Aither are a 5-piece idol group based out of Sendai, Japan who debuted in June of 2013. They’ve grown a lot since their debut, not only in skill, but they’ve also gained two members since starting as a three-piece unit. For their first appearance outside of Japan, they were invited to Idol Matsuri in Washington, USA, which, at less than one year since their debut, may be one of the fastest overseas appearances since a group’s debut in J-idol history.
Aither took part in a range of activities at the convention, including photo opportunities, autographs, handshakes, and a live concert, giving fans a great opportunity to get an idea of what this group is all about. (Please note, you’ll only see four members here, as one member of the group was absent at the show. Megumi had to stay in Japan for unforseen circumstances.)
On Friday, the first day of the convention, Aither started their activities by appearing at the opening ceremonies, and just shortly afterward, a Q&A session where the audience could ask questions and get answers from the members. They got lots of questions from US fans and Japanese fans alike, and everyone had a good time. Here’s a few shots from those sessions:
Shortly after those activities, everyone got the opportunity to buy some Aither merchandise and get pictures taken with the group. They chose a great outdoor location on the waterfront for the photo shoots, giving some nice scenery for the backdrop. Fans lined up steadily for almost an hour to get their pictures with the members of Aither, and the girls were having fun dancing and enjoying the outdoor environment when not busy taking pictures. Here’s some shots from the outdoor location where photo sessions were held:
Aither’s activities were light throughout the rest of the day on Friday, with only some short handshake and autograph sessions taking place after the photo shoot. This gave them plenty of time to rest for the much bigger and busier day on Saturday.
When Saturday came around, Aither had a few scattered activities in the beginning of the day, but things really started for me when I sat down with the group for an interview on Saturday afternoon. Here’s a transcript of my chat with them:
SH: Hello, please introduce yourselves individually and tell a little bit about yourself:
Airi: Hi, I’m Airi from Miyagi prefecture, I’m a 1st year high school student.
Yuuka: Hi, I’m Yuuka from Miyagi prefecture, and I’m also a 1st year high school student.
Misaki: Hi, I’m Misaki from Akita prefecture, and I’m a 3rd year junior high school student.
Sakura: Hi, I’m Sakura, also from Miyagi, and I’m in the same grade as Airi and Yuuka.
SH: It sounds like you’re all still in school. How does being in school affect your work schedule with Aither?
Airi: I’m not doing a 100% full school schedule, but it’s pretty close. We try to do most of our activities on the weekends when we can.
Yuuka: I’m also not doing a 100% full schedule either, but I bet my life on Aither and even though I’m not giving up on school, Aither is most important to me.
Misaki: I’m almost on a 100% full school schedule, but not quite. Either way, Aither activity is a priority for me.
Sakura: I’m also not on a 100% full school schedule, almost, but I put my full power into both Aither and studying, they’re both very important to me.
SH: You recently changed from being a 3 member group to being a 5 member group. Do you like the change? How has it affected the dynamic in the group? What are some of the major differences, negative or positive?
Airi: I think Aither got a lot more powerful when we gained two members, we have a stronger image. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a bad thing, but its definitely harder to synchronize dancing and singing with five people than it is with three, we just have to work a little harder.
Yuuka: Having more members definitely makes Aither more colorful as a group and makes our dances more appealing. On the other hand, of course it makes dancing harder and makes it so there’s more people’s opinions going into everything we do, so it can be hard to have everyone agree sometimes, but as the leader, I work harder to make sure everyone’s satisfied in the end.
Misaki: Since going from three members to five, I’ve realized that the variety of formations you can do with three members is a lot more limited than with five, there’s a lot more choices with five. I’d also agree that the difficulty in synchronizing is the same for me as what the others said.
Sakura: I agree that the Aither with five members are a lot stronger at dancing and singing. Even though I had known Aither as a fan before I joined the group, the fans have also told me that the five members are more powerful and have more appeal, so I think it shows in our performance. Synchronizing and singing is definitely a little more complicated, but it gives us a stronger bond.
SH: Are any of you talented at music and do you play any instruments? Would you like to write music or lyrics for Aither songs in the future?
Airi: Recently, on my birthday, I got a guitar for a present. I’d very much like to contribute some musical ideas to Aither and I really want to be able to play guitar on stage someday.
Yuuka: I do play keyboards/piano, and I’d like to contribute more to Aither musically as well. I’m working hard to get better, because I played on stage at one of our shows this past April, but I wasn’t satisfied with my own performance. I like to think about lyrics and I usually look to nature for inspiration on those kinds of things. One of our songs called “1 Carat Star” has lyrics by Kyan Chiaki (from Fudanjuku,) and I’d like to aspire to become a great lyricist like that one day.
