BALLISTIK BOYZ from EXILE TRIBE is a J-pop vocal, rap, and dance group under the talent agency LDH. Ballistik Boyz is part of the collective super group, EXILE TRIBE, and is composed of seven members. Many of the members come from the GLOBAL JAPAN CHALLENGE and VOCAL BATTLE AUDITION 5 as well as Project Taro. They’re are the first group out of EXILE TRIBE to have all the members either vocalists or rappers.
BALLISTIK BOYZ made their debut this past May with a self titled album, which debuted #1 on the Weekly Oricon Album Chart!
Congrats on the release of your major debut album “BALLISTIK BOYZ,” it debuted #1 on the Weekly Oricon Album Chart! Baddest Fire has been my favorite so far, what’s your favorite track off the album?
Ryuta Hidaka: I also think ”Baddest Fire” best showcases each member’s abilities.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: My favorite is “Nu World”! I feel it best represents our spirit of wanting to bring something new to the music industry, just like how all of us sing/rap and dance. The melody is also very catchy!
Ryusei Kainuma: My favorite is the 3rd song in the album, “Make U Believer”.
Miku Fukahori: I really like all songs, but “Blast Off” is one of my favorites.
Rikiya Okuda: First of all, thanks for always supporting us. My favorite song from ‘’BALLISTIK BOYZ’ is ‘’PASION’’ because that song is a little different from other songs. This song has cool vibes which people can get crazy to! Also we actually made the choreography for all of our songs and I feel like this song’s choreograph is pretty dope!
Riki Matsui: I would have to say “Blast off”. It has a powerful and energetic feel that stands out from the others.
Masahiro Sunada: “Make U a Believer” is my favorite track now because it’s the one of the songs I haven’t performed on stage yet, and I’m really excited to perform it soon! Also I like the melody of the chorus!
Now for TENHANE 1000% and PASION, both music videos were filmed in Los Angeles. How was the experience, were there any scenes that were hard to do?
Ryuta Hidaka: The locations we used were just fantastic, so we were very motivated. Jet-lag was the toughest part, so we were catching up on sleep to and from the shoot. We also have various outdoor acrobatic scenes, which was a first-time for us, but I feel that we were able to overcome it with teamwork.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: This was my first time traveling overseas, so everything was eye-opening!
That fresh energy definitely added positive energy to the overall shoot! All of us had to successfully land a backflip at the same time for the acrobatic scene, so we were very nervous for that specific scene. We were extremely happy with how it turned out!
Ryusei Kainuma: Ever since the founding of the group, all of us dreamed of traveling overseas for work, so we were so excited when that dream came true. That positive energy definitely brought out each of our personalities to the fullest. On the other hand, the acrobatic scenes were the most difficult, as we were not used to doing backflips on hard, public ground.
Miku Fukahori: We filmed at lots of locations, and there was a specific time we had to finish filming due to regulations, and that was different from Japan. So we had to really focus on every try. I think that was the most difficult part of filming.
Rikiya Okuda: We went to LA for six days, but we didn’t have any days off.
Mainly, we had video shooting of TENHANE. It was so hard to fully focus on most of the scenes, because we all had jet lag from taking a 10 hour flight, but it was the first time to travel to LA for most of the members, so we were all so excited about shooting video there. That’s why we were able to finish shooting as planned!
Riki Matsui: I feel that we were able to fully enjoy the video shoot, which brought out the color of our group. LA had always been a place I wanted to visit, and that energy added a layer of positivity to the music video. The stomp and acrobatic scenes during the instrumental bridge were the most difficult, but I feel our energy helped overcome the pressure.
Masahiro Sunada: Filming a music video in Los Angels was my dream, so I got very excited when I heard about the location!! Every second in LA was inspiring, and I think I was able to find out what BALLISTIK BOYZ’ real strengths are! Also for Ryuta, Yoshiyuki, Ryusei and Riki, it was their first time to visit the States, and I was very glad that they could see and feel where I stayed and trained for years! I think all of experiences in LA gave them new perspectives! The scene on the bridge was very hard because we had only two minutes to film on every take while the local police stopped the cars.
The choreography is very intense and has a lot of high energy, were there any members that struggled a bit when learning the choreography?
Ryuta Hidaka: Yoshiyuki Kanou has the least experience in dance, but he has been working very hard and we have been able to help him out as a team.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: I am the most inexperienced when it comes to dance, and at first I was not part of the dance sections of our songs. However I had the urge to catch up with my peers, so I trained as hard as I could, and now I am able to experience the excitement of being able to dance, thanks to the help of my teammates.
