INTERVIEW: Roselia at CharaExpo 2019

Roselia during their live performance at CharaExpo 2019

Roselia is a live band from the BanG Dream! multimedia franchise. They appeared as guests at CharaExpo USA 2019 and performed a live concert for fans at the event on December 8th, 2019. Anime Trending had the opportunity to speak with the band members about their history as a group, their international popularity, and all manner of BanG Dream! topics.

Haruka Kudo: Hello, I am Haruka Kudo, and I play Sayo Hikawa, the guitarist of Roselia.

Yuki Nakashima: I’m Yuki Nakashima. I’m the voice of Lisa Imai, Roselia’s bassist.

Megu Sakuragawa: Hi, I’m Megu Sakuragawa and I play Roselia’s drummer Ako Udagawa.

Kanon Shizaki: I am Kanon Shizaki. I voice Rinko Shirokane, Roselia’s keyboard player. 

Aina Aiba: I’m Aina Aiba and I play the vocalist of Roselia, Yukina Minato. 

How would you describe the musical style of Roselia? 

Aina Aiba: At first, Roselia was more focused on a cool and dark sound. But now,  it’s shifted more to a heavier rock sound. In the app game, BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!, the members of Roselia compose songs based on their story. So as the story grows, we get a variety of songs that show the different aspects of Roselia. 

Megu Sakuragawa: Roselia’s character setting is that of a professional band. When we started as a band, some of us in the cast were actually new to our instruments, so we weren’t sure if we were doing well. It’s been three years since, and I feel like we’ve gotten better at playing the instruments, and we’re becoming more like our characters than before in that way.

You recorded an English version of “Legendary” for the English version of the Girls Band Party! App. What were some difficulties that you encountered when you were recording that? 

Aina Aiba: The English version of “Legendary” starts with the (English) word “Yes.” That timing of “Yes” was pretty hard because none of our songs start with a sound like that in Japanese. That was challenging for us. The end of the phrase was the same as the Japanese version because the word “Legendary” was already in English, so that helped me. We really cared about the pronunciation of the English words and the flow of the lyrics, and it was fun to sing this song in English. 

Can you share a particularly funny moment you had with your band members?

All: So many….. (laughs) 

Haruka Kudo: So we had had our concert in Japan called “Rausch und/and Craziness” on last November 30th and December 1st. Afterwards, we all went to Megu’s hotel room and had a cup ramen party. 

Megu Sakuragawa : Right after we performed a concert for 17,500 people, our dinner was cup ramen. 

Aina Aiba: Even though we were performing again the next day, we were having cup ramen at 2 AM because our butts were glued to the floor. We couldn’t get up or move.

Haruka Kudo: In “PASSIONATE ANTHEM,” there’s a part when Aina raises her hand and smashes it to the floor, so sometimes we do the same pose in the background and play with it.
We call it “Chikyū-wari” [“Splitting the Earth”] in Japanese. In English, we’ll say “Arc Smasher.”

All: Arc Smasher! Yeah!! (swing hands down) 

Kanon Shizaki: So in America, in Anaheim, when the pedestrian light turns red, it says “WAIT.” We always try to say it at the same time as the light. 

There’s a lot of variety in J-rock and anisongs. Are there any particular songs or artists that you enjoy or take inspiration from?

Haruka Kudo: As far as Japanese artists, I would say X-Japan. 

Megu Sakuragawa: Same as her, I’ve been listening to lots of X-Japan thanks to my mother’s influence. I know all of the X-Japan songs actually. When I started learning the drums, I thought that if you were a drummer, you had to shake your head like X-Japan’s drummer. 

Haruka Kudo: I also wanted to mention I really like LUNA SEA.

Aina Ainba: For me, I would say Gackt. I mean he’s a solo artist, but he used to be in a band. I also like L’Arc-en-Ciel. 

Kanon Shizaki: I listen to more Western music, such as Evanescence and Fall Out Boy. 

Yuki Nakashima: Among Japanese bands, I usually listen to UNION SQUARE GARDEN. 

We at Anime Trending run anime polls and charts, and we recently started running a music chart as well. Your song, FIRE BIRD, performed very well, and it was #1 for a few weeks in November 2019. How do you all feel knowing that you’re so popular overseas, and after seeing that today at CharaExpo? 

