Members of the J-pop boy group share their goals, their dream collab and more
It’s always been proven that good music transcends borders and languages. Audiences will recognize talent regardless, and J-pop is no exception. This decades-old industry brought long-standing favorites such as AKB48, ARASHI, Utada Hikaru and more. Now, one of the rising acts planning to go All Around The World is Exile Tribe’s youngest group in the roster: BALLISTIK BOYZ from EXILE TRIBE. Composed of Ryuta Hidaka, Yoshiyuki Kano, Ryusei Kainuma, Miku Fukahori, Rikiya Okuda, Riki Matsui and Masahiro Sunada, the septet comes together to create a multitalented group. From rapping, dancing to singing, BALLISTIK BOYZ nails them all.
A little over two years have already passed since their smashing debut, and since then, they’ve released two full-length albums: BALLISTIK BOYZ from EXILE and PASS THE MIC. Their sonic sound beckons listeners with electric hip-hop anthems like 44RAIDERS and the smooth bop of Day Dreaming. After a successful tour around Japan, the group has its sights on going global and reaching more audiences—the Philippines included.
Ahead, we catch up with BALLISTIK BOYZ and talk about their growth, upcoming goals, dream collaborations and more.
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Wonder: What are you hooked on lately? Do you guys have any hobbies that occupy your free time?
Ryuta Hidaka: [I’ve been] watching anime, reading manga, [going to] the gym and watching Korean drama.
Yoshiyuki Kano: Poker! I like to study and watch poker videos.
Ryusei Kainuma: Recently, I’m into Demon Slayer’s Zankyosanka / Asa ga kuru, the theme song for the anime. It’s amazing as a hit song. But also as a piece of music, it’s so powerful. The beat, the lyrics, everything about it is filled with emotion. So as a listener, it really sticks with me.
Miku Fukahori: For me, it’s golf!
Rikiya Okuda: Recently, I’ve been into fishing. I’ve been doing a bit of reading as well!
Riki Matsui: Traveling—I’ve been going to places where there’s rich nature and nice scenery.
Masahiro Sunada: I’m hooked on golf!
W: In 2021, you guys released your sophomore album PASS THE MIC. Can you walk us through the experience of creating the record during the pandemic?
Ryusei Kainuma: More so than learning, it was more of what I felt during the process. What we artists should do under the current circumstances is to wish for happiness for our country and the world. And to make people happy through music and entertainment. So I worked on our songs with that intention. Because of that situation, I sang with even more feeling and emotion.
W: Comparing your songs from your self-titled album BALLISTIK BOYZ FROM EXILE to the tracks in PASS THE MIC, how has the group’s sound and style evolved?
Ryuta Hidaka: Our range of musical genres has definitely expanded after we released SUMMER HYPE, Animal and then with All Around The World. I think [PASS THE MIC] is an album where we can feel that BALLISTIK BOYZ’s sound and style are more defined and distinct.
W: What song do you personally recommend to new listeners and why?
Rikiya Okuda: Our song: All Around The World! I think you can get a sense of our vibe and worldview as a group by watching and listening to the music video. The lyrics show the kind of enthusiasm we have for going global!
W: What’s your favorite lyric from any PASS THE MIC song?
Yoshiyuki Kano: The lyrics from ANTI-HERO: “The answer is in your heart.” It’s because I know best what I need to do and who I am, and I want to overcome myself.
W: Okay, the sky’s the limit. If you could collaborate on a track or project with any artist you choose, who would it be and why?
Riki Matsui: SB19!
W: Do you guys have any individual goals you want to reach soon? How about your goals for BALLISTIK BOYZ as a group?
Ryuta Hidaka: I want to finish this year with the best body I've ever had in my life. I would also like to appear on TV in variety shows. As a group, we would like to gradually expand not only in Japan but also overseas.
Yoshiyuki Kano: Personally, to have a vibrant hair color. As a group, to go abroad and perform live again.
Ryusei Kainuma: As an individual, I would like to continue challenging myself in writing lyrics and music! Our goal as a group is still the same: to go global. This year, we would like to go out into the world one step at a time.
Miku Fukahori: I want to challenge myself in writing lyrics.
Rikiya Okuda: As a group, we'd like to start our activities overseas. In my private life, I want to catch a big fish. Meanwhile, professionally, I'd like to release songs I've written myself.
Riki Matsui: Personally, to have a solo exhibition as I usually draw pictures. For the group, a world stadium tour.
Masahiro Sunada: My personal goal is to appear in a movie or drama production. And as a group, it's to tour the world and produce a hit song!
W: The year has just started, and the following months offer endless possibilities. What else can we expect from BALLISTIK BOYZ from EXILE TRIBE this year?
Masahiro Sunada: This year, we want to continue raising our profile and increasing our activities in Asia!
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W: Do you have any messages to your fans in the Philippines?
Masahiro Sunada: The Philippines has always been one of the countries I've wanted to visit. I've never been there, so I'm looking forward to going one day! Your support is the source of energy for our activities. Thank you very much!
This interview was conducted via email and has been edited for brevity.
Art Alexandra Lara