Uchiyama Yuua (内山結愛/RAY) —IDOL AND READ 030 interview translation (part one)
This is the first part of RAY’s Uchiyama Yuua’s interview in issue 30 of idol mook IDOL and READ. It can be purchased here. Unfortunately I can’t find any scans of Yuua’s section, so I have included some offshots from the official IDOL AND READ blog, and a photo from Yuua’s Twitter.
I’ve always worried that I’m ‘too normal’ and have no personality. I was struggling to become ‘someone’, somehow.
What are your childhood memories?
I remember taking baths with my mother and younger brother, and I’d use the bathtub as a stage to do a news-type programme called “Potato News” where I’d talk about the “news” with my younger brother. I also made strange songs by myself. I recall a song, I think from kindergarten, where I just say “Winner, winner, everyone is happy~.”
Did you dream to be on television?
When I was little, I loved Ayaya (Matsuura Aya) the most. There are many pictures of me at my grandpa and grandma’s house, standing on the table in the living room and dancing with a toy microphone.
It seems you were not a very shy child.
I remember the teacher writing something like “Too strong minded” in my notes when I was in kindergarten (laughs). I hate to lose, and I liked playing with boys rather than playing with girls.
What was one of these “too strong minded” episodes?
I would quarrel a lot with my younger brother. Even if we were playing a peaceful game, a fight would suddenly erupt. He threw the Wii at me but I avoided getting hit, and it broke the windowpane. It was quite violent (laughs). After fighting some more, I tried to affect his whole body with a good punch at his head, but he had a hard head and was completely unscathed. I had marks on my hands from it. I think we were junior high school students…
Weren’t you already too old for that? (laughs)
Did you hit anyone in kindergarten (laughs)?
Hahaha! Only my younger brother in fights like that (laughs). In kindergarten though, lifting girls’ skirts was popular. I also lifted up the skirt of a nice girl. Then she cried and it was written in my notes for my parents.
You sound like a boy (laughs). Your younger brother appears frequently in your blog, “Nikki” (‘Diary’ — Yuua’s blog). Fighting is good, but it seems you’re also close, like going to Disneyland together?
That’s right. Since I became an adult, we don’t fight as much. We’re both different, but when we were both high school students it became peaceful (laughs).
So in your family there’s a father, mother, younger brother?
Yes. Also my grandpa and grandma on my mother’s side live nearby, but my grandpa passed away last year.
I hear your grandma often quarrels with your mother in Spanish (laughs).
It’s amazing! Spanish is language with a lot of rolling ‘r’s and the accents are strong. Even ordinary daily conversations can sound like an argument, so I thought they fought all the time when I was small. It’s even more scary when they actually argue, it sounds dangerous (laughs).
But why Spanish? Are your grandfather and grandmother from overseas?
Yes. They lived in Peru and decided to move to Japan when my mother was in junior high school. But my grandma is a mixture of Chinese and Russian, so she was already mixed! I wonder what I am… about a quarter I guess!
Mom often comes to RAY live concerts.
She does. My mom is fluent in Japanese and she feels Japanese, and she’s always recognised by fans. If there is a beautiful lady there, it’s Uchiyama’s mother! they say.
So she’s beautiful?
She is beautiful. And I’ll say it myself (laughs).
From what I read in “Nikki”, she seems quite funky.
Hahaha! She’s very joyful (laughs).
Is your father Japanese?
He is Japanese. Their personalities are completely different.
But from “Nikki”, your father also likes guitar, DIY, surfing, golf, yoga and fishing, and he is a free person with many hobbies. He also likes The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and getting up early.
You know him well (laughs). He’s very boyish and feels like a junior high school student. Recently, he’s addicted to Kimetsu no Yaiba, and sits on the floor eating popcorn while watching it even though we have a sofa. But my mom really loves my dad. Everyday when he comes home, they still kiss each other.
Ah, like a Latin family, with hugs and kisses in everyday life. You say you were strong when you were in kindergarten, but what about elementary school? You seem like someone who would remember their dreams.
I do remember some things. Aren’t dreams so strange? When I wake up and remember then, I always remember even if I’m super sleepy.
You should make a note.
Yes. There are quite a few times when I think I’ve had a “true dream”, or experienced deja vu. So I write it down, hoping that I might be able to interpret it properly some day.
In the future, you might be like Freud or Jung. I wonder if they were strange children (laughs).
I wonder! Really, I feel I’m too normal. It’s all over the place, but even though I’m an idol, I don’t feel particularly individual, and I’ve always worried about that. I never felt like I was different from anything else.
