Since it was announced in the summer of 2020 that Ladybeard was recruiting members for a new project, we have been waiting with bated breath to see what exactly would be born. Finally, BABYBEARD has revealed themselves, a unit combining all the cute stuff with heavy metal music!
We were lucky enough to snag them for an interview in order to get to know them a little better before the release of their first single “Nippon Kara Konnichiwa” on April 28.
Slide down to watch, listen, or read the interview!
Also available in audio form on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and more.
Jump to topic
- Introducing the new unit BABYBEARD! [00:00]
- Debut single “Nippon Kara Konnichiwa” [07:17]
- Idol and metal inspirations [10:37]
- What it means to be an idol [17:11]
- All things “kawaii”! [27:16]
Introducing the new unit BABYBEARD!
[00:00] Back to top
As BABYBEARD is a brand-new unit, could you please introduce yourselves to our audience?
Kotomi: My name is Kotomi, and my member color is blue. I love Doraemon!
Suzu: Hi, my name is Suzu! My member color is green, and I like bears, specifically teddy bears.
Ladybeard: And my name is Ladybeard, I am an Australian cross-dressing, pro-wrestler, and heavy metal singer living in Japan.
Would you mind telling everyone about the concept of BABYBEARD?
Ladybeard: So, let me explain, BABYBEARD is a brand new unit, Ladybeard’s brand new unit. They [Kotomi and Suzu] are a pair of babies. I am Ladybeard. Babies, plus Ladybeard, brought together in perfect harmony, in perfect synchronization makes BABYBEARD. Babies, beard, BABYBEARD! Argh!
Simple, easy to understand! I like it!
Ladybeard: Here’s what happens, let me explain what happens. As you can see, both these girls are adorable. Look at ‘em, little rays of sunshine. Look how cute they are.
Both these girls are wonderful singers, wonderful dancers, they are small angels to behold and I am not a small angel to behold at all. I am a large, skirted, bearded, dancing, screaming man. These two things together create a perfect, perfect product that every human in history deserves.
I agree. Although, I do think you’re an angel also.
Ladybeard: Oh that’s a very kind thing to say. I think you’re an angel.
Thank you very much! Could you tell us about the events leading up to the creation of BABYBEARD?
Ladybeard: So let me explain, I was in a group previously, in 2015, 2016. We released a song called Nippon Manju that you might have heard on the internets, a lot of people heard it, it was very, very popular. And since that time, it has become apparent to me that what the world wants to see from Ladybeard is: Ladybeard singing and screaming flanked by two adorable little Japanese girls singing and dancing.
Here’s what happened. We held an audition—it was a worldwide audition—candidates from all over the entire world tried out for it. We went through a first round of internet auditions, and then we got to a physical audition in Tokyo.
The first candidate through the door was Suzu. She walked in with a little sunshine smile, she lifted the energy of the room instantly. It was fantastic. We said, “We need that girl”. She set a very high bar, a very high standard for the rest of the audition candidates.
Later on, Kotomi came in. Kotomi is a fantastic dancer and a fantastic singer—she blew this audition right out of the water. Her TikTok account is a non-stop danceathon. She’s such a fantastic dancer. We said, “That one, that one, give us those two. This will complete the unity: BABYBEARD. ‘Cominatcha’ [coming at you]”.
What is it that you’re trying to achieve as a group?
SUZU: We really want to lift the spirits of everyone. We hope that the situation around the world calms down soon, so we can perform and send out good vibes in person as soon as possible!
Ladybeard: That’s right. Since we have very challenging times all over the whole world at the moment, what we’re really interested in doing is lifting the spirits of everyone. The events of the past year and a half or so, literally every human on the planet has been adversely affected to some extent. Spirits are not that high at the moment, so we really want to do something to see if we can lift global spirits a little bit with this group, mainly through adorableness and heavy metal. Kotomi, could you explain a little bit about Japanese culture?
Kotomi: Japanese culture… What kind of things do we have? [Laughs]
Ladybeard: You know, “kawaii” [cute] stuff!
