Interview by Todd Nelson, Matt Clark, and Cap Hayes
Translation by Cap Hayes
Ladybeard, the cross-dressing Kawaiicore metal vocalist and professional wrestler, sat down with us to talk about his latest music project that will be unleashed on April 28th – BABYBEARD. Pop idols KOTOMI and SUZU, the other two members that make up BABYBEARD, also joined us. Read on to learn about the group, some wrestling, and even teddy bears!
We’re familiar with some of Ladybeard’s previous projects and collaborations, so I’m excited to see what this new group brings. For our readers that may be new to your work, can you describe what kind of music we can expect from BABYBEARD?
Ladybeard: We play a style of music called Kawaiicore also referred to as kawaii metal. Kawaii being the Japanese word for cute and of course, metal being metal. So, we try to take everything that is sweet and wonderful and beautiful and adorable and cute about Japan, such as these two adorable young ladies, and then mix it up with the RAW POWER that is metal and that creates a nucleus, a combination, a force of nature that cannot be messed with under any circumstances. There’s something for everybody, there’s the adorable, there’s the powerful, there’s a bearded man in a dress dancing, nothing more could ever be asked for by any human in history, ever.
How did this project get started?
Ladybeard: Yeah, so I mean, you guys are probably familiar with my previous group from 2016, which made the song “Nippon Manju”, that made me famous around the world. So, I was in that group, and that group was very, very popular and then my time in that group was unfortunately brought to an abrupt end. But it’s been very clear to me since the end of that, over the past 5 years that that’s the formation – Ladybeard and the two cute little Japanese girls, that’s what the world wants to see from Ladybeard.
Ladybeard: But you know, I spent 5 years doing some other things, and I’m very happy with the other things that I did, but we’re finally in a position when we can come back to doing this formation, me in the middle with these two adorable young ladies, me screaming and dancing, the girls screaming and dancing, music made by Asano-san and Tadano-san, who are the musical geniuses, the same people who made “Nippon Manju”. So, I’m very happy to get them back on board. And so BABYBEARD is here. Basically, the place where the last group fell off. We’re trying to pick that back up and then keep going with what always should have been, really.
How did KOTOMI and SUZU come to join the group?
Ladybeard: So, we selected these two girls from an extensive audition process, candidates auditioned from all over the world. We broke it down, narrowed it down, culled out the unnecessary, to eventually get the lovely and adorable KOTOMI and the beautiful and wondrous SUZU.
Ladybeard: (wrestling promo style breakdown) And now the three of us coming at you as BABYBEARD. It’s on, 2021. Let’s go, right now, next week, not last week, next month, this year, next year, yeah!
KOTOMI and SUZU: (enthusiastic) Yeah!
Looks like you’re all definitely ready to go.
Ladybeard: Yeah, we’re gonna kill it, damn it. We want to get on the stage, it’s so frustrating ’cause every time it’s like we think we come into the back end of the wondrous world event that we’re all dealing with, every time we think we’re coming out of it now, we get shut back down again and it’s getting extremely frustrating. We’re itching to go. We’re very frustrated, but you know the Japanese say the word shouganai, which means it can’t be helped. Hey man, so we’re doing the best that we can to bring the wonders of Japanese pop culture and the wonders of BABYBEARD to the world via the magic of the internet , ’cause right now that’s literally the only option.
When will the world will first be able to hear BABYBEARD and how many songs will be available for your debut? What will be their theme?
Ladybeard: So, let me throw the PR in before anything else happens. So, our songs, our first two songs, our first single “NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA”, and the B side for that track “PIENNIZER”, start streaming April 28th, April 28 at all places where songs are streamed. The Spotify, the Apple music, the Amazon, all places where streaming happens, be there, check it out, then go to that Ladybeard social media, Ladybeard underscore Japan, and go to the BABYBEARD social media, and press all the like and follow buttons. We’ve got things coming to our social media, various videos, various information. various other bits and pieces that you can’t live without, get there, be it , do it, BABYBEARD 2021.
Ladybeard: (to KOTOMI and SUZU ) What do you think?
KOTOMI and SUZU: (excited) Yeah!
