Talk New Single ‘Friends Are For’ – Billboard

MOONCHILD is a brand-new girl group co-produced by ØMI (CDL entertainment) and HYBE LABELS JAPAN aspiring to capture the hearts of global audiences. The group consisting of winners of an audition show hosted by LDH JAPAN has been performing in concerts and events both domestically and internationally since its debut in May.

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MOONCHILD released its second EP called Friends Are For Nov. 29. UWA, HANA, MIRANO, and ANRI sat down with Billboard Japan for the first time to chat about themselves and their music, including the title track from their latest release featured as the ending theme of the anime series The Seven Deadly Sins: Four Knights of the Apocalypse.

This is your first interview with Billboard Japan, so could you begin by introducing yourselves?

UWA: I’m UWA, 19 years old. I rap and dance. I’m the oldest member of the group so I’m like everyone’s older sister, but they tease me sometimes, too. [Laughs]

HANA: I’m HANA, 16 years old. I’m the singer. I’m from Osaka, so I’m in charge of the jokes around here!

MIRANO: I’m MIRANO, also 16 but the youngest member. I sing, rap, and dance, so people call me an all-rounder. I’m not sure why, but I’m often told that I’m from outer space. Maybe I say weird things without being aware of it or say things that don’t make sense.

ANRI: I’m ANRI, the singer. I just recently turned 18. I’m generally the serious type.

UWA: That’s a little suspect these days. [Laughs]

ANRI: Oh, and people also call me “granny” a lot. I guess my favorite foods and the way I talk and act is kind of oldish?

About six months have passed since your debut. How do you feel now?

UWA: It’s been about two years including the audition. Looking back, it feels like it was a long time, but it also feels like it happened so fast. It’s only been six months since our debut, but we’ve spent a lot of time together so we’re like a family now.

MIRANO: I’ve accumulated an unbelievable amount of memories and experiences in the past six months. I got to be on stage, something I’ve always dreamed of, and went to Europe for the first time to shoot a music video. I’m so grateful for this environment that lets me experience new things, and I want do my best to keep improving myself.

Have you noticed anything new since starting to work as a group?

ANRI: A lot of people tell us that each member of MOONCHILD has a distinctive personality. Some groups have a well-defined concept, but in our case, our concept is to make the most of our individuality. I’ve learned things about how to express my uniqueness since starting working as a group, and having members with different personalities nearby has helped me reaffirm my own individuality.

HANA: I’ve been exploring new ways to sing. I get to sing a variety of songs as MOONCHILD, so my repertoire of singing styles has expanded. Every day is a learning experience.

You recently released your second EP, Friends Are For. What’s the title track like?

UWA: Most of our previous songs have depicted tough girls or a love story, but this time, since it’s the ending theme for the anime series The Seven Deadly Sins: Four Knights of the Apocalypse, it’s a song about caring for your friends and peers.

MIRANO: It’s also the first time we’ve done a cheery, American-pop-like number. I think everyone can enjoy listening to it.

Could you tell us what to focus on when listening to it?

ANRI: I sing a phrase from the part that goes, “A rainbow shining in 100 colors, colors I can’t paint alone,” and I think it’s the part that truly represents this song. Personal qualities come together to make a rainbow, and mixed together, they become hope. I thought, “That’s so great!” when I first heard it. I mean, if I’d been on my own, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today, and I can perform on stage thanks to the people around me. I feel strongly about that part, so that’s what I recommend.

HANA: It’s a bright song about friendship, but has striking parts like the rap and the drop, so I’d like to bring attention to those. The refrain of the same words is also catchy and it has many phrases that linger in your mind.

UWA: Like they said, everything about this song is worth listening to. [Laughs] Personally, I’d like to recommend the parts where we call out “You and me” and “All right.” We recorded that part with everyone around the microphone holding hands and having fun.

MIRANO: Our debut song “Don’t Blow It!” was a cool song so the accompanying dance was powerful and girl-crush-like, but this time the choreography is really eye-catching.

What are the key points of the choreography?