Kotomi: Oh yeah! There are so many cute things in Harajuku. Even the food and the drinks, there’s a lot of pinks and light blues, there are so many pretty colors everywhere. It’s kind of the home of “kawaii”. We really want to introduce some of these things to all of you around the world. And if you like it, we’d love it if you came to Japan to see it for yourselves someday.
Ladybeard: Japan is a wonderful country with a fantastically vibrant pop culture—lots of color, lots of cuteness—and we feel the whole world needs a little bit more Japan on, in, and around their life.
What we’re trying to do is bring the wonderful things that we love about Japan to the world. Unfortunately, at this exact moment, we can’t do that physically, so we’re doing it through the magic of the internet waves! But, as soon as physical traveling and physical contact is possible, we’re coming at you!
I hope we get to see you first here in Japan and then we can share you with the rest of the world.
Ladybeard: Thank you very much, we hope so too. If they stop declaring a state of emergency, maybe one of these days that’ll be possible!
Debut single “Nippon Kara Konnichiwa”
[07:17] Back to top
Let’s talk a little about your debut single, “PIENNIZER” and-
Ladybeard: “PIENNIZER” is actually the B-side! The debut single is called “Nippon Kara Konnichiwa”! Suzu, could you explain “Nippon Kara Konnichiwa” please?
Suzu: Our debut single “Nippon Kara Konnichiwa” is a big “konnichiwa”, or “hello”, from us to you! We want to cheer everyone up, so please listen to it a whole bunch and take some of that power.
Ladybeard: Hello from Japan! We’re here in Japan, you’re out there in the world and we have a huge “hello” that we want to yell at you from Japan! We’re trying to bring all the energy, all the kindness, all the “genkiness” right at you with our first single on April 28. You can go to all the places where you normally stream your music! You can go to the Spotify-fy, you can go to the Apple McMusic, you can go to the Amazonian place where they play the music, and the other places where the streaming happens.
Let’s talk about PIENNIZER now! Kotomi! Please explain PIENNIZER!
Kotomi: Okay! So right now in Japan, there’s a popular word—which is also an emoji (🥺)—called “pien”. When something a little sad happens, or some kind of inconvenience happens, you make this face. But, even though sad things happen, or even though you’re not always going to enjoy things, tomorrow is another day. So PIENNIZER is about taking a positive attitude to life!
Ladybeard: When something sad happens, on a small scale, you say “pien”, so for instance, if you’re walking to the bathroom and you stub your toe?
Ladybeard, Kotomi, Suzu: Pien!
Ladybeard: If you hang up the laundry and then suddenly it starts raining?
Ladybeard, Kotomi, Suzu: Pien!
Ladybeard: If you’ve been doing interviews since 8 AM and you’re losing the ability to talk clearly and then you do something weird?
Ladybeard, Kotomi, Suzu: Pien!
Ladybeard: “Pien” is a very important word to the youth of Japan today, so we wrote a whole song about that! PIENNIZER, April 28, you can stream it at all the streaming places! Please give it a listen!
And we will be sure to listen! I’m really looking forward to hearing your first single Nippon Kara Konichiwa and the B-side, PIENNIZER!
Ladybeard: We are looking forward to performing these songs on stage. We are very enthusiastic about our live shows as we’ve already explained. As three dancing enthusiasts, we are very, very keen to get in front of some live audiences and get dancing—give you some energy, do a bit of shaky shake, a bit of dancey dance, a bit of screamy scream.
Idol and metal inspirations
[10:37] Back to top
Next is a question for all three of you. Where does your musical inspiration come from these days?
Kotomi: One of the songs that really inspires me is “Zenkai Kamiyado World” from a group called Kamiyado. This is the song that really got me into Japanese idol music. They’re so energetic and adorable. Please check it out!
Suzu: The song that inspires me is “Forever Young” by [the Korean pop group] BLACKPINK. Like the title says, it implies that everyone is forever young—Ladybeard, Kotomi, everyone here… everyone! It’s a really happy song and I love that. It has that kind of “I want to have a good time and live like I’m young forever”-feeling. I listen to it a lot!
