The following Interview was a part of Group Interview made up of 4 Press holders. Selective Hearing would like to thank Derek, Ricky and the members of NECRONOMIDOL for their time and for taking part on the interview. We would also like to extend our thanks to NerdOD, Bunkazilla and Erin for sharing their questions in this interview.
Finally, Selective Hearing would like to thank the team behind Hyper Japan who made the event itself happen, and would like to further express our thanks towards Mischa for allowing these interviews to take place.
Celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Hyper Japan kicked off their first event of the year with their Summer Festival on Friday the 12th of July 2019. Held over the course of three days at the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre in London, England, Hyper Japan currently stands as the biggest Japanese Culture convention within the UK.
With two floors to fill, Hyper japan goes above and beyond when it comes to dedicating itself to showcasing the joys of Japanese culture. From anime, manga, plushies, snacks, films, tourism and travel booths, alcohol, art and music – as well as a dedicated food area – Japanese paraphernalia line the stalls for all to see. Attendees can also attend a maid cafe, take part in various workshops, watch showcases and even listen to and watch live music performances from Japanese groups and singers on the Hyper Live Stage, or listen to and watch performers and coverists on the Hyper Street Live.
This year, Hyper Japan’s Live stage turned black with the appearance of NECRONOMIDOL. With performances held on the Friday and Sunday of Hyper Japan weekend, the group certainly made an intriguing entrance thanks to their chilling aura and gothic attire, all tied together perfectly by the billow of smoke that encompassed the sides of the stage.
Made up of five members – Kakizaki Risaki, Imaizumi Rei, Tsukishiro Himari, Kenbishi Kunogi and Michelle – NECRONOMIDOL seem sombre upon first appearance, but soon erupt into an enigmatic and upbeat performance once the music begins. With an elaborate story to tell, NECRONOMIDOL create an almost theatrical, undeniably moving performance thanks to their emotive choreography and haunting vocals.
From the ground floor to the balcony above, NECRONOMIDOL lead their listeners into a chorus of chaotic energy song after song, before finally taking time out of their busy schedule to hold a meet and greet. Met with a rather impressive outcome, old and new fans alike came to meet the members of NECRONOMIDOL for a few brief moments before deciding whether or not they would partake in the cheki (polaroid) shoot with the girls.
On Hyper japan’s final day, Selective Hearing sat down and had a chat with NECRONOMIDOL before the groups final appearance on the Hyper Japan Live Stage. From their image to performing abroad and more, let’s take a deeper look into the minds of those who make up NECRONOMIDOL.
Interview held on Sunday July 14th, 2019.
Risaki: We are NECRONOMIDOL, nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you!
Risaki: I am Okaki, nice to meet you.
Rei: I am Rei.
Himari: I am Himari.
Kunogi: I am Kunogi.
Michelle: I’m Michelle.
NECRONOMIDOL: Yoroshiku onegaishimasu
Ricky: Thank you so much for coming and giving us your time today.
No, thank you!
So this will be the third time for Okaki, Rei and Himari to come to the UK, as well as the first time for Kunogi and Michelle. How does it feel to come back to the UK and what does it feel like to be able to come to the UK for the first time?
Risaki: We have come (to the UK) several times, and every time so many amazing fans come out to see us, so we are always thankful for that. It really feels like London is a city where there is a vibrant music scene, but it is a vibrant city in general. With the transportation you can get anywhere by the busses or trains, so it’s a really fun city to come to because there are so many things to do.
Rei: For me, I was born in England, but I grew up in Japan, so for the first couple of months of my life I lived in England, so in a way I feel as if I am coming home. This time around we have been able to play at Hyper Japan, and the love that everybody has here for Japan and Japanese culture shows through so beautifully, so I really love coming back here because of that.
Himari: As a town, London especially is the ideal place for a Japanese girl who wants to go overseas. It’s bright, colourful, and there are so many things going on, so it’s the ideal spot to come to and I am always happy when I have an opportunity to come to London. As an anime fan myself who has come to Hyper Japan and seeing the love that everybody has for Japanese Culture and Japanese media, as well as being able to perform on the Hyper Live Stage and seeing the great response from the fans makes me even happier.
Kunogi: This is actually my first-time leaving Japan, but when I first arrived in London I thought ‘Wow, the overall feeling of the atmosphere… This is going to be a welcoming and warm place. I can do this’. So, on July 13th (Saturday), Michelle and I rented bicycles and rode to Camden Market. There were a few Japanese shops and when we went inside one of them, the staff member said ‘Oh, I was just watching you guys at Hyper Japan’, and they showed me a video that Hyper Japan staff had taken at the event on Friday. It was such a welcoming, warm feeling that despite this being my first time abroad, I was welcomed warmly in a new country.
So, this one is for Kunogi and Michelle: What image of NECRONOMIDOL did you have before you both joined the group, and has that image changed since you became members?
Michelle: For me, I really did start from zero. It was a completely fresh start, so it wasn’t like I already had a strong image or even a strong perspective on the group before I joined. I was able to come into NECRONOMIDOL as a blank slate and learn about them as I was experiencing everything.
Kunogi: I knew about NECROMA for quite a while before I even joined, and because I was already looking from the outside in, I wondered about what the members were really like, because you know… they’re so cool on stage. It isn’t like they are standoffish, but they have a strong image, you know? But once I got into the group I realised ‘Oh, everybody’s actually kind of… interesting’. The members were a bit different from what you would expect, but very warm and welcoming, so I was able to come to love the group even more after joining NECRONOMIDOL.
