Fantastic interview with BABYMETAL T-shirt designers, KAgaMI, Yutty, Toshihiro Egawa and Roriruke Fukushima. They are in charge of BABYMETAL T-shirts almost since their beginnings. Quick Japan Magazine stopped to talk with them and share stories about designs, becoming fans of BABYMETAL and much more! Full interview translated below.
"Meeting The Designers", Quick Japan Magazine interviewsBABYMETAL Tee designers
It's not enough just to talk about how amazing are BABYMETAL's songs and performances are. Another thing to take in account are their live performance T-shirts. One can't think that they are just a few fans who find great fascination with an unique kind, excellent designs and variation in the T-shirts. Taking this in considerating we have a discussion with four of the designers of the live T-shirts to look at the history of the Official BABYMETAL T-shirts.
Starting with the 1st Tee, Memorial Tee:
Yutty: "This is when the crossover single of Kiba Of Akiba came out and we used as a special gift. It was a special present. At that time there were some unknown factors involved when "Doki Doki Morning" Music video was used as reference and image of Kitsune-Sama. I'm sure that around 100 shirts were printed. I have never seen anyone wearing it (Laughs)."
So it's a rare item indeed. Then with the Tee designed by KAgaMI san (#5) we can see a little homage.
KAgaMI: "It's true. The logo is an homage of Behemoth. I thought we should find a motif of a "Goddess". In the 6th Tee we went with Joan Of Arc motif, to reflect an armor. This is something that we also used for Su-Metal's Seitansai (Birthday celebration)."
Roriruke Fukushima: "This one appeared at Akasaka BLITZ show isn't it? I'm quite sure, was the first time I saw BABYMETAL live. That's when I think they changed my impressions. I mean, I realized that they do something real. (Laughs)"
You mean that from your point of view you were biased against them?
Roriruke Fukushima: "Yes I did (Laughs). In the 4th Tee we used an artist photo and Koba told that he wanted to use red letters in the back. Also used Pantera's fonts. Like, 'I hope this is only for one time." (Laughs).
At that time you didn't know that I would be such relationship after?
Roriruke Fukushima: "I had no idea about it. But when I saw them live for the first time I immediately loved them (Laughs)."
Toshihiro Egawa: "I was the same. The first time I have received an offer I was a little shocked about what to do. I mean I'm specialized in Death Metal and assumed that was some kind of mistake. I had no idea to make up an idea of blood and intenstines coming out of a dead body (Laughs). But after thinking about it for a couple of days realized 'there must be something behind this', and then drew a new design. Then because of the scary face or something they told, "we want you to change the face of this design". So, changed it carefully which ended in the 7th Tee."
Yutty: (Laughs) "After the design of my first Tee for them I became huge fan of the girls. Of course bought T-shirts that you all designed and also went to their Day and Night first solo shows. Since I became BABYMETAL fan by watching their first performances, I was very happy when got the mail asking me to design their T-shirts."
I get the image that Yutty san designs incorporate the three girls.
Yutty: "The first one that was accepted and used with a illustration of the girls was the #14. Was at the time of "Onedari Daisakusen" wasn't even recorded. I was lucky enough to go to many of their lives shows and learned the lyrics very well enough to be able to make a crossover of "papa" and "money" in the design."
KAgaMI san we can see you take the armors to a new level.
KAgaMI: "Right. At that time the girls were wearing armors and masks. With that said, when watched their live shows I felt like they wanted to go to the shows in mysterious ways so you could see a more solemn image."
Roriruke Fusuhima: "That's amazing. In my case I had a lack of understanding what was about so I just made designs wishing that Kobametal san asked for me. So about #17 I went as parody. Around that time BABYMETAL started to play in festivals everywhere. Summer Sonic at that time when also appeared Metallica so asked Kobametal san 'This design is fine?'. He said, 'sure, let's do it". (Laughs). I heard that at the show one of the staff members of Metallica saw one of the T-shirts in one of the staff members of catering service and asked if she could get one to take home as souvenir for her daughter. Hearing that proves that the design was a big hit (Laughs)."
The design #22 has no relationship with Metal but is interesting.
Toshihiro Egawa: "I really want that Tee."
Roriruke Fukushima: "Thank you. We do these designs working with the three girls isn't it? To be honest, I would say that I realized that I couldn't see the works in Metal so decided to go for parody ideas. But, when one gets out of ideas (Laughs). The funny thing is that the demand for my designs started to increase with time. I was like 'Another one!?' Since we do our best for the T-shirt desgins I hope they will sell a bit more (Laughs). Even not considering this, the works connected with BABYMETAL are so good that is a really difficult taks to accept continually more and more new designs."
Toshihiro Egawa: "That's true. It was when the number of shows started to increase the and size of venues as well. Once the Tee sells out you are right into the next one. For me around the time when happened Loud Park (#18) Tee I was really lost about how to work on it. I came up with the idea about Maria Motif as Zombie Kitsune (#21) which turned out to overlap KAgaMI's design so started to think, 'it could be the best for me to deliver my work to KAgaMI san."
