Following the surprise announcement for this year’s Japan Expo Paris, 3-members girl group callme gave some of their time in the middle of a busy schedule to answer our questions. Get to know them in this exclusive interview!
Nice to meet you, thank you for letting us to this interview!
Everyone: Thank you! We are very happy to!
As a start, could you introduce yourself for our readers?
KOUMI: Hello, my name is KOUMI, and I’m in charge of the group’s choreographies! I am really happy we get to introduce ourselves to French idol fans through this interview.
MIMORI: My name is MIMORI! I compose all of our songs. I am a big fan of French group Hocus Pocus and I listen to their songs a lot, so I am really happy to come to France!
RUUNA: My name is RUUNA and I am the leader of the group. I also am the main vocalist. I really can’t wait to get to eat some French bread (laughs). Japan Expo will be callme’s first performance abroad, and it was one of our main goals as a group, I am so happy we finally have this opportunity.
From left to right: RUUNA, MIMORI, KOUMI
You have been active as callme for now 4 years, could you briefly talk about the group’s history for those who do not know you?
RUUNA: Back when we were still in high school, all three of us were members of idol group Dorothy Little Happy. Since we were the same age, we formed this unit as a school graduation project. We then decided to keep working in this direction, and we officially became “callme”.
Since it was a school project, we had to to everything ourselves. From then, Mimori started composing more and more songs, and Koumi took charge of the choreographies, since dancing was her speciality… it truly became one of our main charm points during these four years. We also recently started self-production. It barely started but we’re doing our best!
You are doing everything yourselves, including writing lyrics, composing music, creating choreographies and designing costumes. You said you write lyrics all together, can you explain how you process to decide of a song’s theme and where you find your inspiration?
MIMORI: I’m in charge of the final assembling of lyrics and composition.
Our music style is based on piano melodies, but we also get inspiration in many different genres, like jazz or dance music. We try to arrange those different elements according to our personal feeling, by adjusting the rhythm and beat to the potential dance moves that we come up with. Then, we ask for some professional help to our agency’s musicians: once in the recording studio, we listen to the song, and ask for their feeling and opinion, their comments and advice, and we try to finalize the whole thing all together.
It is an amazing skill. Do you get inspiration from other artists or do you just come up with these songs by yourself?
MIMORI: I listen to a lot of different artists and genres, and I often consult with our musicians in charge of arrangements to give them my personal feeling, like “this sample has a really nice sound” or “this arrangement is really cool”…
When I compose songs, I draw a lot, and I think about stories that go with these illustrations. It helps me a lot when it comes to finding inspiration for our music. (Ruuna shows examples of those pictures drawn by Mimori) Of course, I am not thinking of myself as the heroine of these stories, I just try to create very different stories and situations with these characters, and it helps me a lot to come up with new ideas.
KOUMI, you are in charge of the choreographies, which demands a lot of experience with dancing. Did you start from a young age?
KOUMI: I started taking lessons when I was in middle school, when I entered our agency (avex). It didn’t take much time until I joined Dorothy Little Happy. I did not have much experience with dancing beforehand.
I really started to look into it when we started as callme four years ago. We really wanted to start from scratch and progressively get better together. At first, we had help from dance group Black Stars, who taught us a lot of things, and now I made it my special skill for the group.
Could you tell us which callme song is your favorite then, and why?
callme: It’s so hard, there are so many…
MIMORI: For me, it would be “Hello no Buddy”, our latest single. The lyrics are expressing my interest for romantic relationships. I have never been in any relationship, so I wanted to write a song to put my feelings into words, since I have been relying on my imagination only up until now. It is the first song I wrote on this topic, so it has a special place in my heart.
KOUMI: My favorite song is “Precious”, because it is the first time I rap entirely in English. It was a big step in my life and it’s why I love this song. The lyrics are extremely sweet and romantic, maybe a bit cheesy and embarrassing for me, but I really try hard to convey my feelings to the audience.
RUUNA: I’d like to share the song called “It’s own way”. This song is ten minutes long by itself, and it might sound a bit long to listen to it in one go, but it sums up our last two years as a group. We put a lot of feelings to express our efforts since our debut. This song transcribes perfectly our progression as a group and as artists, and I really want the audience to listen and appreciate it as much as we do.
Speaking of “It’s own way”, we just talked about it a little, but could you give us more details about this particular song?
RUUNA: Around the time of our 4th single release, “Bring you happiness”, we had the opportunity to collaborate with another company for one song. The theme was “projection”. We were wondering about why this theme in particular, and had some hard times finding inspiration. After taking a step back, we decided to create a song to express our passion and will to keep moving forward, and to thank our fans who are supporting us since the very beginning. I was talking about transcribing our progress as artists through this song before, and of course, when I say fans, I am not only talking about our fans in Japan, but also fans all around the world, especially the French fans we will be meeting soon.
