Interview, Audience Q&A highlights, and live performance of Japanese vocal and dance performance group World Order. Seeing them perform live were the ultimate dream of J-Pop Summit 2016 experience! We hope they come back to San Francisco. Left to right: Yusuke Morisawa, Masato Ochiai, Hayato Uchiyama, Genki Sudo, Akihiro Takahashi, Ryuta Tomita, Takashi Jonishi. Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.
Five years ago, a close friend showed us World Order’s “MACHINE CIVILIZATION” music video on YouTube. Here we were, in the cusp of robotic technology evolution, and these men in suits were doing the synchronized robot walk flawlessly. They were inhumanly precise yet humorous at the same time. Chris and I were instantly mesmerized.
When the tutting portions began, we were even more in awe. We just couldn’t tear our gazes away! Needless to say, since then, Genki Sudo and his small army of dancing robotic salary men who frequently confused passersby have been etched to our memory.
Fast forward to the last day of J-Pop Summit 2016: Sunday, July 24. We stepped into a small interview room (the same one where we interviewed Sebastian Masuda) where the six members of World Order sat behind a long table. (Genki Sudo was not part of the interview, but he joined the group during the live performance later that evening.)
I might look normal on the outside, but I was in state of disbelief. Since the first time we covered J-Pop Summit back in 2011, never once did we anticipate interviewing World Order face-to-face.
There they were, sitting in two rows behind a long desk: Masato Ochiai (Masato), Akihiro Takahashi (Aki), Yusuke Morisawa (Yusuke), Takashi Jonishi (Joony), Ryuta Tomita (Tomizo), and Hayato Uchiyama (Ucchy). Handsomely dressed in white dress shirt, navy thin-striped suit with wide-striped tie, complete with metal tie clip and pocket square, each of them looked perfectly poised for back-to-back
business meetings press interviews.
It’s indeed a wonderful honor and experience to be able to interview World Order as fans (who happen to also love fashion and style) in the morning, listen to their Audience Q&A in the afternoon, and finally watch their first-ever San Francisco live performance in the evening.
They’re all cool, funny, and confident guys to hang out and chat with. We definitely had a lot of fun during the interview, and even more fun watching them all perform live! We also got to see Genki-san – who resigned as World Order lead vocalist and dance member in October 2015 to focus more as producer and director of the group – joined the group for two songs during the live performance!
Interview with World Order
Special thanks to Naomichi-san for being an AWESOME translator for the interview. Let’s review this day-long on-site meeting notes, shall we?
Fafafoom: Thank you for having us! Is this your first time in San Francisco? How do you like it so far?
Masato Ochiai (Masato): It’s very nice; San Francisco has a very nice weather. Japan is so hot right now. (Aki and Yusuke nodded.)
Fafafoom: You guys are the only ones saying we have nice weather right now. Everyone else said it’s cold!
(Masato looked a little surprised, while Tomizo smirked.)
Fafafoom: Then again, you’re all wearing suits, so that might help :)
Fafafoom: Genki-san created World Order group by having fun with the Japanese stereotype of robotic salarymen, and you travel to many different countries to do music videos. When you are filming your videos, do people get that you’re playing on that stereotype?
Masato: We think they get it (chuckled). Well, we hope people understand it when they see it. (Yusuke nodded.)
Fafafoom: So, what’s the most memorable reaction from passersby when you were filming?
(Masato, Tomizo, and Ucchy looked at Yusuke)
Yusuke Morisawa (Yusuke): When we were filming in Japan, there was an older lady approaching me. So I nicely told her to stop, but apparently she’s Chinese so she didn’t understand what I was saying and kept approaching me.
Fafafoom: So what did you do after that? Yusuke: Before the camera started rolling, I was unsure what to do as she kept talking to me. So I tried to push her to the side. (everyone laughed)
Joony: Gently, you mean!
Yusuke: Yes, I tried to gently push her to the side, but she just remained there. Once the filming started and I started performing, she kind of got it and left.
Fafafoom: You should’ve taught her the dance moves (so she can join the filming.)
Yusuke: (hesitant) Well, that’s…(appeared to seriously considered that option, while Ucchy and Tomizo doubled over laughing)
Fafafoom: I’m just kidding!! Seriously, I’m kidding! (everyone laughed)
Yusuke: Oh, I see.
Fafafoom: Have you done a music video set in San Francisco yet?
(everyone shook their head)
Masato: No, not yet. As much as we hoped that we could film one this time, we couldn’t do it after all. Next time!
Fafafoom: Your choice of monotone suits are awesome. However, do you see possibilities of wearing colorful suits in the future?
Masato: Hmm, we don’t have that plan, but that sounds interesting. I’m taking notes!