Ladybeard: Suzu’s answer was potentially my favorite answer to an interview question that I’ve ever heard. That makes me so happy.
It was a really good response! How about yourself, Ladybeard?
Ladybeard: I’m a huge heavy metal fan. Ladybeard loves heavy metal and pop—both of those two things—so I’m inspired by artists such as Slipknot, Wednesday 13, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, and Sevendust. These bands have been very inspirational to me.
On the pop side, I like a lot of K-pop, lots of groups in the K-pop sphere actually. I very much like BLACKPINK, I really liked PRISTIN. There’s a dynamic to the whole Ladybeard thing. I’ve got the cutesy-cutesy, girly-girl on one side, and I’ve got the manly-man, screamy-scream on the other side, so these are the two forces that inspire me to become this.
Very nice, thank you very much. Kotomi, you gave us a Japanese artist, but Ladybeard and Suzu, are there any Japanese artists who inspire you?
Suzu: For Japanese idols, I love “Heavy Rotation” by AKB48. It’s a really fun song, and it really lifts the mood of anyone who listens to it.
Ladybeard: Oh, that’s a great choice. Personally, for Japanese artists, I’m a huge fan of a band called DEVILOOF. They’re a deathcore band. If you’re not sure what deathcore is, you can put “DEVILOOF” into the internet and you can enjoy what comes out.
Nice! Kotomi and Suzu, is this your first foray into metal or were you interested in metal before you joined BABYBEARD?
Kotomi: I love “Gimme Choco” by BABYMETAL. That part of the verse with the “A-ta-ta-ta-ta ta-ta”! It’s so cute! I’ve listened to them a lot.
Suzu: I hadn’t listened to metal before. But when I was chosen to join the group, I did a lot of research and listened to a lot of metal. And I’ve been getting more into it!
I’m really glad to hear that metal is having a positive influence on you both.
Ladybeard: I worry about both girls’ hearing going forward.
Earplugs are a thing. We should be using them but we don’t, so this is a PSA [Public Service Announcement] for everybody out there who’s gonna go to concerts once all the restrictions are lifted, once the live houses are open. Please purchase a pair of earplugs and save yourself from hearing damage in the future.
Otherwise, you’ll be standing in front of a speaker like, “Yeah!” And then you go home like, “Argh”!
Ladybeard: These poor girls have had to stand next to me for two days of press. We haven’t even made it to the guitars and the drums and things like that yet. It’s just me talking and I’m sure their ears are already sore.
It’s really good practice if nothing else!
Ladybeard: Hopefully, hopefully. [Pats Suzu’s and Kotomi’s shoulders] Thank you for always putting up with me.
Continuing on with questions about metal, before you became interested in it, did you have a particular idea or concept of what metal was?
Kotomi: Before I really knew what it was, my image of metal was the whole audience going crazy! Both the performers on the stage and the audience together actually, but I thought it seemed really fun!
Suzu: Before I knew more about metal, I thought there were a lot of bands with really cool members so I thought that we would be more that kind of a group. But we combine that “cool” part of metal with the sweetness of idol music, and it’s growing on me every day.
What it means to be an idol
[17:11] Back to top
Ladybeard, you have your roots in performance, wrestling, acting, and all kinds of things, but this is a question for all three of you. What is an idol to you?
Kotomi: What is an idol… I’m a really big idol fan in general. They give me strength, they heal me in a way, and make me forget about my troubles just by watching them perform. That’s the kind of image I have of idols.
Suzu: Idols to me are something that—like Kotomi said—make you forget about your troubles. They are a force that can transport you to a different world. Like, a place that feels totally different.
Ladybeard: The word “idol” really, since I’ve been in Japan and I’ve been exposed to Japanese idols and I’ve heard the word used to the way it gets used in Japan… My image before I came to Japan was small, cute girls, singing and dancing. But now that I’ve been here for a long time, the word “idol” actually encompasses a huge range of different performers and performance styles.
