NECRONOMIDOL is an idol unit with many unique qualities that make them stand out, especially among the cookie-cutter performers we normally come across. Describing themselves as an “ultra-dark” unit, there is a clear influence from black metal, darkwave, among many other genres.
Of course, it’s not only the music that is unique, but the outlook and personalities of the members themselves that play a big part in it. Despite a big lineup change last year, we would fairly quickly notice during the interview that the new members were excellent additions.
With an immense international focus, the group mentioned that they were the “first Japanese idol group to go outside of Japan on tour”, expressing their role as the vanguards of idols. And thanks to their determination, fans across Europe and the UK were able to meet NECRONOMIDOL once again at this year’s Europe tour, “cursebreaker tour 2021”.
The interview was conducted back in October with the four members Himari, Nana, Meica, and Malin. However, at the time of publishing, member Nana has unfortunately requested to step down from her role due to recent “inappropriate photos” that surfaced on social media.
First of all, welcome back to Europe and Sweden!
Himari: [In English] Thank you so much!
You only arrived the other day, but have you been able to enjoy any sightseeing or visited any cool spots yet?
Nana: I was able to visit Stockholm’s only scramble crossing, which made me quite happy [laughs].
That comes as a surprise because we actually didn’t know there was one in Sweden [laughs].
Himari, Nana, Meica, Malin: Oh!
The main concert tonight hasn’t happened yet, but you’ve already held an unofficial pre-show performance, how was it?
Meica: Everyone in the crowd was getting really into the music and it was a very enjoyable show. It was fun.
Since this is the second time for Himari to visit Sweden as NECRONOMIDOL. How does it feel?
Himari: Last time when we came over it was to perform at “NärCon” which is the biggest Japanese culture, anime, and gaming convention in Sweden. So, I really felt that there were a lot of people in Sweden who love Japanese culture and that was a really great experience. I was really happy to see that.
But this time coming over, we’re playing just a solo show, only as NECRONOMIDOL. So, we’re getting a chance to experience a bit more of actual Swedish culture, like seeing some very traditional Swedish cafés, seeing Stockholm the city itself, and getting a really good feel for the age and history behind the real cultural Sweden.
That’s great to hear! We all know that we’re currently in a pandemic, but what pushed you to still go ahead with the European tour?
Malin: In this situation, we’re actually the first Japanese idol group to go outside of Japan on tour. And so, when I heard that—even in the midst of all that—we were going to be leaving the country and going international, I said “We got to do it!”, “We have to do our best”.
Himari: Our producer told us “That’s just the NECRONOMIDOL way. We need to be the vanguard and continue to go international, to go abroad”. Of course, we still thought about everybody’s safety, health, and all the different concerns that could come along with that. But even then, we just really had to go for it.
That’s very progressive of you.
Even though that’s just the “NECRONOMIDOL way”, we assume there must still have been worries floating around your heads?
Nana: To be honest, we had some concerns and we were worried. Nonetheless, I was so happy that we would finally be able to go on an international tour. That overrode any kind of concerns or worries I had about the other details [laughs].
Meica: In Japan right now the fans aren’t allowed to sing along or to actually use their voices in shows at all. Knowing that, I was a bit concerned that even if we were able to go overseas, would our fans be able to really get into it, would they really be able to enjoy the shows?
We’ve seen some concerts in Japan where they use rubber chickens to make noises since they aren’t allowed to cheer [laughs].
[Nana makes rubber chicken sounds]
So, let’s talk a bit about you as a group. The group itself has been in existence since 2014, but the current lineup is quite new. Would you mind telling me each of your strengths that build up NECRONOMIDOL?
Malin: My voice is very low and it’s not a cute voice, so that’s my strength [laughs].
It’s quite unique among the group.
Malin: Ah, I’m not sure if that’s a compliment [laughs].
We would believe it is [laughs]
Malin: Ah if that’s the case, I humbly thank you [laughs].
How about you, Meica, what are your strengths?
Meica: A lot of my parts are higher and I’m good at harmonizing. So I’m glad that I’m able to fill those areas in the songs.
I see, how about Nana?
Nana: For now, my strength is dance [laughs].
Himari: I’m currently the member who’s been in the group the longest, so I have about four years of experience. I really understand what makes NECRONOMIDOL the group it is and so, I’m able to express the core of NECRONOMIDOL on stage.
Do you guys have any comments about each other’s strengths? Anything that stands out?
Nana: For Himari, when she’s off-stage when she’s got a little bit of private time, she’s a little bit cuter and enjoys things a little more [laughs].
When she gets on stage Himari’s personality completely switches and she really takes up that leadership position, kind of like, “follow me”. And so, ever since I’ve joined the group I have really felt supported by everyone and supported by Himari’s presence on stage.
That’s quite tough. How do you feel about the responsibility?