All: Huh, really?? Amazing!

Aina Aiba: FIRE BIRD is a very important song for all of us. I feel like Roselia has improved a lot as a band. Our music producer, Agematsu-san (Elements Garden), even wrote lyrics for this song specifically after seeing our growth as Roselia. I think the lyrics show the growth Roselia has gone through as a band. So this is an incredibly important song for us, and I’m very surprised that it became so popular online. It makes me really happy that it got so much attention from all over the world. 

Megu Sakuragawa: Since BanG Dream! is a multimedia project, many people might think that we started out as just an anime. We do have an anime series of course, but we have so much more than that. It’s been 3 years since Roselia got started, and we have our own story, not only for the characters, but as the cast as well. There is a concert blu-ray disc for the history of Roselia, so I hope that you can all watch the history of Roselia from the beginning and appreciate the meaning of FIRE BIRD even more. Thank you. 

Aina Aiba: Now each of us are going to explain one point about FIRE BIRD. After hearing all of our input, I’m sure you will listen to FIRE BIRD from a different perspective. 

Haruka Kudo: The guitar solo was very challenging, but it’s thanks to three years of experience in Roselia that I was able to pull it off.

Megu Sakuragawa: I practiced so much for this part. Roselia songs are hard to play in general, but FIRE BIRD was the most difficult song I ever learned. I’m sure we’ll get even more challenging songs in the future.

Aina Aiba: Definitely the last part of the song, that super high pitch long tone. I practiced that part a lot.

Kanon Shizaki: Beginning of this song is focused on the piano, and I was trying my best to portray the piano parts as beautifully as possible. Even when performing alongside the rest of the instruments, sometimes I have to cut in with super fast phrases. I had to practice those a lot as well. 

Yuki Nakashima: The song in general has a very fast tempo. As the bass player, it was really challenging for me to keep the tempo and the rhythm stable. 

Do you have any closing remarks for all the fans that came to CharaExpo today and people online who couldn’t attend?

Haruka Kudo: As you know, we usually perform in Japan, but I know our overseas fans also listen to our music and play our mobile game app, BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!. We would like to meet more of our fans in the future, so if we have any chance to come over to your country or city, please come see us. Come visit us, and even if you can’t, we still appreciate all the support you are giving us online. Thank you so much.

Yuki Nakashima: Thanks to this interview today, we’ve learned that so many people overseas, all over the world, love Roselia and listen to our music. To spread Roselia, to promote this series and our characters, we would like to keep practicing and working hard. Hopefully we will perform across the world in the future.

Megu Sakuragawa: I was so happy to see so many people supporting Roselia. Not only Roselia, but there are many other amazing bands in this project: Poppin’Party; Afterglow; Pastel*Palettes; Hello, Happy World!; and RAISE A SUILEN. We want everyone to learn about and love the BanG Dream! franchise and all of its bands. Thank you. 

Kanon Shizaki: Even if there’s a language barrier and not everyone understands Japanese, all of our fans were so welcoming. We could hear so many cheers from the audience, and that was really nice. I was very touched that everyone was so nice to us. Last year, I made an appearance at CharaExpo as a surprise guest, and even then I remember everyone being so warm and welcoming. One year later, we had a full band performance here at CharaExpo and everyone was still very supportive. That was really touching for me, and it made me happy. 

Aina Aiba: I’m very grateful that there are so many people who know and love Roselia and the BanG Dream! series. I live in Japan and I’ve seen overseas artists’ concerts there before. Now that I think about it, I feel like it’s the same thing, but the other way around because we traveled from Japan to the US and our fans came to see our concert. It makes me really happy. I try not to forget that we are always thankful to our fans for their support. Even if we say, “we want to go here, or go to that country” we can’t do it without our fans’ support. We want to keep working harder to meet everyone’s expectations and keep growing as a band. Please wait for our return someday. Thank you.

Special thanks to Bushiroad for the interview opportunity. 

Roselia’s latest album, Wahl, is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. 

All seasons of the BanG Dream! anime are currently available for streaming on HIDIVE.
Interview conducted with Gamepress and The Grand Geek Gathering, with transcription assistance from The Grand Geek Gathering.

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