We Interview Idols: Tokyo Psychopath

Tokyo Psychopath, the fashion punks who place an emphasis on free expression above all else, are proving to be one of the most iconoclastic and, possibly, important units in underground idol. They stood out upon inception as an idol unit that allowed members to openly smoke, drink, and display the their heavily tattooed selves while pledging to be the “the most crazy punk group.” They soon became a staple of Tokyo street fashion social media and were even featured in Vogue Japan as examples of, “the new generation who are not afraid to be different and continue to pursue their own individuality.” Since then, Tokyo Psychopath have pushed the boundaries of self expression even further, not only through their music and fashion, but also through their personal statements, emerging as one of the very few idol units in Japan with openly LGBTQ+ members.

Tokyo Psychopath made their debut appearance in the United States over the Labor Day weekend at Saboten Con in Phoenix, Arizona. For the past several years, Saboten Con and (Friend of Homicidols) Chaotic Harmony, have come together to annually showcase some of the best acts in the realm of chika idol including Candye Syrup, Broken By the Scream, and MELON BATAKE A GOGO.

Anime conventions have traditionally served as a safe space of free expression for many people who feel like they don’t really fit in anywhere else. For this reason, Tokyo Psychopath’s appearance at Saboten Con felt uniquely appropriate. The crowds that gathered for their two performances over the weekend were some of the most diverse I have ever seen at an idol show. Each live ended with the members of Tokyo Psychopath out in the crowd orchestrating a frenetic circle pit of cosplayers, punks, and people wrapped in pride flags. It came as close as possible to a punk set that could be described as “happy, joyous, and free”.

 

During the course of the weekend at Saboten Con, we were able to sit down with Tokyo Psychopath and get to know them a bit better.


Homicidols: How did you come to join Tokyo Psychopath? What was it about the group that made you want to be a part of it?

Jyorou Gumo: It started with an audition. Oni@gunsou actually came to me and was like, “Why don’t try out for this together?” Originally, I wasn’t interested in idols at all, but because this isn’t like a normal idol group, it was interesting. So I thought, “Why don’t I try out and see how this goes?”

Oni@gunsou: I had a friend who was already working in LD&K (ed. LD&K is the company that produces Tokyo Psychopath). We are really close, and they were like, since you already have this really green aesthetic, why don’t you try out and see how it goes. So I did the audition. For me, the image of idols is really cute, so when I heard that tattoos were okay and it’s okay if we smoke, it felt very free and became something that I was interested in. So I thought, “well, let’s see if this door will open for me.”

Hakua Gozen: I actually saw an advertisement on Instagram saying that they were looking for idols to join this group. At the time, I was in school studying fashion. Since the timing worked out, I decided to give it a try. Up until that point I didn’t have a lot of experience singing or dancing, and I also wasn’t really interested in idols necessarily, but it appealed to me so I went ahead and tried out.

Kaosu Zoldyck: At the time, I was working in a cafe, and I was actually approached directly by Mr. Otani (ed. Tony Otani, the producer of Tokyo Psychopath) so I just ended up joining and didn’t have to audition or anything.

Homicidols: What is your favorite Tokyo Psychopath song, and why?

Hakua: I think it’s the same for everyone.

Oni@gunsou: Everyone is the same.

Kaosu: Shall we say it together?

All: One… Two… “Chalotte.”

Hakua:  I really like this song because the lyrics really fit my feelings. I love to sing it.

Oni@gunsou: It is a song that really rescued us, and a lot of our fans have said the same thing.

Kaosu: It’s a song about living freely and how it’s okay to be yourself.

Hakua: You can live as you are.

At the Q&A session held the day before our interview, the members were asked what their ambitions were, both for the group and personally. In response, Hakua talked about how there is no place for lesbians to just exist in Japan, and how there is no one that protects them. She then spoke about how, through Tokyo Psychopath and their music, she hopes to be that kind of person and create that kind of place.

Homicidols: To Hakua: At the Q&A panel yesterday, you spoke about being an openly lesbian idol and wanting to be a role model to people who may not have someone to look up to. Is there someone you look up to or see as a personal role model?

Hakua: There’s a Lady Gaga song called “Hair,” and on YouTube there was a fan who made a video featuring that song and talking about their sexuality. At the time, I was really questioning my own sexuality, so when I saw that video it kind of clicked, like, “oh, that’s a thing.” It helped me realize that this is who I am. This was when I was 14. This video really helped me understand, “oh, this is how I’m feeling.”

Hakua Gozen

Homicidols: To Jyorou Gumo: Why are you so mysterious? It was very hard to research you. Your namesake is a type of venomous spider. Why did you choose this name?

Jyorou: Originally, online, I had already been using the moniker, Jyorou Gumo. I have always been interest in yokai and folklore. I came across the yokai, jorou gumo, online and became really interested in it. The spider that’s half-human. The more you look at it, the more you can’t look away. The more fascinated you become with it. And so I thought, that’s the kind of person I want to become. It became an inspiration from there.

