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  • Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:00
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MAX Photo courtesy of avex International Holdings, Ltd.

MAX has sold over 10 million albums since their debut in 1996. Tokyo Journal caught up with Nana, Lina and Mina, who recently recorded their first new single in over three years with fellow group member Reina. Their cover track of the worldwide hit “Tacata” by Tacabro was released on August 7, 2013.

TJ: I understand MAX is an acronym for Musical, Active and eXperience. Did you prefer the name to Super Monkey’s when you first heard it?

There were some other candidates, but finally the management chose MAX. We were happy because other options such as “Lady Madonna” or “Harlem Queen” were a little strange.

TJ: How did each of you first get into dancing and singing?
NANA:I loved exercising from the days of my childhood, and I started traditional Okinawa dance lessons. I also did rhythmic gymnastics when I was a junior high student. When I was 13 years old, I tried out in an audition for Okinawa Actors School, and I started lessons there.
LINA: I dreamed of being an idol singer when I was kid. I liked to sing and dance, so I tried out for an audition for Okinawa Actors School, and I started lessons there.
MINA: I loved to sing from when I was two or three years old, but I was so shy. So I took lessons at Okinawa Actors School to overcome shyness. Then becoming a singer gradually became my passion.

TJ: You have included Okinawan influences in your music. What makes Okinawan music unique? How far have you got involved in songwriting and producing your own music?

We have some Okinawan-style singles, especially the single “Nirai Kani” released in our 10th anniversary year. It is a mixture of Eurobeat and Okinawa sound. First, we were just provided songs, but gradually we got involved with our own music production.

TJ: In 2004 you performed at the AnimeFest in Dallas, Texas. Was that your first time performing in the U.S.? How was the experience?

We had a live performance in New York before that for the first time. It was a program by Ryukyu-Housou (an Okinawa TV broadcasting company). It was so exciting.

TJ: You have also performed in Taiwan and China. Have you noticed any difference between audiences outside and inside Japan?
We performed in Taiwan, China and Thailand just after the tsunami. Japanese audiences are rather modest at first and gradually get more excited, but other Asian audiences are so excited from the very beginning.

TJ: MAX has been active for nearly 20 years. What enabled such long-term activity? Do you still spend free time together often?
We feel like time flew by quickly. We appreciate the support of so many people. We are very good friends privately, and stimulating to each other. We like MAX. That is why we can continue our activity so long.

TJ: How has the music scene changed since you f irst started?
Music genres have been so broken up, and there are lots of options now. When we started our career, we could share music trends among the same generation. But now we are surrounded by a flood of information.

TJ: Who is your favorite dancer or singer?
NANA: Madonna and Janet Jackson were so inspiring when I saw them for the first time, and they never fade. They have always been pioneers on the front line.
LINA: I love Jennifer Lopez. She has been on top for a long time. And I like her Latin taste.
MINA: When we started our career, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Madonna were so popular. They were our dream. I like Michael because he was loved by all generations.

TJ: MAX focuses on high impact choreography and a sexy image. How do you keep your bodies in good shape?
We have been making efforts in physical preparation. At the same time, we cope effectively with stress. Okinawans are often said to be slow tempo compared with people of the Japanese mainland. It is good for our health. We always laugh and are encouraged by each other.

TJ: What do you like to do in your free time?
NANA: I like wine. I study wine and enjoy drinking it. I also tried a full marathon.
LINA: I am interested in the Japanese kimono. I started lessons on how to wear kimono recently.
MINA: I tried a full marathon with Nana. I have been enjoying hot yoga these days.

TJ: What are your goals for the future?
NANA: I want to continue the group’s activity as long as possible. Also, I want to try more acting, personally.
LINA: I also want to continue the group’s activity as long as possible. I am proud of being a member of MAX. Personally, I want to do more TV jobs and modeling because I am interested in fashion.
MINA: I also want to continue the group’s activity as long as possible, with a goal of official recognition as the longest running female music group by the Guinness Book of Records. Personally, I want to sing more.

TJ: What advice would you give to young artists starting out?
NANA: It is important to challenge what you like. Even if it is hard, you can enjoy it. Believing is the power for success.
LINA: Not being afraid of failure. You have to try, otherwise you don’t know if you can do it or not. You can learn from failure. Failure is not a shame.
MINA: Don’t give up. Even after you stop or make no progress, you have to keep going.

TJ: Do you have any closing messages for your fans?
NANA: Thank you for your support for 18 years. I appreciate encounters with our fans. Now I feel our relationship is interactive.
LINA: Thank you for your support for 18 years. Since we started our career when we were teenagers, the fans supported us. Especially when we had serious problem when Mina left work due to childbirth, they still supported us. Without them, we couldn’t survive.
MINA: Thank you for keeping on loving us. I could rejoin because of support from the fans even after I was away from the activity for six years.

TJ: Japan is bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Do you think Tokyo would be a good location? Why?
It would be so exciting to see the Olympic Games directly in Tokyo. It would encourage people because it provides a lot of dreams for the future. tj

The complete article is available in Issue #272. Click here to order from Amazon

Written By:

Miyuki Kawai


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