Idol Philosophy Series : Close Up With Kaede from Negicco Supported by Tokyo Idol Project!
Idol Philosophy is the special projects to consider the ideal idol from several aspects. In this time, Negicco, the representative of local idol today, appears in this project. It took 11 years that the single “Hikari no Spur” won the 5th prize of Oricon Weekly Charts since their forming in 2003. However, Negicco has not always been in well-endowed environment. What is their philosophy that supports them? We did an interview with Kaede.
-Kaede, please tell us what you think an idol is.
Kaede: An idol…??!! I think they’re really interesting. They take so many different forms and the way they present themselves is very diverse. I’ve been to non-idol events as well, but I think idols really are an interesting genre of music.
-Who was the first idol you looked up to?
Kaede: Morning Musume. During my 3rd of 4th year in elementary school. At the time I didn’t know much about idols or have much interest in music, but when “LOVE Machine” began to sell, I thought it was such a fun song and that idols are really dazzling. I entered a school for entertainment and sang and danced at my relatives’ wedding.
-Did you enter a school for entertainment because you looked up to idols?
Kaede: I had no interest in them. From preschool I played piano and learned English, and from elementary school I did swimming, but I did it as some sort of extension from those.
-And with that you’ve been an idol for 12 years and have ranked in Oricon’s top 10…
Kaede: I didn’t think it would happen, ever (laughs). I didn’t think my life would take this path, I thought I would go to a good high school, get into a good university, and work at a good company. But after finishing university this is the shape my life took.
-Did your parents tell you to leave Negicco when you started university?
Kaede: I wanted to go to Toyama University’s pharmaceutical department, so I said myself “I can’t continue like this, so I quit”. But the topic of auditioning for “Nukiten Kachinuki! Idol tengoku!! Nukiten” came up, and I was asked to think about it after I had auditioned. So I thought, I’ll just think about it after I do this, and so I auditioned for Nukiten. But I passed, and continued Negicco. But after the third or fourth week of Nukiten, I had to decide which universities to apply to. If I didn’t pass the fourth week of Nugiten it would be the last show, and Brother Tom-san stopped me. I thought “I can challenge myself with this one more time, so why not go for it?”. But when I thought again about what to do about university, Niigata University didn’t have a school for pharmaceuticals, and I didn’t have the money for a private university. At that moment, my high school teacher said I could do a similar science program at Nigaata University, and that I could get in right away with a recommendation. I was quickly accepted in November (laughs).
-After entering university, did you ever feel reluctant about remaining active?
Kaede: Until the last half of my junior year, I was conflicted. Until I began job-hunting.
-What allowed you to stop hesitating?
Kaede: After being in university for three years, I thought that making use of what I learned at a company wasn’t for me, that it was fun, but not as a job. I thought, “right now what I want to do is music”.
-After forming in 2003 and continuing Negicco for 12 years, what kind of idol group do you think Negicco is?
Kaede: Kind of like we hate losing, or that the three of us felt strongly about not giving up. We had been really, really negative, but were able to overcome that because we all supported each other, and we all have our own abilities. I think our roots are rather negative, but also thought “we can’t continue this way”. We’ve been through some incredibly tough memories, so we can’t triumph until we succeed. We were often asked if we had any rivals, but actually we didn’t even have the time to look around us. (laughs)
-Negicco has overcome countless hardships until now. Out all of the hardships, what was the biggest one?
Kaede: In the beginning, there were people who thought our band name was interesting, so they would come to our shows, and I had confidence. But when we stopped wearing idol-like clothes and went into a more cool direction, the number of people dropped drastically. For example, just 20 people in the live house. There was a time when the people interested in Negicco dropped, and I felt uneasy and thought “what will happen to us now?”. This was around 2004 and 2005.
-Even with that, why did you continue?
Kaede: Some fans come and go, but we still had many people from Niigata that always came, 20 or 30 or so. I was confident that we still had some people supporting us, and that even if it was just one person, we have to do our best for them.
-On the other hand, what was the thing that made you the happiest?
Kaede: I was really worried that we could not fill Daikanyama’s UNIT’s capacity of 500 (on October 31st and November 1st of 2014), but we actually sold out, and the view from our own stage was the most spectacular I had ever seen. There were also a lot of people holding “negi-lights”. And after that, the fans increased in number all at once.
-There are a lot of people that empathize with Negicco’s 12 year story. Your reunion with Perfume on Music Japan was a hot topic. What do you think about the way you have enjoyed things, and the way you have come into terms with things?
Kaede: I never felt like it was something I didn’t like, and the fact that people appreciate us for coming along this far and not giving up for 10 years, it makes me happy. There are plenty of people that are successful in just a couple of years, but for us I think this many years was necessary, and that this was just our way of progressing forward. A lot of people are surprised when we say it’s our 12th year though. (laughs)
-How have you been able to balance your framework as “Niigata’s Negicco”, along with being active in Tokyo?
Kaede: I didn’t think we would become like we are now, so when we first did a performance in Tokyo, I was very excited. Our current situation is thanks to back then, and our ability to tour all over Japan is a really happy state for us.
-Is that because you recognize Negicco as a group from Niigata?
Kaede: I didn’t imagine we would be active beyond Niigata, and we basically were a group from Niigata, so I didn’t think our CDs would sell elsewhere. The other two members felt really strongly about getting to Tokyo, but for me, I wasn’t willing to give up my studies for it.
-When you finished university and picked Negicco, were you prepared?
Kaede: Of course I had feelings of doubt, but I felt that if I continued job-hunting and got a job, I would regret it. So I chose to trust my feelings. I thought, I’m going to university on my parent’s dime, and some people must think, “even though she went to university, she’s chosen to be an idol?”. And my mom actually said that to me, and I thought my dad would say it, too. When I entered high school and university, it had always been my father who asked, “when will you stop?”. But when I was job-hunting, my father said “wouldn’t it be better if we just let her do what she wants?”, and my mom listened, and I felt decided. I feel like they can value me in this way because they’ve watched me all along. I thought “there’s no greater happiness than doing what you want as a job”, and decided to follow through with those feelings.
-What is the idol image the members of Negicco are aiming for from now on?
Kaede: It’s rather rare to get to 12 years, and I think we’re becoming a rather interesting group (laughs). When we celebrated our 10th year, RAM RIDER made us “Negicco kara kimi e”, and there are the lyrics “even if another 10 years pass from now”, and when they sang that, I thought it was a joke, but now it’s just eight more years, and I think we can celebrate that 20th year. We want to continue to challenge ourselves with bigger and bigger venues, and there are many different people getting their hands on our CDs, so it looks like our group will be able to continue for a long time.
-You have been appointed as special research member of Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life Sciences. What do you plan on doing with them from now on?
Kaede: Right now not a lot has been decided yet, but I thought it would be really nice to work together and do something with students. I wanted to be in pharmaceuticals, so I am really happy. The university president even told me I can come when I like, and I still feel like studying, so I would love to hear what they talk about. I would love to continue my education, while still putting Negicco first.
Interview & Text：Akimasa Munekata / Photo：ayaka horiuch
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