Alpha999 (pronounced as Alpha-three-nine) is the solo project of vocalist TAKA, the former singer of LEG’end PRIMe. Aside from being a vocalist TAKA also works as a model, and he has been the DJ of the popular radio show “DOUBLE BILLION” for a while as well. All of this adds up to quite an impressive portfolio of skills, but for today I really wanted to ask him about his music. Not just because his main focus goes to his music, but also because of Alpha999 itself.
Alpha999 is presented as a solo project, but that doesn’t mean TAKA is standing on the stage all by himself. For his live shows he is supported by various support musicians from various projects, like masato (ex.SuG), seiya (ギガマウス (GIGAMOUS)) and Syu (G.L.A.M.S/David) just to name a few.
Despite the quite impressive lineup in the support section, it was quite hard to find TAKA’s works in the sea of artists. This is why I wanted to ask him some questions myself, and introduce his works to you this way.
So, without further ado…
I’m pretty sure that most people won’t have a clue who you are, and even though I wrote a mini-introduction before this interview, could you please introduce yourself in your own words as well?
TAKA: I’m someone who has been shining as an artist that has always taken the name of “the star”, and the stars that shine the brightest to me are rock stars. I started this project because I wanted to work on a music project as the one and only rock star that I always longed to be.
Your fans also have a special name: they’re the ”Alphamily”. But how did this name came to be? Did you come up with it, or was it created by fans?
TAKA: I learned that all fans considered each other as a part of a family, which lead to me combining the words “Alpha” and “Family”, which resulted in “Alphamily” in the end. The meaning behind this name is the feeling of being “one” with what we have created together as an artist and fans.
Aside from being a vocalist you also promote yourself as a model. Can you tell me a bit about your model career? Like, is there a specific style or brand you’d like to model for? And how did you decide to pick this up next to your music career?
TAKA: I didn’t think I wanted to be a model at first. But when someone asked me for the very first time I decided to broaden my perspective on various activities and accepted. I already loved fashion and it was surprisingly fun to do a shoot like this, which made me continue to want to work as a model. There actually is no particular meaning behind it. (laughs)
The road from a band to a solo project
Let’s turn back to music for a moment. You’ve started Alpha999 after the activities of LEG’end PRIMe ended, but you’ve decided to make this a solo project rather than a full time band. Did you choose this format because you wanted to use more of your own work than you’d be able to as a full band, or was there another reason?
TAKA: The activities in the previous band have been completely exhausted. And while a band does have the greatness of being a band with influences from all members, there have been various insults during that time that actually made me consider to retire from music as a whole. But then the opportunity to start again presented itself, and I accepted it. I started with a solo project because I wanted to have the freedom to create all of the music by myself, and to be able to express myself to the fullest.
Alpha999 might be a solo project, but I love the style and feel of a band. I have a strong desire to work as a band, but I only want to work with musicians who I respect more than ever. This might actually have been the reason for me to start the search for members to join me on the stage as support musicians. I don’t think I want to have a full band right now, but in time I might be okay with it again. I don’t feel like doing a band with the same rock sound. I think it’s a kick. (lol) Isn’t it possible to work with a certain sense of pride?
Like you just said, you started searching for support members to support you during your live shows. And your lineup includes members from SuG, G.L.A.M.S, Apes From Nine and アクメ (ACME). Quite an impressive lineup you’ve got there, but how did you choose these members? Is it because of their skills, or is there a really good connection between you personally?
TAKA: Of course there are the performance skills, but no matter how popular the members might be, they must respect and value the activities they want to express. I’ve actually tried to work with some people in the past. Be it live or in the studio, but we ended up not matching enough so they have turned away eventually. (laughs)
The current members are so good because of their own values in particular, but everyone is always really inspiring and thinking how they can make Alpha999 better.
In terms of human relations, is there a way for anyone to know if the current members are a good match for me or not?
Depending on the support members that are there during a show, do you personally feel a difference between shows? Like is there a difference when it’s Syu or shinpei playing drums behind you? Or when RIKITO or 糀谷拓也 (Kōjitani Takuya) play bass next to you?
TAKA: Of course each member has their own habits and playing styles that are unique to that person. So it’s only natural that there is a difference. There is no sense of incongruity though. Each member has their own charm, and on top of that the current members have become wonderful friends of mine as well.
Regardless of which members are supporting you during a live, can you describe the readers what a live of Alpha999 is like?
TAKA: I want to experience something fun either way. So for example there are people who are worried, or people who simply want to experience a rock live. That pierces my heart, since I just want you to see an amazing live. Anything!
But anyway, the stage of Alpha999 is a stage that gives simulation and power to the live music. And it will definitely be delivered from the heart every single time. So if I can make one request, I would really like for all of you to come see us play at least once!
