The following is an interview I conducted on behalf of our partner site Nihongogo during J-Pop Summit. They have kindly granted me permission to re-post the interview here.
Babyraids JAPAN September 10, 2017 San Francisco California, USA
Babyraids JAPAN are a 5-member Japanese idol group who debuted in 2012. The name of their group comes from the words “baby” to show their cute side and “raids” to indicate a surprise attack. The members of the group are:
- Denya Erika (Leader)
- Hayashi Manatsu
- Ooya Rikako
- Takami Nao
- Watanabe Rio
In early 2015 Babyraids “leveled up” and changed their group name to Babyraids JAPAN after reaching their goal of performing at Nippon Budokan. In July 2016 they reached another milestone by attending Japan Expo in Paris Nord Villeprinte, France making their European debut and first overseas appearance.
This year they have come to J-Pop Summit in San Francisco to make their US debut and Nihongogo had the opportunity to sit down and chat with them on the second day of the event to discuss their concert, impressions of American fans and their future goals.
Thank you for taking time to sit down and chat with us. Please take a moment to introduce yourselves.
(The group does their stage introduction)
This is your first appearance in America, how has your San Francisco experience been so far?
Denya: Besides filming we have been to many touristy places such as the Golden Gate Bridge. We also got to eat clam chowder and visit the Painted Ladies featured in Full House. It has been really fun.
Last night was your first performance in America. Did it meet your expectations and were there any memorable moments that stood out for you?
Denya: The audience was very energetic. We received a lot of power from them.
Takami: The audience members right in front of me were wearing Babyraids JAPAN t-shirts and there was one person yelling “NAOSUKE!!!!”. I felt a lot of support from the fans because of that.
Ooya: I don’t speak much English but I wanted to connect with the audience and hear them respond. I kept saying “Say, say, say” since that was the only word I remembered at the time.
Ooya: Say. (laughing)
What did you think of the American fans? Were there any differences you noticed from European and Japanese fans?
Hayashi: I found the fans in America to be very responsive. Whereas in France the audience is more relaxed and in Shanghai the audience is aggressive and energetic. In San Francisco I enjoyed being connected so easily with everyone during our performance.
Now that you have visited Paris and San Francisco, where would you like to travel to next?
Watanabe: Paris was my first time visiting a foreign country and it was really memorable. Now I want to visit many other countries especially Greece and Italy. In Italy I want to see the beautiful cathedrals and in Greece I would like to see the ocean.
You have been together for 5 years. Which member has changed the most since your debut? Conversely, who has changed the least?
(The group gets excited at the potential answers for this question and start discussing amongst themselves before answering)
Hayashi: Naosuke is the one who I believe has changed the most. She has always had a short cut but recently she went even shorter and even shaved a part of her hair.
(Takami takes off her hat and starts showing where she had her hair cut shorter)
Also, since we changed our name to Babyraids JAPAN I see Naosuke has become more boyish and has gained more female fans.
Denya: I think Ricopin has not changed much in regards to her hairstyle. I am impressed that she can maintain the twin tail look even though she has changed the way she performs on stage.
Can you recommend a few songs to those that best represent Babyraids JAPAN to those who are unfamiliar with your group?
Hayashi: We have many songs but I recommend 2 in particular. The first is Yoake Brand New Days. An English subtitled live version was recently uploaded to our YouTube channel that will help new fans understand the feelings conveyed in the song.
The second song is Bokura wa Koko ni iru. The song is translated in English as “We are here”. This song delivers all the emotion and feelings from the five years that Babyraids JAPAN have been together.
You have faced two major challenges in your career so far (hold a live performance within 2 years of debuting and collect 10,000 signatures to hold a concert at Nippon Budokan) What do you believe your next major challenge will be?
Denya: Since the Budokan concert and our name change to Babyraids JAPAN we feel we have tried our best to represent Japanese pop culture and pop groups. I think our next challenges are to perform at Budokan once more and then eventually perform on NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen program.
Do you have message you would like to share with all your fans?
Denya: We had a lot of fun in San Francisco and we hope to have this type of experience again visiting other foreign countries. Please continue to support Babyraids JAPAN. Thank you.
Manatsu Hayashi Twitter – https://twitter.com/lespros_manatsu
Nao Takami Twitter – https://twitter.com/lespros_naosuke
Rio Watanabe Twitter – https://twitter.com/lespros_rioton
Erika Denya Twitter – https://twitter.com/lespros_denchan
Rikako Ooya Twitter – https://twitter.com/lespros_ricopin