Ren Kawashiri from JO1 <F.A.E.P. exclusive interview>①

Global boy group JO1’s second single “STARGAZER” is out now, and at midnight on release day the boys showed off the title track’s full music video via a live premiere on their official YouTube channel. The video was watched over 100,000 times within the first 10 minutes of release by fans all around the world, showing just how popular they already are internationally!

There is only one member of the group from Fukuoka, Ren Kawashiri. He was due to come back to his hometown for release campaign promotions, but with the current state of COVID-19 the return to Kyushu regretfully had to be cancelled…

However, since we at F.A.E.P. wanted Fukuoka and all of Kyushu to continue supporting Ren and JO1, through this exclusive interview he was able to open up about his hometown and his future career.

©LAPONE ENTERTAINMENT

―― You mentioned in your showcase the other day that “(you) were planning to be on tour starting this fall…”. I assume you’d want to perform at the PayPay Dome (the biggest venue in Fukuoka), correct? When you do come to Fukuoka on tour, where would you like to take the members to visit?

Ren: I’d take them to my family’s home, or to Kego Park (in the centre of Tenjin, the heart of Fukuoka City’s trend setting ‘downtown’ area). I spent a lot of my youth there, so I definitely want to show them around there. And of course, we would love to perform at the PayPay Dome!

―― In August, people usually go home for the Obon holidays (Japanese people return to their hometowns to visit their families and pay respect to their passed relatives), but when was the last time you were able to spend time with your family?

R: Before we debuted, when we had the fan meeting in February, my family came to see the show, but I haven’t been able to see them since then.

―― When you’re with your family, is there any tradition that you do when everyone’s back together?

R: I eat hamburg (Salisbury) steak. I love my mom’s hamburg steak, so I always have her make me one when I visit home.

―― As a Kyushu native, what do you recommend for those new to Kyushu?

R: Usually people think of “Toorimon” (a sweet bean snack) as a souvenir, but I prefer “Menbei” which is a Fukuokan staple mentaiko (Cod roe) flavoured rice cracker snack because it’s crispy and spicy. I’d love to have the other JO1 members taste it someday!

―― In other interviews, I’ve noticed that you let your local Hakata dialect slip out sometimes, but is there any local phrase that you want people to know and learn to use? Do you have a favourite dialect phrase?

R: Ya-!* (laughs) Ya-! Can be used for everything! (laughs again). You can use it anytime – if you’re confused, just say “Ya-!”, or if you’re having fun, say “Ya-!” (laughs) Of course, my favourite Hakata phrase has to be “Ya-!” (laughs louder)

* Traditionally in Fukuoka prefecture, schools often encourage the use of “Ya-!” when standing up and sitting down at the start and end of classes as a greeting.

©LAPONE ENTERTAINMENT

―― On your second single “STARGAZER”, JO1’s leader Sho Yonashiro wrote the song “My Friends” which you choreographed, right? With your previous experience as a dance teacher and backup dancer, did you ever dream of becoming a choreographer as well?

R: To become a choreographer… Probably not, but throughout the Produce 101 Japan auditioning process, I choreographed some routines.. I remember the other group members saying that they really enjoyed dancing to my choreography as well! You can really tell the personality of the choreographer through the routine, so I really enjoying dancing to other peoples’ choreography as well. But, more than a choreographer, I’ve always wanted to be an artist.

―― So we can expect you to be the member responsible for choreography in future, right?

R: Sure. Maybe… (laughs)

―― Is there any part of the “My Friends” choreography that we should look forward to?

R: Especially during live concerts, there’s a part where it looks like we are having fun playing together with the fans by dancing together. It’s a really simple bit of choreography but I’m really looking forward to the fans dancing along with us to that song!

―― At this point last year, you were at the training camp for Produce 101 Japan, but if you could go back and tell yourself a bit of advice, what would you tell yourself?

R: “Take care of yourself physically.” Throughout the audition process, I got sick several times. Other trainees as well were under extreme pressure and circumstances, so everything was difficult to deal with. Taking care of your physical health and work… both are important, but I would tell myself “Take care of your health and don’t only focus on practice!”

―― Did you see yourself at that point one year later (now) in the middle of releasing your second single?

R: Not at all… I didn’t really see myself beyond the audition process to be honest.

©LAPONE ENTERTAINMENT

―― Your second single “STARGAZER” has the lead track “OH-EH-OH”, written and composed for JO1 by Hui from PENTAGON. With BIGBANG as your inspiration to become an artist, how does it feel to be working with these kinds of producers for JO1’s music now?

R: To be given a produced track by Hui from PENTAGON, one of the top artists right now, especially having been a backup dancer for them previously on their Japan tour, I never imagined that I would be ‘reunited’ with Hui in this way. I feel really lucky at the same time to have been chosen as the centre for this single as well, and I want to make Hui proud of his track and that he made a song for JO1 through our performances of it from now on.

―― In the music video for “OH-EH-OH” you went back to being a high school student, but do you have any interesting memories, especially if summer related, to your days as a student?

R: During our sports day, we all thought that the more tanned we were, the cooler we looked, so we purposely went out to tan a lot at that time. Now being an idol and for work reasons I have to take better care of my skin so that won’t happen again anytime soon. (laughs)

―― What was the most difficult part of filming the music video this time around? Is there any behind the scenes stories you can tell us now that the single and video are out?

R: The filming took three days in total and the first day was very long, so we didn’t get to sleep much before starting our second day of filming, which also had us film a lot. I remember the night after filming our second day, we didn’t get any sleep and just went home to shower before going back to film our third and final day. We got there at 7am and since it was the last day of filming, everyone was super tired… Some other members didn’t get any sleep as well, so we started off weak to begin with and I remember scratching our faces saying “Good morning!” to the staff on set sleepily. Once we got on set, there were 30 to 40 stuntmen, and about 100 extras waiting for the fight scene, and the director just said “Ok, here we go!” and we suddenly started filming, right then and there… Getting there at 7am already tired and then filming the fight scene for 2 hours straight was a challenge, and some of us even got mild heat stroke from the whole thing. Looking back at it now it was a good memory. (laughs)

©LAPONE ENTERTAINMENT

→ Ren Kawashiri from JO1 <F.A.E.P. exclusive interview>②

 

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