Fafafoom: Great, so next time when I see you guys doing it, I’d know that idea is coming from me. (everyone laughed)
Fafafooom: Personally, I think men look their best in suits. That being said, do you have your own favorite ikemen (handsome, cool guy) outfit other than suits?
(Masato started thinking seriously, Aki started to chuckle)
Masato: (confidently) I always look handsome no matter what!
Joony: So, swimsuit then? (everyone laughed)
Masato: Totally! Swimsuit it is!
Fafafoom: How about you, Aki-san?
Akihiro Takahashi (Aki): I always wear my clothes until they’re worn out, so I like to take those damaged ones and repair them.
Yusuke (while gesturing to Aki): He likes to refashion / upcycle his clothing himself.
Fafafoom: That’s so cool! I love DIY Fashion, too!
Yusuke: Me? Hmm…(thinking seriously) For me, I like suits the most…
Tomizo: (whispering to Ucchy) T-shirts.
Yusuke: Hmm, I like things that are simple, like T-shirt and jeans.
Fafafoom: (looking at Joony-san)
Takashi Jonishi (Joony): My ikemen style…well, I’d wear a t-shirt, backpack, and a Pokémon monster ball cap while running around playing Pokémon Go.
Fafafoom: (not sure if he’s just joking or not, but still concerned about the number of incidents since Pokémon Go launched) Well, be careful not to fall down the stairs when you’re catching monsters.
Joony: (nodded, gave a thumbs up)
Ryuta Tomita (Tomizo): No matter what I wear, it doesn’t make me an ikemen. But I believe in what’s inside [my heart]. (nodded, gave a thumbs up)
Fafafoom: And how about you, Ucchy-san?
Hayato Uchiyama (Ucchy): I really like glasses, so my focal point would be wearing stylish glasses with my outfit.
(Tomizo chuckled in response)
Fafafoom: You’re traveling all around the world to do live performances, record music videos, and other gigs. How many suits do you each of you have and how often are you getting a new one made? For sure they got worn out pretty easily due to your busy schedules.
Masato: Each of us has about 10 suits, and that includes about 3 pairs of suits as World Order performance uniforms. Every time we are doing a live performance, we have to set one aside. But actually, we have been wearing one set over and over again until we damaged it.
(Aki gestured to the under arm areas, as well as beneath the suit pockets)
So we are wearing brand new ones for J-Pop Summit San Francisco.
(Note: No wonder they all looked extra dashing that day!)
Fafafoom: Masato-san and Aki-san, World Order has entered a “New Phase” and you both are the lead vocals. How have your experience changed as World Order members now that you’re also singing compared to when you focused solely on dancing?
Aki: It’s the first time that I cannot count while dancing…
Masato: When we are dancing, we internally count the steps – 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. But when we’re singing and dancing at the same time, it’s really hard to do.
Fafafoom: World Order first performed in Paris for the first time last year (and also went to UK and Germany), and you’re also featured in Amazing Race Season 26. Moreover, you have done two art exhibitions so far! What’s the next milestone for World Order?
Masato: We will have a live performance in Japan on August, and we are in the middle of creating a new song, too.
Fafafoom: That’s so exciting! By the way, how long did it take the group to perfect the signature robot walk? It’s so fantastic!
Joony: One day. (everyone laughed)
Tomizo: But every day, we perfect it more and more. (Aki nodded.)
Masato: For each of us, it did not take very long. But as a group, it takes several days to practice our robot walk so we look as synchronized as possible.
Fafafoom: What I like the most about World Order is that while you each have your own sets of movements, the amount of details you all put in (i.e. depth, radius, intensity of each movement) as a group is amazing. How did you work to achieve such level of synchronicity?
Masato: It’s actually the other way around. Each one of us has different skills, so if we try to combine them all together, it’s going to be too much. So we try to simplify the movements to fit World Order as a group.
Fafafoom: During an interview two weeks ago with World Order International Fansite (starting at 14:15 until 14:50), Joony-san talked about each member has their own color for their planned / improvised solos during live performances . Now, if you can represent your dance style into one color, what color will it be?
(Note: As Naomichi-san conveyed my question to World Order, Yusuke raised his right eyebrow; Tomizo and Ucchy looked at each other and started chuckling. A few seconds later, Joony started to chuckle and eventually doubling over. Yusuke (kind of) face-palmed after glaring at Joony, and Aki chuckled softly. Masato looked like he’s seriously thinking of an appropriate answer.
Such amusing reactions to observe! Although they looked a little confused, many thought their answers seriously. After a few seconds of silence, Ucchy spoke up first. Aki and Yusuke looked at him intently.)
Ucchy: (effortlessly tutting while speaking) Tutting is my signature, it’s something I’ve been doing and performing for a long time.
(Masato chuckled, pointing to Yusuke, who in turn looked a bit restless. Everyone else chuckled.)
