Here is the full translation of an interview done by Keedan at their recent Taiwan visit [Show report]. They talk about the new album, Metallica, and their choreographer, Mikiko. Read the full translation below, full credit goes to /u/cubervic.
- I highlighted what SU and MOA said in bold.
- My inline comments are added in [square brackets].
- Skip to the end for “why the author used the word cult”.
- The interview can be found here.
[First Conversation] “Let us show the new generation what Heavy Metal is” – BABYMETAL Interview
What comes to your mind when you hear about “Heavy Metal”? What is your impression for it? With the raging roars, the sign of the horns, the fierce shredding, the rapid drumming, the destructive, explosive, and heart-pounding tensions, heavy metal is a genre with belief in individuality and anti-establishment and has very diversified ways of presentation. However, a new group has emerged and broken the barriers among thrash metal, melodic metal, power metal, death metal, and other metal subgenres. The Japanese symbolic idol culture was combined with a highly technical band; the kawaii of “BABY” [youth] was combined with the power of “METAL”, BABYMETAL has not only defined a unique subgenre of “Kawaii Metal”, but created a whole new scene of Heavy Metal Idol. It is reminiscent to the 2005 documentary “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” by director Sam Dunn with the quote “Heavy Metal music will unite its fans no matter what culture or background they came from.” [I couldn’t find the actual quote so this was my translation.] The fusion style of BABYMETAL has deeply impressed the hardcore metalheads and also given the idol and dance music lovers a whole new type of fuel. Fans from entirely different scenes were able to enjoy the performance in one shared space, BABYMETAL has announced to the world that Heavy Metal can also be presented like this.
With the Edo period folk song “Sakura Sakura” leading the way, the melody took a quick turn and became highly intense; fans at the SUPER STAGE has been worshipingly anticipating the long-awaited show for a long time. Summoned by the Fox God, the Kami Band who helped dominated the world includes guitarists Takayoshi Ohmura and Yusuke Hiraga, the bassist BOH, and the drummer Aoyama Hideki. Along with the new avenger Momoko Okazaki from Sakura Gakuin, SU-METAL and MOAMETAL excited the audience with nonstop performances from <Megitsune>, <Gimme Chocolate!>, the immensely popular new single <PA PA YA!> to the black flag swinging <Road of Resistance>. The call and response and the shouting of “We Are”, homage to X Japan, ignited their emotions; the surprising announcement video at the end of the show brought overwhelming joy to the fans, eagerly waiting for the year 2020.
<METAL GALAXY> represents the further evolution of Kawaii Metal
After <BABYMETAL> in 2014 and <METAL RESISTANCE> in 2016, a new album will conquer the metal universe with <METAL GALAXY> in October this year. The new album was said to present an evolution of kawaii metal, and we are very curious what the complete Kawaii Metal subgenre will look like. MOAMETAL said “Kawaii Metal to us is a lot of stimulations and experiences from many different places all put together and absorbed into one, so though I don’t know what the complete Kawaii Metal will be like, it is certain that evolutions will continue. Everyone should expect to be surprised by the all-new look of the new album.” In the Super Slippa performance, indeed fans were able to take a sneak peek of a new song with rich exotic flavor [Shanti], and the evolved new song <PA PA YA!!> with the first-ever “feature” in BABYMETAL history with famous Thai rapper F.HERO was an extremely catchy earworm [The author mentioned Onedari Daisakusen here trying to make a connection between the two songs’ style but I found it hard to translate.. because I don’t think I understood him, lol]. BABYMETAL’s great ambition to expand their domination can be seen throughout the gig.
To BABYMETAL, Metallica is the God in the Heavy Metal world
In 2010 <Doki Doki☆Morning> opened the eyes of music fans all around the world, in 2012 they joined Summer Sonic as the youngest group ever, in 2014 METAL RESISTANCE became the first Japanese album to crack U.S. Billboard’s top 40 in 53 years, and they also broke the record of youngest female artist with an average of 14.7 years old to perform in Budokan, this year they became the first-ever Japanese group to be on Glastonbury’s main stage. With recognitions and opening opportunities from world-class musicians including Metallica, Lady Gaga, RHCP, and Guns N Roses, we asked them about their most memorable experience with them in these interactions. SU-METAL said excitedly, “We were inspired by Metallica very early on. To us, their existence is like the God in the Heavy Metal world. It was a surreal learning experience seeing them live for the first time. It wasn’t simply listening and watching, it was a direct impact on our hearts. It told us what Heavy Metal is, reassuring us that going on the path of Heavy Metal is a very significant and meaningful choice. In 2013, Metallica even came to Summer Sonic to see us and took a picture with us. Later we were honored to be their opening guest, it was still one of our most unforgettable memories to this date.” When asked whether there is anyone whey want to collaborate with, SU-METAL expressed interests in working with MAYDAY, who also previously worked with Japanese band, GLAY, hoping to collaborate with them in the future. [MAYDAY is the hosting band of Super Slippa, also probably the most famous rock band in Taiwan.]
