Interview | Sekai No Owari aka End Of The World Are Really Huge In Japan

Saying “we’re big in Japan” is a music industry inside joke that basically means you’re a bullshit artist who didn’t make it in the US or Europe, but in a far off land you’re huge. Well, what if the role was reversed? Sekai No Owari aka End of the World, who have been compared to Minnesota-based electro-pop’s Owl City, are Japan’s biggest J-Pop act with a social media following bigger than most Midwestern city populations (singer Fukase has over 1.5 million Twitter followers alone), their own documentary Tokyo Fantasy (see the trailer below) and they sell-out Japan’s largest concert venues.

I had a chat over email with the irreverent foursome (frontman Nakajin, vocalist Fukase, pianist Saori and DJ LOVE) as they make their stateside debut tonight at the world famous Roxy (a second showcase at New York’s Bowery Ballroom is on Aug.23 – buy tickets here), to discuss their time in LA, their upcoming English-language debut album and what’s it like being just another upstart band trying to make a name for themselves on the Sunset Strip. 

Crave: You are huge stars in Japan. What’s it like being in a city where no one knows you?

Saori: We decided to cook for dinner the other night, and went to get groceries from a store in Santa Monica. It’s been a while since (the) four of us got to go out together and not worry about people finding out DJ LOVE’s face without a (clown) mask. It’s was quite fun.  

What do you think of the sushi in LA? There’re some famous places (Nozawa, Urasawa, etc.), but does it compare with back home?

Nakajin: I think it’s great! I was a little worried about the food because it’s different from Japan, but we found a delicious sushi spot and also there are a lot of good restaurants in LA. We are enjoying our time here.   

Describe the process of making an English-language album? Are there any words that have been hard to sing? 

Fukase: Obviously English isn’t our first language, and for us to make an English album is not easy, in fact it’s very challenging. Especially recording, we can’t just go in to the studio and record like we do for our Japanese songs. We’ve spent years preparing. Also we need to practice speaking in English more often, so we have roommates from overseas at our house so we communicate in English on a daily basis at home.   

Your band name, Sekai No Owari, translates to “End of the World,” that’s pretty bleak for a pop band.  

Fukase: When I was 17. I was going through a rough time… I really felt I was at the end of the world… And that was when I found music with my friends. So, our music began at the end of the world. 

You’re playing a music showcase at the world-famous Roxy on the Sunset Strip. Did you choose it for a reason? 

DJ Love: We are very honored to play our first show at the Roxy where all the legends have played in the past. We got really excited to see the photos of the bands when we went to check out the venue. We strive to be one of them, and it’ll be our dream to have our photo up on the wall one day. For this show we are performing all the songs in English. And we will be really close to the audience, which is really exciting! 

Okay, what’s up with the clown? 

DJ Love: I’m DJ LOVE! I love In & Out!