Wasuta (“The World Standard”)
Interview by David Cirone
December 9, 2019
The five members of Wasuta (“The World Standard”) recently completed their first-ever free live concert at Yoyogi Park, performing with the “NEKONOTE BAND” for 3000 fans — the largest solo turnout in the young group’s history.
As they prepare for their 5th Anniversary solo concert next March, Hazuki (Pastel Yellow), Nanase (Pastel Green), Miri (Pastel Purple), Ririka (Pastel Blue), and Ruka (Pastel Pink) reflect on memories of their years together, the group’s wide range of genres (RPGs to ballads, lots of food and cats), and their new single “Shani Muni Ikiru!”, dedicated to their fans across the globe.
You recently held your “Yuumei ni, Nyaru!!!!!” Free Concert at Yoyogi Park for Wasuta’s largest-ever one-man audience. What was your favorite moment from that night?
Miri: I always get ready for a live in the same sort of way. I get a little nervous, but I try to imagine what the audience will be like. Once I realized we’d reached our goal for the live, that made me so happy, but we didn’t get that information until almost an hour before the show started! Still, once I knew all our fans were together to welcome us, I felt a lot better.
Nanase: Having a free live outdoor concert was something new for us, and during the concert I was looking out and trying to make sure I reached everyone who was there, but I couldn’t see how far back everyone went! At an indoor live, we can see the back row of the audience and we know we’ve made contact with everybody, but at Yoyogi Park it just seemed limitless! And it was also our first time performing in front of people who might just be walking by, who didn’t know us.
Ririka: Of course the view from the stage was very different, but the sound from the audience really surprised me too. Usually we don’t wear ear monitors, but we used them this time because we had a band on stage with us. Even with the ear monitors, I could still hear the fans cheering so loudly, and the sound of their excitement really moved me.
Hazuki: In “Stand Alone Complex”, there’s as section where we do solo choreography. Usually we do this inside a closed venue, but on the Yoyogi Park stage, we could see all the way up to the sky, and I felt really free and energized. Because the song is so emotional, I feel like that setting allowed the fans to feel the message of the song more deeply, and I was happy to share that moment with them.
Ruka: I felt the same as everyone else -– the view and the sounds and the energy just made it feel like we had no limit. I really like outdoor stages and that kind of atmosphere. Everyone’s really participating together. There’s a part in “Shani Muni Ikiru!” when I have to sing a powerful verse just by myself, and I could feel the silence from the audience at that moment, that they were listening to every word. That was a wonderful feeling.
The “Super Arigato” music video on your YouTube channel revealed that you had the pressure to achieve 1500 fans — but you doubled the goal with 3000 fans at the show. How do you feel about the great show of support from your fans?
Nanase: When I first heard that we had to hit 1500 fans, I couldn’t shake the feeling of “Oh my god, can we do this?” Whatever our hopes might be, I wasn’t 100% confident that Wasuta could achieve this. We always work hard to make sure that people enjoy our concerts and want to come back to see us again, but we never had a goal like this presented to us. I spent a lot of time thinking about how we could make this happen, and I feel like the five of us bonded together even more strongly because of it. The fans helped us so much by spreading the news on social media, and it felt so great to see them supporting us and spreading the word about Wasuta. I had some moments of worry, when I felt a little down, but seeing the messages from the fans and how excited they were always lifted me up.
How were your rehearsals for this show different, performing live with the NEKONOTE band? What was the biggest challenge?
Miri: We’ve performed shows with the band in the past, but this was the first time at an outdoor stage. The biggest change in rehearsal is getting used to working with the ear monitors and some new members of the band. But once we got going, I was able to loosen up and communicate. I realized we were all creating this Yoyogi Park show together, and that it would be something special. Wasuta’s musical style is unique, and each track has a different style or tone or type of emotional quality. At first, it was hard to imagine how they would sound with a live band. But I felt like having a live band brought out the power of the music even more.
Ruka, you surprised everyone with an electric guitar performance during “Platonic Girl”. How did you prepare for that moment, and how did it feel when you got to do it live?
Ruka: I’ve been learning guitar as a hobby for about a year, and exactly a year before this, I played the electric guitar for “Platonic Girl” on stage, but I’d never done it with a live band before. So I felt like, “I don’t want to just be an idol playing this guitar, I want to feel like I’m in the band!” The chords were different, so I had to learn it all over again, but in my heart, I felt like a rock star for a minute.
Wasuta – “Shani Muni Ikiru!” (MV)
“Shani Muni Ikiru!” is dedicated to the fans who support you. When you have the chance to perform that song live in front of them, how does that increase your emotional feeling?
Hazuki: At every show, the fans get excited and we really enjoy their special shouts and calls. We can see that they’re having fun, and that’s our main goal as idols. It’s a great feeling to see their smiles and feel that chemistry between us. When we get that energy back from the audience, that makes it worth it. It’s a feeling I carry with me in everyday life, even after the show is over. It makes me look forward to seeing them all again.
It’s been a long time since you made a music video without wearing fantasy costumes. How did you feel about wearing “normal” clothes in the video?
