Doing activities with two groups, Hey! Say! JUMP and NYC, Yamada Ryosuke gets to show a third side as a solo artist. He entered this entertainment world at the age of 10, and has kept on running forward for the past 9 years… Not about skills, but there’s been a lot of distress due to tactless people as well. Now just before turning 20 we asked about Yamada’s real feelings at the last part of his teen years.
- Your solo debut was just decided. Please tell us your feelings when you first heard about it?
It was something I hadn’t even imagined before, so the biggest feeling was surprise. I was bewildered, but I was also happy about it. I’m truly happy for being able to sing the theme song for the drama “Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo - Hong Kong Kowloon Zaibou Satsujin Jiken" (Nihon Terebi), that I’m starring in. Getting a chance like this I’m able to challenge myself in another completely new thing, and I’m incredibly thankful about it. Probably this is the first time even among Johnny’s to release a CD with two groups and as solo as well, so of course I’m also worried about it, but it’s also an incredible chance.
- It seems that being part of the group is very important to you, did you feel conflicted?
To be honest… I did. Of course it’s a big part of me that I’m doing activities with the group. But the other members were supportive of me, so it made me feel better. I felt that I’m in a really blessed environment surrounded by members who are supporting me.
- Now for another question: Do you love singing?
I love it since recently (smile). It’s not that I hated it, but I was bad at singing. But I wonder… since when did I start thinking of wanting to improve, and started to focus on it? I’ll ask help from professionals around me, and when I have time I sing by myself, doing things like that I’m training hard these days (smile). I hadn’t tried things like ornamentation or using vibrato, but I learned those little by little, and that way I found enjoyment in singing. I thought that if I could improve, that way I could get more confidence.
- Has there been times when you thought you strongly felt the “power of music”? For sure it’s something that a lot of people might have felt after the disaster in March last year.
I certainly felt that way when as NYC we performed at Music Station right after the disaster. We wore t-shirts with the words “Yuuki 100%” (Courage 100%) on the chest with simple skinny jeans, without doing our hair… Without dressing up or decorating ourselves, we just wanted to convey the song and the message just like that. We were really nervous about it… but a lot of people told that they received the message, so at that time I really felt the power of music once again.
- There’s of course music, and you have experiences with dramas and stage shows as well. Is there anything you left undone in your teen years?
There’s nothing I’ve left undone… I think (smile). I don’t feel like there’s something to do because I turn 20 next year. Of course I want to grow as a person, but I don’t feel like there’s something I can do just by turning 20.
- Surely it’s not like something changes at the moment when you turn 20. Are there some big events that happened during your teen years?
All events were big, but I think the biggest one was the beginning when I joined Johnny’s. I entered this world when I was 10 years old, and it’s already been 9 years… but if I think about it now, it went fast. But the time when it was really hard and difficult felt long. The first 3 years were really hard. It’s something that I can say now (smile). The boys who joined at the same time as me started getting to the front row and holding the mic, while I was always dancing in the back. Then, more juniors joined and I danced a lot at their back. I thought that there’s no way I can ever debut. It was really frustrating, so I thought I’ll go as far as I can, and then quit (smile).
- That’s something unimaginable right now… What is it that you did to go as far as you can?
I think it was dancing. I learned all the dance moves, even those that were not mine. Among the kouhais who moved to dance in front of me, there was a guy who I thought was good, and it was hard. I learned all his moves, even though I didn’t have to (smile). But one time that kouhai couldn’t attend a show because he was sick, and they asked if there’s anyone who can dance instead of him. I thought that it was my chance, so I raised my hand, and I was the only one who knew his dance moves. I guess it was then when they noticed I’m doing my best. But there was a dance teacher who also noticed me before that. I thought that there are people watching over me, so I felt that if I’ll do my best, there will definitely be results. Although, by no means can I think that 3 years was a long time. There are a lot of people who have to endure much longer than that.