Ladybeard: I’m gonna employ the services of these two young ladies … wait, that sounds bad, I’m gonna have the girls to tell you what the two songs are about.
SUZU: Our first single is “NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA” (Hello from Japan ), so in this time of great challenge for everybody, we’re sending as much love, joy, genki, and happy kindness as we possibly can through the net waves to the entire world from right here in Japan. Please listen.
Ladybeard: Let’s talk about “PIENNIZER” the B side to that track, KOTOMI.
KOTOMI: So pien is a word that’s currently popular amongst the youth of Japan, and pien means there’s something somewhat sad has happened, nothing horrible, just a small sadness such as you stubbed your toe or hung up the wash and then it rained. So, we made a song about that, “PIENNIZER”.
So, you said that you had an extensive audition process. Could you give some more background on that and tell us a little bit about the process.
Ladybeard: Sure, sure. So, when this happens for an idol group, first things first you send out a kind of public audition notice. We had replies to that from literally all over the world. We had candidates writing from the UK, from the United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, from literally all over the place.
You had to be able to make it to a physical audition in Tokyo if you were selected of course, so that was part of the conditions. So now we got some physical auditions in Tokyo. We get through the first internet cut of the people who you know, won’t be able to make it to the physical edition basically.
Then we get to the physical auditions. The very first person who walked through the door on the very first day was SUZU, and she walked in, and as you can see, she’s a beaming bundle of joy and a beaming little ray of sunshine. So, she walked in, she smashed the audition, and she set a very, very high bar for the other girls to follow and we went through several days of audition. At some point in that, KOTOMI walked in, also adorable, she came in. She was an excellent dancer. She blew the thing away and so these girls ended up being the girls who were selected.
The audition process was very interesting because you know my acting career and so forth. I’ve spent a lot of time doing auditions, but this is the first time ever, on the other side of the audition table and selecting people. It was very interesting. All the times in the past when you’ve been rejected, you realize that it’s nothing personal. It’s not a problem with you, it’s just you’re not exactly what we need for this right now. So, once you’ve been on the other side of the audition, you kind of realize that. A lot of girls came in and they were great, but they were just not exactly what we needed for this right now, but these two are. So, they got selected, and now we are BABYBEARD, BABYBEARD comin at ya 2021. Today all day. every day, in your face.
Did you have any aspiring Ladybeards try to come through the auditions?
Ladybeard: Aspiring Ladybeards. I don’t think so. The closest we had to an aspiring Ladybeard was a girl who was really good at pulling faces. Well, as you can see this face is clearly pulled at all times, so.
One follow-up question from on the auditions. So KOTOMI and SUZU they arm wrestled you and they won right? (joking)
Ladybeard: That’s exactly what happened. (Ladybeard talks with KOTOMI and SUZU, both laughing)
Yeah, they’re saying that’s exactly what happened. You can see their vicious killers, look at them. Look at this, look at this every day. They’re in the gym every day. 200 squats, the dumbbell and the treadmill. Every day, both of them, they’re murderers. I’m terrified. Help me. Please save me. I don’t know what’s gonna happen.
KOTOMI and SUZU can each of you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
KOTOMI: I am KOTOMI, the one who wears blue. Because I really like Doraemon, I chose the color blue.
Ladybeard: KOTOMI’s idol is actually Doraemon.
(KOTOMI makes Doraemon gesture)
Ladybeard: So, KOTOMI wants to be just like Doraemon when she grows up. And to that extent, her in-group persona has been modeled after the wonders of Doraemon.
Ladybeard to KOTOMI: Before joining this group, you were also in a different idol group, right?
Ladybeard: About how long were you in that group?
KOTOMI: Ahh, about six… (counts on fingers) about six months.
Ladybeard: So, she’s already had a previous idol life, so she’s familiar with the idol life.
Ladybeard: SUZU, could you please introduce yourself?
SUZU: Yes. I’m SUZU! My image color is green. I really like bears. Since I really like bears, I also love teddy bears and teddy bear goods.