There are male, female, and transgender idols, heavy metal idols, hip-hop idols, bitcoin idols… there’s masked idols, children idols, old lady idols…. like it really is quite a vast term of expression so I don’t think I can say “Here’s what an idol is”. I think you need to come to Japan and spend some time experiencing idol culture for yourself!
Such excellent answers. What is it that drew you to become an idol? What was the thing that set you off on your journey to become what you are today?
Kotomi: So I love idols. I used to watch idols on stage and dream of standing up there myself. And then I passed the audition for this group!
Suzu: I love singing and dancing, and before I knew it, I found myself here!
Ladybeard: I’m a huge fan of heavy metal and also a huge fan of pop music, and when I came to Japan I was exposed to the idea of a Japanese idol for the first time. I thought Japanese idols were very, very cute and very, very adorable, contrasting with western pop music where the focus is commonly on “sexy sexy sexy”. The focus in Japan was much more on “cutesy cutesy” and I found that quite intriguing and that sort of led me into the idol world.
What is your favorite thing about being an idol?
Kotomi: The thing I’m happiest about is that I’m not just relying on me cheering myself on. For the first time, I have other people in my corner, rooting for me. I love singing and dancing so much, and I’m so thankful to be able to do it. I hope I can see you all in person soon!
Suzu: My favorite thing is that I can do what I love, which is to sing and dance. And, our outfits are super cute, right? I’m so happy to be able to wear something like this!
Ladybeard: These adorable costumes that we have were actually designed by a genius designer named Ono. You can see clearly our three-member image colors: blue, green, and pink. And we’re actually modeled on cupcakes! And that explains why we’re so sweet.
Oh, yeah it does! How about you, Ladybeard? What’s your favorite thing about being an idol?
Ladybeard: I like the singing, I like the dancing, I like the screaming and I think probably the best thing about it is the contact with the audience. Being live on the stage and actually having that contact with them is the most fun part of this job. But I think being an entertainer, at a certain level, you don’t know whether or not you’re actually providing any value to the world until you’re with the live audience. It’s only then you can actually see a natural reaction from the people you’re trying to provide emotional value to.
I think seeing that feedback from the audience is probably my favorite thing. Being with the fans and being able to do fan service, you know, hug them and look them in the eye and say “Thank you for supporting”. Because, if you guys don’t support this, then this doesn’t happen. I’m very, very, deeply grateful for that forever.
I think those would have to be my favorite things about being an idol.
That’s really sweet. Our next question is, who is your idol inspiration?
Kotomi: It would have to be Hina Koyama from Kamiyado. I can’t put it into words, but I’m really drawn to her.
Suzu: Jennie from BLACKPINK. I love Jennie! She’s cool, she’s cute… she’s like a goddess. She’s way too amazing.
Ladybeard: I think I’d say Corey Taylor from Slipknot, Lajon Witherspoon from Sevendust, and potentially Till Lindemann from Rammstein. I think you could make an argument that Rammstein is potentially an idol group, even though they’re clearly a heavy metal band, in what they do is almost opera. Opera is not idol, but there are corresponding elements. It’s character-driven, it’s performance-driven, personality-driven- maybe not? But there’s a lot of theatrics. You could make that argument but then again, maybe you couldn’t? I did a very bad job of making that argument just then, so maybe you couldn’t.
Great choices! I think maybe we could do some kind of podcast episode on whether or not Rammstein or idols later on.
Ladybeard: Do it please, do it. Please do it!
All things “kawaii”!
[27:16] Back to top
Do you have a kawaii word or phrase that you are really into right now?
Kotomi: “Paon”. It’s the next level of “pien”. Our new song PIENNIZER is obviously about “pien” but when that just doesn’t cut it, you can level up to “paon!” It goes a level above “pien”—it’s kind of a new word. Please try using it sometime!
Ladybeard: So Kotomi, you like “pien” and when “pien” doesn’t cut it, you can level up to “pyon”?
Kotomi: “Paon”! “Paon”.
Suzu: You know, like an elephant. “Paoon” [moves arms like an elephant’s trunk].