Mikiko visualized BABYMETAL’s lyrics with her choreography
BABYMETAL’s choreography has always been forged by the famous choreographer, also known as “the 4th person in Perfume”, Mikiko Mizuno. Starting with the BABYMETAL legend in 2010, she participated in the series of episodes of METAL RESISTANCE. Besides having worked as a lecturer at ASH [Actor’s School Hiroshima], teaching the then elementary-school Kashiyuka, A~chan, and Nocchi of the current “Perfume”, Mikiko is also the choreographer for famous singers including Ringo Sheena, DAOKO, and Gen Hoshino. Her astounding work at the 2016 Rio Olympics closing ceremony further promoted her Mikiko-style [Mikiko流] to the world. In 2016, the martial-art oriented choreography of <FLASH> by Perfume and <KARATE> by BABYMETAL continued to be cherished by their fans. When asked about what Mikiko sensei means to the duo, MOAMETAL said “Mikiko sensei put a great emphasis on the song’s unison with the choreography. She would create suitable moves based on the theme. The dance moves would not only fit the melody and tempo but also express the meaning of the lyrics. What impressed me the most is <Megitsune>, which talked a great deal about Japanese traditions and the concept of the Fox God. With sensei’s choreography, it showed the more subtle and mythical side of Japanese culture to the foreign fans.” Mikiko’s motto of “Creating works that resonate with the five senses” enabled BABYMETAL’s lyrics to be visualized and created a special taste (daigo-mi) to be carefully savored. [in Japanese, daigo-mi is used to describe a “superb flavor”.]
Let BABYMETAL show the newer generation what Heavy Metal is
Besides the rich choreography, the music undoubtedly gets the most attention among BABYMETAL fans. Regarding the challenging things singing heavy metal songs, SU-METAL thinks that she is learning the different aspects of heavy metal through BABYMETAL. “Music is a magical way to express yourself. I was surprised that Heavy Metal with different elements could generate so many different styles of music. Our audience would also feel and react differently to the different songs, making me want to try even more (styles).” When asked about the most impressive memories seeing fans from all over the world, SU-METAL further stressed, “Fans from different countries really react differently. The most impressive one was during Gimme Chocolate!! There are actually quite a few kawaii moves in the song, and we even saw an おじさん who danced together with us. [おじさん literally means uncle. Japanese (and Taiwanese) use this word for elder males, such as people in their 50-60’s. おばさん is “aunty”, for females.] In other songs as well, fans would react in unexpected ways when we were performing in different places [around the world]. It’s really interesting and eye-opening interacting with the live audience through music like this.” About entering the twenties as an adult from being a teen [10’s generation], MOAMETAL said that though she crossed over from the tens into the twenties, it is just a natural process and she will continue to work with music, fans, and BABYMETAL the same way as she did as a teen [10’s]. SU-METAL, on the other hand, impressed us by saying “We have been working with Kawaii Metal since the beginning, as a teen [10’s], it was like kids playing with music. Later on, there will be more and more young musicians after us, so BABYMETAL will serve as an introduction to Heavy Metal music to the newer generation [“What is Heavy Metal”]. Instructed by the Fox God, BABYMETAL resisted against the mainstream idol music with their Heavy Metal music, and through the dominating performances of this show, they continue to fascinate and dazzle their fans.
The Fox God will officially descend on 04/03/2020
Before ending our interview, we asked for more information about the “Babymetal Records” formed in 2018 which many fans were also curious about. MOAMETAL responded, uncommonly in Mandarin, that “Only the Fox God knows” [“只有狐神知道”], leaving an interesting foreshadowing about what’s to come. After the Taipei show, BABYMETAL will head to Summer Sonic 2019 and begin the new album <METAL GALAXY> World Tour in September. Most importantly, on April 3rd 2020, BABYMETAL will be returning as part of their Asian Tour, bringing their first-ever headline show to Taiwan. Whether you’re in the cult or not, the unique style of BABYMETAL will continue to rock the world with their Kawaii Metal concept.
Why the author used the word cult?
So many people here find the author’s choice of words interesting, and to explain why he chose the words “cult” and “joining the religion”, we have to first understand the meanings of the words “邪教” (cult) and “入教” (joining the cult or religion).
The Chinese word “邪教” is literally translated to “evil religion”. Basically, any religion and belief that are seen as non-canonical or toxic can be called a “邪教”. Do know that the word is subjective, and to give an example, someone in Scientology can easily describe other religions as a “邪教” simply because they are different and have different views. Not very polite, of course, but people do use it like this when strongly expressing their opinions.
Another important aspect is that the word is now used very casually in the internet era. You could almost use that word to mock any fandom, and a lot of time, the fandom yourself belongs to. A notable example is fans of Apple and its products. Apple fans, including myself, “worshipped” Steve Jobs and his presentations as if we’re in Sunday worship in a church.
“Cult following” might be a better word than just “cult” to understand what it means in Chinese when people say “邪教” or “入教” (used in the last paragraph).
This is a screenshot of the Tokyo Dome intro clip on the Chinese Youtube equivalent. This site has a feature to leave timestamped comments “on the videos” as an overlay (The Japanese Nico Nico video also has this feature, you know whose idea it originally was 🙂
You’ll see a whole lot of fans leaving comments mocking themselves as cult followers and calling SU as the “cult leader” and MOA and YUI sometimes as “the guardians”. Just like how we call SU the queen and MOA and YUI the princesses, similar ideas. (Watching BM videos on this site is actually a lot of fun. It feels like you’re watching with like-minded fans.)
This is a screenshot of the BABYMETAL board on the BBS site “PTT” (a.k.a. the Taiwanese reddit). The post is a new welcome post for new fans posted after Super Slippa (like the sticky post by Facu on our sub). The title literally says Q&A for new cult followers. Fan’s self-introduction post on the board should be properly titled with [教徒], literally translated to [Cult Follower] or [Believer]. (Super Slippa surely converted many folks into kitsunes!)
I hope this adequately explained why the word “cult” and “cult followers” shows up frequently in the Google-translated post.
Adding a third one I saw just now, from Super Slippa fan page, and this is just two comments. The entire comment section is like this lol.
In addition to the interview, the author said on his Facebook page that no videos were taken (not allowed). His one-line description for BABYMETAL would “taking Kawaii seriously.” He also said the girls will focus more on the music, sort of moving from an idol group to a band.