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Interview: YANAKIKU – Female J-pop Duo With A Difference

Their mission is to share the wonders of Japan with the world!

YANAKIKU Interview Japanese duo YANAKIKU are more than just a pop group. They do KIMONO cosplay and represent Japanese pop & decora culture!

Since forming in 2012, dynamic J-pop duo YANAKIKU have been causing much excitement with their catchy tunes and cool decorative costumes and entertaining performances at packed venues like the Tokyo Dome, the J-pop Summit Festival in San Francisco and Hyper Japan in London (twice). The two members that make up this fun and colourful act are Yana, described as exotic and electrifying, and Kiku, an overload of cuteness.

Diverse Japan is thrilled the girls could give up some of their time between performances at Hyper Japan 2014, which took place at Earls Court London 25-27 July, to talk to us about their music and costumes, Harry Potter, London and lettuces.

Interview took place at Hyper Japan 2014 on Sunday,  27th July.

Interviewer: Spencer Lloyd Peet (Editor-In-Chief)

Interpreter: Gavin

Special thanks to all the staff at Hyper Japan 2014

For those not familiar with YANAKIKU could you please explain what you’re all about and the meaning behind your incredible visual style.

Kiku: YANAKIKU is really an advertisement for Japan. We embody all the interesting things about Japan such as the places and the culture. An example of this is the various costumes we wear. We call this style KIMOCOS – a blending of kimono and cosplay. We like to wear something traditional but in a new and exciting way.

Was it initially yours or the management’s decision to YANAKIKU with the style you have right now?

Yana: It was our decision really to go out and be on our own. We got together and we both said we’d like to sing, play as a duo. We wondered what kind of music we could play and what kind of act we could be. We really wanted to show the wonderful and great things about Japan and Japanese culture and felt we could present that. So that’s how YANAKIKU came about really.

Photo Gallery: YANAKIKU in press room Hyper Japan 2014 (Photography: James Fielding Photography)

Your songs are very tuneful and infectious, do you write them all yourself?

Kiku: Yes we do. We write the music and the lyrics. We do all of it.

So when you record, do you lay down the vocals together or do you record them individually?

Yana: Well, the practice is, when we’re learning a new song, we do it together at home and then when we go into the studio to record it properly as a CD release we do our vocals separately.

Kiku: But we’re always outside the booth listening to each others’ performance.

You seem to work very well together and your different personalities makes for a good balance. Therefore, how would you describe each other?

Yana: I’ve known Kiku for a very long time, over ten years now. We even lived together at one point. We’ve worked together for a long time. I remember when I first met her she was sort of like a little sister to me, I remember thinking, I’ve got to protect her and help her out. But over the years she’s become so much more grounded than me now. She can do so much on her own now; it’s kind of changed around now in that way.

Kiku: I feel that Yana is someone I can really rely and depend on. She’s such a dependable person for me. She’s always thinking clearly; she’s always level-headed, whereas I’m more like “yeah, let’s do this” without thinking and being really reckless. She’s always more headstrong. So I think of her a lot like a big sister.

It’s quite refreshing to learn that you formed YANAKIKU together from the ground up and that it’s your own creation and not something that has been manufactured like some people might think.

Yana: Obviously the base is there between us, but there are a lot of people in our team who help us out. We got specialists for all kinds of aspects of our performances and what we do. For example, the clothes that we wear – we couldn’t have done all this on our own. So obviously, we get a lot of help from other people too.

Of course, but the strong bond between you two should be commended also.

Yana/Kiku: (Giggles) Oh, thank you very much.

Now that YANAKIKU has established a UK fanbase – thanks to your performances at Hyper Japan –  how will you build on this and will you be coming back to the UK in October for Hyper Japan Christmas 2014?

Kiku: If they want us… We’d really love to come back. Invite us over. Let them [the organisers of Hyper Japan] make us come over. Get them to say “Come on, come on!” (Laughs)

You could come for Christmas dinner?

Kiku: (Excitedly) Yes, yes, YES!

Photo Gallery: YANAKIKU live on the Fringe stage Hyper Japan 2014 (Photography: James Fielding Photography)

Hyper Japan 2014 was the second time you had performed at the three-day annual event (first appearance 2013); what have been the highlights for you both this time round?

Kiku: There has been so much. For me it’s such a great event. The strange thing for me is, obviously I live in Japan, but coming here to Hyper Japan I actually feel closer to Japan as I do at home. There are so many things I didn’t know about Japan and Japanese culture, things you see here I think Wow that’s the first time I found that out. So, for example, all the new Harajuku that’s on show, it makes me want to go out shopping now in Harajuku. That girlie part of me is really excited by that kind of thing.