Ladybeard: SUZU loves teddy bears! Anything related to a teddy bear, SUZU is all about it. Now that we’ve publicly said this, I don’t think she realizes exactly how many teddy bears she’s going to receive every time we go overseas.
(SUZU motions with her hands like she’s receiving teddy bears)
Ladybeard: It’s gonna be a teddy bear fiesta at her house for now on. Is there anything else you wanted to say?
SUZU: Yeah, I, oh, how do I say this in English?
SUZU: (In English) I love sleeping, eating, and shopping!
Ladybeard: SUZU is working very hard on her English, KOTOMI is working very hard on her Espanol.
(KOTOMI makes a no gesture)
Ladybeard: We are a global group.
KOTOMI: Soy KOTOMI (laughs)
Just to sidetrack a little bit do they have do they have Build-A-Bear in Japan?
Ladybeard: Build-A-Bear, oh, I don’t think so. We don’t have Build-A-Bear. So I Know when we come to the states we should do Build-A-Bear. If we’re ever allowed time. (Tells KOTOMI and SUZU about Build-A-Bear)
Ladybeard: The girls are very excited about Build-A-Bear.
Acting, choreography, athleticism, stage presence, are all skills required both for a professional wrestler and for a front man in a group. Was it difficult for you making the transition into the music scene?
Ladybeard: Uhm, you know what? In terms of the performance itself obviously, you gotta learn how to do your singing, and do it consistently. Do your singing and your dancing, you gotta learn the skills as such. But in terms of like an industry switch, with both you’re still on stage, so if you know how to be on stage, you sort of know how to be on stage anywhere, and now it’s just the technicalities that are changing.
So on one level, no, it was fine, but on another level, from a business perspective and our behind the scenes perspective, they’re very, very different. And then another challenge was like I started doing this 12 years ago now. So, I came in right as it was really shifting over from the old way of doing things in the analog system, to the new way with the digital and the social media. That’s actually been one of the most confusing things ’cause I thought I knew what was going on and then I didn’t.
And now with the digital age, no one knows what’s going on ’cause as soon as you know what’s going on it, it changes. So that’s actually been the most challenging part. Yeah, with music you know it’s sort of a lot of time you’re doing a lot of things yourself. That doesn’t happen in pro wrestling and wrestling. You’re a wrestler, and that’s what you do, and at most beyond wrestling, you know you turn up, you do your match. You sell your T shirts. Maybe you help break down the ring and so forth afterwards and put the ring on the truck, but unless you’re also one of the staff who’s in the office doing the emails and things you’re not dealing with any of that, whereas with music you are. It’s like until you get a big company behind you, you’re doing all the all the clickety clack, all the organization, that all happens yourself. So that’s kind of the biggest transition. More than the difference between the two art forms or the performance styles, it’s more the transition to. suddenly you’re a business owner and you’ve got to figure all of that out.
You’ve performed with screaming vocals with LadyBaby, and in Deadlift Lolita in addition to screaming vocals, you sang with clean vocals and have rapped as well. What type of vocal styles will you be bringing to BABYBEARD?
Ladybeard: Oh look instead of telling you why don’t we just show you? Wait, you guys are getting some special stuff right here. You are getting an a Cappella rendition of the chorus of “NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA” let’s do this thing.
(Ladybeard, SUZU, and KOTOMI proceed to give us a powerful preview. Instead of describing what we witnessed, this post that recently went up on their social media should give you and idea)
❣️BABYBEARD HAS ARRIVED❣️— BABYBEARD (@babybeard_japan) April 12, 2021
LADYBEARD x SUZU x KOTOMI
An Adorable Assault on the Senses💕 pic.twitter.com/HoNGovL1MR
Ladybeard: I don’t know how you’re gonna write that in a written interview, but I wish you luck, Sir.
In in addition to the songs being released streaming are there any plans for a music video?
Ladybeard: If they stop locking Tokyo down we would love to do that. So yes, yes, I can’t tell you when, but yes, soon with luck. Can’t say when but please keep your eye on the social media, all the things will be there.
Japan live shows have resumed although in limited capacity, do you have any live shows planned for the near future or is that still up in the air with everything that’s going on?
