On March 17th, 2018, Seishun Youth Academy, Canadian sister
group of Seishun Gakuen, debuted as a group at Harumatsuri
2018. Seishun Youth Academy recently celebrated their first
anniversary by performing for a crowd of 115 people at one of
Vancouver’s most historic and famous music venues, The Biltmore
Yes Tiger! had the opportunity to attend the anniversary live and
interview the members of Seishun Youth Academy about the
amazing feats they have accomplished over the span of just one year!
(If you have not already seen it, be sure to watch the 1st anniversary recap by CatMonkey Photography! It’s pretty cool!)
So Harumatsuri 2018 was where it all started. I remember watching the
footage the day after the event when it was uploaded to Youtube. At that
time, it was just Ally, Sally, Stella, and Jessica performing. We were really
impressed with the quality of your first public performance, as were many of
those who had their eye on you all. Looking back on that performance
now, what do you believe is the #1 thing you all have improved on
over the course of this first year in terms performance?
We’ve definitely been able to improve our performances through practice and stage experience over the past year. Our performances involve our fans participation much more now and are more interactive. We’ve also been able to improve on the way we do our “aori”, or chants to guide the audience on how to participate during performances. It was hard at first because fans didn’t understand what we were doing, so we found that we had to come up with other ways to get the audience to participate. On top of that, we were still just a new group and hadn’t had much time together yet, so we feel that you can definitely see the bonds between us on stage now that we have experienced and overcome many challenges altogether.
Fast forward to September of 2018, Seishun Youth Academy had their
first solo live alongside Seishun Gakuen producer, SHUN. We were able
to attend that live, as well as interview you all the day leading up to the live.
You all were really excited to perform alongside SHUN for the first time (for
some of you). Ally and Sally, how did it feel being able to perform
alongside SHUN again, but this time in Canada?
For those of you that performed alongside him for the first time, how
was it? Was it anything like you were expecting?
It was very emotional for us. We never thought that we would be able to have the opportunity to perform with SHUN in Canada, so it was a very special moment. It might be hard to understand, but we felt much closer to SHUN on stage here than when we were in Japan. For the other members, they were confused at first with how to address SHUN, since they have never had a mentor-student relationship such as the one that we each have with SHUN, and to make things even more difficult, SHUN doesn’t speak English. Despite that, they were able to communicate and grow a close bond, and we were able to gain a lot of valuable experience from him.
Back during SHUN’s first visit to Canada, you all had the opportunity to work alongside him and record. Was that your first time recording music? Can you share with us what the process was like?
Technically, no, it wasn’t our first time recording as Seishun Youth Academy, but it was our first time recording together with SHUN. Recording with SHUN is always really nerve-wracking at first, but he’s very supportive and there are actually a lot of laughs. It really helps having his direction, and we find that after going through the recording process with him, that we’re able to sing the song in a totally new way afterwards.
YT!: At the end of the first solo live, you all announced the date for your
second solo live. The next time however, SHUN would not be there to
perform. How did that make you all feel when you were preparing for
the 2nd solo live?
We felt a lot more exposed during our second solo concert, but more than anything, we wanted to show our value as a group and prove ourselves to fans here and the management in Japan. We felt that at our first solo concert, some fans might have been coming to see SHUN and not so much us, so we wanted to show that we could sell out our second solo concert and that we were just as strong, even without SHUN.
Closer to the time of the event, you all announced you would have a
surprise, returning guest! It was Mickey, member of Qupasar (Seishun
Gakuen’s dansou unit)!
How was it seeing Mickey again? Do any of you have any special or
funny memories with Mickey that you would like to share?
Everyone was really surprised to see Mickey since we kept it a secret from all the members. When Mickey jumped out at the last practice right before the concert, everyone started crying! He brought a lot of renewed energy to us, so we were all really happy. We have a lot of special memories with Mickey, especially when we had a sleepover and made Rice Krispie squares and Kraft Dinner together!
At the end of the first solo live, you all announced that SHUN would be
writing your very first Seishun Youth Academy exclusive song! One couldn’t
even begin to imagine how great of an honor that truly was for you all. By
the 2nd solo live, the song was finished and performed for the first time for
everyone to hear! What was everyone’s reaction to SYA’s first exclusive song, “World’s Friend”?
The first time we heard “World’s Friend” was two weeks before our second solo concert where we would be performing it at. When we listened to it altogether, we were absolutely stunned and started crying. Not only was the song about our story, but the melody and the progression of the song blew us away… We felt that it was an epic, almost “final” song rather than our first. We were all super honoured to receive such a song, and even more excited to be able to perform it for everyone.
On the topic of music, fans of SYA and Seishun Gakuen heard some
great news from you all at the beginning of 2019!
