Original article: Scandal สี่สาวร็อคกับความน่ารักสดใสที่ใครก็หลงรัก
It’s the morning of one of the darkest days of the year in Bangkok. Looking out through the windows of the 26th floor of the Aetas Lumpini Hotel, all I can see is the gloomy sky and pouring rain. Even though today’s work won’t be affected by the weather, it makes me gloomy unwillingly.
However, as soon as the four girls, HARUNA, TOMOMI, MAMI, and RINA, appear in their bright YELLOW tour T-shirts, the mood seems to brighten up 6 levels instantly. I’m not surprised at all why people say SCANDAL is “cute” and has and increasing fan base of both male and female. From the first day when the girls formed the band and played in the streets of Osaka, ten years later, they have become a band that travels the world performing in countless venues, big and small.
The cuteness of these “mini sized” girls (They are really tiny, I even wonder how could they have the strength to hold musical instruments and perform for hours), their adorable faces, guitars, bass and drums are a different kind of cuteness compared to the girl group idols. They look plain in their t-shirts, black jeans and sneakers. But once we gave them their instruments, the girls shine as a band, their coolness captivates us instantly and the photoshoot went by so fast with so much fun.
At first we heard that the girls brought t-shirts for the cover photoshoot; both Bill, the photographer and I were both worried. We thought that SCANDAL would bring beautiful dresses like Japanese idols, because even though they are a band, but they still have that Japanese cuteness in them. But once the shoot started, we realized that their cuteness and artistic charisma of a band that creates and play their own music for years is more notable than their clothing. In fact, wearing t-shirts, jeans and sneakers enhances their look of an all-girls band even more.
SCANDAL was formed 10 years ago in Osaka, when the girls were still middle and high school students and they met each other at a dance school.
“Back then we went to dance school together, but a teacher asked if we wanted to play instruments. That’s how it started.” HARUNA (vocal/guitar), the big sister who seems to be the band leader, recalls.
“In the beginning everyone wanted to play guitar” RINA (Drums/Vocal) added. “But when we decided that we were going to form a band, we choose an instrument that would fit each member and learned it seriously. As for me I joined last and the only position that is left is the drums, so I didn’t really have a choice.” She ended the sentence with the bright laughter from the four girls.
The girls were in their teens when they started the band and they were just like regular teens who like to sing and play music. They didn’t plan or set goals very far out into the future.
“What happened with SCANDAL right now is even more than a dream.” HARUNA tells us with a very soft voice. Her voice is almost like a whisper and is quite difficult to hear, a big contrast to her voice when she sings on stage. “When we started out, we thought of enjoying music for the fun of it. We never thought after 10 years later, we would be travelling the world and talking to press and reporters from many countries like this. For me, I think we’ve come so far and I’m very proud of it.”
Not everybody has the chance to go on a world tour, which makes me wonder if there are things that they would never forget while travelling. Before our translator could even finish the question, MAMI (guitar/vocal), who has been silent the whole time, eagerly raised her hand.
“Wherever I go I always get detained at immigration and taken for interviews.” She talks swiftly while the other three girls nod in agreement. “Because my passport picture has blonde hair, but I usually show up with a different color. The officer might think that this person is dodgy. In the beginning I was really shocked but now I’m used to it.” But she has never been detained in Thailand which is one of the reasons she likes Thailand.
10 years is quite a long time to experience different things, since they are an all-girls band I wonder what they have to go through to prove themselves to the music industry. Because as we all know, rock music is pretty much dominated by male artists.
“We never really faced any hardship.” RINA, who is lively and full of energy, answers. “Being an all-girls band became made us unique. There aren’t a lot of girls band back then so a lot of people were interested in us.”
Being popular is a good thing, but it comes with pressure. However they don’t think too much about it. The girls told me that the only thing they focus on is practice and rehearsals. It is the secret of their incredible lives that everyone loves.
“We practice really hard.” RINA repeats while the other 3 girls nod in agreement. “We record all of our rehearsals and listen to it afterwards to see where we can improve on. We rehearse to improve not just for the sake of rehearsing.”
“We talk to each other all the time when we work.” TOMOMI (bass/vocal), the sweet girl who rarely speaks such that I can count how many words she spoke, answers when I asked her what the secret behind their success is. “We stick to being a band, love each other and support each other. We can argue when we have different opinions since each of us have different likes and dislikes in music. But we argue with reasons on the basis that the band comes first.”
“Sometimes we have a big argument, but we always settle them. We never fight among ourselves.” RINA interrupts while wrapping her arm in TOMOMI’s; a gesture that shows their friendship which I can’t resist smiling to.
