BABYMETAL choreographer MIKIKO was interviewed by HEDOBAN Magazine from Japan to talk about in depth of Road Of Resistance's choreography, the making process of the fastest BABYMETAL song at the moment and how much the girls had learned thanks to the experience overseas and how that helped them to be better performers. Interview translated below.
MIKIKO: “If you put in your best effort during a show, audiences will respond.”
In the Japanese heavy metal world, this song “Road Of Resistance” is classified as melodic speed metal. What was your impression when you first listened to the song? This piece is unlike any of the previously released BABYMETAL songs…
Mikiko-metal: "To be honest, I know little about metal music genres. Regardless of the genre, my impression was “Aha, this time, an anthemic piece.”"
Did Kobametal have any particular requests when you choreographed this song?
Mikiko-metal: "One of his requests was to make the choreography reminiscent of battlefields during the Warring States period of medieval Japan, or battle scenes in “Les Miserables.” But his more particularly emphatic request was that “big sing-along.” He was already imagining that grand sing-along happened at the Saitama Super Arena."
“Road Of Resistance” is the fastest among the BABYMETAL songs so far. I am totally impressed and in awe of your ability to make such great choreography that fits this fast song. Was it difficult to choreograph the song?
Mikiko-metal: "I am good at choreographing fast songs, but this particular song was truly fast. I was surprised the three girls learned this piece of choreography quickly. A kind of speed an adult might not be able keep up with."
“Gimme Chocolate” and “Road Of Resistance” are both fast songs, but which of the two did you find more difficult to choreograph?
Mikiko-metal: "Well, the two are totally different types of song. So, it wasn’t particularly difficult. If you press me, maybe “Road Of Resistance. “Gimme Chocolate" was really easy to choreograph."
Personally, the highlight of your choreography for “Road Of Resistance” is when the girls pose with the flags, waving them. Is this part your idea or Koba-metal’s idea?
Mikiko-metal: "If I remember correctly, Kobametal and I came up with the idea by trial and error. We tested the idea on the girls, and their standing silhouettes looked awesomely brave, matching the theme of the song. We immediately decided to use it."
After the intro of the song comes the main part of the song. That choreography… it reminded me of riding and whipping a horse… a horse galloping at full speed. It impressed me. Assuming that that was your idea, did you come up with it quickly?
Mikiko-metal: "After I had put the main ideas of the song into my head, I listened to the song, and all I thought I could hear was this sound of galloping horses and the three girls were riding on them! This idea was the very first idea I decided to use for the song."
What did you care about most and what did you struggle with most, when you choreographed this song?
Mikiko-metal: "I put in a lot effort to make visible how these three brave girls overcome obstacles in their lives."
“Road of Resistance” sounds less about being kawaii and more about being cool and brave. Did you feel this way too?
Mikiko-metal: "Yes I did."
That sing-along part of the song… the girls don't put Kitsune (the fox sign) up but make a fist instead. Is there any meaning to it?
Mikiko-metal: "I wanted them to clench their fists and put them up high, with all their might."
What were the girls’ initial reactions to your choreography for this song?
Mikiko-metal: "They were surprised by the speed. I had told them the main ideas of the song before showing them choreography, and thanks to that, they could imagine themselves in the song quickly. They seemed to have so much fun learning it!"
Do you have any tips for us fans, how to dance to “Road Of Resistance?”
Mikiko-metal: "Listen to the beat REALLY CAREFULLY. You wouldn't want to go ahead of the beat!"
BABYMETAL’s repertoire has increased recently. What do you care about when you choreograph their songs in general, to dance to metal sound?
Mikiko-metal: "I try to listen to the tone quality of each individual instrument as carefully as possible. I try to make sure good harmony appears when the three girls dance. I want to have my choreography express the drama each song is meant to symbolize. And I want to make my choreography give pleasure to the three girls and let them enjoy the music."
These days, it’s not only in Japan, but more and more people all around the world learn your choreography for BABYMETAL songs. What do you think about that? And did you foresee the global popularity of BABYMETAL beforehand?
Mikiko-metal: "Not at all! I’m just surprised. I’m just happy."
Tell us any tips! To fans all over the world learning your choreography, any tips on how to dance to BABYMETAL songs? Also, for novices wanting to learn your choreography, what do you think is the best song to start with?
Mikiko-metal: "When I choreograph a song, I pay attention to the lyrics and the concepts of the song. This might work for you too. Understanding the lyrics might be most helpful. Also, when you strike a pose, pay full attention to details. Try to make your pose as cool as possible, or as kawaii as possible. Explore and pursue your best poses! About a good song to start with, well, I think it’s Doki Doki Morning!"
Now, let me ask something opposite. What do you think is the most difficult choreography you made among BABYMETAL songs?
Mikiko-metal: "It’s Megitsune."
After their March 2014 Budokan show, BABYMETAL ventured overseas, gained experiences and they have grown since then. Do you find any changes in their attitudes toward dance? Also, do you feel the girls’ learning curves have changed?
Mikiko-metal: "Yes, I do! Their attitudes, their learning curves… both. They have become terrifyingly quick to learn. Yes, the girls have more experiences and confidence, but the major reason is that they just love what they are doing. They love performing."
Capacities of venues where BABYMETAL perform have grown bigger. Would a change in stage size affect how you approach choreography?
Mikiko-metal: "No, I don't think so. As long as I remain faithful to the power of metal sound when choreographing their songs, it would be fine."
The last question. It’s been one and a half years since we interviewed you in Vol. 1, and BABYMETAL have grown so much since then. Today, the entire globe is surprised by them, like “What in the world is this?” Do you have any hopes for the future of BABYMETAL?
Mikiko-metal: “If you put in your best effort during a show, audiences will respond.” I think that is what the girls are learning these days. I want the girls to love performing. I want them to become a preacher of music, dance, and metal. I want them to preach all around the world how wonderful music is, how wonderful dance is, and how wonderful heavy metal music is."
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Translation by: bebii-metaru-desu