Ririka: They were a lot lighter! (laughs) This music video was interesting because we had to visually show ourselves as two characters -– as members of Wasuta and as Wasuta fans. There was no CG in this one, and the story was very personal, about being young, about teenage memories, so being in “normal” clothes helped me connect to that feeling. Maybe at first look, it doesn’t seem very “Wasuta”, but I feel like the message of the song and the powerful emotions definitely fit Wasuta’s style.
Miri, in the music video, what are you shouting at the ocean?
Miri: I’m doing a fan call, one of the common ones called “gachi koi kojo” that you always hear at an idol concert. I’m shouting it to the ocean to express the fans’ feelings about Wasuta. I think Japanese fans might know what I’m saying, but maybe international fans might not recognize it right away. We’ll have to teach them! I’ve seen fans do this call at our live shows, and I’ve been in the audience for other idol shows, so I wanted to match their passion when I did that shot in the video.
The video was shot in such a beautiful location. Where was it filmed? How did it feel to dance and sing in that kind of environment, compared to inside a video studio?
Nanase: It was our first time shooting together in such a beautiful outside location. We made the video at Miura Beach, and my first shot was my very first scene in the video, where I’m looking down at this beautiful view of the area. It was early in the morning, so clear and bright, it brought out a really pure feeling of happiness. It brought back memories of my childhood growing up in Fukuoka, and it looked so different from Tokyo.
Your collaboration video for “Yo Quiero Vivir” (with Adexe & Nau) has over 3 million views, and your social media receives many comments in Spanish. The World Standard is indeed reaching the world. How do you feel when you see the support from fans overseas?
Hazuki: On my Twitter and Instagram, I see many comments in Spanish, and it makes me feel good that Wasuta’s becoming more popular overseas. On my birthday, fans from Peru made a video with a cake and my photo and sang “Happy Birthday” to me in Spanish. I was surprised, and it made me emotional. When you see words of support in social media comments, of course they mean a lot, but seeing their faces and their gentle, warm feeling expressed that way, the meaning of having fans overseas became so real to me at that moment. It made me feel even more strongly about reaching out to those fans and doing my best so Wasuta can visit them in person one day.
Do you think you’ll do a interactive live show like “Kawaii Quest” again? What ideas would make it even more exciting next time?
Ririka: It was so much fun! We did the “Kawaii Quest” 8 times, and we won 5 times. If we could do it again, I’d want to see how big we could make it, like making sure the fans could really smell the woods when we entered the woods, and somehow experience the journey with us through all the senses. During the show, we were only able to select one choice from the audience at a time, but if we could do it on a larger scale, we could include everyone and make it a true group experience.
Your Wa-tube videos on your new YouTube channel show the members joking with each other during music videos and rehearsals. How does your friendship help you get through new challenges?
Ruka: Working together to prepare for the free live show, we came together in sync more than ever. Getting through rehearsals every day and pushing ourselves to make this our best-ever show made me feel closer to the other members. I feel like everyone takes this very seriously, and we’re all connected and supporting each other whenever we can. But because we know each other so well, it’s easy to find moments to laugh together, and then we have energy to keep going.
You just announced your 5th year Anniversary live for next March. How do you each feel your performance ability has grown stronger since you began as Wasuta?
Ririka: I feel like each member’s expression on stage has changed. I feel like we’re all better at expressing our inner feelings during performance. Now I want to be able to express that in front of audiences outside of Japan, too.
Hazuki: After these five years, I feel like we’ve become better at switching our emotions from song to song, or even for the MCs, so we can fully connect to each moment. Wasuta’s songs go through so many different types of feelings -– happy, playful, emotional, sad -– so it was hard sometimes to jump into the next song right away with fresh emotions. And we’ve become better at reading the audience too, understanding what they’re feeling and when to talk a little longer or a little shorter to make the performance flow just right.
Ruka: When I first started, I was only thinking about myself. I concentrated really hard on making sure I was doing things right, but now I’ve learned how to think about the other members of the group and about the audience, too. I’m feeling more confident now and more relaxed, so I can make sure I’m helping everyone do their best and have a great time.
Nanase: We perform so many genres of songs, and the emotions in every direction. We’ve had to find the way to give our emotions over completely to each song, and it’s made us stronger performers. The best part about Wasuta is our live performance, and I think it’s what sets us apart from many other idol groups. When I first heard our debut single, I thought it wasn’t what I expected of being an “idol”. But as we’ve created each new song after that, I’ve learned this is what it means to be “Wasuta”, and it’s made this group and our music and our fans so much more special.
Miri: To be a success as an idol, you have to really like being an idol. Being together this long, we’re able to see all the positive things about each other, and we can discover new things that bring us closer. I feel lucky that we can work together to make each other better, and together we can make our live shows better each time. I agree that our live shows are the best thing about Wasuta, and we pick our own set lists for every concert. It’s very personal for each of us. We’ve already started discussing the set list for our 5th anniversary show, and it’s going to be amazing.
Wasuta – “Super Arigatou” (Wa-Ship ver.)
Wasuta Official Website: http://wa-suta.world/
Apple Music: http://bit.ly/Wasuta_iTunes