Japanese idol group Wasuta (“The World Standard”) made their North American performance debut at Anime North 2019 in Toronto, Canada, with a live concert for over 1000 fans on Saturday, May 25.
The five members of Wasuta – Hazuki, Nanase, Miri, Ririka, and Ruka – kept fans updated via their social media accounts, showing their personal interactions with Anime North’s attendees, who came from several countries including the United States, Mexico, South America, and Asia to support the group.
Wasuta’s commitment to spreading Japanese kawaii culture has brought them to 10 countries outside of Japan, and their Anime North appearance marks their 13th concert event overseas. In August, the group will add Mongolia to their passports when they perform at Japan Festival in Mongolia 2019 on August 17 and 18, followed by a concert at @JAM Expo 2019 August 24 and 25 at Yokohama Arena.
The members, who are all studying different languages, made a special effort to connect with their multicultural audience during the concert, speaking to the crowd in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish, and winning loud applause. In addition, the members passed out a variety of Japanese snacks to fans and spent hours signing autographs and posing for photos during the three-day event.
Selective Hearing had the opportunity to speak with Wasuta during Anime North to discuss topics such as their time in Canada, experiences performing overseas, goals for the future and their new album The Legend of WASUTA.
Interview Date: May 26, 2019
Thank you so much for meeting with us. How are you enjoying Canada? Have you had the opportunity to do anything?
Nanase: We’re having a great time in Canada, and actually the day before last we went to Niagara Falls. We got on a boat, and we got soaked.
Ruka: I’ve been to a lot of different countries, but this is my first time in North America, and looking at the snacks compared to Japan, everything is so big, the sizes are so big. Like for example, going to Starbucks, they have the biggest size about here (uses hands), but in Canada it’s like this (spreads her hands out much wider). So just looking at the amount of food that you get in terms of snacks is really amazing to me. Definitely America-sized!
Is there any particular Canadian food that you have particularly enjoyed since you have been here?
Ruka: At Tim Horton’s, I got to eat a honey cruller. I really like sweet things, so it really suited me a lot. Compared to donuts that we get in Japan, the sweetness level is out of this world.
That’s definitely going to cheer up Canadians for sure! Tim Horton’s is the pride of this country. Speaking of overseas events and lives, what makes overseas lives different? You have done a number of foreign lives, so what makes you look forward to overseas events?
Ruka: Going over to different countries, there’s always a different way that fans will react to the live. There are different calls, shouts that they do. Even though we’re performing the same songs, in a different country the atmosphere might be totally different. Even now, being able to perform in Canada and seeing that reaction was interesting to us and we really liked it!
Nanase: We sing a lot of anime songs, and even people who have seen us for the first time, they’ll say things like “Oh we really like this song!” and we’re always very happy to hear that. For example, we started the concert yesterday with the opening to Bakemonogatari, “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari”, everyone was jumping and screaming and having fun, so doing things like that and seeing the different reactions really makes us super happy.
Amongst the members, are there one or two events from foreign lives that they particularly remember? What did you like most about performing in Canada yesterday?
Nanase: The reaction for every country is different. There’s something called “otaku culture” anywhere we go that a lot of people know about. What I felt yesterday, though, was that while Canadian fans might not share the exact same otaku culture, they also had this intense enjoyment of the music that came through as we were performing. At the meet and greet, there were lots of people saying, “This is the first time I’ve listened to J-pop, and your songs are really really good!” Just the fact that they had so much fun listening to our music made us so happy.
Miri: When I wanted to become an idol, performing overseas was something that I didn’t think was possible at first. But now that we’re here and able to communicate with fans that we don’t share a common language with, but are able to share a passion without language, just means a lot to us.
Ruka: In fact, the way we were discovered to do our collaboration with Adexe & Nau was through an overseas convention – their producers happened upon our music and liked it so much that they asked to work with us.
Speaking of that collaboration, how did it feel to work with them?
Nanase: Doing a song with Adexe & Nau was our way of reaching out to people in different countries and to the world. It was our first time doing a song with a Latin flair to it, which meant it created a new genre for us as a group. Because it was such a new and important experience for us, we really want to try doing something like that again.
Ruka: When we made the song, we went straight to Spain afterwards to perform it, and it was really amazing because everyone was mouthing the words, everyone was singing along and having a great time with it. That showed us just how powerful it was to be able to use these new genres to spread the love of Wasuta.
Miri: Latin music is not a genre that’s typically popular in Japan, so we were wondering how they would react. Latin music has a great beat and energy to it though, so our fans were very overjoyed at hearing it for the first time. That was when it hit us that this song wasn’t just amazing but could potentially be a huge hit.
Is there a genre that you would love to cover in the future?
Ruka: I don’t know if it’s an overseas genre, but rap. We would really like to try to do like a rap-only track, or a popular music track, something that an idol group might not typically do. Right now, Hazuki is writing some rap lyrics, so even if it’s just her part, I think we would really like to do a song that has a rap influence.
That would be fantastic. On that note, it’s been 4 years since your debut. What do you think has changed the most since debuting, and what would you like to achieve? Not just in terms of rap music, but overall. Is there something else that you guys would love to do as a group over the next 4 years?
Nanase: We called this past year the “wonderful year”, when we tried various new things from April 2018 to March 2019. Up until now, there have been a lot of songs that were written for us, but eventually we started putting our own flavor into it, and from here on, we want to do that as well. We have a new mini-album coming out on June 26th called The Legend of Wasuta, and with that, we’re going to be starting a live tour, putting the themes of games and the themes of the album into that tour Constructing that is something that we’re really working towards now.
Miri: Each of our unique designs brings out that flavor to showcase to our fans. We always have a discussion talk about the design. For example, my costume shows my love of eggs, Ruka’s for music, Nanase’s for the flow of time, Hazuki’s for soft toys, and Ririka’s for candy.
In a way, each member has their own “flavor”. For the group, Wasuta songs have always had a strong Akiba-flavored otaku influence. There are so many ways that Wasuta has promoted this idea – have you considered what more you can do with this motif?
Nanase: Wasuta has always been about promoting what we call Japanese “kawaii” style. That’s one of the reasons we’ve always worn cat ears, to promote that. We want to be able to create a song that really communicates the things that we want to show the world about Japan – this idea that we would call “The Nihon”, showing all of the parts of Akiba culture that we personally love and want to show.
Finally, your new mini album is coming out in June. Tell us a bit more about it!
Nanase: For this album we pull inspiration from RPG games. There are different types of feelings for each of the songs, so it’s not just a repetitive kind of thing, like “ugh, game music”. There’s ups and downs, and once you take it all together, you’ll think “Ah, I’m going through a game”. That’s the sort of image we want to project in this album, and we want our fans to take a listen and really enjoy it.
On that note, if you could give us a message for your fans, especially in Canada and the US.
Nanase: It was our first time coming to Canada, and we were able to meet and communicate with so many people. We were worried that our lack of common language would be a barrier to connecting with our fans. When we got here, those fears completely vanished. Everybody was so nice and kind, and we were able to really connect with the fans in North America. We want to continue doing our best in Japan so we can come back again.
Thank you so much!
Wasuta: Thank you so much!
Wasuta Official Website: http://wa-suta.world/
Apple Music: http://bit.ly/Wasuta_iTunes