Interview with Iwasa Misaki and HAYABUSA at HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market

interview - 15.01.2017 00:01

Iwasa Misaki and HAYABUSA discuss England, enka and K-pop at HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market.

Iwasa Misaki and HAYABUSA charmed the crowds with collaborative performances in November at HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market. They took some time out of their busy schedules to speak with JaME about their experiences and influences.

What were your impressions of London and the meet-and-greet with the fans?

Iwasa Misaki: Before performing, I handed out flyers asking people to come to see me on stage. What was different from Japan was that people always took the paper and stopped to talk to me. These conversations made me understand that people from London are very kind. I was also pleasantly surprised when I saw that many visitors liked AKB48 and had CDs or pictures.
Shoya: It is my first time in England, I am glad to come to HYPER JAPAN. Before coming, I saw many pictures of London but I was wondering how it would be for real. I talked to a lot of people, they were all very nice and now I love England!
Hikaru: Everyone was friendly and talked to me with a smile. Fans also shouted to encourage us during the stage performance. I am very happy because I went through experiences I never had in Japan. I want people to know more about the enka culture, so I will keep doing my best.
Yamato: Personally, I always wanted to come to London, it was my dream. I am very honoured to represent Japanese music and the enka style. I met a lot of local people and had some very nice conversations. They gave me very precise feedback with the titles of the songs they liked. I was very happy that they listened to the songs so attentively.

What is the origin of this collaboration between yourselves?

Shoya: We are from the same agency. Misaki was chosen to be the female representative of young Japanese artists, while we were selected as the male representatives.

The musical style is quite different from AKB48. Have you always had a love for enka?

Misaki: I made my enka debut five years ago when I was still part of AKB48, but I was familiar with this music genre since my childhood.

Do you have a favourite enka singer yourself?

Misaki: It's a difficult question. I’ve had opportunities to see performances by seniors from my agency: Yamakawa Yutaka, Tagawa Toshimi, Mizumori Kaori, Hikawa Kiyoshi — I have a lot of respect for them all.

You were singing K-pop music when we arrived. Do you like K-pop artists?

Misaki: There was a time when I was really into K-pop music. I went to an event called SM Town in Japan. I like SHINee and EXO, and I also went to a Girls' Generation concert. I listen to their music and they also have such a great figure; I’m jealous.
Shoya: People tell me that my face looks Korean (laughs). As a group member myself, I respect K-pop bands because they sing and dance very well.

What was the most important thing you learned from being in AKB48?

Misaki: I think that it’s the gratitude towards my fans. There is an event called “the general elections” where the votes from the fans determine your next position. It is a harsh event, but it is also the opportunity to realize that it is a blessing to have fans.

You included cover songs in your setlist. How were these songs chosen?

Misaki: For our collaboration, we chose music which gets the crowd going. The songs include typical call-and-response such as “dokkoisho” or “wasshoi!”. As for my solo performance, I chose some very famous Japanese songs.

Have any of you been to England before?

All: No, it is our first time.

Have you been sightseeing in London?

Misaki: We haven’t had time yet, but we will go sightseeing the day after tomorrow. I want to see the Big Ben!

Were you surprised by the amount of J-pop fans in the UK?

Misaki: Yes, I was very surprised! There were also many people who can speak Japanese. At first I was anxious, I was wondering if people would come to my live. I was relieved when I saw how many people liked Japanese music.
Shoya: I was happy that people already knew what enka was.

Some of the songs you chose to cover were composed before you were born. Do you take particular care when performing such songs?

Hikaru: I listen to the original songs many times to avoid mistakes.
Misaki: I try to sing it my way but carefully at the same time.
Shoya: I do my best during cover songs to show my respect for the original singer.

This year is about to come to its end. How would you sum up 2016 with one word?

Misaki: As I graduated from AKB48 in March and I started my enka career this year, I would choose the word “hitoridachi” (independence).
Shoya: Personally I would say “hatsukeiken” (first experience). This year we made our first Japanese headlining concert, and it was also my first time in England.
Hikaru: For me, it is “sekai shinshitsu” (global expansion).
Yamato: I hesitated a lot, but I choose “kansha” (gratitude).

JaME would like to thank HYPER JAPAN, Iwasa Misaki and HAYABUSA for this interview opportunity.
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