The J-pop boy group Ballistik Boyz recently made a comeback with “SUM BABY“. And in the same summer energy, the 7 members had a long (and relaxed) conversation with SUCO. They told us about their trajectories as artists and as a group, as well they told us about themselves and the great friendship that happens behind the scenes!
Spoiler: This interview is full of fun facts! And of course, it looks like Brazil is really gaining ground in the oriental music industry! Did you know that BBZ has a half Brazilian member? His name is Ryusei Kainuma, who is (clearly) in love with São Paulo and feijoada!
Come check it out! Let’s go!
First of all, it is a pleasure for us to know more about such a talented group as Ballistik Boyz. We hope you have a good time and thank you for the interview!
To start, we heard that you were chosen as members in a long process. We know that to be an idol can be hard sometimes. Tell us more about it.
Since the pre-debut until now, emotionally and physically, how is it? Difficult or easy? Please, tell the details.
Ryuta Hidaka: I may actually have felt more pressure before the debut.
Since the debut, I am focused on steadily keeping a professional mindset and I am also training every day!
Rikiya Okuda: I don’t think it’s difficult but it’s not easy either!
Partly also because of COVID, there were times when things just didn’t work out as smoothly as planned and we were unable to move forward, however we are slowly getting back on track and I think it’s important to put in our efforts to turn things around for the better.
What is the best memory of your pre-debut?
Yoshiyuki Kano: The announcement of our debut during the Musha Shugyo Tour is a big memory for me.
Miku Fukahori: The shooting of the TENHANE music video!
Which was the most memorable moment you had to live to get where you are now?
Ryusei Kainuma: Even before the group was formed, each of us went through a lot of struggles to become the group we are today.
We all stem from different backgrounds and the most remarkable moment for the seven of us was when we were standing on the stage, especially during the solo hall tour.
It was our first tour, and it was also the first time we spent some precious time with our fans. It will always be an unforgettable memory.
Masahiro Sunada: I would say the time I spent studying abroad in New York was the most important and significant experience for me.
I don’t think that will ever change.
Before the debut, did you already know each other?
Ryuta Hidaka: Some of the members I already knew from school, and some others I met during the audition.
Riki Matsui: I already knew most of the members, Yoshiyuki Kano is the only one that I met during the audition.
What was the first impression of each other?
Yoshiyuki Kano: I had hardly met anybody except for Ryuta, but I found it interesting that Rikiya, Masahiro, and Miku knew things I didn’t because of their time in New York, and they also have walked very different paths from mine.
Miku Fukahori: Ryuta seems to be loved by everybody. Yoshi seems serious. Ryusei, I didn’t really get his vibe in the beginning. Rikiya is a flashy kid. Riki is fluffy. Masahiro looks like a handsome, dark-skinned soccer boy.
Let’s talk about “SUM BABY”! 😀
In general, the entire single has music with optimistic messages. Why was this concept chosen?
Riki Matsui: I would say it’s mainly in response to the pandemic.
As people who stand in the public eye, I believe that our role is to take initiative and give everybody a little bit of power. This single is based on this kind of optimistic message.
Masahiro Sunada: Among these times when we have to endure a lot of things, we wanted to create a song that pushes people to do their best in a positive way.
What’s the main message you want to give to your listeners?
Miku Fukahori: We created this music video hoping that during these difficult times this song would inspire people to make summer memories together with us and we also infused it with our usual signature style.
Ryusei Kainuma: A romantic summer…
The song has a fun and slightly sweet summer feel to it, so you can enjoy it anytime you listen to it!
To each member to answer: What’s your favorite music from “SUM BABY”? Choose just one!
Ryuta Hidaka: Of course, SUM BABY!
Masahiro Sunada: HANDS UP!!
When Ballistik Boyz released their first album, it was a success in Japan. What about overseas? Since the beginning was the group’s intention to grow overseas, or was it a consequence of the success in other countries?
Rikiya Okuda: Of course, we were working on it not only for Japan, but also for people from overseas. But at the time, there were still a lot of things that we didn’t quite understand, so we just did what we were told to, but I think we did a pretty good job!
However, compared to Japan, we aren’t quite there yet, and it would be great if we can spread more of our work in the future.
Eventually, we will be performing overseas, so I hope we can steadily prepare for that.
Ryusei Kainuma: Right from the beginning of our formation, before we released our album, our goal was to “go global.”
At the time when we released our album and made our debut, we didn’t focus on the international market, which in a way helped increasing our visibility in Japan. However, as the music video of “TENHANE-1000%” started to get flooded with comments from overseas, we actively started spreading our work overseas.
What is the difference between Japanese and overseas fans?