- You seem to be a person who can enjoy even at hard times.
I think troubles make you learn about life, and I’m the type who thinks it’s okay to enjoy at that time too. Because difficult times and worries are also part of life. Just living itself is happiness, being busy is also happiness, if I take that even further, getting tired is about being busy, so that’s also about happiness. But I can’t really think like that when I’m exhausted (laugh).
- Getting through difficult times… It’s been 5 years since your debut, what has changed about you?
Probably that I’ve lost frankness, both good way and bad way. What I mean by that is that I go my own way… When I know which way to go, I see clearly what I need to do. But… I think I’m a serious person. (smile)
- I do think you’re serious. But even for a person who’s seriously moving forward, it’s necessary to have people who watch over you and at times advice you.
Yes I think so! I don’t plan on getting carried away, but if there are no people around you who tell you that, it’s probably easy to lose yourself or get cocky. For that, the importance of my mom is really big. She always tells me not to get carried away (laugh). But we often end up having fights.
- Do you often have battles with your mom? (smile)
Surely there are times when you can’t just obediently accept your parents’ words. Maybe it’s something like a child trying to hide their embarrassment or a man’s weird pride… (laughs) It’s hard to accept when you’re commented about natural things, and you end up opposing them. I think that’s because they’re parents. You do your best your own way, and if you get comments about that it feels like you’re denied, and think of like “what’s up with that?” But later I end up thinking alone that maybe I should do as they say (laugh).
- So in the end you’re quite obedient (laugh). Are there any words said by people other than your family that keep coming back to you?
Umm… I don’t think there is. I think the words I’ve heard keep changing rapidly in my head. Of course there are also things that have affected me a lot, and at that moment I’ve thought that maybe that’s how it is, but in the next moment I’m already moving forward… New things are being said, and probably I’m seeking words that fit me right now, so they just naturally go away.
- For sure when you yourself keep changing, also the words you’re seeking for are changing. This is quite a rough question but where are you heading for from now on?
I think what I want to aim for is a to become a big group like SMAP or Arashi. There are still a lot of people who don’t know the names of all members of Hey! Say! JUMP, so first of all I wish they would know all our names, and eventually we could become big and be able to liven up Japan, that’s how I think all of the members feel.
- Why do you feel like you want to become big?
I think that to be able to reach a dream you also need to aim for the top, or nothing can start. Probably with this job you see what to aim for, and you just have to go towards that.
- Surely if you’ll just move without a destination, it’s easier to lose your way or choose a completely different path, but probably there are even no options like that.
I think you are free to choose, but since I chose this path I just have to keep pushing forward.
- Is that for your own sake?
Yes. Or… I wonder how it is? Probably also for my parents’ sake. I’ve seen them go through hard times, so I have a strong feeling of wanting to make them happy, I’m doing my best for that.
- Family is really important, isn’t it? By the way, what would you want to become like as an individual?
I want to become a very broad-minded person! I always keep thinking I’m not open enough (smile). But the broadness that I’m thinking of is probably still too big for me. But if your aim is still far away, there’s lots of room to grow (smile). Perhaps it’s much more interesting when you can’t see what will happen.
- Surely it is interesting to fill up the things you can’t see.
It is. I’m going to turn around what I just said (laugh), but actually I don’t really have a clear dream. If I’m asked about a dream I just end up saying “to become big”, but it’s more like I’m exploring and broadening things I can’t see in front of me. But it’s really hard to become big, isn’t it? To be loved by a lot of people, you have to take responsibility of other people’s feelings, so for this reason, these big people must have important, accepting people - like staff and family - around them. They must be worth of all the world’s love (smile). If I turn that around, I think big people are just people like that.
- In front of me is this 19-year-old who stands on the stage. I feel that with the last words I was able to see inside the heart of Yamada Ryosuke, who understands such importance. To aim to be a “big star” that still has no clear form, it’s important to have certain preparedness. But probably there already is that preparedness inside him.