Tom Smith quizzes Beckii Cruel on her rise to fame and her love for Haruhi Suzumiya.
“Girl dances to J-pop, girl posts videos on YouTube, videos go viral, girl gets famous!” Her tongue in cheek summary is as short as it is honest. At age 14 Beckii Cruel did exactly that: posted videos of herself online, dancing to J-pop songs in her bedroom. Little did she know that these same clips would make her an internet phenomenon some six thousand miles away from home, in Japan itself.
The nation went Beckii crazy, lapping up DVDs, photobooks and anything else featuring the youngster from the Isle of Man. She even fronted a three-girl idol group signed to the same label as Perfume, one of the country’s leading techno-pop acts, and recently released a couple of textbooks helping the Japanese learn English. Yet, back in the UK she was relatively unknown. That was until a BBC documentary in 2010, which hinted that she was aiming for success on home turf by entering the UK music scene. One year on, and Beckii’s ready with her debut single.
“It’s called ‘You Can’t Kiss Me’,” she explains. “It was written and produced for me by Tom Nichols, who is one of the UK’s best, so I feel very privileged to work with him! He has access to the best studios and engineers. Because he has written so many hits, he has his ear on what is current and happening, but he also has a great way of taking influences from elsewhere. The result has been that ‘You Can’t Kiss Me’ has a lot of my Japanese style in it too. It is a lot easier for me singing in English, as it’s my natural accent, as opposed to my not-so-brilliant Japanese accent. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!”
Tom Nichols isn’t the only big name behind Beckii’s UK debut. She’s been brushing up on her dance moves at the now infamous Pineapple Dance Studios in London. The team there choreographed her routine for the release’s official music video (don’t worry; Louie Spence is nowhere to be seen). You can check out behind the scenes photos from the shoot, as well as other adventures, on Beckii‘s new blog).
Beckii’s dancing career, though widely accredited to her take on the Japanese song / meme Danjo, actually began life with a dance routine more familiar to anime fans; Hare Hare Yukai from the first series of Haruhi Suzumiya.
“It was the first dance I ever learned and uploaded! It’s short, cute and relatively simple to learn, it ticks all the boxes really!” And if the image of Beckii in Haruhi cosplay wasn’t a big enough hint, she’s also a big fan of the series and its iconic, strong-willed protagonist too. “I love how there are two ways to watch the series, it’s really interesting and I like the effort put in. And I’m a very up-front person so I like Haruhi’s boldness. And at the start when she still had long hair, I was in love with the crazy hairstyles she used to wear!”
So when Beckii’s debut single hits radio stations and TV channels over the next few months, you’ll know which hyperactive, ribbon wearing member of the SOS Brigade is responsible for instigating the whole thing! Just be careful, if you don’t buy it she might just hunt you down and give you a penalty.
By popular demand, the anime fan-favourite released for the first time on DVD!
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It may sound odd to English ears, but 7!!’s choice of pronunciation makes sense (well, a tiny bit of sense) when put into the context of where the band grew up; Okinawa. It’s an area that’s closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan, and one that’s had a heavy US military presence since the Second World War. These factors, among plenty of others, have had an affect on the cultural evolution of the islands, and one of the most evident examples can be found in local popular music scene.