Yoshiyuki Kano: Our fans from overseas are very passionate and encourage us a lot!
Miku Fukahori: Their passion for music.
How is it to perform overseas? What do you feel?
Riki Matsui: Even before I became an artist myself, I wanted to live my life travelling around the globe, so performing overseas is one of the things I am very happy about.
Ryuta Hidaka: I love it, because every single day is packed with excitement. I want to go perform again overseas as soon as possible.
Which country do you want to perform in the most?
Yoshiyuki Kano: I’d love to go to Brazil soon, which is also the country of Ryusei!
Masahiro Sunada: USA cuz I used to live there.
Which country did you have the best moments performing?
Rikiya Okuda: For me it was probably Thailand!
I was super happy to be able to eat Thai food, and as I am a frequent Thai food eater in Japan, it was great to be able to fully enjoy the real taste of authentic Thai food!
Miku Fukahori: All the places were nice, but I have fun memories of Thailand where the food was also delicious.
We are facing a hard moment for the entire world. The pandemic changed the course of everybody’s plans and lives.
Which were the plans that Ballistik Boyz had to adapt to this new reality?
Ryusei Kainuma: A situation where “it is not possible to go out” and “you can’t gather people” is really tough and painful for an artist.
Yet, I believe the core activity as an artist is “to spread music” and “make people happy” and thus we continued our activities by providing our live-shows online.
Masahiro Sunada: We thought of many ways to deliver our entertainment to our fans using social media, for example by hosting our live-shows online!
What do you plan to do when the pandemic ends?
Ryuta Hidaka: Since we aim to go global, we are not only going to produce music, but also steer our activities towards that goal.
Rikiya Okuda: Certainly, to hold performances in the USA, but also since many of our fans are waiting in Southeast Asia, we would love to go back and meet them!And our music will be even more geared towards the international market, so we hope that you are already excited for it!
Usually, Brazilians fans are known as the warmest fans in the world. What are your expectations about your fandom in Brazil?
Ryusei Kainuma: Being half-Brazilian and half-Japanese myself, and having lived in Brazil before, I am very familiar with the locals.
Brazilians are friendly, and particularly like Japanese people, which makes me want to spread my wings to the world as a Brazilian.
And one day, I want to bring BBZ’s music directly to Brazil!
Yoshiyuki Kano: Even though the country is on the other side of the globe, we are really happy to receive their support, and we would like everybody to expect a performance that answers that feeling!
Is there any place you would like to visit here, in Brazil?
Riki Matsui: The São Paulo Museum of Art!
Miku Fukahori: I want to watch some real soccer.
If you come, what’s the first thing you are planning to do here?
Ryuta Hidaka: Holding live performances, and since Ryusei if half Brazilian, visit some recommended places and eat food.
Rikiya Okuda: Of course, performing, but I would also like to watch soccer!
When seven boys come up together as a group, fans can be really curious about the “behind the scenes”. Please, tell us more about your daily life as a group.
Yoshiyuki Kano: We are very close, and on birthdays we get together for dinner. We also enjoy talking frankly over drinks!
Ryusei Kainuma: The seven of us often get together for rehearsals and work.
Of course, we get along well, but we are all very extravagant, and therefore it doesn’t happen too often that we do things all together.
However, it is always clear that when we do something or when there is an anniversary, we celebrate it together!
When it’s about “stage moments”, what’s your best memory together?
Rikiya Okuda: The moment when our debut was announced to the fans from the stage was very emotional!
Riki Matsui: The smiling faces of our fans.
The members are close to each other? If yes, tell us more about your routine and friendship.
Miku Fukahori: We are all very close. We also spend a lot of time together in our spare time.
Masahiro Sunada: We are good friends! As for Riki and Miku, we have been friends for more than 10 years since we first met!
Ryuta Hidaka: Even in our spare time, we often hang out among members!
Riki Matsui: Yeah, we do gather. Even when there is nothing in particular, we sometimes gather for a short while.
What do you like to do together?
Rikiya Okuda: I love going overseas together with the other members! Accomplishing something for the first time as a group is something that I love!
Miku Fukahori: Talking about all sorts of things while having drinks.
Who are the closest as friends?
Masahiro Sunada: Riki.
Yoshiyuki Kano: Ryuta and I have been going out for dinners and we often talk about BBZ while drinking together!
Some general questions!
Choose just one music to introduce Ballistik Boyz to someone that doesn’t know your music.
Ryuta Hidaka and Ryusei Kainuma: Animal!
What’s your main inspiration as an artist?
Yoshiyuki Kano: R&B.
I was amazed when I first heard it’s fine technique. It made me want to become much better.
