INTERVIEW: Poppin’Party at CharaExpo 2019

Poppin’Party, the live band from the BanG Dream! franchise, was featured at CharaExpo USA 2019. Members Aimi and Sae Otsuka joined as guests to host a talk panel and perform an acoustic live set of Poppin’Party songs. Anime Trending had the opportunity to speak with the two band members to discuss their music, their involvement with the franchise, and their experience at CharaExpo.

Aimi: Hi everyone. I’m Aimi, and I am the vocalist and guitarist of Poppin’Party, Kasumi Toyama.

Sae Otsuka: And I’m Sae Otsuka, I voice Tae Hanazono.

Last year at CharaExpo, you two and Nishimoto-san performed very well in the live, and you also showed off your Girls Band Party! rhythm game skills in the live. Have you improved since then and do you still play the game often?

Aimi: For me, it’s still the same level. I feel like once I reach a certain point, I just stay there.

As for Girls Band Party!, I can barely finish Level 26 on Expert.

Otsuka Sae: I was often on the program, “Bandori TV,” and during that show I’m known as “Girl Banchou,” or Girl Gang Leader, and I always played the app on the show. Sometimes they tell me to play the game and do something different at the same time, so I think I’m always improving.

Poppin’Party has grown tremendously since its inception in 2015, and many fans might not even know you had only 3 members for your first live concert. Aimi, do you have any particular memories to share from that period?

Aimi: At that time when we first started, we weren’t sure that voice actors being in a band could be a thing. Then we performed for the first time, and everyone in the audience was hyped up, cheering us on from the first song. I felt like something fun was about to start from then on.

Otsuka: I was actually at the venue for the first live, at the back of the audience. I saw the whole performance from the back and I thought, “Wow. This is going to be legendary. A legend is born right here.”

Has there been any particularly funny moment that stands out between the two of you? Could you please describe it to us?

Aimi: One time Sae came over to my house and slept over. My room was a little bit too small so we had to sleep together. She was talking a lot during her sleep, though I don’t remember what she said.
Sae has also slept over at our drummer Ayaka Ohashi’s house, and Ayaka told me that Sae was singing her sleep at the time! What song were you singing?

Otsuka: I don’t know, I was sleeping! (laughs)

Are there any artists you draw inspiration from when you perform as a band, including the acoustic lives like the one you just performed? Who are your personal favorite artists?

Aimi: We actually had a chance to perform with the band SILENT SIREN at MetLife Dome. Even before I met them, I listened to SILENT SIREN’s music and really respected them, and after meeting them I grew to love them even more.

Otsuka: SILENT SIREN’s style of performance has been our goal for a long time as Poppin’Party. We always wanted to become like them. I feel like SILENT SIREN’s performance is always “kira kira,” or sparkling. Not only their techniques as a band, but also their performances are amazing, so we always study their lives.

Poppin’Party is the only live band within BanG Dream! so far to have acoustic versions of their songs, as well as solo character songs. What is it about Poppin’Party in particular that led to these songs?

Aimi: For the character songs, it’s because season 1 of the BanG Dream! anime was mainly focused on Poppin’Party, and we produced character songs at that time.

Now how did we start the acoustic sets, I wonder?

Otsuka: I think Poppin’Party songs sound great, even with acoustic guitar, and they’re really easy to follow even during an acoustic set. I feel like we’re expanding the different aspects of Poppin’Party with the live music and acoustic sets.

Aimi: Our song lyrics are very dynamic, like a story. When we perform our songs acoustically, I feel like the lyrics and the song come across a bit different and extra emotional. I hope we can have a fully acoustic live someday!

As Day 2 of CharaExpo USA 2019 comes to an end, how was your experience compared to last year’s and as well as 2017’s Grand Fest?

Aimi: This year was our first time holding a special acoustic live session, but the audience, our fans, were hyped up for it like any other live set. That made me really happy. During our performance, a lot of fans cheered for us, like “whoo!”, which doesn’t really happen in Japan. We don’t see that from the audiences there, but we were really happy to see that here.

Otsuka: Of course, our Japanese fans are very warm and supportive as well. Compared to Japanese fans, however, American fans’ reactions are very dynamic. For example, each person’s voice seems louder, and when they clap their hands as well, everything is loud. I could feel the passion and love from the fans directly; I’m very happy to come back here and perform for everyone.

Compared to last year and two years ago, I can see that our fanbase is growing. We see more people every year. I’m very grateful.


Special thanks to Bushiroad for the interview opportunity. 

Poppin’Party can be found on Apple Music and Spotify. Their second album, Breakthrough!, was released in Japan on 24 June 2020. All seasons of the BanG Dream! anime are currently available for streaming on HIDIVE. The BanG Dream! Girls Band Party mobile game is free to download on the App Store and Google Play.
Interview conducted with Gamepress and The Grand Geek Gathering, with transcription assistance from The Grand Geek Gathering.

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