In 2011, Matsushita Yuya performed at FanimeCon’s MusicFest and has returned once again to perform as part of five-piece group X4. Since the group’s formation in 2015, every single that X4 has released has hit #1 on the iTunes Japanese R&B music charts. The group’s charm and energy was evident in their engaging performance, naturally bringing concertgoers to their feet at MusicFest, and during our interview with the group morning of the concert.
Despite greeting them first thing in the morning, the members of X4 were chipper and eager to talk about just anything. X4 shares with Asia Pacific Arts their experiences on the way to and in California, as well as their music and preparations for this year’s MusicFest.
APA: Good morning! How was the flight here? Do any of you still have jetlag?
Yuya: No, I think we’re all good for the most part. You know the movie, Moonlight? I watched it and just slept through the whole flight afterwards.
Kodai: I watched about two films and slept the whole time too. I don’t have jetlag at all.
Yuya: It’s funny you say that because as soon as we arrived in San Jose, Kodai’s sleeping face was pretty terrible. [everyone laughs]
Jukiya: Your eyes were even half open.
Kodai: Even I was surprised by how I looked.Yuya: Everyone slept, didn’t they?
Jukiya: I wanted to sleep, but I just couldn’t so I kept switching through the movies.
Kodai: What did you watch then?
Jukiya: Actually, I didn’t watch anything. [laughs] Every time I fell asleep, I would keep waking up after a short while. In the end, I didn’t even watch a movie.
Yuya: That’s rough.
APA: Yuya has been to Fanime before a few years ago, but have the other members been to California before?
All but Yuya: This is our first time.
APA: How has it been so far?
Kodai: It’s been great. The five of us appeared at the opening ceremony and got to greet the attendees. We also walked around the convention a bit.
Yuya: We also went to an antique arcade game center in San Francisco. It was fun because it had all these games we used to play when we were kids. It was really nostalgic. It was also really cool how the arcade had these retro games, but had a modern feel to it.
You know those punching games? At the arcade center, there was a man who kept his right hand behind his back and just kept punching the bag with his left hand really fast. [everyone laughs] It would have been better if he used both hands, but for some reason, he just used one.
APA: Maybe he was training. [everyone laughs]
Kodai: That must be it. If he was that fast with one hand, how much better would he be if he used both? [laughs]
APA: Is there anything else you want to try out here?
T-Max: I want to go to a flea market. I hear there’s a really big one in San Jose.
Yuya: A couple years back we went to the Rose Bowl flea market, so it’d be fun to visit a different one.
APA: As Fanime is an anime convention, are there any anime that you’re into right now?
Kodai: Everyone in the group is into anime, but I’m probably the most into it. I’m really into Re:Zero right now.
T-Max: Although I like anime, I’m more into games. But recently, I’ve been watching the new season of Dragon Ball. They’ve expanded it and the story doesn’t just take place on earth, but like the whole universe.
APA: In April, you just completed a Japanese nationwide tour. Did you prepare anything special for your American audiences?
Yuya: We specially prepared an X4 version of a solo song I released for the Durara! anime called “Trust Me.” We created choreography to go with the song and it’ll be the first time we perform the song as X4. Also, I’ll be singing “Bird,” which is one of the ending songs for Black Butler. I haven’t sang this song in a while, so I’m a little nervous about doing it. [laughs]
Since X4 as a group has never released any anime songs, we thought we would prepare these songs for the FanimeCon attendees. We hope they will enjoy them!
APA: You recently released an album XROSSMATE in March. Can you tell us about the album’s music and concept?
Jukiya: XROSSMATE is our second full-length album that features music from a lot of different styles like rock, ballads and upbeat dance tracks. Although we just finished our nationwide tour, once we return to Japan, we’ll be performing a few extra shows.
We also toured before when we released our first album “Funk, Dunk, Punk” and the songs back then were more of an indie style. Now we’ve developed our style more and I think listeners can enjoy a greater variety of music from us.
APA: We’ll be moving onto some questions, so that fans can get to know you better! Can you share something interesting about yourself?
T-Max: Hmm… I would say I’m direct like I go into things head first.
Yuya: Is that even considered interesting? [everyone laughs]
T-Max: I tend to charge into things and usually end up crashing into trouble.
Jukiya: As for me… I would say I get scared easily.
Yuya: Actually, he always has big reactions to things. He overreacts to everything.
Jukiya: True, but I don’t do it on purpose. It just kind of happens and I’m always like “Uwa!”
Yuya: This is a really, really hard question. I would say… that out of the group, I’m the one that jokes around the most. In Japanese comedy, there’s something called boke (funny man) and tsukkomi (straight man) and I would say I’m the boke.
APA: Have there been any funny incidents recently?
Yuya: Not to me!
T-Max: …But there was one, wasn’t there? On the plane.
Yuya: Oh yeah. So, I don’t actually remember this since I was half asleep, but something did happen on our flight over to California.
T-Max: I was sitting next to Yuya and he was looking at a laminated menu, trying to decide between meal options. He was doing his best to read the menu, but since he was half asleep, he couldn’t really see it that well. In the end, he gave up and decided that he wouldn’t have anything. But, somehow he folded and crumpled up the menu when he gave it back to the stewardess. [everyone laughs] The stewardess was frantically trying to straighten the menu again.
Yuya: But the thing is I don’t remember doing this at all. [laughs]
Kodai: It’s just amazing that you crumpled laminated paper. [laughs]
Yuya: I don’t think that there’s a way to fix that… [everyone laughs]
Kodai: Out of all of us, I would say I’m the most Kansai. Also, Yuya mentioned boke and tsukkomi earlier and I would say I have been given the role of tsukkomi.