Jyorou Gumo

Homicidols: To Kaosu: You have worked with the brand Pays Des Fées before. Can you tell us more about your experience and how you mesh your inner world with the designer’s?

Kaosu: Originally, I started out doing embroidery. I’m not very good at talking to people, but I feel that embroidery is like a form of self-expression. From there, when I joined Tokyo Psychopath I learned that, oh, there is another way. Originally, I was a customer at Pays Des Fées, but after I joined Tokyo Psychopath I was approached by the designer who had seen my work. They were like, “I would like to collaborate with you for my upcoming collection.” So that is how we ended up working together. We collaborated together through the end of August so the collection should be coming out around summer of next year.

 

Homicidols: To Oni@gunsou: Our readers were really excited to hear about your various gender expressions, as many of them could relate and find it hard to find such representation in the idol scene. Could you tell us a bit more about you?

Oni@gunsou: Originally I felt like it doesn’t really matter if I come out or not. But since Hakua had come out as a lesbian, it gave me the strength to come out myself. When I came out online, I actually got a lot of messages saying, “Oh, me too. I also feel this way.” Even one of my close friends came out saying that they feel this way too. Originally, I just did this for myself, not anyone else, but since other people messaged me and said, “oh, this really helped me and saved me,” to see other people saying these things, it became a win, win.

Oni@gunsou

Homicidols: It feels like everyone has a very intimate and personal relationship with fashion. When it comes to live shows and performance, how do you reconcile your strong, individual image with the need for a cohesive group?

Jyorou: Even though our styles are very different, it still comes from a place of love for self expression.

Kaosu: Because it is fun and it’s still something we are able to do together, even though our styles are very different.

Homicidols: If someone wanted to explore fashion more or dress more flashy but were scared of the backlash, what are the words of encouragement you would share with them to encourage them to stand up for themselves?

Oni@gunsou: With our shows, we want to create the kind of environment where people can come regardless of whether they are old or young, or maybe their gender or lack of gender, but they can come and for that hour or two hours they can live freely and just be themselves.

Hakua: They most wonderful thing is not thinking about what other people think about you. Like if they’re saying, “oh, that’s kind of weird.” Feeling, like, “I’m going to do this because I like it.” That feels very good. And just don’t think about what other people think.

Homicidols: Who are your biggest influences from the worlds of fashion, punk, and idol?

Kaosu: Because we feel like we’re making something entirely new, there are not really any particular influences that we’re taking.

Homicidols: For each member: What is the one thing that you would most like your fans to know about you?

Kaosu: I like pudding!

Oni@gunsou: I don’t mind when people are talking if they refer to me as “Gunsou,” but if you tag me online, I prefer you to use my full name. When people tag the other members, they will do hashtag “Hakua Gozen,” “Jyorou Gumo,” “Kaosu Zoldyck.” But for me, it’s just, “Gunsou.” (everybody laughs) No! It’s “Oni@gunsou.” So if you see me: “Gunsou! Hey Gunsou!” is fine. But online it’s, hashtag “Oni@gunsou.”

Hakua: When people see images of Tokyo Psychopath, people will say that I am the scariest member, but I would like people to know that is not true. I’m not scary.

Jyorou: I would like everyone know that I really like isobe mochi (ed. nori-wrapped fried mochi with soy sauce).

Homicidols: Do you have a last message for your overseas fans?

Jyorou: When if comes to our foreign fans, we feel like they are really enjoying themselves from the bottoms of their hearts. It is a really nice thing to see.

Oni@gunsou: When we first came to America we were worried because we aren’t able to speak English very well, so we worried about how we were going to connect with everyone. Since we’ve been here, our fans have given us so much energy. They are having so much fun so that makes us have fun too. It’s been such a good experience, we would really like to come back and perform in America again, in Phoenix or anywhere else. That’s not really easy to do, so we want to connect with fans online as well through our social media.

Hakua: Coming here and seeing everyone at the venue, like the cosplayers and people dressing up in general, in Japan I don’t really have a lot of inspirations, but seeing everyone here was really inspirational for me. Back in Tokyo, even though there are a lot of people, it still somehow feels very lonely. Coming here, I feel like I am not alone, so I am grateful to have had this experience.

Kaosu: From when I was young to when I was adult, I always felt like people in Japan think my face is scary, like saying, “why are you dressed like that? It’s not Halloween.” But coming to America, everyone has been complimenting me, even in the elevator, saying like, “your style is so cool,” so that feels very good. So, I would like come back to America as well.

Tokyo Psychopath with Homicidols Logo

Thank you to Chaotic Harmony, Saboten Con, and, especially, Tokyo Psychopath.

Since returning to Japan, Tokyo Psychopath have announced the imminent release of their second album, Keep it real,  (including the aforementioned track, “Charlotte”) this coming October 4th.

 

Come Back Soon!

Interview by Daemon
Translation by Chaotic Harmony