Ally&Sally’s recorded version of “Message.” will be released after
successfully completing the like and share campaign on Facebook! Not
only that, but also the fact that Seishun Gakuen albums, Seishun☆Wasshoi and Chikara no Kagiri!!!!!, were being released worldwide for
streaming on Spotify and download on various platforms. A writer on the
Yes Tiger! Team wrote a top picks article for the worldwide release of the
32 track album, Chikara no Kagiri!!!!!, so we are curious! Would the members
of SYA like to share with us their #1 favorite song from the album?
It’s so hard to choose our favourites, but individually we’d really like you to listen to these songs on Chikara no Kagiri!!!
Sally: I really love “Nukumori”. Not only is there the deep meaning in regards to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, but when I listen to it it helps me reflect on life and put things back into perspective. I have many important memories tied to it, including the time when Ally and I listened to it throughout our entire flight back to Canada after being a member in Seishun Gakuen in Japan for so long. It might be a bit silly, but I actually won’t listen to it on a regular basis because it’s such an important song to me. It’s just for special occasions when I need it!
Ally: “Owaranai Uta ~Ijime to Jimon Jitou-hen~” has always stood out to me from all of Seishun Gakuen’s songs since I joined the group. Not only does it have an emotional acting portion at the beginning of the song, but the lyrics and dance are very intense, and I think that it’s something totally different than what a lot of other idol groups perform. It might not be as fun for fans as “Kaihou ~Oh Eh Oh~” is, but it has a very important meaning behind it, and I would love it if fans could embrace the depth of it.
Jessica: I really like “Chikara no Kagiri!!!”! It’s super catchy, and I can’t help but feel compelled to start running in circles and waving a towel around whenever I hear it. I really like shouting “fuu fuu!” during the song, and I hope that fans get as pumped up as me when I listen to it.
Stella: While it’s one of SHUN’s solo songs, “Ima Shika Nainda” is one of my favourites. I really like the emotion that SHUN sings it with, and the meaning behind the lyrics really resonates with me.
Emily: You might be surprised that it’s not something cuter, but I really like “Tobidase Ready Go!!”. It’s a really warm song that makes the listener know that they’re not alone in the world. The guitar solo is really uplifting and I always feel recharged and renewed after listening to it. The choreography also features sign language in it too!
Yayoi: I actually had the opportunity to sing “Isso, Kono Mama…” along with SHUN in Japan as a limited time vocal unit “Fresh Vegetables Canada” so it’s a very special song to me! It has a very relaxing melody and it’s rather different from a lot of the other tracks on the album.
Vivi: When I first listened to the songs that I would be participating in during my debut, the meaning of “Yume no Kakera” really hit me hard. Especially the second chorus, I find a lot of similarities within myself, so I get quite teary listening to it.
Not only has Seishun Youth Academy had opportunities to perform for
an audience at events, but they have also had two opportunities so far to
star on screen! You all had your first appearance on Paul Anthony’s Talent
Time (an old school comedy/variety/talk show that airs on Amazon Prime
Video and Vancouver’s local Novus TV channel 4) on February 7th, and
the second appearance on March 7th. What is it like performing live on
TV? How did the live audience react to something as unique as an
It was really exciting for us! Some of us had gone to check out the show beforehand to get a sense of what everything was like, so we already knew that the audience was totally different from our usual crowd. While some of our fans did come to cheer us on, it was a packed audience of totally new faces. At first we were worried that we’d be portrayed as a stereotypical, wacky Japanese girl group, but it wasn’t that case at all and everyone was super warm and accepting of us. Other than it being recorded for TV, there wasn’t much difference from our usual performances since we were still in front of a live audience. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and we truly hope that we’ll have similar opportunities in the future.
February seemed to be a pretty big month for SYA. You all had your first
performance outside of Vancouver! Not only was it your first performance
outside of Vancouver, but it was your first time performing at a full-fledged
anime convention, in Winnipeg! Did the atmosphere of performing at an
anime convention differ from that of a local venue performance? Did
you see any cosplay that stuck out to you while you were there?
It actually felt very similar to our solo concerts! Although the audience was almost completely filled with people seeing us for the first time, they were totally into our performance and really supportive. We were so happy! There was even one fan that did furi-copy along with us to every single song in our hour-long performance, something we haven’t seen much of in Vancouver. We really hope that we can go and perform at more anime conventions around North America and the world this year. For Yayoi, it was the first time she had ever been to an anime convention, so she was really excited when she saw a Goku cosplayer! She says that she would like to cosplay him someday.