Fafafoom: (deadpanned) So, what color is that?
(Tomizo chuckled and pointed at Ucchy’s yellow striped tie.)
Ucchy: Uh, yellow. (everyone laughed) It’s my favorite color.
Masato: (still laughing) That color has nothing to do with your dance specialty, isn’t it? You’re just naming one color you like!
(everyone laughed; Joony slapped his right knee while doubled over laughing)
Aki: Because I learned many different dance styles, my solo is a mix of those. Depending on the song, I try to fit certain styles into my solo dancing. So…orange. (laughed)
Yusuke: …(seemed to be lost in thought, but then realized everyone suddenly was looking at him)
Yusuke: Hmm…just like Ucchy, tutting is also my specialty.
Ucchy: (whispered, jokingly) Don’t copy me.
Yusuke: Eh? However, Ucchy’s style is more detailed. I’m a little smaller in stature, so I try to make my movements bigger. Therefore…my color is white.
(Aki, Joony, and Tomizo chuckled)
Joony: (look determined, raised his hand as he’s saying this) Black.
(Ucchy, Aki, and Joony chuckled)
Fafafoom: How about pink? (Note: for reference, watch the interview with World Order International Fansite starting at 16:32 until 17:45)
Masato: Pink? Oh yes, shocking pink! (everyone laughed)
Fafafoom: What are you looking forward for the next 2 – 3 years?
Masato: Nowadays, we usually perform as 6-person formation. However, Genki-san is still part of the group, too. Therefore, he can think of having World Order perform as 6-person or 7-person version for different songs. Moreover, we’d like to impress more people and hopefully that can lead to us performing at Tokyo Olympics 2020. (everyone nodded, looked excited)
Fafafoom: Wow, that’d be so cool! All the best to you all and we’re rooting for you guys. I hope World Order get to do it! Well, thank you very much, everyone!
Masato: Thank you very much! (everyone bowed deeply)
And with that, we got to take several more pictures of them before they moved on to VIP Meet & Greet session.
As a bonus point, for one minute in my life, I got to be part of World Order (sort of). Kyaaaaaaa~~~ I’m so happy!!! It’s the most joyful on-site meeting I’ve ever had :)
World Order Q&A Highlights
That afternoon, we saw them again during World Order Q&A session with the audience on the J-Pop Summit main stage. They definitely enjoyed seeing their fans, answering questions, and joking around on stage. Here are some highlights from the 30-minute session!
About perfecting choreography: it took between 1 – 6 months for the group to polish a song’s choreography until it’s ready for live performance. “MACHINE CIVILIZATION” was the one that took 6 months to polish.
About what to eat to join World Order: healthy organic food (according to Masato-san).
About politics in United States: although he cannot speak for the whole group, Joony-san firmly said he cannot support the current Republican presidential candidate. Joony-san roused the biggest applause during the Q&A when he said, “He’s trying to divide the people, but WE ARE ALL ONE.”
About being inspired by Bay Area dance styles: Joony-san acknowledged that many dance groups, including World Order are inspired by dance styles from the Bay Area since 1960s (such like Demons of the Mind, Black Velvet, etc.) and will continue to get inspired by various dance forms of the world for future World Order dance choreographies.
World Order Live Performance at J-Pop Summit 2016
Closer to 7:30pm, shortly after YANAKIKU concluded their performance, the highly anticipated World Order live performance started! Wow, it’s really, really cool to see these men perform live!
They started with an opening piece of “THE HISTORY OF VOICE 2015” routine, where Yusuke-san got flipped upside down while maintaining a perfect standing stature, followed by “WORLD ORDER” where Genki-san joined the performance! Once the song ended, Genki-san said a brief greeting to the audience before retreating backstage.
The 6-person formation persisted across the next four songs: “BLUE BOUNDARY”, “MULTIPOLARITY”, “PERMANENT REVOLUTION”, and “FIND THE LIGHT”.
By the time Genki-san joined the group for “MACHINE CIVILIZATION”, we knew that World Order’s live performance unfortunately had to come to an end.
So with that, thank you SO MUCH J-Pop Summit for bringing one of the coolest dance/vocal groups ever to San Francisco. They’re such a delight to interview, and their live performance was unbelievable.
It’s also worth noting that World Order was a rare musical group this year, as their peers tend to be younger and female. It’s truly refreshing to see Genki-san, Masato-san, Aki-san, Yusuke-san, Joony-san, Ucchy-san, and Tomizo-san showed what they’re all about to J-Pop Summit audience. I’m sure they got many more fans in San Francisco!
Here’s hoping they will come back in the future, both to film some World Order music videos and do full-length live concert!
Thanks for reading; until next time,
Fafafoom team for Interview with World Order:
Interviewer & Editor: Mira Musank
Photographer: Christian Hadidjaja