KAgaMI: "No no no, that's silly!"
Roriruke Fukushima: "We all had tough times around that time."
Toshihiro Egawa: "But because of all the trial and error process I began to understand how to adjust my speed of process. Then I came up with the Tee #31. All of this overthinking and worriness led me to, 'not all designs have to be related with BABYMETAL."
Toshihiro Egawa: "In my case I design Death Metal Tees as daily basis, I don't take in consideration the idea of the band as what it is. So, in my case I don't force myself to make designs for BABYMETAL per se. Then realized that I doing things that way was a big weight in my shoulders. So there is the Alien design (#40), after that started to understand what Kobametal san asked me for and worked in desgins that are not to gore and not too Idol, in other words, designs only for BABYMETAL. I felt like I was able to put together a great collection of similar designs."
So in place of following the idea of BABYMETAL, you are actually able to find the designs getting out of the idea of BABYMETAL concept. On the other hand, Yutty san you seem to have established your own individual style working more in the cuteness of the girls.
Yutty: "Correct. One of the designs created "Gimme Chocolate" (#33) is probably the most popular. I heard that some people so much that got tattoes of it."
KAgaMI: "And some Idols wear it right?"
Yutty: "Yes. I heard that one of the AKB members wore it. Also, around that time they made limited shows only to female fans. So I feel that my role was to create designs to young women that previously didn't have any interest in Idols."
KAgaMI: "When you look carefully at Yutty's designs there is a lot of kawaii things to see. When realized that I tried to incorporate that into my designs. For example, if you look at the backside of the #59 T-shirt you will see little footprints in the design."
Roriruke Fukushima: "That's so cute. It's something I could never do (Laughs). Around 2014 period seems like our roles kind of were assigned to each of us. Even we never met in person before." (Laughs)
KAgaMI: "I'm sure that was around that time when I felt that I started to realized what I should be doing. I really really like Budokan Tee #25. I was really happy to be able to draw skulls for BABYMETAL."
The World Tour 2015 Tee (#46) is a piece that brought a major change in my point of view."
It was around that time the designs featured human illustrations that had been used until almost totally disappeared from the T-shirts.
KAgaMI: "That's right. But with that said were also representing the girls. However, the designs never went fictional again, made up those angels of goddesess like."
From 2014 Fukushima san, you started to add Kitsune motifs into your parody art style which was mentioned earlier.
Roriruke Fukushima: "Well, in my personal case I really don't have an established style (Laughs) Kobametal san told me about the upcoming Festivals appearances. When I heard that I thought 'Ok, this is what I will do to go for it". It was somehow when I came up with the Big FOX Tee #34 based on the Big 4 Metal Bands. It was a kind of devil like."
Also around that time was when T-shirts started to be sold at overseas venues.
Toshihiro Egawa: "The Alien #31 was a prime example of one of the Tee that was sold first overseas. Also this T-shirt was thought to have the same color of #35 but for some reason the color came out different."
Yutty: "I relate with that because I'm sure that the Alien Tee was sold overseas just about the same time the Gimme Choco Tee. There was moments where I was like 'E? What is wrong with these colors?'."
Mellow colors in Tees where printed overseas to say so?
Yutty: "Basically yes in this case. So, when you see someone wearing Gimme Choco Tee with a slightly mellow color you can see that "Ah, that one is probably wearing an overseas." (Laughs)
Toshihiro Egawa: "Regarding overseas issue, now that BABYMETAL is well known around the world noticed that some designs are coming out wrongly."
Roriruke Fukushima: "When wanted to put a rising sun on the #38 Tee, was told to no. By the way, there is a bunch of different people in this design, and one of them is actually me."
Woow! There you go Fukushima san! You are in the middle of Legends of Metal!! (Laughs)
Roriruke Fukushima: "This design is based on Sengoku era that I found in a library. Let me tell you that was a really tough task to make (Laughs). But when you work on this kind of designs there is a feeling somewhere that makes you overcome on the quality of the work. BABYMETAL is so big now that you have a variety of things that you should be careful. But even considering that, I don't want to be afraid of doing something considered taboo or not so I will continue trying various ideas in the future."
You mean you want to push even more the developt?
Roriruke Fukushima: "Well, yes. To say so. Kobametal san is extremely strict regarding this issues."
Toshihiro Egawa: "I feel completely free now, I'm able to carry out my work with BABYMETAL and Death Metal bands with the same peace of mind. So, I want to go ahead and get into more new ideas along with other designers."
Roriruke Fukushima: "Yes, I guess that means we all trully love BABYMETAL!" (Laughs)
Interview by: Quick Japan Vol.125
Translation by: Akira Karo.
Check: BABYMETAL in the front page & photoshoot on Quick Japan Vol.125, click here