You often find that Japanese idol groups like to stay in Japan. They don’t often come out and do European or Worldwide tours. You guys have obviously toured a lot around Europe, America… you also have the bridge to your fans with Idol Underworld as well. What was it that made the decision for you to branch out towards International fans?
Himari: As you mentioned, most groups are only active domestically within Japan, but from the inception of NECRONOMIDOL it was always a part of the plan for the group to perform internationally, so it has been a part of the group’s DNA since the beginning. This isn’t a topic that we need to discuss that regularly because we are going to keep going overseas to perform, of course. This is a very important aspect of NECRONOMIDOL, and through great events like Hyper Japan we hope that we can have the opportunity to reach even more people, to reach new fans and to continue expanding and really get out there so that we can help to bring Underground Japanese Idol music to the world.
What draws you to the image of H.P. Love Craft, and how much of the Japanese horror tradition are you trying to incorporate into your work?
Risaki & Rei (Simultaneous response, said at the exactly the same time): The H,P, Lovecraft influence is because of Ricky (laughs)
(cue the collective laughter from all of NECRONOMIDOL)
Oh, so it’s HIS fault?
Ricky: It’s all my fault.
Kunogi: From a young age there were always horror comics and horror manga around the house because my mother is a big horror movie fan, so this is something I have been exposed to from a very young age. So even though I am not trying to press it into NECROMA myself, it comes out naturally. So that influence and culture I have been exposed to since I was young has been let loose within the group.
Risaki: Our outfits look a little more Western now, but before that we would wear more traditional Japanese uniforms. It is not so much that we are trying to add more Japanese horror or even trying to force Japanese horror into the group, but this is something that we have all ben exposed to.
Himari: Japanese Horror is something that has always been around us, it’s in the atmosphere, so it comes out naturally through the work we create.
Why do you think that people are connecting with some very extreme music from your act, and why do you think more and more people are being drawn to that?
Kunogi: Back in the 80’s and 90’s Japanese idols were, as the term implies – idols. They were like objects, almost, and were placed at a distance from the audience, only to be viewed and appreciated from afar as if they were above the audience. But with the Underground Idol movement the concept of ‘idol’ has been brought closer to the fans, so it isn’t as far or like we are on a pedestal like it used to be. It feels more like we are right there with you, and as that change occurred the idols themselves have started to evolve and disperse into different genres, music and images, but like anything it takes time, obviously. You know, the groups start off by saying ‘let’s try this, let’s try that’… and some of them go a little bit further (with their image), and others will stay within that traditional, bright and sunny idol persona. But as the groups branch out further, the fans will come along with us, but it all takes time. But as the groups become more and more extreme and reach further afield, the fans will go further with us, allowing for new, different kinds of fans to come into the fold.
For anyone who is not aware of the term, could you tell us a little bit about what the anti-idol movement is for those unfamiliar with it?
Risaki: I don’t really think that we are anti-idol.
Rei: Traditionally in Japan, Idol groups wear brightly coloured outfits, they are always smiling, they sing about very positive, optimistic things. For us, we wear dark uniforms, we sing black metal songs, the lyrics aren’t necessarily that positive or as bright as some of the other groups, so because of that many people – especially internationally – would say that we are anti-idol, or you know… the counter side to the idol movement. But for us when we are performing we are doing what we love, we hope that the fans come to love us, we love the fans, we want the fans to feel happier when they leave the show, even though we are singing about things that are dark, we still hope we can bring happiness to the fans. So for us we don’t really consider ourselves as anti-idols in that sense because we are not trying to destroy the idol image, we are just trying to expand it into different horizons.
Himari: It’s a very interesting question, and after listening to what Rei said, obviously the image of the traditional idol is always very bright, very cheerful and always smiling, but maybe when you are talking about an anti-idol… perhaps that can mean that you don’t need to smile, you don’t always need to be happy. It is more of a human drama, so you are really laying your soul out there on the stage by expressing your own emotions, showcasing how you really feel and instead having to force a smile or deliver fake emotions, you can actually be yourself. In that respect, if that’s the kind of approach you would like to take for an anti-idol, then I guess we would fit within that genre.
In your guys’ opinions, what do Western audiences love the most about Japanese culture?
(cue the collective laughter from everyone present) That was the answer I was looking for, thank you.
Okay, so I have a bit of a fun question here: Obviously the analogy that NECRONOMIDOL are in an RPG is from Ricky, but instead of an RPG setting, what sort of characters would you be in an anime setting?
Himari: (hand straight in the air) MAGICAL GIRL! I want to be a magical girl. I am Cardcaptor Himari.
Rei: If we were taking it into a normal anime setting like a school drama, we would just be who we are. Because the characters we portray on stage would translate into that setting well.
Himari: But if we separate it into different genres, Risaki would be the Shounen Jump character.
Risaki: Like One Piece. I’d be the heroine.
Kunogi: Maybe Himari and I would be from a CLAMP style anime, like Himari would be in Cardcaptor Sakura and I would be in xxxHOLiC.
Himari: All of the members would be very different characters.
Rei would be Idol, Himari Magical Girl, Kunogi Magical Girl, Risaki’s a pirate and Michelle… Horror?
NECRONOMIDOL: Horror? (laughs)
Michelle: No, no. It would be an A.I. anime.
An A.I. anime?
Ricky: Rei, you’d probably be in… Marmalade Boy?
Rei: No. I would be Yui from K-ON.
I understand. Thank you!
NECRONOMIDOL: Thank you so much.