Masahiro Sunada: I often draw my inspiration from foreign movies and dramas!
What does your fans mean to you?
Rikiya Okuda: They are like family to me!
That’s because, even though we are actually far away from each other, we are supporting each other like a family and cheering each other on to reach our dreams and goals, and giving and receiving motivation to do our best!
Riki Matsui: For myself, family, members, and fans are all equally important to me. They are indispensable in my life.
What’s the Ballistik Boyz’s main dream?
Masahiro Sunada: World Tour!
Rikiya Okuda: World Tour!
Is there any concept you want to try?
Ryusei Kainuma: In terms of music, I’d like to try and sing a real Western-style chill song!
Ryuta Hidaka: R&B music with either the vocal team or all members.
In which moment of your career, did you feel that you grew up as a person and as an artist?
Yoshiyuki Kano: During live shows!
I think we are growing through trial and error and repeated failures as we perform more and more live shows.
Riki Matsui: When I look at old pictures and movies of us. (lol)
To the Japanese/Brazilian Member (Ryusei Kainuma)!
Have you ever lived in Brazil? If yes, where?
Rather than say that I’ve lived there before, it’s maybe better to say that I returned to Brazil every year. I was mostly living in Japan and I returned to Brazil during summer, winter or spring holidays of school. Where I stayed was really far out on the countryside and probably most of Brazilians don’t know the name of the town, but it was far away from São Paulo, and it took half a day to get there by car!
What’s your favorite thing about our culture?
I would say our ability to communicate.
I believe that Brazilians who are kind and friendly to everybody are loved wherever they go in the world!
Do you have a favorite memory in Brazil?
When I am in Japan people say “he is Brazilian because he is half-Brazilian,” but when I am in Brazil they say “he is Japanese because he is half-Japanese.”
What’s more, Brazilians tend to love Japanese people… When I visited there, the rumor that “there is a Japanese guy in our town!” spread like wildfire, and I received special treatment at the supermarket or the neighborhood, and became friends with many people.
It’s quite an unbelievable story, but also a moment of realization that Japanese people are really appreciated.
What’s your favorite Brazilian food?
Of course, I like Churrasco, but Feijoada is my favorite! It’s a Brazilian national dish.
If you had to choose one Brazilian place to travel, which one would you choose?
Many places are great, but it’s still São Paulo!
What do you feel representing Brazilian people in a J-Pop group?
We haven’t reached a place yet where we actually “represent!”, but in the future if we become a world-leading group, I would love to proudly announce that I am “representing the Brazilians…”
Now, a game to brazilian fans know more about you!
Tell one curiosity about you.
Masahiro Sunada: I love outdoor activities and I am very tanned, but I actually don’t like that. lol
Riki Matsui: I like to sleep a lot.
What’s your main dream?
Rikiya Okuda: In the future, I would like to do what I want and live a life full of happiness! I would also like to have a house overseas!
Ryusei Kainuma: World Tour!
Yoshiyuki Kano: In terms of singing, I want to pull BBZ forward! I want the seven of us to do our best so that we can become an even bigger group!
Tell one self positive and one self negative aspect.
Ryuta Hidaka: My positive side is that I always give my all, and my negative side is that I tend to be serious.
What’s your talent besides singing and dancing?
Miku Fukahori: I am good at drawing.
Rikiya Okuda: I think I’m pretty good at sports in general, and I enjoy it!
What’s your hobby?
Ryuta Hidaka: Training, Anime and Manga.
Masahiro Sunada: Golf.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Miku Fukahori: Professional baseball player or tattoo artist.
Riki Matsui: I want to go fishing every day.
What’s your favorite movie, series, drama or animation?
Riki Matsui: Stranger Things
Masahiro Sunada: I like all of Nicolas Sparks’ works.
As for Anime, Kingdom and Rick and Morty
What’s your favorite music (from other artists)?
Rikiya Okuda: Better Together by Jack Johnson
Miku Fukahori: I like the songs of a DJ called Kygo.
Which Ballistik Boyz’s music is your favorite?
Ryusei Kainuma: Animal, Most Wanted.
Ryuta Hidaka: Animal.
Now, please, send a message to your Brazilian Fans! 😀
Ryusei Kainuma: Now the whole world is suffering because of COVID, but once the situation gets better, I will definitely go to Brazil, and directly talk with all of you and create opportunities to have fun all together during our live shows, so please come and meet us when the BALLISTIK BOYZ go to Brazil!
Until then, please take care of yourselves!
I love you all, Brazilians.
Yoshiyuki Kano: Because of the current circumstances, I haven’t made it to Brazil yet, but I am looking forward to the day I will be there and speak with all of you!