ATARASHI GAKKO! had their international debut with 88rising in 2021. Now, fresh off a live concert at San Diego Comic-Con, the Japanese rock band is bringing their music to Crunchyroll Expo 2022. A part of the first-ever New Crunchyroll City, a concert series running during the anime convention, we got the chance to sit down with Suzuka, Mizyu, Rin, and Kanon before their Friday night performance.
If you’re unfamiliar with this girl group, they’re pure creative chaos with fun dances, eclectic beats, and a whole lot of energy. Pushing back against conformity with humor and a love of pushing what people expect, the group represents a new generation of Japanese youth (seishun in their native language), one embracing personal expression and pushing against traditional boundaries. Incorporating pop, jazz, hip-hop, rock, and even genres you can only find in Japan, the band has also sought to bring Japan to the world and push expectations.
While their music videos are loud and push the boundaries, they always make sure to never lose their sound nor their dancing style. Suzuka explained that the balancing of elements is extremely important to them, “You can’t make a good music video by just messing around, but if you don’t mess around at all, it’s less fun. They’ve also put a lot of thought into the balance but it all depends on finding the right balance for each song.” And that balance is found by developing creative concepts together, Rin said “Individually [we] all have hobbies and those things influence [us] to some extent. But primarily the things [we] make as a group are fundamentally new and born out of the work with the people around [us].”
But perhaps the best part of our chat with the group was getting to hear each member talk about the one song they would recommend to new listeners so that they can get to know who they are as a band, and as people.
Susuka’s pick for new fans to listen to “Koi Geba,” “It’s a very Japanese song and based on a genre that is really only in Japan. With a music video that uses a found footage element through security cameras, “Koi Geba” is sure to get you on your feet, especially at the rock dance breaks.
For Rin, it’s “NAINAINAI” which was also the band’s first release with 88Rising which launched them into the United States and other international audiences. “This was the first song that [we] made with overseas audiences in mind. It’s the first time that [we] added elements of hip-hop and also [we] worked to make sure that some of the Japanese in the song was intelligible to foreign viewers. For people who maybe knew a tiny bit of Japanese but maybe didn’t speak Japanese.
Kanon added that for her, it’s “Koibumi” for a couple of reasons, “First it sounds very anime-esque and has elements from anime and influence from anime, both in the sound and in the video [we] play when [we] perform on stage. So, it’s easy for people to get into if they like anime. The other thing is that it was the first song for [us] as a group where [we] really stepped up our choreography for it.”
Finally, Mizyu talked about their most recent single, “Pineapple Kyrptonite as capturing who they are as artists. “The reason is that about a year ago [we] came to the United States as a group and made this song from scratch with Money Mark, the person who worked with the Beastie Boys. [We] think it’s really representative of the kind of music they want to make and the way [we] want to be seen as a band. If you’re going to listen to one song to understand who ATARASHI GAKKO! is as a band, this song is it.”
ATARASHI GAKKO! are set to perform in Los Angeles and San Francisco later this month.