Get Exposed to Chemical X: We Go Behind the Scenes of an Idol Debut

On a recent winter evening in Japan, an over-reliance on Google Maps had Papermaiden and I well and truly lost in Shibuya. We were attempting to locate the address of a legendary dance studio that currently serves as the rehearsal space for NEO JAPONISM, APOKALIPPPS and other prominent chika idol units. Google insisted that the sought-after place was housed in a building among the side streets off Dogenzaka, but after fruitlessly circling through several alleyways, Papermaiden took over navigation. Soon after, Papermaiden’s efforts in orienteering led us to a single bright, square sign on a towering storefront among the thousands of others lighting the surrounding buildings and marking the target of our search.

Here, on the sidewalks of Shibuya, we met Hiroshi, the manger of the new chika idol unit, Chemical X. Papermaiden and I had been fortunate enough to be invited to attend the group’s rehearsal as the members prepared for their January 20th debut. It was a chilly evening, so the introductions were brisk: we quickly met Yossy, the group’s creator and producer, and members Amemiya R Galaxy, Chiimayu, Aoi Hitotsuki and Maho Setsuna. KILLERMACHINE, we were told, was running a bit late as she was coming from another commitment. After brief greetings, we hurried inside and upstairs to the warmth of the studio.

Since that meeting two weeks ago, Chemical X has successfully debuted, putting on a raucous show this past Friday at the Shibuya Milkyway supported by Payrin’s and FaM. As we all know, chemical X was the extra ingredient (along with sugar, spice and everything nice) used to accidentally create The Powerpuff Girls. As a new unit, Chemical X appears to have all the right ingredients to be a force in chika idol: veteran members, a talented producer, and choreography from the dancing queen herself, Yurapico

Yossy, the creator and producer of Chemical X, is the guitarist and songwriter for the band Castaway and composer of songs for Malcolm Mask McLaren, Candye Syrup, BURST GIRL, Yurapico’s solo project and others. Yossy had been hoping to produce more songs for BURST GIRL when the group unfortunately disbanded. He then decided that he would create his own idol unit instead and contacted Hitoshi for assistance putting the group together.

I first met Hitoshi back in 2018 when he was managing Candye Syrup during their visit to the United States at Saboten Con. He has since worked with Owaranaide Yoru, BURST GIRL and others units. We asked him about the distinction between the role of “Producer” and “Manager” and he explained that the Producer is the individual who decides the overall vision and direction of the group and makes any final decisions. Meanwhile, the Manager is responsible for implementing that vision by booking venues, coordinating PR and all of the other logistical details.

During the rehearsal, Yossy bounced around the perimeter of the studio pointing out inconsistencies in choreography such as when some of the members missed their marks to form a line. He was only able to stay for about the first 30 minutes of the rehearsal, but he left the members with definitive guidance before he had to take his leave.

The rehearsal was focused on perfecting the five songs that the group would perform for their upcoming debut. They were hoping to have more songs ready but they faced limited time to prepare. While the cast of the group was determined a few months ago, some of the members had to complete commitments to other units before they could devote their full time and attention to Chemical X. Although only five songs were debuted at their first performance (and included in their first EP, Start), Yossy has already completed work on a catalog of 16 songs for the group.

 

At a certain point, the rehearsal morphed into deliberations and discussion and lots of starts and stops to the music and dance practice. Hitoshi explained to us, “This is the first time that they have rehearsed this song together, as a group.” Members had been ill or or absent when it had rehearsed before. Yurapico, the song’s choreographer, would be present at their next rehearsal, so this was their first and last chance to work on the song as a group before sensei arrived to see their progress.

It seems that the work paid off.

At one point, I asked Hitoshi what his ambitions for the group were. He immediately said, “Budokan, eventually.” He then shared that his more immediate goal is for Chemical X to share the stage with chika idol A-listers such as NEO JAPONISM and  Ringwanderung. For now, they are off to a good start, booking gigs with Homicidols’ favorites like XTEEN, 9DaysGlitchClubTokyo, TOKYO Tefutefu and KAQRIYOTERROR.

Meet the Members of Chemical X

Aoi Hitotsuki

Aoi knew Yossy from her tenure as a singer in a alternative rock band. She was the first member to be asked to join the group 

Homicidols: You were a singer for a band before this. Why did you decide to become an idol?

Before I was invited to join the group, I had no idea that I would be an idol, but when it comes to showcasing myself on stages, there is no difference between a band and an idol.

I decided to become an idol because I wanted to experience all the fun-filled stages of different genres. I think it would be great if I manage to grow myself as an idol and as a singer while stimulating each other.

Homicidols: What is one thing about yourself you would like a prospective fan to know?

It’s a powerful and pop group you can enjoy together with us. I will do my best to sing, so please come and see me!

Amemiya R Galaxy

Amemiya is a former member of IQ99 and a current member of the duo C.I.R.C.U.S. She protects others with her muscles and is prone to stage diving and crowd surfing.

