend to, there were things on our end that we had to take care of ourselves.
But as our major debut got decided, things got a lot more peaceful as lots of adults were now thinking of things for us. The more people there are, the more diversified the minds. It got more convenient to ask the adults for their opinions about different subjects. And they can give us a piece of their mind about what’s around us. (Rei turns to speak to the staff) … Is that good? Can this be used?
Why do you start speaking in a low voice and seems anxious whenever you’re talking about serious matters (laugh)?
Because I’m anxious when it comes to serious matters (laugh). I’m always with Rie when I usually get interviewed and she’s the one handling the serious stuff (laugh).
“Ainikoiyo”, a music by BRATS, has been chosen to be the opening theme for the anime “TO BE HERO”. How do you plan on balancing activities between your two groups?
You know, I’ve got a good sense of balance. I’ll do everything. I really have a good sense of balance (laugh). Whether it’s LADYBABY or BRATS, I want to go at both with the same passion. Since my sense of balance is good (laugh).
Why are you emphasizing it so much (laugh). Speaking of which, you exchanged some tweets with Higashi Kanae the other day and ended on the conclusion that “life was too hard”. How did it come to this?
We were talking about the sequel to “Heaby Shabby Girl” which she was filming, and as we talked about work and other private matters we ended up talking about how “you can’t do anything without money”. As well as the time and personal connexions among others.
Do you think “life is too hard’ as well?
Well, I sometimes do. Aren’t there times when you’re feeling down? I have lots. And when it happens I start thinking I’m incompetent, which in turns makes me think about how hard life is. It might look stupid from the outside but I think about wanting to die at least five times a day. That’s how it is (laugh).
When do you happen to feel down?
When a live didn’t go well or when I didn’t manage to convey my feelings properly to another person, for example. Even on social networks, there’s always that one person going around spreading all kind of stuff to which everyone else then overreacts way too much. Or it also happens when I say something that’s badly interpreted, when someone says something bad about me or when there are antis. Don’t use text, come and talk if you have something to say! That’s the kind of things that makes me feel down anyway, I might be mentally weak.
That’s not the impression I had of you at the beginning.
Maybe I’m bipolar (laugh). But I really hate being told I’m in a “chuunibyou” phase. It might look like I’m sick or in a rebellious phase, but I’m not. I am not a narcissist.
“Not a narcissist” is a surprisingly strong punchline.
I’m not good with things when it comes to myself, and I’m no good at being cute neither. I don’t know how to take it when I’m told I am. It does make me happy, but I can’t bring myself to be honest and say so.
How do you react when your fans say they’re glad they got to meet you?
I am happy as well, I am able to share their feelings.
Do you usually confidently “share the same feeling” or agree with people?
Do I have confidence doing so? I’m happy to have people sharing the same feeling or agreeing with me when it is from people whom I trust, but I am not if it’s from people who don’t clearly express their opinions. That’s why I like Rie, she clearly says what she has on her mind and clarify things properly. Girls can’t live without sharing the same mind with someone else in their small world. At first you’ll find there are downsides to speaking out your mind but I think it’s better to keep doing so nonetheless. That’s what I’m doing now (laugh). Someone will make things right for you.
Who’s that someone?
You’ve once written on BRATS’ blog that “you were looking for the proof you were “alive” while walking down the Shibuya Station platform”, did you obtain that proof?
I did, plenty of them. At that time, I think the adults around me were ordering me around, telling me what to become. They were trying to turn me into someone who wasn’t “Kuromiya Rei”. But once I realized so it suddenly opened my eyes. There’s no meaning in being alive if you can’t say what’s on your mind. Isn’t the only one who can cherish yourself no one but you? That’s why I think it’s important to stay true to your own principles.
Even though you deleted all of your tweets?
But there are times when you want to delete your tweets (laugh). That also was one of those times when I was feeling down, at around 3AM at night (laugh).
You give off the image of someone raising her middle finger to the world. As if you were rebellious or something. To whom are you raising that middle finger?
As I was in the entertainment industry in the past, there were people looking down on me, so this is my way of getting my revenge against them. I want to show those people who told me I was “already done for” that I can and will succeed; and that will be how I positively get my revenge against the society.
You wrote on BRATS’ blog that “because this world is unfair destroying it is the perfect thing to do”, is it what you’re actually doing?
As for your future, on top of keeping up with your activities in LADYBABY and BRATS, what do you want to become?
Eeeh! What do I want to become?
What about acting?
I’m no good at acting. I can’t remembers lines since they aren’t my words!
How do you think you’ll be once you’ll be twenty?
I wonder? I haven’t thought about it. To be honest, I’m fully focused on living the present moment right now. So as I’m already thinking about how to live my life “now”, I really wonder how my life will look like in 5 years? Maybe I’ll stop being human? I’d like to become a “Kuromiya Rei” instead.
Can you tell us about your ambitions?
I’d like LADYBABY not to be a thing of Japan but to become worldwide. Rie said the same thing. As we’re singing about Japan, I think it can work even abroad. We have yet to perform a live oversea since we’ve became a duo, but I’d like to spread the japanese culture around. I want LADYBABY to be unique. (Rei turns to the staff) What else did I say?…
Even at the very end it looks like you’re becoming nervous again…
Ah, I remember. Since we’re two in LADYBABY and we wouldn’t be able to do it alone, I want it to become something that can only be done with a duo. Something that only Kaneko Rie and Kuromiya Rei can become together, through music!
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