Aside from your career as a solo singer with Alpha999 and modeling you have been a radio DJ for the show “DOUBLE BILLION” with 愛沢光 (Aizawa Hikari) for a whole year, and your songs have been used as ending themes for various shows on Chiba TV as well, and to top it off your song “The Never Ending Story” was voted into the top 10 of best wedding songs as well. Did you ever expect that your works would be received so well?
TAKA: It was a great opportunity for me to be selected as a radio MC and thus being allowed to work there. I remember how difficult it was to communicate, talk and how to proceed with the program though. (laughs) But the experience has inspired me a lot.
I really appreciate how I was involved in the TV programs too. When I heard “The Never Ending Story” was selected as one of the top 10 wedding songs I was very surprised, but I really do appreciate it regardless! It was a very confident piece of work for me, so “finally”! (laughs)
Speaking of songs, your last release as Alpha999 was “在る1つの景色 (Aru 1tsu no keshiki) / Unlike Evolution”, at the end of last year. Are you currently working on something new, or has your focus been more on the live shows you’ve done this year?
TAKA: I’m always making songs. There are a lot of new songs right now, and we’re working on a new song production as well. Rather than just saying something I want to express, I produce a song about it. I compare this song with the live stage and I make a story again. I would like to continue with these exciting stages and music productions.
The newest release is actually a collaboration project with Ash Berry, and at the moment of writing this interview it hasn’t been officially released yet (we have to wait until October 11 for that), but this collaboration project was announced last year already. What’s the story behind this collaboration?
TAKA: I met Ash Berry through a live performance. When we played together as two separate projects I felt like the sound, soul and heat of our works really matched up, and our connection was born. The story of our collaboration came out and I went for it by writing a song immediately. To me this is an amazing collaboration that was born from the live stage.
Since you had such a good experience with this collaboration, would you like to do more of them in the future, or was this a one-time-project for now?
TAKA: It may be the second ad third bullets. (laughs) I honestly don’t know at this point in time, but I do want to make this collaboration more popular. But as long as I have such premonitions… I think it’s impossible. (laughs)
The past and the future
After all of this… You’ve started Alpha999 about three years ago and this year you got to celebrate the anniversary with a live show on July 27. Let’s look back on the last few years: is there anything you would have done differently based on the knowledge you have now?
TAKA: There isn’t much that I would have changed, but while I am working I don’t think there are any mistakes in what I have done so far. There are some small details that matter to me personally, but I think that it’s important to grow up. It’s still developing, so would it be too quick to make changes? That’s what I think.
We just looked at the past, but what about the future? Is there anything fans can look forward to?
TAKA: I’m always working towards a wonderful scenery. I would love to play at venues like Nippon Budokan or Tokyo Dome, so I want to make Alpha999 stand there and match those expectations.
But for more realistic plans: there are various activities planned, but I don’t dare to share anything about them here just yet. All of the fans are thrilled, so I feel more “wow”. I want to support them more… I’m glad I’ve got that. I want to go!
And what about the bigger picture? Because you dream about a big live stage in a famous venue in Japan, but have you ever thought about activities overseas?
TAKA: Like I already said in the previous answer, I would really like to play in Nippon Budokan and Tokyo Dome here in Japan, but I also dream about participating in an overseas tour and many, many festivals… I really want to go to a festival, so I really hope to get more offers!
I have one final question to close off this interview. Can you guess what famous question is this already? Do you have a message for everyone reading this interview?
TAKA: If you have an interest in Alpha999, which is only active in Japan right now, then please use social media to spread the word about us. Come see us live if you can!
And for the overseas fans specifically, if you want us to play abroad, please let us hear all of your voices! I want to make the best, cool Alpha999 that can be active all over the country. Hopefully I will be able to meet all of you someday!
Like TAKA already said various times in his interview, Alpha999 currently is active in Tokyo only. While some of the support members have been overseas at least once, the only way for overseas fans to enjoy TAKA’s work is through streaming and other digital routes like Spotify and YouTube.
This is a minor setback, but if I can give you a recommendation than Alpha999 would absolutely be it. I was introduced to TAKA’s work by a friend who lives in Japan, and even though I was a little hesitant at first, I actually ended up really liking his work.
UPDATE: As of late 2020 Alpha999 has opened their very own webshop! This means you can get physical copies of their work as well as merchandise straight from the source! The webshop does support overseas orders, even though it might not look like that at first glance. You can checkout with PayPal, which allows you to add a non-Japanese address. The shop is able to recognize this as an overseas order and process it as such.
I’ve written a more in-depth article about the shop, which you can read here.
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