Billboard Japan Women in Music Interview: Regallily Reflects on How Their 10-Year Career was Shaped by Being Women



Billboard Japan

The members of the band Regallily chatted with writer Rio Hirai for the latest installment of Billboard Japan’s Women in Music interview series featuring female players in the Japanese entertainment industry. The WIM initiative in Japan launched in 2022 to celebrate artists, producers and executives who have made significant contributions to music and inspired other women through their work.

Regallily recently released “Kirakira no Hai” (“Twinkling Ash”), the ending theme of Delicious in Dungeon Season 2. Currently a two-woman unit, the band was originally formed by frontwoman and guitarist Honoka Takahashi while in high school. Bassist Umi later joined and the band is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Regallily has just wrapped its tour of small clubs in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka as a means of returning to their roots. In this interview, the two members looked back on their career as a “girl band,” and spoke about what they’re looking forward to now after going through a period of identity moratorium as described in the lyrics of their song “17.” 

Congratulations on your 10th anniversary. Honoka, you formed the band when you were in high school. Did you plan on continuing the band for a long time from the outset?

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Honoka Takahashi: When I formed the band, I wasn’t thinking that far to be honest. I didn’t even have a goal in mind. Before Regallily, I was in a band with male members, but didn’t fit in well with them. I ended up leaving because they told me they were going to play with only guys. We were only in tenth grade or thereabouts and I suppose it was normal to treat people of opposite sex like outsiders… But it pissed me off and I thought, “I’ll form a band with just girls then!” [Laughs

Umi: I’ve also played in bands since high school, in a pop music club at the time. There weren’t too many guys so I’ve always been in bands with girls. I never gave much thought about being in bands with only women before joining Regallily, but it was probably easier for me to imagine myself as a member of this band than joining one with male members.

Some of the artists we’ve spoken to in this series say they feel uncomfortable being categorized by titles such as “girls” or “female” (as English loanwords, e.g. “girl band,” “female rapper”). How do you feel about being called a “girl band”?

Takahashi: I didn’t think anything of it at first. But later, a band came along that publicly stated it didn’t want to be referred to as a girl band, which helped me see that there are people who don’t like being called that.

Umi: I mean, it’s a fact that these are bands run by women, but compared to rock or punk, the (genre) classification is a bit sloppy, don’t you think? [Laughs] There are genres within all-female bands, so when a playlist is made by categorizing them as “girl bands,” for example, I wonder if it’s possible to reach the core of those acts. I don’t have a negative impression of the term itself, and I’m sure there were events we were able to play in because of that categorization.

Takahashi: I’m accustomed to the term “girl band,” but when you think about it, “girls” means children. Since men and women have different voices, I get wanting to divide them into different groups, but I’m not sure “girls” is appropriate when all of our life stages change in the future.

SCANDAL was certified last year as the “longest running rock band with the same musicians (female)” by the Guinness World Records after 17 years together, which links to the topic of the difficulty of female bands staying in the business for a long time. Is there anything you take care to do to keep doing what you do for a long time and in a healthy way?

Takahashi: I’ve basically never really understood what common sense is ever since I was a kid. My life has been detached from what’s considered the norm, things like, “husbands go to work and wives stay at home to do housework.” If I ever get pregnant, I’d like to sing (on stage) until the very last minute. I’ve seen (singer-songwriter) Seiko Omori standing on stage during late-stage pregnancy and wondered if I could do it too.

Umi: Pregnancy is something you can’t understand until it happens. I’m looking forward to it. I wonder how much I can take on while pregnant. I’m 25 years old now, and I’ve been thinking about how my life stage will change and that I’ll have to face various things in the future. When I discover new sides of myself, for example as a wife after I get married, or as a mother after I have a baby… I think about how I’ll be able to balance those things when my identity isn’t just as an artist anymore.

I guess our late twenties is when we begin to feel the reality of changing life stages. You released a single called “17″ in January, and that age is also a period when we sense various changes in our lives. Why did you focus on 17?

Takahashi: I turn 27 this year, so 17 was about 10 years ago. I used to listen to a lot of songs that had seventeen as a keyword in them when I was that age, and have a number of favorites. I was thinking of writing a song called “17” when I was 17, but just couldn’t do it when I was in the midst of it all. At around 26 years old, it felt like I gradually came to understand what I was like at that time and what kind of person I am. So now, ten years on, I looked back on those days and put it into words and the music was born.

Umi: I used to go to music clubs quite a bit back then. It was also a period when I was so full of myself and so self-conscious that I was embarrassed about a lot of things and couldn’t enjoy myself. The time I spent going to music clubs alone and being the person only I knew about was my anchor.

This question is one of the themes of this interview series, but how do you think being a woman affects your music career and life in general?

Takahashi: I recently realized that I’m really at the whim of hormone imbalances in life. There are times I need to take care of myself, and the more I take care of myself, the more I can take care of my work. But on the other hand, there are times when my nature makes me want to do something dangerous. Like going somewhere that’s super cold. [Laughs] Taking such risks puts a strain on my body and my hormones go out of whack as a result, so sometimes I wish I had a body that could be more reckless.

Umi: Even just to live normally and safely, you have to be tough when you’re a woman. Like choosing an apartment to live in, if you want safety and require a place on the second floor or higher that has a self-locking system, it costs more money.

Takahashi: In terms of bands, I look at the careers of the generation above us, like (Japanese rock band) Chatmonchy, and think about what we can and can’t do. 

But there aren’t many precedents for all-female bands compared to male bands, so if we can set more examples, it might become easier (for the next generation). Even now, I’m sure many female bands are being born.

Umi: To be honest, there are parts (about male bands and artists) that I kind of envy, but we’ve been doing this for a long time too, and if there are people out there who think we’re cool the way we are, that’s how (our music) resonates and spreads.

This interview by Rio Hirai (SOW SWEET PUBLISHING) first appeared on Billboard Japan



Billboard Japan, GLOBAL, Japan, Music News

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