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RINA of SCANDAL participates in a talk event for the film 『Sisterhood』! She talks about the walls that they've faced as a band that, even as a rock band, highlights their femininity; and how they've broken them down!
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Drummer & vocalist RINA of the all-girl band SCANDAL, who represents Japan in both name and reality and boasts an immense popularity among teenaged girls, participated in a talk event for the film 『Sisterhood』 on 4/14 at Yokohama Cinemarine. Currently screening at Yokohama Cinemarine, this monochromatic film that affirms diversity is a work by director Takashi Nishihara that combines a documentary that follows the lives of Manami Usamaru and singer-songwriter BOMI for four years starting from 2015, plus the addition of a newly shot narrative film. RINA spoke about her impressions of the film, as well as the walls that they've faced as a band that, even as a rock band, highlights their femininity; and how they've broken them down. Its content is also linked to the congratulatory remarks by honorary professor Chizuko Ueno during Tokyo University's entrance ceremony.

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RINA greeted the audience with, "This opportunity is connected to the time I wrote on social media about my seeing this film and the director finding that tweet. It would be nice if I could relate to movies and our activities to things I think and feel but can't fully talk about when I'm playing music." She then said, "Right now, if you search for 『films/movies』 and 『now playing』, a comprehesive list that covers even arthouses will come up. So, 『Sisterhood』 is a film that I looked in to, found on social media, and was interested in before it was released."

When asked about her thoughts on the film, she answered: "I thought it was a great film and one that I really liked. It's very interesting as a single story, and this was the first time I saw a black and white movie. The coloring was one element that I was drawn to; it's light and enjoyable until the end and felt fresh. When I watched the scene where BOMI, the final person [featured in the film], did an MC during her live show during which she said, 'I don't get invited to festivals very often, but for some reason I was invited this year,' all at once I was able to drop myself into the film. That's because, despite us reaching our 10th year last year of being a major label band, we couldn't appear in festivals until our fifth year of being a major label band, even though we wanted to appear. We also weren't invited to be in rock magazines at all. Those five years were ones where we were looked at obliquely, and were very frustrating, irritating years. Not being invited made us think that we lacked ability, but the rules for five years' worth of career-building and festivals have been expanding steadily; we started to be invited from our sixth year onwards; and by continuing to appear [at festivals] for these past five years, we began to be seen more directly and have our music be listened to more directly a little at a time. BOMI's MC scene felt like my own story."

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Director Nishihara said, "This work's catchphrase is, 'I decide my own happiness.' I have the tendency to decide on the image first, and I wanted this film to express that discomfort and vague feeling of it being difficult living in a society that does not recognize diversity, and wanted those who watched it to think about it."

RINA reminiscenced: "I'm the type of person who relatively enjoys being born a woman and living as such, but when I look back to 10 years ago, there weren't any girls who played drums with a style like mine. I think there were a little more drummers who played in a mannish, cool-like style. I have been fond of girlish things since that time, and for a long time I felt strongly about wanting to go on stage being the most attractive I could be as a woman, and I would show that with my clothes, fashion, and diction. There were many times we thought, 'We are a rock band that highlights our femininity, so that has to be why we aren't invited to festivals, and that we're being looked at obliquely.' A major reason was our inadequacy as a band, plus there were overwhelmingly few all-girl bands doing rock bands while highlighting their femininity back then. By persisting with that style and continuing on, more people have noticed that coolness unique to all-girl bands."

Nishihara replied, "You've definitely reversed its merits. Like what you said about how 'Drummers have to be like this,' and by you playing the drums, you've made society recognize you."

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RINA additionally explained: "I have never felt it difficult to live because I'm a woman, but more than that, I think that there is a borderline exists inside women. 10 years ago there was a line between bands who were able to appear to festivals and us, who were ignored and weren't able to appear. I feel that that's in part due to us being women, that there are bands who stir up crowds who have same diction as the men on stage, and that there are bands with even more of a core, cultural-like aura to them. Because we're a band that's poppy and sunny, we were too catchy and bright back then. At last bands of different styles have come out from different directions, and what we're most happy about is that we can now stand on the stages we longed for, and have musicians look at us straightforwardly."

RINA said this about to how to overcome a situation like that: "When I decide to do what I want to do, there are also times when there are no examples of it yet. In my case, there were no drummers playing in a rock band while wearing short dresses. I think wearing them is cool and nice, and by continuing to do so there have been people who have copied that. There's a possibility a genre like that will be born when there's enough people who like that kind of style, so if there are moments when you can't do what you want to do, I think it would be better to create a place for yourself where you can do it. You have a lot of energy, and the energy used to do something you like is immense yet enjoyable, so I think it's better for you to create your own place where you can live as you like."