Himari: Mentally and emotionally I’m really not that strong. I’m always trying to carry myself with a sense of responsibility. However, lately, I’ve been trying to not take that too heavily and take it a little bit more lightly, because the group members and the people we’re working with are all really kind. So I’m trying not to be too hard on myself.
That’s a relief.
Himari: [Laughs] Thank you!
NECRONOMIDOL’s concept is quite the opposite of the typical cheerful idol groups. What made you want to join NECRONOMIDOL?
Malin: When I was thinking about joining, I actually wanted to join a darker group. For NECRONOMIDOL I checked out the songs and choreography online, and I thought “There are cute songs, there are also cool songs and the choreography is almost like a stage play”. There was a lot of depth and that was the sort of group I really wanted to join. So for me, this was exactly the kind of group I wanted to be a part of [laughs].
Would you be uncomfortable in a cheerful “genki” idol group?
Malin: I think coming from where I am right now, I would [laughs].
Meica: I like idol groups as a hobby, so I had seen NECRONOMIDOL performing at an idol festival in Japan before. I knew the songs, seen the stage before, and seen the lives before, so I thought NECRONOMIDOL was a really cool group.
Normally, the kind of groups I like personally are a little bit brighter and more colorful, but if I was going to be performing as an idol myself, then I would rather be in a “cool” group as opposed to that [bright and colorful] sort of group.
Would you mind telling us what idol groups you’re into?
Meica: One of them would be the popular group Maneki Kecak, they’re the type of “bright” and “sparkly” kind of idol group.
As NECRONOMIDOL is quite dark, would it be wrong to describe the group a little “menhera” [Japanese slang for “Mental Health”]?
Himari: Personally, I wouldn’t consider NECRONOMIDOL a menhera group, especially with the current lineup right now. The members are really bright, really kind and they’re really forthright and direct. They’re not really the menhera type of character.
For myself, I’m a menhera monster [laughs]. But for the group as a whole, it’s a dark-themed group, but it’s not really menhera.
I see, thank you for clarifying that! Let’s talk about your latest album “vämjelseriter”. First of all, how do you pronounce this Swedish-inspired name [laughs]?
[Himari struggles to pronounce “vämjelseriter” in Swedish]
Himari: [In English] Our new album is in Swedish, please teach me!
But how about in katakana [laughs]?
Ah, that would be “Vuamuieruseriteru” (ヴアムイエルセリテル).
How did you decide on the name?
Himari: Hm… That’s a good question because I would also like to know [laughs].
Ricky (producer): It’s based on “The Doom That Came to Sarnath” [A fantasy short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft in 1920]. In that story, there is a phrase called “rites of detestation”—rituals to detest or to bring down something.
Actually, I asked my associate Paul [from “Swedish-Japanese Performers Association” who helped organize today’s concert] if he could give me a good Swedish translation, because a lot of the music is influenced by Swedish music and we felt a very strong connection to Swedish musical culture. So, I wanted to have that phrase in Swedish for the title of the album.
Considering all of this, do you feel connected to Sweden in some way?
Himari: This is something I thought and felt over this interview, but as NECRONOMIDOL goes overseas, there are quite a few local staff or people in each country that help us along the way.
For example, in this case, somebody that we met as part of an international tour [in Sweden 2019], was also able to work with us to come up with the title for an album. Seeing these kinds of connections and relationships born is something that only NECRONOMIDOL can do. International touring is really a great experience.
We have to of course also talk about the album artwork, what’s going on there?
Himari: We saw the artwork when it was already done so we didn’t really have any feedback on getting it made.
When we saw the finished work, at first glance the girl was super cute. But although the artwork looks cute, within the boundaries of cute—just like with our songs—there are feelings that you are unable to display to others within it. However, these are things you can show in music because that is what music does.
As for Nana, are you able to connect to the artwork somehow?
Nana: It’s very similar to what Himari said, you look at the artwork and there’s this girl performing a ritual. I’ve never performed a ritual myself so I’m not exactly sure what kind of emotions go into that. I guess there’s got to be some hatred and some darkness? I’m also not quite sure what the ritual is.
However, somebody might buy the album because of the cute artwork and get hit with the contrast. The darkness, the strength, and the power through the music that you might not have been expecting. I think it’s a good gateway into the music contained within the album.
We actually found ourselves in a similar situation around 2018 when NECRONOMIDOL’s single “Strange Aeons” was released, with the coupling artwork illustrated by Uziga Waita [well-known horror manga artist, responsible for “Mai-chan’s Daily Life” and “Death Panda”]. That caught our attention and that’s how we learned about you guys.
Himari: Oh! The gross artwork [laughs].
[Laughs] Yeah, exactly. But going back to your latest album “vämjelseriter”, what did you want to convey with this album? Because it does not only include new songs, but also re-recordings of your older songs.
