Road to Japan Expo Paris 2019: Interview with We=MUKASHIBANASHI

As we had introduced the very cheerful ladies of BANZAI JAPAN last year, here we are again and met up with Tokyo Candoll 2019 winnders We=MUKASHIBANASHI! Made of five members, the group will be flying out to Japan Expo Paris in a few days to perform during Europe’s biggest Japanese culture festival.
Much to our surprise for a group with such little experience together (having recently gone under big line-up and name changes), these young ladies are not shy and our talk was so pleasant that it ended up naturally expanding outside of our interview plans. We hope this article will convey their good spirit and will confirm your plans of meeting them during the festival!

Hello We=MUKASHIBANASHI, very pleased to meet you! Can you first introduce yourself one by one?
SAKI: Hi everyone, I’m SAKI, and my tale is “The Crab and the Monkey” (Sarukani Gassen)! My color is blue.
MAKI: I’m MAKI, and my tale is “Warashibe Chouja”. My color is red.
GASHI: My name is GASHI, my tale is “Tongue-cut Sparrow” (Shita-kiri Suzume) and my color is purple.
Note: SANA and YUMI have temporarily paused their activities to concentrate on their studies.

Can you introduce the group and your concept quickly for our readers?
SAKI: Our concept is based on childhood, so everyone in the group is represented by a Japanese folk tale. During our performances, our goal is to make our fans feel nostalgic of their childhood, thanks to these tales and stories we used to read when we were young.

You are the winners of the 2019 edition of the Tokyo Candoll contest, congratulations! How did it feel to hear your name as the winner that day? Were you nervous?
MAKI: Of course we were! Honestly, we were very surprised that we won, we really did not expect it. But the joy we felt from our fans who supported us throughout the entire competition was really strong and infectious. We were so happy!
GASHI: This final round was my second big event since I debuted, so I was really really nervous. But our fans gave all their strength for us, so I have to do my best!
SAKI: I personally never won any of these types of contests, and I really did not think we could win this one… but I still had a little bit of hope. When we won, I felt so happy!

It’s your first performance abroad. As we are approaching Japan Expo Paris, how do you feel?
All: Indeed it will be our first time!
MAKI: We will be performing in front of a brand new audience so it might be embarrassing.
SAKI: We know how Japanese fans are, but in Japan Expo, we have no idea what French people are expecting in terms of performance. And all our songs are in Japanese, so we are a little worried that nobody will understand… it makes us quite nervous.
Have you personally already been to France?
All: Never! (laugh)
Or maybe abroad in general?
All: Yes we have, but mostly around Asia.

Are there specific places you want to visit when you are in Paris?
MAKI: The Eiffel tower of cours! Do you guys have anything else in mind?
GASHI: I really want to visit the Louvre museum! I have heard a lot about it and I am really interested in art so I want to see it with my own eyes.
SAKI: The streets and landscapes also seem so different from Japan, so even just that is really intriguing!
Or maybe there are things you want to eat… ?
All: Let’s see…
GASHI: I got one! I want to try canelés!
Bonjour Idol Staff 1: Oh! I actually come from the Bordeaux area where canelés are from, it makes me really happy to hear that you want to try them (laugh)
GASHI: Yes, I have heard of it and I really want to take advantage of our trip in France to eat some!
SAKI: I have heard of tarte tatin in supermarkets, and it seems really delicious so I really want to buy some!
French sweets and pastries are really different from what you can find in Japan so don’t hesitate to try as many as possible!
SAKI: Do you have any recommendations?
Bonjour Idol Staff 2: Our staff here is from Bordeaux, so canelés are definitely a thing. As for me, I really recommend pains au chocolat (chocolate croissant) or chocolate éclairs!
Bonjour Idol Staff 1: Also cheese!
Bonjour Idol Staff 2: Yes, cheese is extremely important! (laugh)
All: Is it that big of a deal?! We’ll take note (laugh)

Japan Expo Paris brings thousands of French visitors every year, but also people from all over Europe. Are you prepared to communicate with people there? Did you start studying a little bit of French or English?
SAKI: We are currently studying! I am doing my best to be ready and as you saw before the intervew, I was trying to practice a little speech but I still cannot remember it perfectly, I still need my notes… (laugh)
Indeed this speech is quite long (laugh) but it is really well written! Maybe you already know useful words in French though?
MAKI: “Enchanté”! (Nice to meet you)
GASHI: “Bon Anniversaire”? (Happy Birthday) (laugh)
Everyone applaudes.
SAKI: We’ll do our best to remember the most we can for the festival!
What about English?
SAKI: It is still a bit hard but we have 30 minutes of English lessons everyday!

To go back to We=MUKASHIBANASHI’s concept, you are all represented by a Japanese folk tale. But do you know any French folk tale?
All: Not at all…
You probably do but you just don’t realize it! Like Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella!
All: Ohhh! Really!
GASHI: What about Rapunzel?
We think Rapunzel is a German tale…
GASHI: I see!
SAKI: What about Swan Lake? How do you say swan in English, by the way… swan… ?
Yes, swan! But it’s a good question… we just know it’s not French either (laugh)
Note: after looking it up, Swan Lake is actually a Russian ballet. Our apologies to the experts on that subject 😀

Your first single will be released next week, and the title speaks to foreign people as well, “The Gift”. What kind of “gift” or message do you want to convey with this song?
SAKI: In the lyrics, it says that “the moment we share together” is a gift, so I think that the present we want to give is this time spend all together with our fans!

Finally, can you leave a little message to all the idol fans who will be meeting you at Japan Expo?
SAKI: Many of you do not know us at all but we have performances planned everyday at the festival, so we hope you will give us a little bit of your time to discover our group! Our main stage performance will be on July 7th, and we hope to see many of you there. We will be waiting for you!

We spent an excellent moment with We=MUKASHIBANASHI, who showed us not only great motivation, but also some really refreshing and positive spirit! We wish them a good trip and an excellent moment at the festival.

You can find some of their older songs on Youtube under their former name, Sarukanibanashi 2nd Edition (サルカニバナシ 2nd Edition). Don’t miss them!

Buy their music

The Gift


Released: June 27th 2019
Purchase and stream from these platforms

Photos by Melody
Interview transcript by Nathan, translated to English by Melody
Big thanks to Haïfa for leading the conversation during this interview!

We=MUKASHIBANASHI – Official website We=MUKASHIBANASHI – Twitter

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