F Chopper KOGA
Interview by Todd Nelson
Translation by Harumi Arita
February 25, 2017
F Chopper KOGA is the bass player and charismatic leader for the band Gacharic Spin. She is also the bassist for DOLL$BOXX. KOGA was gracious enough to give us the opportunity for an interview prior to the DOLL$BOXX / Gacharic Spin / Fuki Commune live event which took place on February 25th.
Gacharic Spin’s music is unique and seems to blend a variety of styles – rock, metal, funk, rap, techno, etc. Can you tell me about the band’s composition process? Which members compose the music?
KOGA: The four members that play musical instruments (Hana, TOMO-ZO, Oreo, KOGA) compose the songs. We can compose the music and write the lyrics as well. Among us, Hana (vo./drums) especially organizes all of the musical sections. When someone makes the framework of a song, the other members suggest to change its melody a bit, and then we try to remake the chorus together. There are more songs that we’ve composed together versus songs that were composed solely by one member.
Can you tell me a bit about your most recent album, Kakujitsu Hendo -Kakuhen-? Do the songs have an overall theme?
KOGA: One theme of the latest album is to show how we are changing and growing – individually with each member’s stronger personality, progression, and evolution rather than the band as a whole.
The second theme is that we put some new member formations and presentations in this album. We created new formations for some songs on the album tour, such as Hana and Oreo (Vo./Key) moving away from their musical instruments and singing up at the front of the stage, with performers Mai and Nenne playing the musical instruments instead. Another example is that Oreo plays the acoustic guitar on “Shiro Ga Kono Machi To Boku O Someru” and “Friendship”. The album Kakujitsu Hendo -Kakuhen- contains several songs where members have switched from their usual roles, we can do this because each member is progressing and evolving.
What is your favorite song on the album?
KOGA: “Saigo No Piece” is my favorite.
At your live shows, each song has its own choreography and encourages audience participation. I can’t think of any other band that does this. It makes the audience feel as if they’re performing with the band and creates a more intimate experience. Was that your intention?
KOGA: Originally Gacharic Spin was an ordinary band with of a vocalist, drummer, guitar player, bassist, and no performers. However, in 2012, the vocalist left the band and at the same time Oreo joined as a keyboard player. We looked for a new vocalist but we weren’t able to find one that was a good match for the band. We knew both Hana and Oreo could take the place of a vocalist and we thought having dual vocalists would be cool, so we stopped looking for a dedicated vocalist. Since Hana and Oreo play instruments in addition to singing, we decided to add performers. We always turn crisis into opportunity.
The support from our fans was really great and that was a big motivation for us not to give up on the band at the time. Since then, we strongly feel that the audience is the seventh member of the band and not just visitors. We found that the performers were able to do something together with the audience — not only singing, but also moving and dancing.
We made some songs specifically with the audience in mind, thinking of them dancing with us, singing with us, or shouting with us. So sometimes we do this intentionally, but other times we haven’t and the audience creates it themselves, making the song even better!
Such as “GO! LIVER”?
KOGA: Well, yes. “GO! LIVER” is one of them. We wrote that song intending for the audience to dance with us, but this song also contains our grateful feelings to our fans who support us so strongly. We call our fans Gacha-man and Gacha-pinko, for men and women, but we also conceived of giving them another name: “Liver” – meaning “live show lovers”. So when we composed “GO! LIVER” we wanted to write the lyrics and arrange this song as a tribute to our fans.
Concerning the choreography for your songs. Is that something that the band members create?
KOGA: Mai creates that part.
It’s been really cool seeing the band grow in popularity each year. In line with that, the venues you’ve performed at have gotten bigger as well. I understand the band will be playing their first one man live at Hibiya Yaon in June. Can you tell me what that means to the band?
KOGA: Ah! Yaon (Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall) is definitely a place a band wants to play in their lifetime. We still go there ourselves to attend shows. Of course, we do our best at every single show whether it is a joint gig or if it’s a one-man live show, but there’s a big difference between a live music club and Yaon. I never expected that I would be able to stand there as a bassist, so I’m honestly very happy. Honestly, this is the place where some friends in other bands enviously chat “Hey, I heard that Gacharic Spin is going to perform at Yaon!”.
Now that you have Yaon on your schedule, I’m hoping that a one man live at Budokan isn’t far off in the future.
KOGA: (excited) Wow! Well, we’ll do our best to play at Budokan soon and to be interviewed again then. At first, we felt like we still had a long ways to go, so we were ashamed of talking about Budokan. Budokan was too desired to be uttered. But now that we’re playing at Yaon, we finally can say “We want to perform at the Budokan”.
What goals does the band hope to accomplish in 2017 and beyond?
KOGA: Yaon is everything at this moment. We will surely make the performance at Yaon a success. Of course we want to play at a bigger place after Yaon, but we can’t think that far into the future. We’re living in the here and now . Right now Yaon is everything to us.
I am not sure if you are aware but DOLL$BOXX is pretty popular in the west. What has it been like the past few weeks performing with Fuki again?
KOGA: It hasn’t felt like much time has passed since we were together last. I don’t know why. She was one of the vocalists who filled in for us at several shows when Gacharic Spin’s former vocalist left the band. She was the first one to reach out to us, letting us know that she could sing for the band. That might be a reason. When we met again at the studio this time, we naturally said “Oh, that’s right, I remember this feeling”, and got familiar with her immediately.
Was the DOLL$BOXX collaboration with Fuki a one-time thing or is there a possibility of having new DOLL$BOXX material in the future?
KOGA: Just wait till you see what’s coming!
Any possibility of holding a DOLL$BOXX/Gacharic Spin/Fuki Commune event overseas?
KOGA: If there would be such a possibility, it would be nice! We would appreciate it if you invite us. We would love to perform anytime and anywhere. Gacharic Spin has been overseas already. Fuki, the other members, and myself have been talking, saying that DOLL$BOXX should perform abroad. We know the group is unique musically, and we have seen the many comments from overseas fans on the YouTube music videos, so we might like to try performing in the other countries. If the opportunity arises we would love to go ahead.
Your fourth trip to the United States will be happening in April for Anime Matsuri in Houston. Do you have any activities you’re looking forward to doing while you are there?
KOGA: We’re looking forward to going shopping. If we were ordinary women we would buy our daily clothes, but since Gacharic Spin is a band in flashy costumes and uses glittery props, we would like to find something new to use in our shows that you can’t find in Japan. The gloves with LED lights are our unique props now, but originally we saw some in the audience at Anime Matsuri wearing them. We thought they seemed fun, looked for some, and finally found them.
Is there anything you would like to say to those who will be attending Anime Matsuri this April?
KOGA: Yes. Our first visit abroad was to Anime Matsuri in 2011. We’re looking forward to attending it again, and showing you how we’ve advanced as a band, now in our 7th year. We’re looking forward to a new meeting and also a reunion after six years. We will perform with all our might. When I met with John (founder of Anime Matsuri) the other day, he told me “thank you for continuing the band without giving up.” I was so moved I almost cried. He was joking around earlier, but at that moment he suddenly became quite serious. He made me very happy and moved me so much. I’m psyched up for this event knowing that there are a lot of people who waited for us outside of Japan. We’re very glad to attend Anime Matsuri, it is a special event for us.
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