MIRANO: First, the “You and me” part of the chorus. The choreography is like a cheerleading move holding a pom-pom, like you’re cheering on your friends and yourself. The next one is the “Do it do it do it” part after the chorus. You alternate sticking out your thumb and pinky, and it’d be great if people try it and share the videos on social media.

Another song on the EP is “Warning.” It has a completely different vibe. Could you elaborate on this one?

HANA: It’s a song about a lover. The lyrics are more mature, about giving someone a last chance, like, “I love you this much, so you better start acting like you deserve it.” We had to express ourselves in a mature way for this one. Up until now, I’d been letting out all the skills I have in full force, but felt that if I did that in “Warning,” I wouldn’t be able to express the cool R&B-like quality of the song, so I sang it with a more relaxed, chill image in mind.

Another aspect of “Warning” is that the lyrics are in English. The way you sing must be different from when you’re singing in Japanese.

ANRI: I was very careful with the pronunciation. HANA is the only native speaker (of English) among us, so ALYSA, our the music producer, gave the others specific instructions so the song wouldn’t sound strange to native ears. On the flip side, I’m a native Japanese speaker, so I make an effort to place more emotion into the lyrics when singing in my language.

UWA: Japanese uses a lot of vowel sounds, right? So it feels like I can’t produce the same sense of rhythm and groove as in English unless I consciously add emphasis to certain parts. I try to be aware of marking the rhythm when I record.

You all sing Japanese in an English-like way, don’t you?

ANRI: The songs don’t sound like J-POP to begin with, so it happens naturally by singing to accommodate the music. Also, we recorded both English and Japanese versions of our debut single, so we put a lot of thought into how to sing in both languages without ruining the rhythm of the song.

Please tell us a bit more about yourselves. First, what do you think are MOONCHILD’s strengths?

UWA: A lot of girl groups have a main member, someone who’s the face of the group, but MOONCHILD doesn’t have that. Each of us has our own distinctive quality, which is why we can make it work no matter who’s in center position. When it comes to creating a piece of art, everyone fits in without standing out in a jarring way. I think this is MOONCHILD’s strength.

HANA: Our songs are great. Each number has its own message, and I can perform with confidence. We’re told in advance what the message is in detail, so we can think carefully about how to express it.

MIRANO: We can convey those messages through our performances, which is also one of our strengths.

MOONCHILD’s music certainly is distinctive. One of the reasons for this is probably due to the fact that ØMI and HYBE LABELS JAPAN co-produces your songs. What are your thoughts on these new collaborative production efforts?

ANRI: We feel the upsides of the co-production, like being included in festivals in South Korea and being able to utilize Weverse. Although we’re affiliated with LDH (in Japan), it does feel like our group is taking a slightly different approach, aiming for global audiences from the beginning. This feels new, and we hope to create an unprecedented movement in this regard.

UWA: I think we’re growing as a kind of girl group that has never existed in Japan before. Of course, there are many K-pop groups that are on the rise all around us, and they have many aspects that I think are great, but we have our own style. All of the members want to explore a new kind of group in a different genre.

By the way, in what ways do you think the members have grown since you’ve been together?

UWA: I think everyone has become much prettier visually compared to two years ago when we first met.

ANRI: We’ve also become more coordinated. Our backgrounds are completely different, so if the four of us had danced the first round of auditions together, it would have been a mess. [Laughs]

UWA: It would have been terrible for sure!

ANRI: But it’s been two years since we met and we’ve become more unified because we’ve been striving towards the same goal day after day. We’ve grown in the sense that we can show off our individual qualities while also creating a sense of unity as a group.

MIRANO: Then there’s the ability to survive. [Laughs] I live on my own now, and I think I’m a lot more self-sufficient now that I do my own housework.

HANA: I’ve experienced a lot of difficult situations since the audition. I think I can endure anything that may come my way in the future because I’ve experienced so much hardship. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have experienced such things at the young age of 16.

Tell us about your future goals.

MIRANO: We’re fortunate in that “Friends Are For” has been featured as the ending theme of an anime series that’s popular internationally, and we’d like to keep working hard to become a Japan-based group with fans everywhere.

–This interview by Azusa Takahashi first appeared on Billboard Japan

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