“Yes and we give our best and practice a lot.” The bassist concludes.
SCANDAL fans might already know this but I was somewhat surprised to hear that the biggest musical influence of HARUNA is Michael Jackson. She said that she started with dancing so the king of pop’s music has always and still is what she regularly listens to.
TOMOMI is a big fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers. On the day of the interview she said that she is eagerly waiting for the new album which is going to be released the next day. She said that “The first time I heard Dreams of a Samurai, I was really excited because there is a Japanese feel to the song. It gives me joy.” She ended the sentence with a bright giggle.
RINA likes pop music and is a fan of Taylor Swift.
MAMI who dons a cool a hair color likes Foo Fighters and Beastie Boys. She likes cool rock music with hip hop mixed in.
SCANDAL’s music thus is a mixture of different tastes in music and results in a rock and pop sound that is full of energy and fun melody.
“It’s really difficult to classify a genre.” RINA answered for the band as usual. “But Japanese people like to listen to music from other countries especially from the west and we add a Japanese feel into it and it becomes J-Rock or J-Pop. As for SCANDAL we have both rock and pop elements mixed into our songs.”
During the interview, I noticed that even though the girls are equally cute, there are subtle differences among the members. HARUNA who is the oldest is a beautiful sweet girl who seems to be very quiet and calm. (“She talks a lot more these days and she can approach other people now. Back then, HARU was a very shy person and would not start a conversation. Others had to approach her to talk to her.” TOMOMI confirms.)
MAMI is a cool rocker girl. Even if she just sat there without saying a word I would still guessed that she is a guitarist from her coolness and hair color. As a person who is in the music industry for quite some time, I have this stereotype that a guitarist of a rock band would have this personality. 9 times out of 10 I’m correct at guessing.
TOMOMI gives a feeling of cute, gentle and polite girl. Even the way she sits during the interview shows it. She will lean back most of the time so that she is not blocking RINA who is sitting next to her. If she is not directly asked a question, I hardly got a chance to hear her cute high pitched voice, and when she answers, she will always smile and bow cutely as she speaks.
RINA is bright and full of energy which is good for a drummer. She likes to talk and her voice is loud and clear.
Because their image is so different from their stage performances, I really wanted to know what they do in their free time as regular young girls.
TOMOMI, the sweet girl, confirms that she is “a fun and bright person. Whenever I have some free time, I like to go out for sightseeing. I like seeing cities and people and now that I just bought a car, I want to go out even more.”
“I like fashion and enjoy shopping for second-hand clothing.” RINA tells us. “I also like photography and have a camera on me all the time and I also like watching movies. I like to go the theaters at night since it’s not crowded. Recently I’ve been in to old European movies from the 60s-70s. I like vintage and retro stuff.”
MAMI also likes fashion. “I have a sewing machine at home and I like to make my own clothes and accessories.” “MAMI made this choker.” RINA showed me the choker she is wearing. “She likes to take clothes and cut them up and add on accessories. The jeans that we wore for the cover shoot just now were also made by MAMI.”
“I like to go for massages, facial masks and spas so that I could look good on tour. I also work out to stay firm so that my body can handle to tour and lives.” HARUNA shyly smiles.
She also said that yesterday was the first time she tried Thai massage. “I really like it.” The band leader’s eyes grew bigger and it seems like this is the most interesting topic of the interview today. “So many people say it will hurt, but it doesn’t hurt at all. “DEE (T/L Note: means good in Thai).”” She ends the sentence with a “thumbs up” gesture.
Since we are talking about Thailand, I asked if there is anything that surprised them about Thailand.
“The thing that I remember clearly is when we went to the night market.” HARUNA tells us. “I think it was at ASIATIQUE where we went on the Ferris wheel to see to view. I thought that it would be like in Japan where it goes slowly and we enjoy the view, but in Thailand it was so fast. Before I knew it, we’ve completed two rounds already. It was really surprising.” Her shock face was really cute while the other three also agreed.
“The Ferris wheels in Thailand are this fast everywhere? Really?” She turned to me still surprised even when our translator already told her that it’s this speed everywhere.
Before Thailand and Japan could settle the dispute whether Thai Ferris wheels are too fast or Japanese ones are too slow the bell rang. We ran out of interview time and it wasn’t only me who wished there was more time because we were having a fun talk; the girls turned to the staff to negotiate for more time when HARUNA saw how much questions I have left on the list in my hand. But with their packed schedule interviewer and artists had to part ways. In that moment I witnessed the cutest thing from the band with their last words.
“We are really sorry, if you want to ask anything more please tell our staff and we will email the answers to you later.”
It’s this kind of cuteness that everyone loves SCANDAL.