Featured Interview with Kiyoshi Ryujin25 (Part1) Supported by Tokyo Idol Project!
“THE FEATURE” is the project that TOKYO IDOL does a story on idols who is goes well today. We did an interview with controversial Kiyoshi Ryujin25 who is created by Ryujin Kiyoshi, singer song writer. This is the first part of the interview.
—Ryujin Kiyoshi 25 only began last fall, but during the past half year what part of your activity met your expectations and what part exceeded them?
Ryujin Kiyoshi (Ryujin): The general outlook and release planning were pretty much on par with my expectations, but I had originally thought it would take a little more time for the concept and songs to resonate with idol fans and spread. The response and backlash was faster than I had imagined. I hadn’t considered any opposition, but because it was a concept that hadn’t existed until now, until I could find an audience that would listen, I thought I would go through with the proper steps. But I felt like people were receptive than what I had initially timed, and so I was faced with speedily tackling what kind of performance I wanted to do.
—So are you saying that the concept for last month’s release of your third single, “Mr. PLAYBOY…♡” is something that you had originally intended to show a little later?
Ryujin: That’s right; yes. I believe the taste of our third single and the sense of our activities was something we arrived at based on the voltage-like electricity we felt from the audience, and when approaching it differently from the one we took up until then, it probably became a different technique.
—How about both wives?
Second Wife, Momoka Kiyoshi (Momoka): When I auditioned, I didn’t know it was to “become a wife”, so from the beginning up until this point today I still can’t believe it. (laugh) It’s always unpredictable but I enjoy it very much and I’ve gotten better at handling surprises.
First Wife, Sakino Kiyoshi (Sakino): I really had no idea what it would be like at first, but after trying it out there were so many things beyond anything I could have imagined and it’s fun so I feel satisfied.
—Did either of you have the desire to be an idol from the beginning?
Momoka: I think from some point, yes. (laugh) Right now I’m 20 years old, and I had wanted to do something before I turned 20 and had originally liked idols, so I applied for the audition. I prefer different idols more than normal ones, so I had wanted to get into something like that, but of course the marriage was surprising!
Sakino: I didn’t necessarily want to become an idol, but I wanted to enter the entertainment business after high school. I thought the audition sounded suspicious when I saw the information for it, but when I looked it up it was a real agency and everything so I applied. (laugh)
—At that time, had you heard of Ryujin?
Sakino: Only one of us knew. (laugh) I’d looked him up in advance, but his image at the audition was totally different, and the image I had of him when we met was better. (laugh)
—You’re right, it’s hard to imagine the current Ryujin from his artist and concert photos.
Momoka: Before… He played a prank on me. Recently a seventh wife joined, and at first he brought out a Russian girl and said, “This is the seventh wife.” (laugh) To some extent it was a pretty unexpected revelation, and I had tried to prepare myself for it to soften the blow, so upon deciding to do my best with the new Ryujin Kiyoshi 25 with this wife who could hardly speak any Japanese, Ryujin held up a sign that said “Gotcha!” with a smile on his face I had never seen before. While thinking, “I can’t believe he’d pull something like this!” I started to cry without thinking about it, and I really bawled my eyes out! Since then I’ve been fighting with Ryujin…
Ryujin: It was the first time a girl I made cry pointed at me and said, “Shut up!” which was exciting. (laugh) Because I went to an all boys school, girls this age are the ones I had the least amount of contact with. Their knowledge on what’s popular is just different enough but fresh, that even when we do the same things or listen to the same sounds, we take it in completely different directions and I think that’s a real plus.
—What are the best points you’ve learned about both wives in these past six months?
Ryujin: Their good points, huh…
Sakino: Why do you look like you’re trying so hard to come with something?! (laugh)
Ryujin: In general all of the members are cheerful. I’m the kind of person that feels like “work is work until it’s done” and I don’t talk much, so the current atmosphere… I think among the male staff the motivation is completely different. (laugh) I think each wife has her charm points, but if I told them then they’d disappear.
Momoka: When I asked Ryujin before at work about what his favorite point was he answered that he likes himself on stage. When I told him how it was really amazing that he could give 200% of himself onstage like that, he replied back saying that I shouldn’t say good things like that about him when the cameras are rolling which left me feeling shocked. (laugh)
—You both really do seem to be fighting. (laugh) So what are Ryujin’s charm points in the six months that you’ve known him?
