It has been almost a year since the pandemic hit, and I don’t think I have to explain you how bad the situation is for everyone in all corners and occupations all over the world. But because of the subject we usually talk about here I’d like to limit ourselves to the categories of “musicians” and “fans” for now.
Because there are no (or very, very limited) live shows it’s very difficult for musicians to keep in touch with their audience, and a lot of them have been trying hard to find new and unique ways to not only keep in contact, but also to entertain their fans as best as possible during this time. Most artists have chosen the digital route with online activities like chats, livestreaming of shows or even playing video games. Basically, there’s quite a bit out there if you’re looking for something to watch!
I’ve already hinted at this here and there, but it’s finally time to talk about a rather unique project in the “digital TV guide” that is the internet right now…
TAKA and Syu have teamed up for a unique project together: “Lounge Room” (and occasionally “Lounge Radio”, but we’ll get to that part later).
But what exactly is “Lounge Room”, and what makes it unique opposed to what other artists are doing? Well, let me tell you. Or actually, let TAKA and Syu themselves tell you!
I asked the guys a couple of questions about their project, since of course the creators can explain their projects a lot better than an outsider, right? What exactly is “Lounge Room”, and most importantly, how can you join one of the livestreams? Let’s get right into it!
Of course I can paint a picture on what Lounge Room is from my perspective, but I think it’s more interesting to ask you how you would introduce this project yourselves?
TAKA: Lounge Room is a digital distribution of a program created by two musicians (artists) named TAKA and Syu. We like to entertain, and we don’t want to limit that to just our fans. We want to entertain people from all over the world through this online platform.
Syu: At the same time we hope a lot of people will be able to take this opportunity to get to know us through Alpha999. As an added advantage anyone from anywhere in the world can join our livestreams anytime.
Why did you start Lounge Room? Was it because of the pandemic, or did you want to do this before for a different type of connection with fans already?
TAKA: The main reason is of course this global pandemic caused by COVID-19. Due to this difficult situation we can’t have any musical activities and plans like we normally would. And as you know, we also can’t meet with fans like we’d used to do before.
Syu: We talked a lot about what we could do because of this situation. After a lot of discussion, the idea of Lounge Room was born in April of last year. Even if our “stage” has changed, we want to continue to save this place and keep our audience entertained every time.
You do a lot of different things like information about certain topics, games and just chatting, but how do you decide what to do when? Or does the audience help you choose by telling you what they like more?
TAKA: We usually have a meeting at the beginning of every month about the program for each livestream, but the plans are usually upgraded daily. It’s important for people to have fun. We always think about the details of each program and aim to make it better every single time.
Syu: Sometimes we also ask the audience about what to do in the next program during our livestreams. In fact, some of the programs are created entirely by fans. But either way, we are very particular about each program.
Lounge Room takes place on TwitCasting, which is a very popular streaming platform in Japan, but not so much overseas. What made you choose TwitCasting instead of YouTube (which is far more popular worldwide)?
Syu: The main theme for Lounge Room is “Live Distribution”. If our streams are not in real time but will be a recorded program instead we will choose YouTube for them instead.
TAKA: TwitCasting was more fitting with our plans and purposes. Of course we are also planning for new shows as musicians TAKA & Syu on YouTube in the future.
Lounge Room is almost exclusively in Japanese, but you also welcome foreign fans because Syu can translate English to Japanese for everyone else. But would you like more foreigners to join as well? Even if they don’t speak or understand Japanese? Wouldn’t that make it more difficult for both you and the Japanese fans who participate in the chat?
TAKA: Of course we want more and more foreign people to know about and join Lounge Room. The main language we use during streaming is Japanese yes, but even if you can’t understand Japanese we always try to make the show fun for everyone to enjoy regardless.
Syu: Don’t worry! As you already said, I can translate English for you guys! xD
I hope foreigners will like Lounge Room, and of course like us too. It’s going to be a lot of happiness.
Is there something you still want to do with Lounge Room? Like a certain game, or something else that you haven’t been able to do before?
TAKA: Actually, we’ve already done some real music live shows in Lounge Room. We’re also planning other new live shows for the future which will be announced very soon. And of course we also want to do streams that don’t have the “stay home” theme like we have now, so instead of from our own homes we will stream at special places.
Syu: Like for example, what do you think about the idea of Syu streaming live from Europe and TAKA from Japan? By the way, the first time we’ll make a live broadcasting at a “special location”, in this case the recording studio, will be on February 10! It will be one of the new challenges for Lounge Room.
As a last question, do you have a message for everyone reading this mini-interview?
TAKA: I can understand that you guys are all very tired of this global pandemic due to COVID-19 very well. So am I. Lounge Room was started as a way to live and walk with everyone in this difficult situation.
Of course my main project is Alpha999. Music is always the most important activity in my life, and I think Lounge Room links in with this very well. I hope this will be the start of the world knowing TAKA as an artist and Alpha999. So please join and follow our livestreams, we always try our best for each program!
Syu: First of all, I hope you guys are fine. I miss you guys so much. The world has changed a lot in a year. I can’t meet with my family or friends and I haven’t been able to go back to my hometown in almost a year now. Almost all of my live performances and musical activity has been canceled or postponed, and all of that in just one year. Nobody knows how the world will go on from now.