Ryusei Kainuma: I think it’s Yoshiyuki. Within us, he has the least history in dancing and experience, as our group’s choreography pursues a higher level of performance. I think our choreography is an unknown world to Yoshiyuki, so after I taught them the choreography, I think I will voluntarily practice it with Yoshiyuki.
Miku Fukahori: Yoshiyuki has been dancing for only a year and a couple of months, so I think he had hard time to learn the choreography compared to other members.
Rikiya Okuda: I think Yoshi had little hard time memorizing the choreography, since he’s been dancing for almost two years while the other members have been dancing for over 10 years.
Riki Matsui: I think we all had a tough time getting to the point where we were all 100% happy with the choreography, but that also led to our skill-set getting better and better.
Masahiro Sunada: I think Yoshiyuki struggled a little bit because his dancing career is much shorter than other members, and also the choreography wasn’t that easy lol. Especially the stomp part and the Harlem shake part!
Did any of the members contribute to choreographing the dance?
Ryuta Hidaka: Miku, Masahiro and Rikiya were the core members of building the structure of the choreography.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: Miku, Masa and Rikiya built the structure, and the 7 of us finalized the choreography!
Ryusei Kainuma: Miku, Masa and Rikiya use their experience from New York to build the overall structure, and we all come in to finalize the choreography.
Miku Fukahori: Ricky, Masa, and I choreographed the dance.
Rikiya Okuda: Micks, Masa and I made the base of choreography.
Riki Matsui: Micks, Masa and Ricky made the base, and all 7 of us discussed and built the
Masahiro Sunada: Micks, Ricky and I did! Three of us are the main choreographers for ours songs usually!
Do you have any dreams or goals as a singer/rapper? For example, performing at a certain music venue or collaborating with another artist?
Ryuta Hidaka: Performing a global, stadium tour is my dream.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: I would like to become an artist like ATSUSHI-san, who is capable of succeeding as a solo artist as much as part of a group!
Ryusei Kainuma: I would like for our group to be capable of doing world tours, and achieve #1 on the Billboard Chart.
Miku Fukahori: As a group, we definitely would love to perform at Madison Square Garden.
As a solo artist, I also make beats, so I’d love to collaborate with a lot of artists who have achieved global success.
Rikiya Okuda: I would like to do a world tour as both BALLISTIK BOYZ and a solo artist in the future.
I started rapping in New York, so I can write the lyrics in English and Japanese, so I would like to collaborate with American artists. Travis Scott and Tyga are my favorite rappers.
Riki Matsui: Going on a global, stadium tour is my dream. I want to set a record that would make Asians proud. I personally love listening to Tyler, the Creator and Post Malone, so collaborating with them would be my dream. As an artist, Rich Brian has inspired me the most due to him being both Asian and the same age as myself, so I would love to meet him someday. I am also currently studying Chinese, so collaborating with Higher Brothers would also be a goal I’d like to achieve.
Masahiro Sunada: Because I was living in NYC, I want to perform at Madison Square Garden!
If you could perform internationally, where would you want to perform?
Ryuta Hidaka: Madison Square Garden!
Yoshiyuki Kanou: Super Bowl halftime show!!
Ryusei Kainuma: Madison Square Garden!
Miku Fukahori: Madison Square Garden.
Rikiya Okuda: I want to perform in America. I used to live in New York so I want to perform as BALLISTIK BOYZ.
Riki Matsui: A stadium show. I’ve also always wanted to perform at NPR’s “music tiny desk concerts”, ever since I saw footage of Mac Miller perform there.
Masahiro Sunada: United States!
Are you guys involved in the composition and writing process of your tracks or would like to in the future?
Ryuta Hidaka: Not for this specific album, but we are all motivated to be able to write our own songs.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: A lot of our elder artists from LDH helped in the creation of this album. We also would like to contribute to the creative process of our songs in the future!
Ryusei Kainuma: A lot of our elder artists from LDH such as P-CHO from DOBERMAN INFINITY and EXILE SHOKICHI helped create this album.
Miku Fukahori: None of us were involved in the composition this time, but I make beats on my own and would want to be involved in the composition at some point.
Rikiya Okuda: No one for this time, but I’d definitely like to because I’m writing lyrics everyday and I want to share my life to everyone who is interested in myself and BALLISTIK BOYZ.
Riki Matsui: EXILE SHOKICHI wrote【TENHANE -1000%-】and【Blast Off】, and
P-CHO and JAY’ED wrote【 PASION 】& 【 Make U a Believer 】. I would someday want to collaborate with producers like JJJ and Chaki Zulu from Japan, and global producers like Harry Fraud and DJ Khaled.
