On June 3, 2016, Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi had a chance to interview J-Pop Vocal &Dance Group Da-iCE during their stay in Los Angeles, after the group wrapped up their first ever U.S. performance at Fanime 2016 in San Jose. We were able to ask the boys about their time in the U.S., as well as detailed explanations of their concept for the group as a whole.
── Hi, Da-iCE. Nice to meet you! We are Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi. Thank you for your time today. First, may I ask for an introduction please?
Taiki Hello, I’m Taiki Kudo, the leader of Da-iCE. Nice to meet you.
Sota Hello, I’m Sota Hanamura on vocals.
Hayate Hi. I’m Hayate Wada, performer of Da-iCE.
Yudai Hello, I’m Yudai Ohno on vocals. Nice to meet you.
Toru Hello, I’m the performer Toru Iwaoka. Nice to meet you.
── Thank you for coming to California to perform for your American fans. You performed an amazing show at Fanime several days ago, how did you feel about it?
Taiki We really enjoyed the show. To be honest, we were all very nervous at the beginning since it was our first show ever in the U.S, but the fans’ enthusiasm during the show was totally beyond our expectation, which surprised us a lot and made us enjoy the show even more.
Sota Even though most of our audience at Fanime didn’t know about us before, they welcomed us with their warmest cheers and support. I truly felt the kindness of American people during our show.
Hayate Exactly like what Taiki and Sota just said, we were super nervous at the start, but managed to present a good show at Fanime, thanks to the support and encouragement of our audience. We really had a wonderful time.
Yudai After our performance at Fanime, I was able to realize what it means when people say “music transcends all borders and cultures”. The show made me feel the huge power of music once again, and I really enjoyed my time there.
Toru Our first live concert in the U.S enabled me to realize again how important it is to create a sense of unity with the audience. I really enjoyed having fun together with the fans during the show.
── You performed “Sora” during your Fanime show. Why did you decide to perform this song?
Sota This is a song I wrote when I was thinking of the connection people can feel, even when they are far apart, standing on opposite sides of the world. We mainly work out of the Tokyo area, and this was the furthest we’ve traveled from our home territory to perform. So we wanted to give something special to our U.S. fans, and decided to perform a new song. We felt that “Sora” matched our emotions as we traveled abroad very well, so we decided on choosing this song.
── How have you been enjoying your stay in San Jose and Los Angeles? How is the food?
Hayate I just ordered it again, but I’ve been eating steak for nine days in a row. I think I might as well keep going with this trend at this point. We’re only here for three more days, so I’d like to savor the American taste.
Taiki In the past, we came to the U.S. for dance lessons and recordings, so all our trips revolved around the production aspect. This time, we came as performers, so it was quite different from our past experiences in the states. It was a great, fresh experience.
── How did you come up with your group name “Da-iCE”?
Yudai I actually came up with the name Da-iCE. We’re a dance and vocal group, so we combined “dance” and “dice” together. The six sides of a die stand for the five members of the group and our fans, who help us become a whole.
── I see! That’s a wonderful name. What is the overall concept of the group?
Yudai Our group has two vocals and three performers, but the vocals dance as well. We try to emphasize structure compared to other groups, so if we’re missing one member, this structure would be disrupted. We look very deeply into the aspect of “how” we can create a certain perspective for each song.
Taiki Although we have both vocals and dancers, we work together as one to create a project. For example, if one member is missing, then the dance formations would be imperfect. We place an importance on incorporating all five members to create a whole.
── I see. What are some other aspects that separate Da-iCE from groups in the U.S.?
Taiki I think our synchronized dance formations are pretty unique, unlike any other you would see in the states. Our group has two vocals with contrasting vocal types, so it’d be great if listeners can enjoy this unique fusion as well.
── During the Fanime performance, you interacted with the audience in English. Did you study English beforehand, specifically for this performance?
Yudai Rather than studying English, we’ve learned a lot of phrases naturally since we’ve been in the U.S. for quite awhile now. Phrases like “Put your hands up!” are probably used around the world, so those were easy to say. But there were also many other things we would’ve liked to say in English as well, so we’d like to study those before we come back to the U.S. someday.
── Could you tell us about your ambitions about performing overseas?
Toru We’ve been including English versions of our songs ever since our first single to capture audiences abroad. Although we already have some experience performing overseas, mainly in Asia, we hope to expand our horizons and hold more performances outside of Japan.
Hayate During our first performance in the U.S., we truly felt the kindness of American fans. It was a memorable experience, so I hope we can continue performing in more locations.
── If you were to hold a U.S. tour, where else would you like to visit, besides San Jose and Los Angeles?
Hayate New York! I just really want to go since I’ve never been. We’ve visited Los Angeles on several occasions, but San Jose was a first for us. We’d love to visit more places around the country.
Sota I’m a huge fan of Iron Man, so I’d love to perform near a location where they shot the movie.
── You all look very cool in your music videos and photo shoots. Your fashion styles always look great! Where do you get your ideas for fashion?