Lounge Room was born in this desperate situation, and I really appreciate TAKA. He asked me to do this program with him from the very beginning, and now it has become our necessary activity. At Lounge Room you can feel and understand it as well.
Let’s meet again someday, in your countries and cities. Stay safe!
What exactly is “Lounge Room”?
Of course the guys have explained this themselves already, but “Lounge Room” was created as a way to keep in touch and entertain fans. While the main language is Japanese (because only one of the guys understands English) their goal is to entertain regardless. No matter where you’re from. Their way of achieving this is to create a relaxed, laid back (hence the name “lounge room”) environment in which they not only chat with their audience, but also talk about interesting topics and play “party” games the chat can join in on too. And even though TAKA’s main project is still Alpha999, it’s definitely not the center point of “Lounge Room”!
(Remember, it’s definitely not mandatory to participate, if leaning back and watching things unfold is more your style, that’s just as welcomed!) Occasionally there will be a translator in the chat who will help by providing English translations for what is going on in Japanese. Unfortunately this is not a permanent thing, but on the English version of the Lounge Room schedule you can check when a translator will be present.
Fun fact: TAKA used to be part of a radio show called “DOUBLE BILLION” (which aired for about a year), so he’s definitely not a stranger to this kind of entertainment. Something that really shows in “Lounge Radio” in particular, but it also shows in “Lounge Room” very well. Combine this with Syu’s outgoing personality and wide range of interests and you have a duo that’s set up for success!
“Lounge Radio” is very similar to “Lounge Room”, but the main difference is that the guys use a so-called “face cam” during “Lounge Room”, but don’t do so during “Lounge Radio”. The latter is more an interactive podcast style which doesn’t involve games, but this doesn’t mean the interaction is any less!
Like mentioned several times already, TAKA and Syu have chosen TwitCasting for their livestreaming project “Lounge Room”.
TwitCasting is a very popular streaming platform in Japan, most likely due to it’s connection with Twitter, which easily is the most popular social media platform in Japan (other than LINE). Compare it a little to Twitch, if you want. The style and setup is somewhat similar, but of course there are some key differences. You can sponsor creators by giving them presents, but it’s also partially up to you how long the creators can stream. Every 30 minutes you can gift the streamers coins to extend their broadcast, which can last up to 4 hours in total. So it’s a very interactive platform. Or you can ignore all of these features and just enjoy the show. It’s entirely up to you!
“Lounge Room” is quite popular among Japanese fans, so you can expect their broadcasts to go all the way to the 4 hours limit. This of course doesn’t mean you have to stay for 4 hours, but you’re more than welcome to drop in and leave anytime you want.
Additionally the entire TwitCasting website is available in English, so you don’t have to struggle or guess what every option or link means if you’re not familiar with the Japanese language.
You can sign up for TwitCasting with your Twitter account, it’s basically as simple as logging in with your Twitter account, and everything else is already set up for you. Your username on Twitter and your avatar will carry over automatically (and changes you make to these on either platform will be mirrored on the other), and you can change the settings to your own personal wishes.
In short: you don’t have to bother remembering another username and another password, because you can just use your Twitter account.
You can find TwitCasting through the following link: https://twitcasting.tv/
How can I join “Lounge Room”?
As I explained already, “Lounge Room” takes place on TwitCasting exclusively. So all you need to do is log in with your Twitter account and you’re good to go.
From there you can either search for TAKA’s account (Alpha999_TAKA) in the search bar or follow the following link: https://twitcasting.tv/alpha999_taka?r6060
The days the guys stream vary, but are determined at the start of the month. They always publish a schedule on their social media, and on the days they they do stream they post an update to their accounts as well to remind you in case you have forgotten.
You can view the schedule for February through the photo to the right (click on the image to enlarge it and make it easier to read!). Every month the schedule is updated to reflect dates and times for the current month of broadcasts, and you can find this schedule on Arlequin Magazine here as well.
All times on the schedule are based on the Japanese and Central European time zones, so you might have to do a little bit of converting to find what time each broadcast takes place for you.
Syu already mentioned it in the interview, but let me bring this up one more time: he understands English so he can (and will) translate your comments in English to Japanese for the rest of the chat and TAKA.
The guys spend a lot of time on making each livestream unique and fun even for the ones that don’t speak Japanese (very well). So I can only recommend you to join, at least once, to experience it for yourself!
As an additional bonus, the very next “Lounge Room” after this article goes up is actually a very special one. Instead of their usual “stay home” setup the guys will do their stream from the recording studio, creating a lot more possibilities for this particular broadcast. You definitely don’t want to miss this one!
雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind Arlequin Magazine & Photography.
She started in 2009 as a photographer with Arlequin Photography, but due to a growing interest in journalism, translation and behind-the-scenes work in general the project burst out of it's seams in 2021 and expanded through the addition of Arlequin Magazine.
雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker and maintains both the English and Dutch sections of both Magazine and Photography with original content, translations and photography as well as all the behind-the-scenes work for both websites.
She speaks Dutch, English, Japanese and German.