Homicidols: What is one thing about yourself you would like a prospective fan to know?

Save the world with muscles! Call me “Gyalako”!

KILLERMACHINE

KILLERMACHINE is a former member of Woven’s and nominee for Homicidols Best Individual Debut for 2022.  We asked her fans over on the Homicidols Discord server if they had any questions for her:

Homicidols: What is your relationship with Dragon Quest?

I am a Dragon Quest fan and took the monster’s name since it sounded cool.

Homicidols: How long have you been playing guitar? Have you ever played in a band? Do you want to?

I’ve been playing guitar for about a year. Never played in a band nor will I in the future.

Homicidols: How and why did you start woodworking? (Note: KILLERMACHINE made her own guitar from scratch.)

I’m not a crafter. I am an idol.

Homicidols: What is one thing about yourself you would like a prospective fan to know?

I am KILLERMACHINE with one action and two attacks!

Chiimayu 

Chiimayu (meaning “little Mayu; she is 140cm tall) is a former member of My Best Friend (as Hatsume Mayuzumi).

Homicidols: What is one thing about yourself you would like a prospective fan to know?

I’m in charge of Moe (燃え) and Moe (萌え)!  Chiimayu on Fire! Burn!

For those of you not up on your kanji, Moe (萌え) = “cuteness and affection” while Moe (燃え) = “burning”.  The combination makes Chiimayu a cute pyromaniac.

Maho Setsuna

Maho is the only member who was chosen through the audition process where she wowed with an acapella version of BiSH’s “Orchestra”.  

She is also the youngest member of the group and considered everyone’s little sister. She has previous idol experience in a self-produced group in Nagoya, but  won’t share the unit’s name.

Homicidols: What is one thing about yourself you would like a prospective fan to know?

I’m Setsuna Maho, the devil’s advocate.

Homicidols: Why did you join Chemical X? What do you find most appealing about the concept of the group?

Chiimayu: I decided to join because I wanted to eat a lot of delicious curry rice!
(Note: The producer of her previous group prohibited the members from eating high-fat foods including her favorite, curry rice.)

Amemiya R Galaxy: I wanted to make myself more known to the world!

KILLERMACHINE: I like the songs and felt the producer’s desire to become successful!

Maho: I liked the songs!

Aoi: The best thing which appealed to me was the demo songs, I listened to them before the members and concept were decided. Also I’ve known the producer for a long time, it was a natural thing for me to join.

Homicidols: What has been the most challenging thing about joining a brand new group?

Chiimayu: Discussions with everyone, deciding on various things, and creating from scratch.

Amemiya R Galaxy:  To embody what we think it should be.

KILLERMACHINE: We can eat together and discuss and decide things, everything is challenging.

Maho: Taking our time to nurture each song from zero is challenging and fun.

Aoi: Any result is up to us, so the fun of creating is challenging. It’s my first time being an idol, so one of the rewarding things is wondering how far I can go.

Homicidols: What ambitions do you have for the group?

Chiimayu: Conquer the world!

Amemiya R Galaxy:  Get bigger than IQ99.

KILLERMACHINE: Perform with BABYMETAL!

Maho: Make a lot of money!

Aoi: Participate in big music festivals and performing live overseas.

Homicidols: What are you most nervous about when it comes to the group’s debut?

Chiimayu: I am afraid about if my fans from my previous group will accept the new group or not.

Amemiya R Galaxy:  The moment when I notice a new characteristic of me coming out.

KILLERMACHINE: When I think of the debut, my stomach hurts and I want to go to the toilet.

Maho: Whether I can sing live well.

Aoi: I want to show you a new me, so I’m nervous whether people will accept it or not.

Homicidols: Would you like to perform overseas? If so, where would you most like to perform?

Chiimayu: Sweden.

Amemiya R Galaxy:  South Korea.

KILLERMACHINE: USA, Los Angeles.

Maho: South Korea.

Aoi: New York, UK, France and Thailand.

Homicidols: Many idol units have a special name for their fans. Have you come up with a name for Chemical X fans yet?

All: No, not yet. We are accepting submissions from everyone!

The rehearsal was scheduled for two-and-a-half hours and the idols used every minute of it except for a short break in the middle. The veterans were more loose, lighthearted and vocal than the newcomers Maho and Aoi  who were focused and studious. After the break, the group ran through the entire five-song set for their upcoming debut multiple times. During the third run-through, jokes started slipping out as missteps piled up and the members got more tired and punchy.

As rehearsal time was coming to a close, Amemiya sang the final song while pulling on  her coat and stuffing her belongings into her backpack. The second the song finished, she directed a quick, “Thank you!” our way and sprinted out the door to her next engagement. The rest of us were able to take a bit more time gathering our things and bundling up before heading out of the studio and back into the cold Shibuya night air.

As we now know a little over two weeks later, their hard work that night and since paid off with a successful debut. Wherever the trajectory of Chemical X heads from here, we feel very fortunate to have been invited to witness them at their start. 

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