Right on, let’s talk about Japan Expo. Congratulations again! It will be your first performance abroad.
callme: Indeed! We’re so happy!
MIMORI: Since the creation of our group, we expressed the will to one day perform abroad, so this first concert in France is making us extremely nervous. But we’re already getting ready and we cannot wait!
Do some of you speak English? (KOUMI smiles) Since when have you been studying?
KOUMI: In high school, we had a lot of language classes, and I was able to study English and Korean. I have been interested in foreign languages since I was young, and I love watching French movies because I think it is a beautiful language. I am so happy we are going to France this year.
Have you travelled abroad before?
KOUMI: I have been abroad before, but never in an English-speaking country. I love discovering new cultures and I am looking forward to having more opportunities like this one. I would really love it if we could perform in more countries after this!
How did you react when you were told you were going to Japan Expo?
RUUNA: At first, we just received an email from our manager, asking if we had passports. So we were wondering, why the question? (laughs) We guessed that it might be for Japan Expo Paris, but…
KOUMI: At this moment, nothing could tell that this kind of announcement was going to be made.
RUUNA: So we took a step back and calmed down a bit… but them, our manager sent us a message on LINE saying “We’re going to France, to Japan Expo!” and we all went “What?!”. We were all sending shocked stamps on our LINE group, and even today, we’re still a bit in shock from these news.
Do you want to do or see anything in particular in Paris?
callme: The Eiffel tower of course! We want to climb to the top and take lots of pictures!
KOUMI: I want to go to a fancy café and go like “Un café s’il vous plaît”! (laughs)
That was in French!
KOUMI: Yes, I’m studying before we go there (laughs). Also, I’d really like to go to the north of France, to see Dunkirk (Dunkerque in French), especially since I’ve seen the movie (note: “Dunkirk” by Christopher Nolan). I’ve been to Poland last year to visit Auschwitz, I really love history.
MIMORI: I love art and museums, and I really want to visit the Louvre! I hope we will have some time to go.
RUUNA: I cannot wait until I can touch and eat some French bread. I love eating and I really want to eat some French cuisine, it looks so delicious!
You can ask Mr. Gey here (photographer) to give you some advice.
Nathan Gey: I really recommend trying many different types of French cheese. We have so many, and they’re all so different!
MIMORI: You even have shops that only sell cheese, right?
Yes, we call them “fromageries”!
KOUMI: And wine!
RUUNA: We love drinking and tasting alcohol together, including wine!
Every year, a lot of idol fans are really excited to see the guests perform and to meet them. Did you learn a few words in French to talk to them?
KOUMI: I started studying for Japan Expo, but also for our interview today! I’m still at the basics but I hope I can learn more complicated things for when we arrive in France!
MIMORI: From all of what Koumi taught us, we mainly remember “ça va”! And everytime I hear it, I want to repeat “Ça va ça va ?” !
After this trip to France, are there other countries you want to perform in?
KOUMI: We would love going to the US or England. Generally speaking, to English-speaking countries. But personally, I would love going to Egypt!
RUUNA: Ever since performing abroad has become one of our goals, we have always said we would love doing a world tour.
As a conclusion, do you have a message for our readers and those who will be waiting for you in France?
KOUMI: I still cannot believe we will be meeting everyone in Paris soon. I started studying French and I cannot wait to talk to you guys! I am also super excited to perform and show our music to everyone. I am personally also very excited to discover the French culture by visiting Paris.
MIMORI: I am so happy our first concert abroad is in France. I listen to a lot of French artists and I have always wanted to visit Paris. I want French fans to see us on stage and cheer for us all together and I really want to see new people discover our music !
RUUNA: I am really glad to hear that French idol fans already know our songs and faces thanks to the Internet. But being able to perform in front of everyone for real on the Japan Expo stage makes me so happy. We want to show fans all over the world that we will work hard to perform abroad again, so wait for us!
We want to thank callme for their time and their cheerful mood! Let’s hope this trip to Japan Expo is the first of a long series of performances abroad.
callme will perform on the Japan Expo Karasu stage on July 8th (Sunday) from 2:30pm, and will hold sign events on July 7th from 2:15pm and July 8th from 4:15pm.
Please support callme by purchasing their latest single “Hello no Buddy”!
Buy their music
Hello no Buddy
Released: March 7, 2018
Photos by Nathan Gey
Interview report by Nathan Gey, translated to English by Melody
Special thanks to Xavier Bensky for conducting this interview!