Himari: Last year we had a big lineup change and after that lineup change, the first song that we put out was TUPILAQ, that’s also the first song on the album. And then the last song for that lineup was Ritual, which also became the last song in the album. We had a very NECRONOMIDOL-centric music video that came out for that as well.
I thought the overall flow of the album was very much showing “This is the direction the group is going to go in”. As in, “This is the direction NECRONOMIDOL is headed as an idol unit”.
And talking about some of the older songs that are on there, a lot of them were songs that maybe fans weren’t expecting. It was kind of surprising, but also, through the choice of those songs, it was showing that as a group, we’re going to respect the past and treat it with the kind of reverence it deserves. Although, still, move forward boldly into a new era.
It’s kind of like a symbol of what NECRONOMIDOL is and what they’re trying to pursue?
Himari: Yes, that’s right.
Off the album, could you choose a song that would describe the current state of the world today [in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic]?
Himari: I would probably choose the song Ritual because the whole situation is almost like the effects of a ritual, kind of like setting the world aflame [laughs]. The lyrics are probably a good fit too.
There’s a really wide variety of styles and instruments to explore in the album. What is the idea behind expressing yourself through so many genres?
Himari: From the members’ standpoint, even we don’t really know why there are all these genres in there. However, from my standpoint, I think that having all of these genres means that there are many different entrances, many opportunities to connect with the group.
For the newer members, were there any songs that got you into wanting to join NECRONOMIDOL?
Nana: When I was thinking about joining the group, I came from a position where I didn’t really know anything about the group itself, but I looked on YouTube and the first song that came up was Ithaqua. To be honest, my first reaction was “Wow, that looks really cold!” but as I started listening to it, I realized that the song was really good.
When I checked out the group live, they performed Ithaqua that day and I thought it was a really cool song to perform on stage. I wanted to be a part of that.
Malin: Similar to Nana, I saw the music video for Ithaqua and I thought this is a cool group that really put their lives on the line for art. Seeing Himari on stage, you can see how she gives her all in the choreography and the power she outputs. I thought this is the kind of group I want to join!
Meica: I saw SKULLS IN THE STARS and thought it would be really amazing to be able to do that song on stage because the fans really get into it. It’s a great feeling, so I would like to be on stage with the other members performing that.
Were live shows the catalyst for you wanting to join the group?
Nana: When I was thinking about joining the group, I was in that position where I may or may not get chosen, as I had recently gone through the audition process.
This was before coronavirus put all the restrictions on shows but, when the members came out on stage, the fans kind of just went right up to the front of the stage. The fans were really into it, and I thought “wow”, that looks like a lot of fun. That’s exactly the kind of group that I want to be a part of.
As we’ve talked a lot about your past, let’s look forward instead! NECRONOMIDOL has for a long time focused on a worldwide expansion. Can you tell us why that is important to you?
Malin: We kind of don’t just want to stop in Japan, we want to take the dark power with us globally [laughs].
Himari: Unlike a lot of other groups, our producer for NECRONOMIDOL is not Japanese and so we’re able to have a deeper connection with international promoters. We’re using that strength to our advantage.
That’s the power of Ricky [NECRONOMIDOL’s producer]!
Moving forward, what is NECRONOMIDOL’s long-term goal?
Himari: The one phrase that I hear a lot about NECRONOMIDOL is “The one and only group with this type of atmospheric world”. So we’re able to use that as a strength and to perform at music festivals in Japan but also internationally.
To be able to use the strengths of having a non-japanese producer allows us to really take that “one and only world” and spread it to as many people as possible.
Please share a final message to your overseas fans!
Malin: I’m just so thankful that there are a lot of fans out there, even though they’re not able to see or meet us in person. They’re still really supporting the group from afar, whether that’s online via social media or other mediums. I’m just really thankful for all those fans out there.
Meica: There are a lot of fans that up until now we’ve only known through social media. So it’s great to finally be able to go abroad and meet a lot of them in person and actually speak with them face-to-face. It’s a great opportunity.
Nana: It’s been a year and a half where we haven’t been able to go overseas and international people haven’t been able to come to Japan. But for people to still remember my name, to remember our names. Not only that, to come to the shows and really encourage us, send us words of encouragement in person or online. I really appreciate that.
Himari: I have been to Europe a few times before and had the chance to meet some of the fans I previously met, as well as people who became fans of us during the period we didn’t go abroad.
During the same period that the world has been going through a lot of changes, the group has been going through a lot of changes as well. Even in the midst of all of that, to have fans say that they’re still really supporting the group, supporting the members, that they’re waiting for us, is such an encouragement.
I really look forward to the post-coronavirus world where things are even more open, freer, and we can really get back and meet people more and have even more exciting shows in the future.
It was a pleasure to speak with NECRONOMIDOL and hope they’ll continue to dominate more parts of the world! We’d like to extend our gratitude to “Swedish-Japanese Performers Association” for organizing the show.
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