Momoka: All of the ones I had thought before have changed. During the auditions, all of the other members said he was so nice, but for me I was really scared of him then. I answered the question and answer session while nervous and he was so curt with his chin resting on his hands, so when I joined Ryujin Kiyoshi 25 that first image fell apart, which I mean in a good way. He pays attention to me and knows how to converse with me, so I really think he’s a genius. I think he makes a wonderful producer and husband.
Ryujin: You don’t say~ (laugh)
Momoka: Look! See how he makes fun of me!
Sakino: Ryujin is really someone who really notices what’s around him, so whenever I’ve thinking about something he’ll guess and ask me about it, and really seems to understand. It’s like we’re not in a polygamous relationship and he treats me like I’m his only wife.
Ryujin: But don’t you think I’m a bit of a weird person now?
Sakino: I’m saying that you’re a good person!
—Just it must be difficult to relate to women who are just coming of age.
Ryujin: It feels like a “member to member” relationship with the girls in the group instead of a “producer and member” one, and we have a lot of open communication so I don’t feel that much of an age difference. I feel like I’m 20 years old when we’re together. Actually that’s one point I was worried about before starting the project, thinking how connecting with the members off stage could change the staging, and I talked with staff about it. I think depending on my positioning I was also able to create “producer and members”, but just standing on stage with the concept of multiple wives, if we didn’t create a happy atmosphere we wouldn’t be able to connect with the audience, and so I think if the seven of us aren’t actually close, it’s not good. If there were distance between us, when doing the movements and dancing, I don’t think it would come off so well. I had considered the surrounding air and method of communicating quite a bit before we formed.
—More recent idols will proclaim some kind of fine goal, and there are more than few groups who turn the trouble and conflict that happens through their ordeal to get closer to that goal into entertainment. Among that, it’s interesting to see acts and songs with a happy feeling to them like Ryujin Kiyoshi 25’s are full of.
Ryujin: I think it’s pointless if the frame of an idol and a frame of an artists don’t have any parts that overlap. When I was solo at times there were events where I definitely shouldn’t have had to appear but they made me, and I think there are parts of idol that have to be that way, but if it’s only that it’s no good. Certainly for current idols, I think they often give us a look at culture, even including the members’ personal lives, and that becomes encouraging material for the fans, but for us as far as it goes with one or the other, we want to be enjoyed as entertainment. I’m conscious about how to balance between the two.
—Do you both feel comfortable?
Momoka: I think the feeling of not having to fit into idol is great. All of our singles up to now have themes like marriage with our first, married life with our second, and how we met Ryujin with our third, but I think other idols can’t take that kind of approach. Even our lyrics are mainly about love and marriage, so I don’t others can copy us.
Sakino: Out of our fans the number of men and women are about the same, and the female fans that like Ryujin also cheer us on, and our male fans get crazy when they see Ryujin, too. (laugh)
Ryujin: I think the fans that had originally followed me still stuck with me after I became a part of Ryujin Kiyoshi 25, and then new fans joined in and everyone has a good time. This might come off as self-flattery but I think our performer and audience relationship is very good, and I feel like our fans are a little different from other idol fans.
—That makes sense.
Ryujin: I’ve been aware of this from the beginning, but as far as the music goes I believe we create pieces without really considering the fans. Like for instance, using a BPM where it’s easy for fans to call out, or make it easy for fans to re-mix, because even if the current idol scene panders to that I didn’t think it had much meaning. But that means we have to get people fired up naturally, and I think our approach towards that has been a good one so far.
—Since as the husband of the six love is forbidden and there’s been the set-up of you as the husband from the beginning, the scheme of the fans having no choice but to enjoy the fakeness and staging of it all is an interesting one.
Ryujin: I think it’s like when you see a love story movie, and you become a fan of the actress in it. Of course in the film there’s someone playing her partner, and probably at some point there’s a love scene, but you feel yourself begin to like the role of the woman in the story as well. Part of our intention is showing something cinematic like that.
—So in doing that sort of activity, do you both have any ideals as an idol?
Momoka: I don’t have any ideals, but it’s interesting going along with Ryujin and there are so many things that are enjoyable that I don’t think there’s anything wrong about that. At first I wanted to be an “idol” idol, and do the customary self-introduction, but at some point I lost the desire to. (laugh)
Sakino: I think if you see us you’ll know how interesting Ryujin Kiyoshi 25 is. So I think we have to work hard to make people realize that.
(Continues to Part2 coming soon!)
Interview・Text：Yuki Sugioka／ Photo：Edamame
Translated by Jamie Koide
Kiyoshi Ryujin25 Official:http://www.kiyoshiryujin.com/25/
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