Masahiro Sunada: No we’re not, but we definitely would like to write songs by ourselves in the future!
Although the group is mainly focused on Hip-Hop/Rap, what is a genre of music/concept that you guys would like to try?
Ryuta Hidaka: I think it would be interesting if we had various genres such as soulful, R&B songs.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: I love R&B, so it would be amazing to have R&B songs as a group!
Ryusei Kainuma: Our current discography showcases our energetic side, so performing ballads and emotional songs may be interesting for us.
Miku Fukahori: Some of us play instruments too, so I’d like to try some band music.
Rikiya Okuda: I feel like we’re going to do mainly hip hop because three of us used to live in New York and learned authentic hip hop culture so I think it’s important to keep that feeling. I’d like to try another genre but I also feel like hip hop is the best genre for us now.
Riki Matsui: Performing ballads and slow emotional songs as a group would be something we’d like to challenge.
Masahiro Sunada: I would like to try R&B and reggae because I’ve liked both genres of music since I was young.
Continuing the topic on Hip-Hop/Rap, what do you feel like is the biggest difference between American Hip-Hop/Rap and Japanese Hip-Hop/Rap?
Ryuta Hidaka: The USA is where Hip-Hop originated, so there is a sense of authenticity that Japan cannot replicate. I think it’s important for us to pursue what is the most “authentic” for us.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: The roots and history is definitely different, but I also think the difference sonically is makes both genres interesting.
Ryusei Kainuma: I think Japanese Hip-Hop tends to focus more on the words and content than the overall vibe.
Miku Fukahori: I think American HIP HOP has more melodic sounds and simple beats that loops the same sections.
Rikiya Okuda: America has deep history about Hip Hop culture. That’s the biggest thing.
Riki Matsui: I think it’s only the language.
Masahiro Sunada: I think the tempo and what we sing or rap about are the biggest difference.
What do you like to do for fun on your days off?
Ryuta Hidaka: Work out, eat Japanese barbecue, and bathe at the hot springs.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: I watch Anime and read Manga!
Ryusei Kainuma: I am into fashion, so I hang out looking for new clothes, and I am also into online games.
Miku Fukahori: I usually make the tracks or go shopping or draw.
Rikiya Okuda: I go shopping with my friends or watch Netflix before I go to sleep!
Also when I can’t sleep, I’m always writing lyrics or chilling listening to my favorite music.
Riki Matsui: Recently I like to go shopping and hot springs. When I’m at home, I usually watch movies, or practice writing lyrics.
Masahiro Sunada: I like to go shopping with my friends on my days off! I also like to go to the park and chill out with coffee! Lol
What is your favorite part about singing and performing?
Ryuta Hidaka: Seeing people realize new dreams through our music.
Yoshiyuki Kanou: When the energy level of the audience is just as high as ours!
Ryusei Kainuma: I have always loved expressing myself through my performance, so being able to do so in front of many people always gives me chills.
Miku Fukahori: My favorite part about performing is making people happy through doing what I like to do.
Rikiya Okuda: I’m just sharing my life to my fans and also I truly like to sing, rap, and dance! When I’m on the stage, I go crazy! Lol
Riki Matsui: The unity when the fans raise their hands and cheer for us always gives me chills.
Masahiro Sunada: My favorite part about singing and performing is that I can express my feelings, things that I want to tell, and meaning of the songs in my way through singing and performing!
Where do you see BALLISTIK BOYZ in the next 5 years?
Ryuta Hidaka: I would like for us to be a global act that Japan is proud of!!
Yoshiyuki Kanou: Doing big shows overseas!!
Ryusei Kainuma: Doing stadium shows in Japan, while performing on stages across the world. I’d also like to become a professional gamer.
Miku Fukahori: In the next 5 years, we’d definitely love to perform over the world and be a group that everyone knows.
Rikiya Okuda: I think that we’re gonna do world tour! That’s the biggest dream for us. Each members has different job. For ex, fashion, model, actor, like that! For me, I’m doing as a solo.
Riki Matsui: Global, stadium tour.
Masahiro Sunada: In 5 years, we’ll be doing the world tour, and we’ll be known as most famous Japanese singers and rappers in the world!
I’d like to thank BALLISTIK BOYZ for taking the time to answer all of these questions in detail. Was there something awesome or new that you learned about their debut album and where you like them to go if they did a world tour? Leave your comments down below!