Idol Philosophy Series : Close Up With Nao☆ 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 Nao☆.
-Nao☆, please tell us what you think an idol is.
Nao☆: An idol….A person that gives you a dream? I’ve never really thought deeply about idols, and so I haven’t really been self-aware about what I do. For me, it was the feeling of singing and dancing.
-Even so, how do you feel when people call you an idol?
Nao☆: I wondered if local idols could become a part of the idol genre. There were some people that said “don’t let local idols join idols”, so I thought, “this is going to be hard”. When I was in Pop Jam in 2004, the category of “rokodoru” (local idol) was named and established. Even so, there was a time when I worried about what I should do from then on. Because I was a local-based person from the countryside. But I made the tough memories into a spring that shot me forward.
-Who was the first idol you looked up to?
Nao☆: I looked for a person that made me think “I want to be like that”, so that I could be ambitious, and that person was SweetS-san. Rather than cute idol-like songs, I thought “I want to do cool songs”. With more artists writing songs for me, it became that way, and I thought if SweetS was still active, I would’ve met her.
-After forming in 2003 and continuing Negicco for 12 years, what kind of idol group do you think Negicco is?
Nao☆: The image of us just saying “negi negi” (green onions) is strong even among people from our hometown, so I worried about changing that image and then about how people would see us. Right now people that like music are getting to know us, so I’m happy.
-Have you been able to completely break away from that dilemma?
Nao☆: It’s been a long journey! Signing under T-Palette Records, it was tough for quite awhile, but the image of “local idol” was no longer emphasized, and in the winter of 2013 it finally happened (laughs). I think our work is going well, and I think we’re blessed. When we called Connie-san (Negicco’s producer) while crying, she said “Do you know how blessed you are?”, and I think I finally understood fully since last year. We motivated ourselves from the situation of not even having a dance instructor, a situation that left us to make the group what it is ourselves.
-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?
Nao☆: I don’t want people to think we came this far light-heartedly. The people that I’ve seen have also gone through hard times, but they’re humble. We’ve had a lot of tough times, but if we hadn’t, we never would have made the Oricon charts or been featured. Getting older has been scary, but I think it’s because we’ve had these 12 years that we are being selected like we are now.
-Negicco has overcome countless hardships until now. Out all of the hardships, what was the biggest one?
Nao☆: Hmmm, there are so many (haha). I felt the most pressure during U.M.U AWARD (Area Idol No, U.M.U AWARD 2010). If we didn’t win, I was scared of the people around us saying that our long history meant nothing, and of asking us how much longer we planned to do this. I think the people from Niigata also didn’t really accept us until that point. Then, when we won and went to the prefectural office, people told us “do your best with Niigata behind your back”.
-On the other hand, what was the thing that made you the happiest?
Nao☆: When we were on the Waratte ii tomo! show back in 2012, and Tamori-san got to know Negicco. It’s all thanks to (Tower Records’ company president) Minewaki-san. I never thought I would hear Tamori-san say “you guys worked really hard”. I thought, it’s all because we have worked so hard for so long.
-How have you been able to balance your framework as “Niigata’s Negicco”, along with being active in Tokyo?
Nao☆: I always wanted to go to Tokyo, and didn’t understand our manager at all when he said “by spreading through Niigata you will spread through all of Japan”. In high school I thought of leaving Negicco and going to Tokyo, but everyone around me was against it. Even when I graduated from high school I felt very uneasy, and did stuff like Avex auditions. I thought there was more possibility in Tokyo, but I realized there are many idols in Tokyo, and when we won U.M.U. I realized the meaning of being in Niigata, and also realized that because we are in Niigata we could be featured and could be part of production exhibitions.
-What is the idol image the members of Negicco are aiming for from now on?
Nao☆: (immediately) Perfume. In 2008 they came to Niigata on their Game tour and talked about Negicco and the time we played together before, and after they finished we got to talk to them and Aa-chan said, “ Let’s stand on the stage together again”. And I was happy when we worked hard and were able to meet again on MUSIC JAPAN and Aa-chan cried for us.
-On your blog you said your idealized expectations for yourself are too strong, and that you can’t keep up with your own feelings, leading to feelings of your efforts being fruitless. What exactly did you mean?
Nao☆: If I say it was because I intended to be negative people will get angry, but I thought “I want to be able hold myself up better”, and “I want to be like this”, and I listened to my songs and would think “I want to sing more like this”, etc. It’s a matter of skill level, and that sometimes I’m weak mentally, but even when I asked advice from people, I compared myself to them and felt down.
-Have you been able to pick yourself up?
Nao☆: I will cry again tonight (laughs). As my job is to make people happy, I’m being careful on Twitter.
-Why did you start Twitter later than your other band members?
Nao☆: I didn’t want to put down too much information. When I debuted I was hurt by the internet, and thought that, while people’s opinions are important, it’s also not good to become misdirected by them. Also, I didn’t have a laptop at home, so I was bad with electronics. But one of the people from Tower Records was angry and said “how can you not do it when it’s a way to get information out there”, and Kaepo (Kaede) taught me how to use it. Kaepo taught me all about MP3s, Twitter, and Instagram.
-Do you feel like you’re showing people your positive side on social media?
Nao☆: Yes. But I am also making sure to write down how I am actually feeling. My fans tell me they want to know about my weakness as well, so I write down what I want to get across.
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