Our Song and Dance with Tokyo GeGeGay
JPOPROCKS: How did each of you get involved with dancing?
BOW: I first started studying plays, and that led to performing in musicals. Through musicals I started to learn how to dance. From there, I really started to enjoy dancing a lot, and since then I’ve continued to dance.
MIKU: When I was five years old, I really liked Morning Musume, a popular idol group. They inspired me to start learning dance.
YUYU: My older brother started dancing before me and when I was four years old, I went to see his dance class. Since then, I’ve been into dancing.
MARIE: When I was four years old, my mother was really into ballet (as a hobby), which influenced my little sister and I to start dancing.
MIKEY: I was watching MTV for the first time and I saw Janet Jackson’s "Rhythm Nation". After I saw her performance, I learned how to dance like her. I’ve been involved with dancing ever since.
JPR: Tokyo Gegegay’s style has been described as “Kiteretsu Mental World”. How would you define your dance style?
MIKEY: It’s really difficult to define or describe what our genre or category is, because we integrate multiple styles in our dances, like hip hop, and pop. We really like to include freestyle, free expression, and a little bit of acting.
JPR: Your videos feature powerful and expressive street dances, often coupled with satire, parody, or tell an intricate story. Take us through how you weave a theme into your choreography.
MIKEY: Most of our narratives come from our everyday life experiences and when I produce a video I try to interpret those experiences into our work.
JPR: With such precise movements, how much time and practice goes into your performances?
MIKEY: In order to produce one video (which can have a runtime of about 5-10 minutes) we practice for around one month, 2-3 times a week, at 3-4 hours per session.
We used to practice at a friend’s space, but we have recently moved to a new place, which has a big mirror which allows us to practice together in one place.
JPR: We recently saw ONE OK ROCK in concert. What was it like to work with that band on their video “The Way Back”? What elements did you bring to the choreography?
YUYU: So that was a three years ago when I was 18. ONE OK ROCK was my favorite band, and I was hoping to work with them, but at the time our producer wouldn’t say which band we were going to be working with. When I found out who we were working with it was like a dream come true. I was really happy and it was a good experience.
For our collaboration we did the choreography for the, “The Way Back” a song about darkness and the two sides, front and back, in all of us. In the video, two of our members represented the darkness or shade. You couldn’t see their faces because they were wearing masks, but we really tried to display GeGeGay’s style in the choreography. We wanted the audience to feel and sense that this was a GeGeGay performance, so we put elements of our style into the video.
JPR: Your newest video, GEGEGE NO KITARO, has over 2.5 million views on YouTube in only a couple weeks. Why do you think it’s popular and how do you feel about its success?
MIKEY: The first thing I thought was that people were mistaking the title with the famous anime with the same title.
But I realized that wasn’t the reason. Honestly, we thought the video was really boring and we were not going to upload it, but at the same time we also thought that because we spent so much money and time into the video, we should go ahead and upload it. We were surprised at the response and now we believe we shouldn't be negative, just go for it and see what the audience reaction would be.
JPR: I liked it. And I don’t think I’m alone.
MIKEY: Do you know think a lot of people know about GeGeGay no Kitaro in San Francisco? Like two people?
JPR: I would think there are more than two. There is a community of people in the US who are into japanese dance videos. A couple of years ago the Jpop Summit hosted two dancers from Danceroid. I am a fan of japanese dance video and have seen quite a few of your videos. I really liked your video “Funeral”
MIKEY: Oh, the Bruno Mars video!
JPR: Yeah, that had a good story to go along with the choreography.
MIKEY: I heard there is a very large LGBT community in San Francisco’s Castro district. Is it far? Can we bike there?
JPR: It’s a couple of miles from here [Fort Mason]. It’s a bit of a walk, but you could bike, if you are ok with going uphill. Honestly, it probably would be best to take a cab or bus there.
JPR: Speaking of travelling, JpopRocks is heading to Japan for the first time early next year. Do you have any recommendations for us or anyone else wanting visiting Japan?
MIKEY: Shinjuku Ni-chōme. It’s Tokyo’s version of the Castro.
JPR: Is there any special message you would like to say to your fans out there?
MIKEY: We have various performances and videos planned in the future, so please continue to watch our performances on YouTube and if you have a chance to go to Japan, please come and see us live.