On March 25, Travis Japan performed at The National Cherry Blossom Opening Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Nante Japan had the opportunity to go to Washington to see them perform and meet them for an exclusive interview! In the interview, we discussed their debut, their embracing of the internet, what cherry blossoms mean to them, and more! Check it out below!
Welcome to the East Coast! You lived in LA before, so what are your first impressions of the East Coast / Washington?
Umi: It’s such a different city compared to LA. The architecture is very different. And the weather is certainly different. The weather here is similar to the current weather in Japan. The cherry blossoms are beautiful though!
What have you done since arriving here? I saw the videos of you performing at a high school yesterday!
Machu: That was really fun! We had never been to an American school before, so it was exciting!
Shime: It was a good experience, and the students were so hyped!
Chaka: We also went to the Japanese Embassy!
So much has happened in the few months since we last spoke when you were at Anime Expo! Congratulations on “America’s Got Talent”, “World of Dance”, and your debut! Let’s start with “AGT”! What was your favorite moment from your experience on the show? What did this experience teach you?
Shizu: What it taught me personally was the difference between what we have in Japan, especially being Johnny’s, and what we have here in the US. I’m grateful that we were able to be on the show without the safety net that is Johnny’s, so that we could see what we could do on our own merit. It gave me a lot of hope for our overseas adventure.
Noel: When we first auditioned on the show, it was our first time being on American TV. That was really, really exciting! When we finished, the audience gave us a standing ovation. It was something new for us, because when we perform in Japan, the audience is on their feet the whole time! It was also our first time to be judged, and the audience loved us! So that was my favorite moment.
And the same for “World of Dance”?
Noel: On the first day of the final, we were so nervous. Shizu wasn’t there, but the six of us overcame our nervousness, and we won fourth place in the US! This result advanced us to the next day’s stage. We were so happy! It was an unforgettable thing.
What’s the biggest difference between pre-debut and debut?
Machu: We didn’t get to release our music before, and now we do!
Umi: We get to meet our fans! We got to have our debut concert!
Speaking of concerts, you recently had your tour in Japan, where restrictions on fan cheering at concerts were recently lifted. How has this impacted you?
Chaka: We’re so glad! Fans’ screaming gives us more energy, and makes us more powerful. It’s important!
What was it like performing your debut single “JUST DANCE!” in front of fans for the first time?
Noel: All of our fans got up and did the Piro-bun dance with us! It was a good feeling! They practiced the dance at home before the concert. We realized that’s why we are alive, for them!
When I spoke to King & Prince, they said that the recording process in the US for their song “Namae Oshiete” was different compared to Japan. Do you feel the same?
G: I personally studied the recording process for “Namae Oshiete”, since it’s a song I really like. Doing that prepared us to record “JUST DANCE!” The recording style in the US is different than the one in Japan. In the US, it’s very trial and error, go with the flow. Things can change quickly. This style suits Travis Japan more, because that was how Johnny did things. This being able to adapt quickly to things is how Travis Japan will grow.
Noel: In Japan, the demo and the original song can sound quite similar. That isn’t the case in the US. In Japan, there is a goal to make the song sound very much like the demo. But in the US, there are accidents and happy mistakes, and the producer will say, “Oh, that was good! Let’s keep that!” This doesn’t happen in Japan.
Chaka: I agree with G and Noel, but I also think it depends on the producer. We want to work with a lot of different producers.
Like who? And if you can’t think of a producer, who is an artist that you want to do a song in the style of?
Chaka: Babyface. I really liked “Namae Oshiete.”
Shizu I want to do a song like Justin Timberlake.
G: I want to do a song like Harry Styles.
Umi: I want to work with Lizzo. I love her personality and voice. She’s so full of energy, and listening to her gives me energy!
Noel: Koji Makaino. He created many Johnny’s songs! We respect him and want to work with him. Also, Hyadain. He creates anime songs, and that is a part of Japanese culture. We want to share our Japanese culture with the world! We want to make anime theme songs!
Shime: My favorite genre is hip hop, but I also want do something like Harry Styles and Justin Bieber.
Machu: I want to do a rap song. It would be something new for Travis Japan to work like a rapper, like Dr. Dre or Kendrick Lamar.
Your debut was very different compared to previous debuts from the company, for example, actively promoting yourselves on social media instead of more traditional television outlets. What did you think about this “all digital debut?”
Chaka: We were happy! We were able to reach out to fans all over the world! It’s such a great chance for us. We were so honored to have it.
Even since your debut, you guys are essentially Johnny’s first digital natives, focusing on streaming services as opposed to CDs. What does that feel like?
Shizu: The fact that it’s on streaming enables a whole new world of people to hear our music. That makes us happy! CDs are still important, so we do want to do that in the future still.
G: Travis Japan was created to be experimental, to do things that nobody else in the company had done before. So being the first to do this in Johnny’s is just a continuation of what we’ve always done.
What are some things you would like to show new fans?
Noel: On our YouTube channel, you can see more of our personalities. To see us as artists, that’s what Instagram is for.
Shime: And our funny side is on TikTok!
It’s hard to be an artist in today’s current climate. How do you focus on what you need to do?
Chaka: We believe in our future, and in our fans. We want to make our fans, and the world, happy.
Shime: We can’t be afraid to take the next step! Just have confidence!
For something fun, a question from one of our readers for G, given that his starring movie was recently screened here in D.C. When you were juniors, you tried to eat Matsumura Hokuto of SixTONES’s wallet. Care to explain?
G: It was there! And it looked delicious!
What are some small goals you have for this year?
Chaka: We want to release our second single.
Machu: We also want to release an album!
Noel: Maybe it’s too early to say this, but we also have big goals, like a Grammy!
Chaka: A Tony! An Oscar!
Where outside of Japan would you like to perform next?
Noel: We want to go to Asia, like Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines. We’ve been to Singapore and Hong Kong, and that was amazing! I actually went to Indonesia about five years ago, and it was amazing, and I want to experience that again.
What would you like to do specifically for your next single release?
Shime: More than anything, we want to be able to share it with as many people as possible, through YouTube, TV, social media. We also want to get back on Billboard like we did with “JUST DANCE!”
Umi: We also want to perform on an American TV show again!
The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the historic friendship between the US and Japan, and now you’re part of this historic celebration! How do you feel about this?
G: We are honored to be here, and we want to make the audience here happy!
Given that we are at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, can you tell me what cherry blossoms mean to you?
Umi: My birthday is in April, so it is my birthday flower.
G: The cherry blossom is a piece of Japanese traditional culture. It has so many beautiful features.
Shizu The cherry blossom is a new start. During this time of year, people in Japan graduate and start new jobs.
Chaka: Travis Japan is the cherry blossom. The cherry blossom is a symbol of Japan, which was gifted to America, and has taken root here, just like us. Like the cherry blossom, we want to grow here and spread Japanese culture. That is the reason for Travis Japan’s being!
Noel: This is why you’re the leader, Chaka!
In conjunction with this interview, Nante Japan is giving away one copy of Travis Japan’s new 2023 calendar! Anyone in the world is eligible for this contest! All you have to do is follow the Nante Japan Twitter account, retweet our tweet about this article and tell us what you love the most about Travis Japan, and use the hashtag #TJNante! Good luck!