Alpha999 is the solo project from vocalist TAKA, and in the last few years we’ve already done an introduction-style interview, as well as an interview regarding the project “Lounge Room”, which TAKA and Syu started during the pandemic to keep fans -both local and worldwide- not only entertained, but also connected with each other during this difficult time. All through the magic of livestreaming through TwitCasting.
During those interviews we also talked about dreams and wishes TAKA had, and one of them was “to be able to perform in Europe”. A dream that finally became a reality in early October with a performance at Aki no Matsuri in Switzerland.
And you bet we took this opportunity to not just see his performance, but also to do an in-person interview to catch up after the pandemic. While TAKA is the main focus of this interview, we also invited Syu, the drummer from the 999’z support band, to join us because his influence has not only influenced TAKA’s actions in the recent years, they’ve also motivated him quite a bit!
As we just established in the introduction, this isn’t your first appearance on Arlequin Magazine, but it is our very first in-person interview this time! Since it’s been a while since our last written interview, could you please refresh the memories of the readers by introducing yourself once more?
TAKA: I am TAKA, and I am a vocalist. Alpha999 is my solo project.
In our previous interviews we’ve talked about what Alpha999 actually is already, but same for the previous question, can you refresh the memory of the readers one more time?
TAKA: Of course! I really love the stars, and the “alpha” part of the project’s name is actually the name of a certain star. But when I had to name the project officially I thought “Alpha” was too plain, plus in Japan there is this idea that bands with numbers in them somehow perform better. So I wanted to add a number. The number “9” is actually the “angel number”, so I decided to combine three 9’s and “alpha” together with the meaning of “to reach the stars”, or “to reach the top” if you will.
Aki no Matsuri – Your first steps overseas
One of the things we spoke about last time was the connection you wanted to make with fans from all around the world, which was one of the reasons “Lounge Room” was created during the pandemic, but right now the best way to strengthen that connection is through live shows. You’ve already played your very first overseas live show yesterday, so, what are your impressions so far?
TAKA: I was deeply moved. In Japan the restrictions regarding the pandemic are a lot stricter, so we all have to wear masks there still. Yesterday was the very first time I could perform like I am used to, free of all of these restrictions. Seeing the response the audience had to our performance really moved me.
Instead of a solo performance you were invited as an opening act to “Aki no Matsuri”, and I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen an event like this in Japan. What do you think about these “Japanese Culture Appreciation”-events held outside of Japan? Is the event anything like you imagined it would be?
TAKA: I really love it. When we play music we do it by ourselves, technically. So it made me really happy to learn that our music is known so far away from our home. I actually didn’t have any imagination or expectation of how this event would be, since I have never been to an event like this. Now I am here it’s “oh, so it is like this”, and there are so many impressions… But it has also motivated me to go to other countries in the future as well, and it made me very happy that I was able to come here.
I’m very sorry for this answer by the way (laughs), I’m just really struggling to put my feelings into words!
Syu: I also told him: “Don’t think, just feel!”.
雪 (Yuki): It’s actually a little strange to be here for us as well, because this event is set up differently than we’re used to in our home country.
TAKA: Oh! So you’re experiencing a bit of a culture shock yourselves then?
雪 (Yuki): A little bit, yes!
Syu: I was at AnimeCon in The Netherlands in 2017, with G.L.A.M.S, and I can confirm, it’s indeed a completely different event than Aki no Matsuri!
Alpha999 is your solo project, but for this performance you brought the full lineup in the form of the 999’z member-support band. Of course you wanted to show the audience the “full potential” of an Alpha999 live show, but sometimes you also do live performances with part of the lineup. What are some of the problems or restrictions you run into when you don’t play with a full lineup?
TAKA: I wanted to come as a group with five members, because that’s my preference. With two guitars on stage you have a different sound that is much “bigger” and has a much stronger influence. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean I can always come as a five-members band. For this show, the very first live show overseas, I really wanted to come with the full lineup to show the audience overseas our best performance!
Growing your overseas audience even more
Since our last interview you’ve also taken other steps to reach more fans, both local and internationally. You’ve created a TikTok account, next to your already existing YouTube account for example. But do you actually notice a difference now you’ve started to upload to these accounts?
TAKA: I do believe that they are helping. I am doing cover songs as well as songs I really like and post them to these accounts. And since I have started uploading to them more I have also seen that the number of followers is going up. So I really think that being active on these accounts is making a difference, yes!
I’ve already hinted to this in the introduction to the interview, but during the pandemic you started “Lounge Room” together with Syu. This project was really unique at that time and made the “Alphamily” even closer despite the distance between us all. Do you plan to continue these online broadcasts in the future now the world has opened up again though?
TAKA: “Lounge Room” was built during the pandemic, when it was impossible to do any live shows or interact with fans in person. We wanted to show the fans that despite these restrictions we had not forgotten about them, and have some fun ourselves along the way. Because the world has opened up again “Lounge Room” has now ended, but we might do something like this again in the future. Right now I really don’t know about that yet.
Another international step you took was opening the official Alpha999 webshop, which also ships internationally. But aside from the webshop, are there any other ways for fans to find and support your music?
TAKA: For physical CDs and other goods it’s only the webshop or the merchandise table during live shows right now, but you can also find my music digitally on iTunes, Apple Music, Line Music and Spotify. All of these methods help you support me and my work!
Future plans – or rather, Dreams
It’s almost time to wrap up this interview already, so let’s look forward to the future. Do you have any plans you can tell us about already?
TAKA: I really want to play on a big stage… 日本武道館 (Nippon Budokan) specifically.
雪 (Yuki): You still haven’t achieved this yet, that’s true. I remember you telling me about this in previous interviews.
TAKA: It’s still my wish, and it hasn’t come true yet indeed. So I am still dreaming about it. But I will continue to do music regardless, of course. I believe that “if I keep telling myself it will happen, it will”. It’s actually the same for being here right now. I really wanted to play a show overseas, and now I’m here! If I keep saying it out loud it will eventually happen!
雪 (Yuki): I think that a lot of people will benefit from this mindset, myself included. So let’s keep wishing, and eventually all our wishes will come true!
Unfortunately we’ve reached the last question of the interview this time already, and you’ve probably guessed by now what I’m going to ask, right? Do you have a message for everyone reading the interview?
TAKA: I want people to get in touch with music. It’s not important how you do so, it’s just important that you do!
Syu: I really wanted to come to Europe again, and I am very grateful that I could come with Alpha999 this time. I will continue to work hard to come back again in the future!
As TAKA already mentioned in his interview, the only way to support him from overseas is through his own webshop and through various streaming platforms. And even though it might not look like his webshop is able to process orders from overseas, it’s certainly able to don’t worry!
At the moment it doesn’t look like a new release is in the works, mostly because he seems to focus on growing his audience through YouTube, TikTok and of course Twitter, as well as live shows in Japan. These live shows are often broadcasted through TwitCasting as well, so keep an eye on his Twitter accounts, or of course us here at Arlequin Magazine, for the next steps in TAKA’s career!
Live photos at Aki no Matsuri
Next to an interview we also took photos at the live show of Alpha999 at Aki no Matsuri.
You can find these photos on our portfolio, Arlequin Photography, by clicking on the image below!
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.