March 2nd, you all had your first anniversary live at one of Vancouver’s
most historical venue, The Biltmore Cabaret. How was your experience
performing at such an iconic venue? Do you feel the experience
performing there differed greatly from the previous two solo lives you
held at Pandora’s Box?
The Biltmore Cabaret is more than 10 times the size of the place we held our previous solo concerts, so of course we were really excited to hold our anniversary concert at not only a bigger venue, but a very long running, well-known music venue in Vancouver. That being said, we always bring our all to every performance we have, no matter how big or small, so we didn’t really feel much of a difference. More than anything, we were really hoping to get a lot of people to come and see our performance that normally wouldn’t, including a more mainstream music crowd. We were super happy to reach our goal of 100 people in attendance with 115 people there, but we still have our sights set much higher!
It’s certainly an exceptional feat! What kind of work went into promoting your anniversary live in order to bring in as many people as possible?
While we love our current audience, we didn’t want to hold our anniversary concert to just the same group of people as before. We really wanted to reach a new audience that hasn’t experienced a group like us, and so we worked hard to be able to perform a number of our songs in English for the first time ever at our anniversary concert. Not just that, but we went around town putting up posters and handing out flyers, some days even in the snow. We tried to think of every way we could try to get even one new face to our concert, so we gave everything we could a shot so that there would be no regrets afterwards.
About a month before the anniversary live, you all announced that both
SHUN and NoMake’s (Seishun Gakuen’s talent agency) president, Mayu
Asagi (Shachou-san), would be attending. How did their being there make you all feel?
We were all very nervous at first. We didn’t know why Shachou-san was coming, and we definitely wanted to make it a meaningful trip for her despite not knowing her goal. Having both Shachou-san and SHUN there made us feel more connected with the Japan-side of Seishun Gakuen, and for many of the members who were meeting Shachou-san for the first time, it was really nice to see how much she supports us all. Both their presence definitely put pressure on us to be able to try and rise to their expectations and this was really good for us as a group. We had decided beforehand that we wanted to show them how serious we all are, so that we might be able to get even more support from Japan in the future.
Did SHUN and Shachou-san enjoy their time in Canada?
What was the #1 memory you all made with them this time around?
They definitely did! This time we were finally able to do a bit of sight-seeing with SHUN, and we went to downtown Vancouver for poutine, then to historic Gastown, followed by dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory there. It was really fun because it felt like a big family dinner altogether and there were lots of laughs as we enjoyed our huge plates of pasta. SHUN is always super cool on stage, but really he’s a rather big goof around all of us Seishun Youth Academy members and is always cracking dad jokes.
As mentioned before, you all debuted your first exclusive SYA song, “World’s Friend”, in
Japanese at the 2nd solo live. However, at the anniversary live, you all performed it in English for the first time. What is your favorite thing about the song?
The English version of “World’s Friend” is incredibly special to us because this time instead of just Ally&Sally, we all wrote the English lyrics together. Not only is the song about the the hurdles we’ve overcome, but all of our hard work allowed the English version to come to life. We feel so honoured and blessed every time we’re able to perform it. While the story of the song is based on our experiences, we feel that it’s something that resonates with many people around the world, especially in Canada and America. We want to reach as many as possible with this song and have them grow to love it as much as us!
Everyone attending the anniversary live was able to give their warm welcomes to the newest trainee member to the Seishun family, Vivian Pimdara (aka Vivi)! As we can all imagine, joining an idol group can be a daunting commitment!
Vivi, what surprised you most about joining Seishun Youth Academy?
I thought that everything would be really strict when joining Seishun Youth Academy, but the members are actually really chill! I was surprised that they were all willing to help me despite being busy with their own schedules and practice, especially right before not only the anniversary concert, but also their performance at Ai-Kon Winterfest.
Thank you for sharing with us some insight into the minds and inner workings of Seishun Youth Academy! To end it, do you have any final messages for your fans?
With this concert now behind us, Seishun Youth Academy will be heading into its second year as a group. It definitely hasn’t been easy so far, and surely even bigger challenges await us. While we may just be a small part of your life, Seishun Youth Academy is our everything. If you want to see us grow even bigger and go even further, please cheer for us loudly and let all your friends know! Where there is a start, there always is an end, and you never know when that end could come. We hope that you’ll continue to support us with even more passion in our second year! We promise that we won’t disappoint you.
Thank you for taking the time to read the interview! We hope everyone learned more about Seishun Youth Academy!
Thank you to Seishun Youth Academy and their management for taking time out of their busy schedule to do this interview!
Be sure to follow their social media in order to stay up to date with everything Seishun Youth Academy has going on! And don’t forget, if you’d like to see them extend their reach past Canada even further, be sure to talk to your local convention or event organizers about bringing them over! You won’t regret it!