Misaki: I play bass guitar, I’m learning a lot more about it, and I hope to play on some of our songs one day. I’d also like to be a songwriter, but I’m not very good at it, so maybe it’s just more of a dream at this point (laughs)
Sakura: I played the keyboard a little bit when I was younger, but I also want to play keys on stage some day. I’ve had basic lessons in music composition, so maybe someday I can contribute to Aither.
SH: I know you do some cover songs at your live shows, so what are some of your favorite covers you perform and why?
Airi: Tamaki Nami’s “Realize,” is probably my favorite, it’s a really cool song and dance. I want to cover more SPEED songs in the future or other ones that have a really “cool” image instead of just being cute.
Yuuka: SPEED’s “All My True Love” is my favorite. We want to be like SPEED, we look up to them a lot, but we aren’t quite at their level yet. I think Aither’s style is very similar to SPEED and we’ve had lots of fans tell us the same, so I think we’re on the right track.
Misaki: I like the Tamaki Nami and SPEED covers as well, but I also like anime songs a lot, and I want to cover more cool anime themes in the future.
Sakura: We cover a song by one of our sister groups from our agency called VIC:CESS, the song is “Get Ready,” its a really good song and a cool dance.
SH: Where do you see Aither and yourself in about 5 years?
Airi: Well, it will be my 20th birthday, it’s hard to think that far, but I really want the group to keep getting bigger and be recognized more as a real artist group.
Yuuka: Maybe it’s just a dream at this point, but I’d like us to be really big, like on a national level. I have to get very big popularity for myself, it’s an absolute must for me!
Misaki: I think I’ll always be performing somewhere or another. I want everyone to know the name of Aither, but I’d also like myself to be well-known as an individual.
Sakura: My dream is to play in a big dome stadium venue with thousands of people, and like everyone else said, I’d also like to be very well known on a personal basis as a talent.
SH: How has your response from fans in the US been so far? Would you like to come back sometime?
Airi: Everyone has been really friendly, and even though I’m really bad at English, everyone’s been really accommodating despite the language barrier. I’d really like to come back even though I’m so bad at English. Using this opportunity of getting to perform here, we really want to spread the name of Aither to the rest of the world as well as strengthen our fanbase in Japan.
Yuuka: I think we’re going to have a lot of fun at our live today, everyone’s been anticipating our live so much, I think it’ll make the show more successful, since we have the expectations set high for ourselves and we can’t disappoint our fans!
Misaki: Everyone has been very friendly, and I’m really looking forward to the live. All the fans here keep telling us how much they can’t wait to see our live show tonight. I want to use the live performance to show everyone how awesome we are so more people will want to follow us and spread our name!
Sakura: Everyone is waiting for our live, I keep hearing it, and its making me a little nervous, but very happy. Its the first time overseas, not only for Aither, but for me personally. I was a little scared on the way here, but once I got here, everyone’s really nice and accommodating, so I got over that pretty quickly. In just a few days, we’ll be celebrating our first year anniversary as a group, and I’m still shocked that even before being around for two years, we’ve gotten to appear overseas already, and we’re really excited to use that opportunity to strengthen our fanbase and share ourselves with the world.
Later in the day, we finally got the opportunity to see Aither live, and they put on a great show, getting the audience on their feet and jumping to the music for the duration. Their stage show was packed with powerful dancing and strong vocals the whole way through as they performed around 10 songs with a few MCs in between them, including one cover song, giving the audience a good variety of what they can do. Here’s some pictures from the show as well as a close-up video for one of the songs:
You can also watch the static, overhead view of the entire show from Aither’s unofficial YouTube channel!
After the performance, Aither got surprised with a big birthday cake and American-style celebration from the staff and fans of Idol Matsuri for their one year anniversary and the birthday of their producer, which are both just a few days apart. After the celebration, they had some more opportunities for handshakes, autographs, and photos with the members, and everyone enjoyed spending more time with the group this one last time before they had to head back to Japan.
Overall, Aither provided everyone with a fun and memorable weekend and surely won over a lot of new fans who may not have been familiar with them before the show, and judging by some of their recent blog posts, they had plenty of memories of their own from the trip. You can continue following them through all their social media and YouTube channels, which are all listed in the links below.
A big thank you to Aither and their staff for appearing at Idol Matsuri and for taking the time to talk with us. Stay tuned for more Idol Matsuri content in the next few weeks.