Yuya: What do you mean by given? [laughs] (It sounds like Kodai is saying he’s been forced to do it.)
Kodai: No, I mean that I naturally became the tsukkomi. [laughs]Shota: The rest of the members are from the Kansai area, but I’m the only one from Okinawa so there are some regional cultural differences.
Yuya: It’s like saying that we’re all from Los Angeles and he’s from Hawaii. Like there’s a different feeling.
APA: Right, but is that really interesting…? [everyone laughs]
Shota: You just did tsukkomi, didn’t you? [laughs]
APA: Yes, I was joking. Sorry! [laughs] Moving on to a fan question for Yuya. Why did you decide to start a group?
Yuya: I have been a solo singer and stage actor for a while, and when I performed with other people, I thought it would be really fun to start my own group.
APA: The fan also asked whether you want to still do more musicals like Black Butler?
Yuya: I’ve already graduated from doing Black Butler, but the musical has gone to hold shows overseas like China. There has never been an anime musical in the US, right? I would really like to do one in the US! Even though it’ll probably cost a lot of money. [laughs] But that’s okay because I won’t be paying for it. [everyone laughs] I hope I’ll get the chance to do one.
APA: You all are pretty funny, but who is the funniest?
Yuya: For me, I think it’s T-Max. In Japanese, you’d say he’s like spontaneously funny kind of like an airhead. I think in English you’d say he’s “goofy”?
T-Max: I think it’s Yuya because I don’t think I’m really all that funny on my own. (Yuya: Yes, you are) But, Yuya is funny in so many different ways.
Shota: I think it’s Kodai because when he’s the tsukkomi he thinks really quickly and is really witty. But, I actually think normal Kodai is even funnier. It’s fun to pick on him. Sure, he’s a singer, but sometimes I can’t tell if he’s really a singer or a comedian. [everyone laughs]
Yuya: That’s really troubling. [laughs]Kodai: I would say Yuya because we’re the tsukkomi boke duo.Yuya: Like Shota said, it’s really fun to pick on Kodai. I do it all the time. It’s like my hobby. [laughs]
APA: Who is the cutest?
Yuya: I think without a doubt, it has to be Jukiya. His reactions are just so exaggerated that they’re really cute.
APA: What were your first impressions of each other?
Shota: I thought that T-Max was very manly when I first met him. As for Jukiya, he just looks so cute like a hamster or a puppy. Yuya is… so there are the three parts that make an ikemen (good-looking guy). One is that you’re tall… [he’s not really sure what the rest are]
Yuya: The three parts are well-educated, high income and tall height, right?
Shota: My bad. Well, he’s tall, good-looking and really good at dancing, so I thought girls must really like him a lot. He seemed too perfect.
Yuya: That’s not true~
Shota: Kodai is really funny. He’s like a kind older brother I can get advice from.
Kodai: I thought Shota was cool and good-looking. T-Max seemed really stern. Jukiya to me was like… who is that? [laughs] Like a young boy. And I thought Yuya was scary. When I first met him, his face was just scary. [laughs]
Yuya: That’s because I’m shy. When I’m shy, I think my face just looks kind of scary.
Okay, I’m going to do this all in one go. This guy (T-Max) was just weird. [everyone laughs] He had this weird look in his eyes. Jukiya felt like modern day youth? He had this mischievous feel to him. I thought Kodai was half Japanese. He just didn’t look like a Japanese person to me.
Kodai: I’m totally Japanese though~
Yuya: I thought Shota was quite cute looking. I don’t mean that in a weird way though. [laughs]
Kodai: Ohh~ Yes, this month it was my birthday, Shota’s and Yuya’s.
Yuya: Present please~ [Kodai and Shota joins in] [everyone laughs]
APA: I’m…. sorry… I’ll just have to give you my support for now. Next time, I’ll prepare something!
Yuya: Okay, we’ll accept that for now.
APA: How did you celebrate?
Kodai: Since we were on tour, we got to celebrate with our fans. The members also took us out to eat.
Yuya: During our 18-stop tour, we traveled across the country, so we got to eat a lot of different food.
Shota: We once had three shows in a row and we continuously ate cake for all three days. [laughs] It was really nice though to get to spend our birthdays that way with our fans and the other members.
Yuya: My birthday was actually on the day of a show and my mom came to watch. Afterwards, we had dinner together.
APA: Lastly, please send a message to your American fans!
T-Max: X4 is an easy name for people to remember, so hopefully people will enjoy and remember our performance tonight. I hope that we get more opportunities to perform more in the US. Please support us!
Jukiya: Yesterday was the first time we performed in the US at the FanimeCon opening ceremony and I was really curious as to what the crowd reaction would be. I was really looking forward to it and was also a little uneasy, but the crowd responded enthusiastically and I felt that the American people were very warm and friendly.
Kodai: We were so happy to be invited to perform at FanimeCon and visit the US. We’ll give it our best at the concert tonight and we’ll keep working hard as X4. Thank you!
Shota: Despite the language barrier, we are really happy that the American fans danced along and enjoyed our performance. We’ll keep working hard to create music for our fans to enjoy. Please look forward to it!
Yuya: We are super happy that there are people in America who enjoy Japanese culture like anime and our music. We also really enjoy American culture and music, so to come here and share our music is amazing for us. We’ll keep working hard to create more music and hopefully will return to America soon. Yesterday there were many people at the opening ceremony who said they saw me when I performed at FanimeCon about six years ago, which made me really happy. We’ll work hard to come back again soon!
Check out our photos from their concert below!