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KEITA TACHIBANA――From idol to creator. w-inds. pioneering the cutting edge of pop music in Japan and Asia

Interview / Asia Hundreds

What is w-inds. goal across Asia?

Tachibana: The album was released on July 4, 2018, and we held the w-inds. Fes ADSR 2018 -Attitude Dance Sing Rhythm- on the 7th, which is a festival we produced ourselves. Then the tour started on the 13th. It was tough, but it was really fulfilling. We want to keep making the things we really want to achieve a reality.

A photo of w-inds. Fes
13 artists came together to perform at w-inds. Fes held in Odaiba, Tokyo. Approximately 5000 people were in the audience.

Shiba: The lineup at the w-inds. Fes ADSR 2018 -Attitude Dance Sing Rhythm- was mainly dance & vocal groups. What was the initiative behind this?

Tachibana: This was a project we've wanted to do for about 2 years. There are so many dance & vocal groups and solo artists who have become popular in Asia and so many in Japan with real talent. We wanted to create a movement together with these people. Contrary to what you might think, there aren't many fests like this and we were really missing something like this. Our ultimate goal is to hold one throughout Asia.

Shiba: A w-inds. produced festival in Asia is a very exciting goal. What kind of future are you envisioning?

Tachibana: I really want to see an increase in collaborations between Japanese and other Asian artists. If Asia can become one then we can create an even bigger market. I'm hoping the day will come when Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and all the other countries come together as one and Asian music is seen as the coolest.

Shiba: Currently, that movement has started to stand out. For example, we're seeing more examples like Rich Brian who debuted under the label 88rising,*5 is an Indonesian teenager who suddenly became a global star.

*5 The media platform established in NY in 2015 by Sean Miyashiro to communicate Asian culture. Numerous Asian artists have been produced on their label and they are attracting attention in the hip-hop scene in the U.S.

Tachibana: Yes, I think if we could create more of a movement like that in Asia it would be great. I think that it is always young people who create an era. I want to support the next young people who come out as the next up-and-coming stars.

Shiba: The kids who are listening to music on YouTube in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries might be the next stars.

A photo of Tachibana and Shiba during interview
A photo of Keita Tachibana during interview

Tachibana: Yes, I think that is entirely possible. In the past, we went to the Philippines and visited a school established in a community that was damaged by a typhoon*6 . The kids at the school sang and danced with us and they were so good. These elementary school students were doing the dance moves that were most popular in the world at the time. They apparently learned the moves by watching videos. There are a lot of good singers and the young kids are always implementing new moves.

*6 w-inds. visited Leyte island in the Philippines in September 2015. Leyte was heavily damaged two years earlier in a typhoon in 2013.

Shiba: So you're cultivating the soil to create such a future while taking on a lead role as a creator and performer.

Tachibana: Yes. Even though we have penetrated the market, that alone will not create a movement. A variety of people need to come out and create a giant wave. Of course, it's important for us to continue our activities on the front lines, but we can't forget to gather others like us to bring about this giant wave.

A photo of Tachibana and Shiba during interview


Songs recommended by Keita Tachibana and Tomonori Shiba

In 2018, the K-POP group, BTS recorded its first two consecutive No. 1 hits on the U.S. Billboard album charts and their activities representing Asian pop music on the world stage are talked about everywhere. In cities across Asia, music cultures are developing that are linked to global music trends but unique to that area.
Both Keita Tachibana and Tomonori Shiba who took part in the interview are currently tracking their moves. As both men curate the recommended tunes from Asia, Mr. Tachibana has created a Spotify playlist from the official w-inds. Spotify account and Mr. Shiba from his own Spotify account. Experience what's hot in Asian pop music right now along with them.

Selections from w-inds.' Keita Tachibana:

A photo of Tachibana during interview

Southeast Asia x w-inds. Future,R&B,HipHop

"These tracks really reflect recent trends. The artists and songs can all hold their own, not only in Southeast Asia, but on the global music scene as well."

Selections from music journalist Tomonori Shiba:

A photo of Tachibana and Shiba during interview

Asian mellow and cutting-edge

"I selected tracks by Asian artists that are not only cutting-edge but mellow, regardless of the borders of countries or genres. We start out with alternative R&B, and then after moving into city pop revival, there is some indie pop in the middle, and the playlist ends with some band sounds and electronic music. The music is from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan, and Korea, but I created the flow of the playlist based on the feeling of the sound rather than country or region."

Interview and article: Tomonori Shiba
Born in 1976 in Kanagawa Prefecture. Music journalist.
After working at rocking'on, he went independent. He conducts interviews and writes articles for a variety of media including magazines and online across a broad spectrum focusing on music and subculture. His work has been published in AERA, Natalie, CINRA, MUSICA, Real Sound, Music Magazine, Fujin Koron, and more. He is the author of The Collapse of the Hits (Kodansha, 2016) and Why Hatsune Miku Changed the World (Ohta Publishing, 2014), and co-authored The Shibuya Music Encyclopedia (Ohta Publishing, 2017).

*The English titles of the books were translated independently by the Japan Foundation.

Photo: Motoi Sato
Editor: Eri Kamei (Japan Foundation Asia Center)