Ladybeard: I’ll shoot straight with you, no. But that’s not from a lack of willing that’s, uh, due to policy decisions made by people who are not us. We would love to. We are itching to, all three of us are itching to get on stage. The second we stop doing interviews. KOTOMI starts Tik-Tok dancing. KOTOMI is an avid dancer. She TikTok dances with massive enthusiasm. Like every time from when we finish one interview until the moment we start the next one, she’s continually dancing, and I think that tells you a little bit about the enthusiasm to get onstage. KOTOMI is TikTok. Yeah, get on it, click the like button. Click the follow button. Watch KOTOMI dance. It’s a beautiful thing.
The lives in Japan as they currently exist. When you watch one, it is a surreal experience ’cause no one’s allowed to make any noise. Everyone sitting in chairs that are all like two meters apart so it’s sort of like when I was in high school doing exams, it would be a hall with everyone’s desks separated. Yeah, it’s a strange situation.
Yeah, we’ve seen some of the clips that. Definitely looks different.
Ladybeard: Oh, if you look from a balcony down on it, it’s so weird, it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced. Uhm, one of the joys of coming to see live music in Japan is you watch the performance, but you also watch the audience, particularly with you know, Idol groups. I’m watching the way the audience does it’s body yoga, so now that’s gone. Eventually, I think as soon as people are allowed to do it, they’ll do it, no one is staying quiet by choice.
What kind of performance should fans expect?
Ladybeard: Very adorable clean voice singing coming from both the ladies. There’s gonna be the usual Ladybeard things coming from Ladybeard. And so, yes, and some dancing and so forth. There’s going to be a lot of color. There’s gonna be a lot of movement, a lot of energy, some lovely singing, some screaming, and look up until this point in my career, every time I get on a stage, some ugly pro wrestler takes issue with me and comes onstage and knocks me out. And I have to sort out the situation, so I’m making no promises that that is not going to happen again. I make no promises, it’s beyond my control.
Well, you know, everybody’s got to have a heel right?
Ladybeard: You’re telling me. Seems that way.
Gotta be the hero right?
Ladybeard: Someone’s gotta do it. Someone got to carry that cross.
Will BABYBEARD undertake any variety content not strictly limited to music and dance performance that may also enhance the group’s value as ambassadors of Japanese kawaii culture?
Ladybeard: Variety. Variety like TV and so forth?
Yeah that and YouTuber stuff you know, like eating challenges, etc.
KOTOMI: I want to be on the TV show called Introdon .
Ladybeard: It’s a show where they play a song from the beginning and you have to guess which song it is ASAP. You can see she’s skilled in this department.
SUZU: I want to eat things on television.
Ladybeard: Don’t we all? At the end of the day, don’t we all want to eat things on television?
SUZU: No teddy bears though.
Don’t eat Doraemon either.
(SUZU and KOTOMI laughing)
SUZU: I’ll eat Anpanman.
I know you’ve been involved with Makai and expressed desire to promote overseas do you foresee having any more high involvement?
Ladybeard: Oh, hell yeah. Dude I love Makai so much that thing is fantastic. For me, that’s kind of a perfect performance in a lot of ways. It puts together everything that I love. It’s got the wrestling, but it’s much more theatrical action as opposed to the sport of pro wrestling, which is really what I’m all about, it’s got that coupled with the weapons work, and since I learned that when I was a stuntman, I love doing that stuff too. Coupled with the theater, which is my base, coupled with the live music, and then of ghosts of samurai and demons fighting to maintain the balance of good and evil on Earth, I don’t know what more you could possibly want.
Now there will definitely be more Makai involvement. We’re trying to get Makai overseas, I wanna bring it to the anime conventions somehow. Now the challenges, of course it’s a big old operation, you need a lot of staff right. And you need a wrestling ring and you need a lot of resources, but we’re trying to get overseas. I really hope we can.
It’s cool so it’s kind of like theatrical wrestling slash music.
Ladybeard: Yeah, actually they call it a fighting musical, so it’s a live music, live dance, pro wrestling. Live theater crossover. I describe it as an anime come to life ’cause it’s like watching anime except it’s right in front of you, right?