Nishihara said: "As for me as well, my main job is doing TV documentaries. Since this film is one we made independently, we were thinking about how to continue making a place where we could express ourselves, so I really empathize with what you said about making your own place for yourself, and continue to dispatch things in your own way."

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When Nishihara said, "This may be presumptious of me to say, but I thought that 「her」, the name of SCANDAL's label that started this spring, was linked to 『Sisterhood』," RINA replied, "Yes, that's true."

She said: "The decision to start a label was made by the four of us over the past year. I am very confident and proud that we were able to continue on without stopping even once, with no change in members after debuting, and I also take great pride in the "all-girl band" genre. I love it. While continue to play music with those kinds of thoughts, there was something that couldn't be resolved just by making music and touring. A desire of wanting to go to an even newer place reached its peak last year, and if we didn't resolve it, we couldn't move forward—that's what the four of us talked about for a long time. One idea that came out was that there may be a time when it'd be necessary to completely change our environment and where we make new songs. 'We may be starting from zero, and we don't know what'll happen, but we would try to create a place to do our activities—our own place for ourselves.' We did a lot of activities among ourselves last year. We decided on the name of the label at the last minute. We wanted to go with a word that would make it clear at one glance that it's related to women, so we decided not to go with 「she」, but with 「her」. After we decided on it, I took interest in 『Sisterhood』, and it's also true that I arrived here naturally, but I don't think that would have been the case if I had done feminism-related work as part of SCANDAL. For me personally, I would like to continue doing music through things such as an approach towards women and questions for men. I want to go on stage while having an interest in things like that. SCANDAL will start our nationwide live house tour in June, and I think it'd be nice if we could have with room to spare for highlighting our current feelings, and have a tour that we can truly enjoy. We're a band that does things as they come, so we have no idea what will happen in the future. But, I think my main premise is that I want to play music while enjoying being a woman."

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2011.7.3 AM2 - Anaheim, CA 2012.3.28 SCANDAL vs BUDOKAN 11.3+4 SCANDAL HALL TOUR 2012 @愛知 11.10 Happy MUSIC Live 2012 2013.3.3 SCANDAL OSAKA-JO HALL 2013 @大阪城ホール 2014.6.1 HNL Ekiden & Music 2014 6.2 Fan Meeting 2015.4.25 SCANDAL WORLD TOUR 2015「HELLO WORLD」 Paris, FR 4.26「HW」London, UK 4.30「HW」Essen, GER 5.15「HW」Chicago, IL 5.20「HW」Mexico City, MEX 5.22「HW」LA, CA 5.23「HW」Anaheim, CA 2016.1.12+13 PERFECT WORLD @武道館5.21 Welcome Fan Meeting 5.22 HNL Ekiden & Music 2016 5.23 Farewell Fan Meeting 8.21 SCAFes @泉大津フェニックス 2017.7.14 47 Prefecture Tour @Ibaraki 7.15 Mito 7.17 Tokyo 2018.9.5 SCANDAL US & Mexico Tour 2018 "Special Thanks" @NY 9.7 @SF 9.9 @Anaheim 9.12 @MTY 9.14 @MEX 9.16 @TX
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Mainstream Artist
Mainstream Artist
Very insightful talk. The things Rina talked about during the early days as a band is a real eye opener, it kinda makes me go "ah!-they actually haven't did that, did they?"

I find it interesting that they wasn't able to do festivals until their 5th year of major label debut, i thought they did some festivals during 2012 tho?

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International Performer
International Performer
Thanks, Jade for translating! I’ve not noticed this aspect of the band’s struggle as much until more recently - with all the press they did announcing the creation of 「her」. I find it a tad ridiculous that some people think that leaving Sony was regressive, but if it meant stifling creativity and direction by listening to the suits - leaving was the right decision.

As for Star~world96’s comment regarding SCANDAL’s participations in festivals, RINA was correct if you look at the time when they first played ROCK IN JAPAN and that was 2013. RIJ is massive, and is touted to be the biggest, if not one of, rock festivals in the country. I did note that they played Inazuma in late 2012 (almost 5 years post-debut) but apart from that, they weren’t playing major fests and at most “carnivals” that were indoor, or cobbled up all girl bands’ fests. 

To date, they’ve played the big ones like CDJ and Summer Sonic iirc. 

I hope that the band gets to do Fuji Rock one day. Looking forward to that.

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