A conversation with popular indie rock band End of the World
"The moment I lost everything I started music with friends who supported me over the years and I decided to start over again from the end," says End of the World.
Though just recently having come to the United States, the Japanese band End of the World is by no means a new band. The band - a four person group composed of Nakajin, Fukase, Saori, and DJ LOVE are memorable - which comes from years of experience (and serious acclaim) in the Japanese music scene. End of the World has had some pretty serious collaborations - working with artists like Owl City and Nicky Romero.
Recently, End of the World has come over seas - releasing music in English, in America, for the first time. They're first song - "One More Night" - has already received over 200,000 plays (and growing!) on Spotify. The song, a poppy, fun, summer anthem - has recently been remixed by several notable artists, which the band described saying "we are so excited to share a great series of "One More Night" remixes and the first one by Tep No is so refreshing, breezy, and cool - we absolutely love it."
I sat down with End of the World to talk about the band's origins, "One More Night", and what they have in store for us down the road.
INTERVIEW WITH END OF THE WORLD
So first I have to ask about the name - End of the World - how did you go about choosing the band's name?
In the course of my life, I was going through such a hard time that it felt like the world was ending for me. The moment I lost everything I started music with friends who supported me over the years and I decided to start over again from the end.
You guys have long been big in Japan, but recently released your first English single in America, "One More Night" - what made you decide to start releasing music and playing shows overseas?
We are born and raised in Japan but that shouldn't restrict the extent or countries where our music can live, we simply wanted to deliver our music to the world and to do that, switching the language to English was crucial.
How do you think that the Japanese and American music scenes are similar or different?
How people engage with music is very different meaning music plays different roles in different cultures since music is hugely impacted by the culture or the other way around.
In Japan it is a common practice to go to Karaoke with friends and they sing together that is the most common engagement with music in Japan. On the other hand, in western culture people dance to music as part of party / clubbing culture.
The demand for music depends on what people are looking for so naturally music scene differs for each culture but the love for music is definitely what we have in common.
Who are some of the biggest influences to your music?
We find inspiration in so many things and from so many artists it is hard to choose but from our recent interaction – we went into a studio with Clean Bandit and it was a quite memorable and influential session.
Who are some of the biggest influences to your on stage performances?
There is very fine line between being copying someone and being inspired by them. We have become extremely conscious in trying not to copy things, even with how amazing the performances can be. So I, in the good way, avoid watching other artists perform.
I loved the music video for "One More Night"! Can you tell us a little bit about the video, and what you guys were going for with it?
So we wanted to make a music video for this song and so we were looking a director to work with. Then Zac brought in this cool idea of the video and that was the love story of plastic bags. The beautiful thing in life. We thought it was pretty crazy idea at first but it was so loveable we were attached to it. Especially the last bit when they go into the bin-world dancing under the starry skies we thought it was so stylish and romantic. Not to mention DNCE to join us too, we happened to see each other the day before of the shoot and frankly asked if they would be interested and they were down for it. It was so much fun and they are amazing people.
Can we expect more music videos from you down the road?
We definitely want to make more fun videos you can all enjoy, when we have new song.
I also know you guys collaborated with Owl City in 2014 - how was that experience, and how did that all come to be?
OWL CITY was actually the first artist we collaborated with. We were fan of his music long before so we offered for the collaboration and it all just happened so quickly it was like a dream. He joined us on our show back home. Best memory ever!
I also have to ask DJ Love - what influenced your decision to perform in a clown costume?
The mask was originally Fukase's idea and he was meant to wear it but everyone stopped him so it came down to me. Being on the stage is definitely hard but since no one knew what I looked like without the mask, I have quite comfortable private life. It would be harder without the mask after all.
What can we expect from you guys down the road - more music, an album, touring?
In the near future, you can definitely expect more music. We will be releasing fantastic remixes and we would love to have some live performances this year. Really can't wait to announce some more exciting things!
Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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