Typically in that what’s the audience reaction when they’re watching, do they watch it more like it’s a movie and they’re like silent through the whole thing or do they like get into it and cheer and yell, what’s it like?
Ladybeard: Oh, they get involved, during the dramatic scenes they tend to say quiet, but then as soon as the action starts – chaos. A lot of the time as well, we fight through the audience, so they get displaced from their seats. There’s a bunch of characters called the makaishu, who are these bunch of little fury things that hang out around the ring and they specifically shepherd the audience to safety. So if someone’s gonna, you know, do a flying crossbody outside the ring, they’ll specifically Shepherd everybody out of the way and they have their work cut out for them in that show. Man, there are like giant swords flying out of the ring that there are like things getting thrown. Humans flying through the air. It is bonkers.
Both wrestling and J-Pop fans are very passionate so having worked in both industries, which group would you say is the most intense?
Ladybeard: Uh, most intense. Probably J-Pop fans. They’re an intense lot. Wrestling fans are deeply passionate, but you know, If they don’t want to interact with you, they just won’t interact with you. That’s not necessarily the case in the J-Pop world, but that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Are there cross-over events in Japan? Like a wrestling event that also held a concert?
Ladybeard: Ah yeah. Yeah, that actually happens quite a lot, so like with DDT, we’ve done several kind of shows like that. Reika and I for one of the big DDT events. Our ring entrance was singing and dancing as we entered. Bring up, but that happens quite a lot there’s. A subsidiary of DDT called Tokyo Joshi Pro and that’s where Maki Itoh is from and various other of there, like Yuka Sakazaki from a AEW she’s from there too, quite a lot of the girls who are now going to AEW are from there. Their whole thing is that their an idol wrestler crossover. So they’ll go like match, idol show, match, idol show. Uhm, that’s how they roll. Yeah, it’s great fun.
The idols never are properly prepared for what the ring is, and how it affects your performance. Because just moving on the ring, ’cause of the spring of the ring, you lose so much energy through the floor and most of the time they’re not prepared for that. They do their first one and they’re all like oh, god, and they come back for their second one, and they’re kind of better prepared for it. The ring is a strange stage. The first time you do a show on the ring, it’s really weird, ’cause it’s not like like on a regular surface, you jump and it’s normal, whereas on the ring you jump and the surface gives some. So now like the timing of your jump has to match the rebound of the ring and all this kind of stuff. Plus you got all this noise that you don’t expect, plus it’s different. In different parts of the ring, if you’re not used to it, it’s challenging.
(KOTOMI talks to Ladybeard)
Ladybeard: KOTOMI wants to sing in the ring. Everyone wants to see the ring. The ring are singers. That’s what we’re all about. It’s a ring singing thing.
In the past Ladybeard has travelled all over the world performing, once things return to normal does BABYBEARD hope to appear outside Japan?
SUZU: I want to come to New York.
KOTOMI: Las Vegas
Ladybeard: Party animals! Wow! I didn’t realize these girls wanted to party so hard I had no idea. Well, there you go. New York and Vegas, it seems we’re headed your way.
Does BABYBEARD have anything they would like to tell our readers?
SUZU: We are going to ganbarimasu very hard to make the entire world smile so please support BABYBEARD.
KOTOMI: It’s unfortunate we can’t meet face to face right now, but that day does approach or so please have patience till we can meet face to face, when that happens, we are all going to have a fantastic time together. Please support BABYBEARD
Ladybeard: Oh finally, BABYBEARD is coming your way, Ladybeard, KOTOMI, SUZU, coming your way as of April 13th you can go to the TwittyTwitty, the Instant Ham, the Facey bookie, the ticky tocky, there you can see the teaser video of our group. Then from 19th and 20th “NIPPON KARA KONNICHIWA” and “PIENNIZER” – short versions of those will go up on the social media. Check it out! And then on April 28th , the songs start streaming on all places where songs are streamed, the Spotify, Apple Music, the Amazonian streaming music. Make sure you have got yourself to the streaming services on April 28! Ladybeard – noisier than BTS!
© Copyright 2021 UniJolt