YanaKiku are a Japanese duo (Yana and Kiku) who released their debut single Upside Down in May. YanaKiku are not only a pop group but they also represent Japanese pop and decora culture as well as doing Kimono cosplay. After a lively performance at Hyper Japan we managed to get an interview with the two lovely girls and their manager/producer.
What inspired your style?
Yanakiku: The basic inspiration is, probably as you’ve guessed, the classical kimono. We really want to spread the Kimono culture around us so we decided to use this kimono cosplay idea
Could you tell us a bit about how Yanakiku was actually formed?
Manager: Originally these two girls were part of a 4 person unit called The Missing Link. That band broke up and the two of them decided to form a second group and the theme would be to promote Japan and traditional Culture.
Yana: I’ve worked with Kiku for about ten years now.
Since you’ve started to perform to a Western audience, what do you think is the difference between Western audiences and Japanese audiences?
Yanakiku: The reaction, definitely. Our Western audience cheers for us *woo woo* but in Japan they just sit there and clap. The cheering makes us really happy, we’re really glad.
If you had a chance to collaborate with any other artist who would you choose?
Yanakiku: Because we represent Japan and Japanese culture is our big theme so with some people from other countries who represent their own cultures. That might be very interesting.
Manager: We also think about mixing with some other more traditional Japanese arts, like having Ikebana flower arranging, we made a massive Ikebana display and try to incorporate that to some Ikebana people, or some other types of people who mix mainstream Japanese culture with the pop culture ideal and put the traditional and the pop culture together.
The Upside Down video looks quite difficult to film, did it take long to make? Was it difficult to make?
Yanakiku: We actually filmed it in a single day. From right in the morning until late at night, we were there all day. The director of the video is actually here. How did you guys find the video? What did you like about it?
I thought it was fantastic, it looked very busy. The location looks fantastic, where was it filmed?
Yanakiku: It was filmed in a spot called Nikko Enamora, which is a recreation of an endo period village/town in Japan. Nikko Enamora is a tourist attraction and in there there is also a studio where they used to film period pieces, like Japanese sword fighting films. So half of the video was filmed outside in the recreational village and half of it was filmed inside the studio.
Is it like a theme park inside?
Yanakiku: Uhm..it is a bit like a theme park. They have like shows and performances in there.
What are some of the challenges that you experienced when you started your career?
Yanakiku: Obviously the biggest challenge we’ve probably gotten is from now, because first of all this is our first overseas performance which was a really big challenge.
Manager: We formed the four person group, Missing Link, through an audition, there were 10,000 people auditioning, and they were two of the four who had been picked for that, after that they reformed and became two of them. They were working just off their own backs and got up to 10,000 downloads on their own, so the challenge there was how do we take it from there where they’ve become sort of well-known to get onto a much higher level. So that is really the challenge.
How did you decide to audition for the group of four, Missing Link?
Yanakiku: We were really young, in our teens, and it was something we really felt like doing. It was just a random thing.
Yana: But it was really good because I got to meet Kiku.
How has your experience in London been so far?
Yanakiku: Well, it’s the first time we’ve ever been abroad in our lives. Everything we’ve seen has been so amazing and we’re nervous as well because everything’s new around us, it’s such a great experience and all the new things that we are seeing are so stimulating. Just being able to perform in front of the people in England has been so great.
Do you plan to perform here again in the future?
Yanakiku: We have no concrete plans at the moment but we really want to come back. We would come back tomorrow if we could. We have to go back to Japan tomorrow; unfortunately it’s been a very short time here.
Are there any Japanese artists that you feel inspire your music?
Yanakiku: We really want to go for originality in what we do. As for inspiration for our songs, our producer would say one really small thing and that would become inspiration for a whole song. For example, words he says such as goldfish.
Do you come up with the design of the outfits you’re wearing right now?
Yanakiku: No, we have a designer and our producer is a great producer.
Are you planning to release another single?
Yanakiku: We have already released a debut single, Upside Down. We have another one which is probably coming out later on this year; probably around September we’re going to be uploading it online.
How would you describe each other’s qualities?
Kiku: Yana behaves like a big sister to me.
Yana: Kiku butters up to me, she’s really sweet and really adorable but she’s really a strong person in other ways.
You both look like twins!
Yanakiku: Yeah, we always get that, we’ve really been told that a lot. Do we really look that similar?
Yeah, kind of, we can see it.
What’s been your weirdest fan experience?
Yanakiku: Since we’ve come to London we’ve gotten a lot of people who have become friends with us on facebook, we’ve been messaged directly also.
Is it really you who use facebook and twitter?
Yanakiku: Yes, on facebook and twitter it’s really us. Please become our friend on facebook, it’d be easier if you go from our homepage.
How was the feeling of Hyper Japan as an event?
Yanakiku: It was really great, we’ve really enjoyed ourselves. We’re also very surprised that there are so many people here in London, in England, who have so much interest in Japanese culture. There are so many different aspects of Japanese culture, there’s anime, kimono style and the food. So it’s good to see other people enjoying it, we feel really happy seeing everyone enjoying Japanese food. It’s strange because it’s the first time we’ve been to a foreign country but with so much Japanese culture around us it doesn’t actually feel like a foreign country. Is this Japan? Haha *cute laught*
How long does it take for you to learn the choreographies?
Yanakiku: It takes really long to learn it. We practice everyday and we actually brought two completely new songs and dance routines to Hyper Japan. This time, because we had no time do them, we hurried through getting them ready and each one took about two days to get ready.
Do you write the lyrics to the songs yourselves?
Yanakiku: Yeah, we do both the lyrics and melodies. The themes come from the manager.
Do you play any instruments?
Yanakiku: We can hum a bit…? Haha
How did you feel performing live here in London?
Yanakiku: So many people really got into it, it was good, but I was wondering if in most live performances in London do you have so many light beams?
It depends on the stage set up.
Yanakiku: It was the first time we’d seen something like that and it was really great to look at. All the people who came to see us were shouting out for us, shouting out for Yanakiku so it was really great.
I personally really liked our interview with Yana and Kiku, they were so sweet and adorable. I also liked their fashion style and thought it was extremely creative!
I think you guys should check out their video :) I liked it a lot! I hope you guys do too :D
Also, here’s a link to YanaKiku’s official page, facebook, Yana’s twitter, and Kiku’s twitter. And and and, before I forget here’s a link to the pictures we took of Yanakiku at Hyper Japan on our Facebook page
Have a nice day/night depending on where you are (;