Hayate I don’t really read magazines, so I’ll just go shopping and buy the clothes that I like at that time.
── If you were to become someone else in the group, who would you choose to be?
Taiki I’d like to be Toru. He got an international license, so he’s been able to drive around in the U.S. I don’t have a driver license, so I’m very jealous of him.
Sota I’d like to be Yudai, since when we sing together, he notices the smallest details that I can never catch. I’d like to hear music from his ears sometime. Also, Yudai loves alcohol, whereas I don’t drink much, so I’d love to be in his shoes and actually enjoy drinking.
Hayate I’d choose to be Sota, since I’d want the entire group to mess with me. (laughs) I wonder what it feels like.
Yudai I can’t decide between Hayate and Toru, but I guess I choose Hayate. He’s been dancing for the longest time, and although I’ve been singing for almost 11 years, I have the least experience when it comes to dancing. If I had his dance experience, I think I would be able to naturally approach dance steps. I think my relationship with dance is quite different from Hayate’s relationship with dance, so I’d like to approach dance in his shoes.
Toru I’d choose to be Yudai since I can’t seem to get a grasp on him. If I had his brain, I’d finally be able to understand what he’s thinking.
── Your music integrates dance music with J-Pop. Which artists have influenced your music tastes?
Taiki I love Justin Timberlake, but I haven’t exactly received much influence from him. I think I receive influence more from individual songs, rather than artists themselves.
Sota Although I don’t understand English too well, I truly respect Whitney Houston’s expressions when she performs, as well as her vocal style and the amount of emotion she portrays through singing. She has taught me that the emotions you portray are much more important than your actual singing technique.
Hayate Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, and Omarion have played a large part in terms of structuring my taste in music. I practiced to their music at dance lessons, so I’ve always loved their cool style of music.
Yudai A lot of artists have influenced me, but I can’t choose one in particular. Different aspects of different artists have inspired me. Some of the artists that have influenced me include Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder.
Toru Like Yudai, I’ve received influence from a variety of different artists, both from Japan and abroad. But I do think our variety in music tastes makes us who we are today as a group.
── Could you tell us a bit about your most recent album, “EVERY SEASON”?
Taiki This album is inspired by the four seasons of Japan. We wanted to create an album that is enjoyable during all four seasons of the year. For example, “BILLION DREAMS” is a song perfect for the spring. We made sure to place an emphasis on the Japanese aspects of the seasons. Also, although our single songs are on the catchier side, the other songs show other sides of our group. Similar to our indie days, we wanted to show the wide variety that Da-iCE is capable of.
── If you were to express each member’s personality in one word, which word would you choose?
Taiki Toru seems to be very calm and collected on the outside, but inside, he is very hot-blooded. When I see the hot-blooded side of him, I find it very cool. If I were to choose one word, I would use “passionate.”
Toru In one word, Yudai is “funny.” He always looks out for the people around him, making sure they’re having a great time. He makes sure the atmosphere doesn’t become awkward by cracking jokes and making everyone laugh.
Yudai The word “gap” matches Hayate very well. Hayate is the youngest in the group, but he is the oldest in his family. So there’s definitely a gap between him as a member of Da-iCE and as a member of his family. And he has a cute face, but looks very fierce and cool when dancing. So these various differences in personality make me choose “gap” as a word to describe him.
Hayate Sota is Japan’s “treasure!” (laughs) But in all seriousness, he is very dedicated, especially when it comes to things he truly enjoys. He’s a hard worker.
Sota Taiki is an “otaku.” Of course, he loves anime and idols, but he’ll also research and dive into anything that captures his interest.
── What are some local recommendations you would make for overseas visitors, if they were to visit your hometown?
Taiki I’m from Hokkaido, where the seafood is absolutely delicious. The sushi is very famous, so please try it out. Hokkaido is such a large place, so we have a variety of foods to offer. Our lamb meat is also popular.
Sota I’m from the Hyogo prefecture, and in an area called Akashi, the octopus is very popular. We have a food item called “Akashi-yaki,” which looks like takoyaki, but uses fresh eggs together with the octopus.
Hayate I’m from the Gunma prefecture, and although I’ve never been, the hot springs are very famous. Kusatsu Onsen is especially popular, so please check it out!
Yudai I’m from the Kanagawa prefecture, so I’d recommend Yokohama. The Minato Mirai area is filled with great shopping spots, and you can also enjoy a beautiful view. Please stop by if you have the chance.
Toru I’m from the Chiba prefecture, so I have to recommend Tokyo Disneyland. We also have the Narita Airport, so please arrive at Narita and go straight to Disneyland. We also have conventions at Makuhari Messe, so you can enjoy various events there.
── Lastly, can we ask for a message to overseas fans?
Taiki We sadly can’t come to the states too often, but we are very active on social media. Please check us out there, and watch our YouTube videos! We’ll make sure all videos are available all around the world. We hope to hold a tour in the U.S. one day, so please come watch us!
── Thank you so much!
Watch Da-iCE’s performance video of “Toki” at Fanime 2016: