No J-Pop Summit would be complete without their muse and this year pop idol group FES☆TIVE looks to take the title.
The 8-piece idol group differentiates itself from the competition with the hook of focusing on spreading Japanese festivals all around the world. The members of the group, who were all selected by fans using the CHEERZ mobile support app, are fan tested and hobby approved. FES☆TIVE, formed in May of 2013 and signed by the Tokuma Japan Communications music label, have been spreading the word on everything that is Matsuri!
Their unique blend of old world festival sounds and the unmistakable saccharine J-pop beats behind every track brings a flavor to the idol world like never seen before. FES☆TIVE, a portmanteau of the word Festival and Positive/Active, roster includes Mitsuki Suzuki, Yuna Sakamoto, Akari Shina, Hinari Aoba, Hiyo Momohara, Kotone Suzuki, Honami Yokoi, and the effervescent Reia Shiozaki. Their mission statement? To revitalize Japan through song and dance in a way only idols can.
We sat down with the cheerful group at this year’s J-POP Summit.
For your old fans and new please introduce yourselves and tell us one unique thing about yourselves.
Kotone Suzuki: Hello, my name is Suzuki Kotone. My nickname is Kotton and my color is blue. My hobbies are the violin and making cookies with icing. I’m also good at piano.
Honami Yokoi: Hello my name is Yokoi Honami. My nickname is Homi and my color is white. My hobbies are sleeping and I am good at instruments like the classic guitar.
Hinari Aoba: Hello my name is Aoba Hinari. My nickname is Hinarin and my color is orange. I’m good at singing songs in different languages and I like looking at pamphlets of houses.
Yuna Sakamoto: Hello my name is Sakamoto Yuna. My nickname is Yunapiko and my color is red. I like my dog, “Chacha” and I don’t like praying mantis’s and caterpillars. I’m also looking into making billiard one of my skills.
Mitsuki Suzuki: Hello my name is Suzuki Mitsuki. My nickname is Mikki, and my color is green. I like reading books and my skill is that my body is flexible.
Akari Shiina: Hello my name is Shiina Akari. My nickname is Akarin and my color is pink. I like shaved ice and I don’t like pigeons.
Reia Shinozaki: Hello my name is Shinozaki Reia and my color is yellow. I like to listen to music and I’m not good at drawing.
Hiyo Momohara: Hello my name Momohara Hiyo and my color is purple. I like birds and I don’t like cicadas.
How did you become a member of FES☆TIVE?
Yuna Sakamoto: Hinarin, Mitsuki-san, Reia and I started off from an audition and then more members were added later on.
Your group won the Cheerz Mobile App contest in order to make your American Debut at the Jpop Summit Festival, what were your reactions when you heard the news?
Kotone Suzuki: Hinarin and Ho-min cried a lot.
Hinari Aoba: Yeah, I cried. Ho-min was our representative for the contest so when I saw that she won, I started crying too.
Do any of you use the Cheerz app yourself?
All: Yes we use it.
Who do you cheer for?
All: Ourselves (laughs).
Yuna Sakamoto: Especially during events.
Kotone Suzuki: Yeah during events, we cheer for other the members.
You’ve now spent a little bit of time in San Francisco, what are some of your reactions that you had during your time in San Francisco?
All: It’s really cool outside!
Aoba Hinari, Sakmoto Yuna, Suzuki Mitsuki, Reia Shinozaki: It’s cold!
Kotone Suzuki: The architecture is very beautiful and the supermarkets are really big.
Reia Shinozaki: When I make eye contact with someone, they’ll smile back at me and that makes me happy.
Yuna Sakamoto: Exactly!
Hinari Aoba: They’re very nice.
Kotone Suzuki: I’d want to live here.
Akari Shiina: All the places (in San Francisco) are beautiful.
Now that you’re in San Francisco, what do you miss about Japan?
Yuna Sakamoto: I really want to eat nattou (laughs). I want to eat mentaiko and nattou.
Hinari Aoba: I miss eating ochazuke.
Mitsuki Suzuki: I miss Japanese food.
Yuna Sakamoto: I also miss my family as well (laughs).
Hiyo Momohara: I miss my pet.
You’ve had appearances in Thailand and America, what countries would you like to appear in next?
Hinari Aoba: Paris, France.
Kotone Suzuki: In one of our songs called “Omatsuri Hero”, there are a bunch of names of countries like Spain and Brazil in the lyrics so I’d like to go to all those places.
Yuna Sakamoto: Those countries are in our lyrics so we’d like to go there.
If you weren’t a member of FES☆TIVE, what would you be doing right now?
Yuna Sakamoto: I’d be a NEET with no job.
Hinari Aoba: I guess a normal person?
Hiyo Momohara: I’d be working
Reia Shinozaki: I’d be in high school having a lot of homework over the summer break.
Honami Yokoi: I’d probably be sleeping a lot.
If FES☆TIVe was a family, who would be the father, the mother, the daughter, the pet, etc.?
Yuna Sakamoto: (puts hand on Hinari Aoba’s shoulder) Pet
Hinari Aoba: Yayyyyyy
(Kotone Suzuki, Honami Yokoi, Hinari Aoba, and Yuna Sakamoto all point to Mitsuki Suzuki)
Honami Yokoi: She would be the mother
Hinari Aoba: The father would be Reia. (points at Kotone Suzuki) She’s the older sister.
Kotone Suzuki: Really?!
Hinari Aoba: Either you or Akarin is the older sister.
Kotone Suzuki & Yuna Nakamoto: (points at Akari Shiina) She’s the older sister.
Reia Shinozaki: (points at Yuna Nakamoto) You’d definitely be the youngest sibling.
Yuna Sakamoto: C’mon we’re supposed to be a family!
Lastly, please give a message to your to your fans.
Reia Shinozaki: We’re going to continue spreading the “Omatsuri” culture across the world and we’re looking forward to the continued support of all our fans!
Fes☆tive with a host of indie singles, including Wonderful Festival [ワンダフルフェスティバル],Magical Parade [マジカルパレード], Gakusai Emotion [学祭エモーション, and Natsu Iro Toridori Bon [夏色とりどリボン], along with their landmark debut major label single with Omatsuri Hero [お祭りヒーロー] this year the girls are sure to dance straight into your heart.
Interview by Kenneth Uy. Photography by Chase Lim.
This was a joint production with Nihongogo.com