Ladybeard: Elephants don’t say “paon”, they say “brr”.
Elephants say “brr”?
Ladybeard: What do elephants say where you come from?
I don’t know… “paon”…? No, it’s like “brr!” wait it is “brr”!
Ladybeard: Yeah, they say “brr”! [To Kotomi] Sorry, our elephants say “brr”.
Ladybeard, Kotomi, Suzu: [Laughs]
Ladybeard: When “pien” doesn’t cut it, you can level up to “paon”! That’s the sound that a Japanese elephant makes. I didn’t even know that there were Japanese elephants until right now! Damn! Well, thanks teacher [Kotomi]. Thanks for the new information.
Suzu: I like the word “tsuratan”. “Ah, today, I’m feeling tsuratan”. It expresses that feeling of when you’re kind of tired, or you’re fed up. It’s a little bit less intense than “pien”. You’re not sad about whatever it is, but that kind of feeling, you know?
Ladybeard: Mine is “massugu itte kudasai”. Because I like the small “tsu”. We don’t have the small “tsu” in our language, do we? In Japanese, there’s a letter called “tsu” [つ] and when you have a small “tsu” [っ] it actually creates a pause in what you’re saying, so you do not say “masugu ite kudasai”, you say “ma-ssugu i-tte kudasai!”, and I’m a fan of that!
It’s a great phrase like, “Please go straight forward”.
Ladybeard: “Go straight forward”, yep!
We’re sticking with the theme of cute stuff. There’s a lot of days in Japan with very like cutesy, play on word kind of names like “nice knee-highs day” [November 28]. Or “meat day” [February 9], which is one of my favorites just because of the way it sounds.
Do you have a personal favorite one of these punny days?
Kotomi: Mine is February the 22nd, “nya nya nya no hi”! February 22. Nya nya nya!
Ladybeard: February 22 is cat day. “Nya nya nya” is the noise that cats make in Japan. You’ll notice that Japanese animals make different noises from everywhere else’s animals. Elephants say “paon” and cats say “nya” over here. So, 2/22 [February 22], “nya nya nya”, not “meow meow meow” so don’t get it confused.
Suzu: I like February 2. It’s twin-tails day here in Japan!
Ladybeard: Actually that’s my favorite day as well. So high five for twin tails. February 2.
[Ladybeard and Suzu highfive]
And there are many, many beautiful twin tails on display here today [Ladybeard, Kotomi, Suzu]! Super cute and everybody has really cute ribbons!
Ladybeard: Thank you, they’re very nice, aren’t they? Yay!
Thank you very much for your time today!
Ladybeard: That was fantastic, was great fun. Thank you everybody for paying attention, and don’t forget to go stream BABYBEARD: PIENNIZER and Nippon Kara Konnichiwa on streaming places, April 28! I love you!
Please leave a message for your fans overseas!
Kotomi: Until the day we finally meet, please listen to our songs a lot and get excited about what’s coming! Thanks so much!
Suzu: I’m so happy that you’ll finally be able to hear our songs! Listen to them a whole bunch and remember all the words so we can sing along together!
Ladybeard: We’re all gonna get pumped up and nail this thing as one communal unit! Get in there! Everybody listen! Everybody pay attention and then dance! If you don’t, Suzu won’t be happy and clearly, you want this adorable young lady to be happy?
I would like to say, everybody, thank you for your continuing support over the past seven years since I got to Japan. I’m really thrilled to be doing this work and I’m really happy that we can present BABYBEARD for you guys.
So everybody, please get to @Ladybeard_Japan on social media. Also, please go to the BABYBEARD social media accounts as well. Head there to do the liking or do the following.
Check it out! On April 28, we’ll start streaming. If you guys can listen to our songs in abundance, we’ll be thrilled, and the second the world enables it, we’re going to be traveling and we want to come and perform for you! So thank you for your support!
We’d like to thank BABYBEARD and Bold Inc. for taking the time to chat with us.
You’ll be able to check out their debut single Nippon Kara Konnichiwa and PIENNIZER on streaming services from April 28!