Yana: Look at our performance; I mean the best thing for me about that is that we’ve done four shows now over three days but each time it’s really great to see the fans recognise us and know what we’re singing. I’ve seen these faces, I’ve seen these guys before and they’ve come back to see us. They know who were are and they love us, and also “Lettuce” who’s been doing the MC-ing… it’s been really great to see the same faces over and over again.

Kiku: Have you seen lettuce? Do you know lettuce?

Yes, but could you please explain the concept for those who don’t know anything about it.

Kiku: You are the lettuce, we are the meat. We try to do the MC-ing all in English. But maybe because we don’t have much experience speaking in English not everybody understood us.

Yana: It means “let us love you”, let us – let-tuce. It is a play on words. (Laughs)

Kiku: We call all our fans lettuces. And we’re the meat for the sandwich. We put it together for you to eat it all up.

I see, so together we make a good dish.

Kiku: Yes.

Yana: Delicious.

(Jokingly) I thought you were making a reference to the Shakespeare play Hamlet where the title character holds up the skull and gives his famous speech. I thought it was your version of Hamlet with a lettuce. Yanakiku does Shakespeare.

Yana/Kiku: (Laughs)

Kiku: Maybe we’ll put that in the next MC (Laughs)

You could use that idea for your album cover; hold up a lettuce Hamlet-style.

Yana: Let Us… (Laughs)

Kiku - Lettuce

You’ve been to London twice now, have you had much chance to explore the city?

Yana: Yeah, we’ve had quite a bit of time to walk around, it’s really nice. Just walking around the streets and seeing how everything looks is amazing. It’s very stimulating to see. We’ve taken loads and loads of photographs.

Kiku: We’ve eaten Fish & Chips twice. Oishi (delicious)

Yana: We’ve seen loads of London buses but we haven’t been able to ride on one yet.

Perhaps next time you should take a trip further south to one of the coastlines and have Fish & Chips on the beach.

Kiku: Okay. Do you have anything else you’d like to recommend to us? We have a whole day to look around, so what would you recommend we should do?

Well, I can tell you where I live. You’re welcome there.

Yana/Kiku: Okay (Laughs)

I live quite close to Pinewood Studios, the film studio where they make the James Bond films and Harry Potter.

Kiku: We were talking to our manager and saying that the way the town [London] looks is just like what you see in a Harry Potter movie. It’s really really cool and stylish. It’s like the town is like one big film set.

Maybe you could make a video here in London.

Yana: Oh, we’d love to do that.

Yana/Kiku: London Disco (in reference to YANAKIKU’s fourth single “Fujiyama Disco”)

Is there a question you would like to ask?

Kiku: Did you see our live shows?

Of course.

Kiku: We’d like to hear what you thought of it.

I really enjoyed it. I think your music is very melodic and infectious. Your visual style and the way you present YANAKIKU is very refreshing. I think you appeal to people of both sexes and of all ages.

Yana/Kiku: Thank you.

What can we expect from YANAKIKU this year (2014)

Yana: We’re obviously going to write a load more songs, come up with loads more costumes.

Kiku: We’d actually like to do a tour in London if we can – a proper tour. Would you come to that if we do this?

Yes, of course. I’ll be happy to do all I can to help you promote it and put the word out.

Kiku: Wow. Thank you. Promise?

Absolutely.

Kiku: One of the sad things about doing Hyper Japan is that we have to wait a whole year before we can see everybody there again. I don’t think that’s really good for the fans. But we’d love to stay in touch with people via facebook, twitter and things like that. If people can keep in contact with us through facebook, that would be brilliant.

Well, it’s been very nice to meet you both.

Yana/Kiku: It’s been very nice to meet you too.

Thank you. I look forward to seeing you performing again in the UK. And don’t forget about the Christmas dinner.

Yana/Kiku: Oh yes (thumbs up). Thank you very much.

YANAKIKU Official Website

Official Facebook Page

Follow YANAKIKU on Twitter

Official You Tube Channel

Photo Gallery: YANAKIKU live on the main stage Hyper Japan 2014 (Photography: Spencer Lloyd Peet)

YANAKIKU Interview pic 17 - Spencer Lloyd Peet with YANAKIKU

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  1. August 7, 2014 at 9:06 pm
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