But you didn’t like being normal and wanted something to change.
That’s right. When I was in first or second year of middle school, I became alive to unique fashion, like Harajuku styles. From there, I struggled to build my own identity.
What did you like when you were in elementary school?
During elementary school, Nishino Kana. I only really listened to mainstream music. It was normal for my mother to download the most popular songs in the chart and play it in the car. So when I went to karaoke, I only knew Nishino Kana songs.
Speaking of music, when you were in junior high school, you used to put AKB48 posters in your room.
Oh yeah, I loved them. I still have about 500 photocards. I bought a lot of CDs. The first CDs I bought were Nishino Kana and AKB48. I loved Tomochin (Itano Tomomi) and also liked Paruru (Shimazaki Haruka).
Did you want to be an idol in junior high?
I didn’t. But when I came back from school before my family did, I would play AKB48 PVs and imitate using a microphone with a Ramune bottle. But then as soon as a noise at the front door occurred I would obliterate all evidence! So thinking about it… maybe I did.
That’s deep psychology. What was your junior high life like?
I was in the table tennis club. I was selected as the Head and we took part in a prefectural tournament, it was like a massive family. There were about 60 boys and girls in total. But because there were so many people, relationships became difficult to manage. I thought I’d have to be on top of our public image, but everyone was very well-liked anyway.
Why did you choose the table tennis club in the first place?
I like going to arcades with my family and playing table tennis (laughs). I wanted to experience a lot of clubs. I thought table tennis was a perfect fit because I loved female tennis stars, but I didn’t like tennis. I played it, but I hated running, so I quit.
So you learned tennis too. What else did you learn?
I started playing the piano when I was 2 years old, and have played it for about 10 years. Classical ballet too for a few years around kindergarten. When I was in elementary school, I also did English conversation and hip-hop/jazz dance. My brother has been doing gymnastics the whole time. He got an insane diploma and I envied it. I started learning calligraphy because I wanted to get a certificate in junior high school because I thought it was cool.
That’s not quite the same as your brother’s gymnastics.
Yes (laughs). But I realised I could get a certificate more easily than I expected. Then that fever gradually cooled down, and I stopped calligraphy in about a year. I also went to a cake class. There was a time when I wanted to be a pastry chef.
Wow. You are always guided by your own desire.
Yes. My mother always took my first for it. Every time I quit something, she’d say “Well, at least you started right?” and I’d respond “Mmmm yes that’s right….” (laughs).
Did you study?
In junior high school and high school, I didn’t like to lose. When my score was lower than my friends’ I felt like I’d messed up. But when high school came around, I just couldn’t get a recommendation to the school I wanted. There was a place I wanted to go, so I was studying like crazy.
So back then, you were in your first group during your first year of high school, but what made you decide to become an idol?
I ended up going to the high school I wanted to go to, I made a lot of friends and it was really fun. During my first year I was with a girl in McDonald’s. I don’t know why but the conversation turned to idols. Deep down I knew that I wanted to be a high school idol. I was really into Wasuta (The World Standard) and BiSH, I longed to be like them. But at the same time I thought, I still want to be like myself. The girl said she wanted to be an idol too and I thought, “Oh, same!”.
Maybe you didn’t want to lose to her either, if your friend came first?
Ahahaha! I wonder if that was the case (laughs). I searched for audition sites in that very McDonald’s with her, looked for reputable offices and found the website of a certain group. The words “Harajuku-kei” were popular. I wondered if I could pull that style off, but I tried my best, and then I became an idol for the first time.
But what you thought was“Harajuku-style” idols, it was actually anonymous. [nb they are discussing Yuua’s first idol group, dots, who remained anonymous during performances]
Yes. What I had in mind was something like “Appare! Harajuku” (now known as APPARE!). But at the initial meeting stages, the theme turned to “Anonymous is enough.” Mysterious! I wanted to do the concept justice. The people seemed cool, they paid for transport (laughs). But honestly I was so happy to actually pass something and have lots of fun with girls of the same generation as me. I wanted to see the whole thing through.
What attracted you to Wasuta and BiSH?
In junior high, I longed to have unique clothes. I looked up to people on Twitter, and made an account to showcase my daily outfits and room decorations. I really liked looking for cute girls and inspiration there. I found Ichigo Rinahamu (former BiS, CY8ER) and Cent Chihiro Chittiii (BiSH) and thought “Oh so cute!!”. Then I started listening to their music. The lyrics spoke to me too. At that time I was stuck in myself thinking I too wanted to “be something.”
So for three years, you went to high school and did idol activities.
I have dedicated my youth!
Part two is here →→→