BE:FIRST on their "genre-less" music: "We don’t want to stick with one particular style"

BE:FIRST on their "genre-less" music: "We don’t want to stick with one particular style"

BE:FIRST are ready to dominate the music world.

With the recent release of their latest single 'Betrayal Game', the rising J-pop group have proven they're here to make their mark and shake the earth. They've come a long way after only debuting in November last year. With the support of BESTY (BE:FIRST's fandom), there's absolutely nothing that could stop them.

In April, Bandwagon caught up with the members of BE:FIRST to share their motivations, what they're all about, and the kinds of music they've been listening to these days.

Hi BE:FIRST! What have you guys been busy with lately?

JUNON: Hello! Lately, we've been busy shooting for a new music video for a new single, 'Betrayal Game' releasing on Apr 25, rehearsing for our live show, and recording our TV program, BE:FIRST TV.


[こんにちは!!最近で言うと4月25日にリリースされる新曲「Betrayal Game」のMV撮影やワンマンライブのリハーサル、冠番組の収録などのお仕事をしています!]

Let’s start from the beginning, what motivated each of you to pursue music and enter the J-pop scene?

SOTA: Dance has been in my daily life since I was a kid, and during my teens, my dream as a dancer came true. At the same time, another big dream emerged in my mind. It was to personify music while singing on my own and dancing all together. That is what I've achieved as an artist now.


SHUNTO: I first started learning dance and singing in the first grade, but it was just for fun then. I saw a live show of a Japanese group, AAA in the fifth grade. I was inspired by their performance, how they shined on the stage and how they embodied the music, and that is why I started seriously pursuing music in my life.


MANATO: Since I was little, I never had a dream job. I was one of those kids who tried whatever was recommended by others. But when it came to music, I thoroughly enjoyed it every time, and I often thought, "How can I make it better?" or "Is this cooler?" I believe an attractive aspect of music is that there are various perspectives on how people see, listen to, and feel the music. Music exists in everyone's life no matter where you are, and I hope our music also becomes a part of many people’s daily life. We'll do our part to make it happen!


RYUHEI: I first started learning dance. I was fascinated by the fact that you can express music by dancing without using anything but your body. Then, I was introduced to singing, and I gradually realized the types of music I wanted to pursue and express. That is how I ended up where I am.


JUNON: I am from a musical family, so music has always been in my life. When I received a full-time position offered by a company, I realized that I should pursue music for the rest of my life instead. That is when I applied for the audition, THE FIRST.


RYOKI: I grew up speaking Japanese and English, and Western music was always around, but I ended up listening to more J-pop music after all. J-pop often has soft and soothing sounds that grab my ears. I also love K-pop music besides J-pop and Western music, but as a new Japanese artist, I would rather be a part of the J-pop scene creating a new culture and represent Japan and J-pop if I were to challenge the world.


LEO: Music helped me out at a time when I felt hopeless. Also, I have another experience with my grandfather whose words encouraged me to step forward while pursuing music. Those experiences made me realize that I wanted to be someone's light at the end of a tunnel through my music.


You only debuted in November 2021 but you already have fans from all over the world and have even entered global music charts like Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs, how does it feel having this level of popularity as rookies?

RYOKI: First of all, we are happy and grateful for the fact that many people are listening to our music. One of BE:FIRST's strengths is that we create somewhat genre-less music with the mindset of freedom. We don’t want to stick with one particular style or the other.

We have come up with songs combined with each member's favored style of music. So, when someone listens to our music, they may feel empathy or be reminded of fond memories. Therefore, I believe a wide range of music lovers would also love what we create. I want BE:FIRST to be that kind of group, and we work hard to achieve that.


For anyone who has yet to discover you, what is BE:FIRST all about? How do you stand out from other J-pop groups and acts?

SHUNTO: We are a group who loves all sorts of music and who continues delivering genre-less "BE:FIRST music" to the world.


MANATO: What's cool about BE:FIRST, I think, is that each of us has a distinct character, yet when we perform, it shines as one!

Each of us has something we are good at, such as dancing, singing, rapping, writing, choreography, etc. ever since the audition. So, for example, during the shooting of a music video or when rehearsing for a live show, we often share or suggest our ideas.

We don't want to compare ourselves with other artists, but we truly enjoy listening, watching, and learning from other artists. Having 'respect for others' and ‘reaching the top’ in our minds, we want to keep creating BE:FIRST music.


Congratulations on the release of ‘Bye-Good-Bye’! Could you tell us more about the single?

SHUNTO: 'Bye-Good-Bye' is singing about farewell. But we took a cheerful approach singing a farewell song. If you listen to this song focusing on the lyrics, the words may touch your heart. But when you pay attention to the sound or the track of music, the pop-ness of this song may make you wanna dance to it. I think that is one of the charms of 'Bye-Good-Bye'.

By the way, the other two songs ('Brave Generation' and 'Betrayal Game') in this new single have totally different musical approaches. So, I hope people enjoy all three!


What are some goals and dreams you all have for BE:FIRST?

SOTA: I want BE:FIRST to be a team that loves music the most in the world rather than a team most famous. I want us to be the team that can save people through our music.


LEO: BE:FIRST was formed from the audition called THE FIRST, and since then, one of our goals has been 'from Japan to the world'. We won’t be able to achieve this goal just among the seven of us. Thanks to all the support we receive from staff, people from different companies and agencies, and of course, BESTY, we can take each step to seize our dreams. So, I believe BE:FIRST is not only seven of us, but everyone involved should be considered part of the BE:FIRST team. I want BE:FIRST to love everyone and to be loved. I see the importance for us in creating music that we feel proud of. That's what I want us to keep doing.

[ 「THE FIRST」というオーディションから僕たちBE:FIRSTが生まれたのですが、その時から日本から世界へという目標を掲げています。でもそれはメンバーだけの力では叶えられません。周りのスタッフさん、関係各所の皆さん、そしてファンであるBESTYがいてやっと一歩ずつ夢へ近づくことができます。だからBE:FIRSTは7人だけでなく、関わってくださる全ての方を含めてBE:FIRSTチームだと思ってます。だからこそ、自分たちが愛されて自分たちも愛し続けられるBE:FIRSTでありたいですし、自分たちが誇れる音楽をこれからも届けることが大切だと思っているので、それを続けていきたいです。]

Who are the artists and musicians you look up to? listen to?

SOTA: I look up to and enjoy listening to Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, and Chris Brown.

SHUNTO: I've been listening to Chris Brown, Charlie Puth, Summer Walker, and Dios.

MANATO: I enjoy listening to iri, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, and Future. But most recently, I've been listening to H.E.R.

RYUHEI: BoyWithUke, Sia, and Blackstreet are the artists I have been listening to lately.

JUNON: Well, lately, I've been listening to lots of keshi and Michael Jackson songs. I learn a lot from their music!

RYOKI: I respect and enjoy listening to BIGBANG, Vaundy, NCT127, and Dai Hirai.

LEO: Eminem, Bruno Mars, TAKE 6, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, The Chainsmokers, and Justin Bieber are some of what I've been listening to. 

What can we expect from BE:FIRST in the coming year?

RYUHEI: In order for us to take another step as a boy band, we will put our hearts into everything we attempt and try to deliver various genres of music. Please stay tuned in!

[ ボーイズグループとして新たな1歩を踏み出していくために何事に対しても挑戦し、様々なジャンルの曲を届けていくので、そこに注目していただきたいです。]

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