NIA (New Improve Ansia) made the exciting announcement a few months ago that they would be touring Europe for the first time with their new name and new member. In light of this, their first single release, and their first one-man show coming up on March 5th, we decided to ask how exactly all of this came to be. Read our interview with the members to get a sneak peek into their upcoming Europe tour and more!
-In December 2015, you changed your band name from “ANSIA” to “New Improve Ansia” (NIA). Why did you decide to change it?
Fukamachi Hikari: In short, our bassist left the band. Our name was ANSIA (in all caps) until then, but we were also “ansia” (in all lowercase letters) before that. When we were still ansia, we disbanded for a bit. When we began again as ANSIA, I wasn’t really into it. I went along with it because we were all in it together.
Even when we restarted as ANSIA three years ago, I didn’t really want that to be our name. It was our former bassist that really wanted our name to stay as ANSIA. So we decided to go along with it. All I said was, “If you really want to continue on as ansia, let’s at least change it to ANSIA.”
When our bassist left, I still wanted to change our name. I told the other 2 members, “Since we’ll be adding a new member, let’s start a new chapter.” But somewhere along the line, between our activities as ansia and ANSIA, I started to like the name. I wanted to keep ANSIA in there somewhere, so that’s why we decided on “New Improve Ansia” (NIA). It’s like ANSIA reborn again.
-Did your band concept change at all along with the name change?
Fukamachi Hikari: It hasn’t really changed, but when I first started ansia, I was still a kid. I’ve grown up with ANSIA. We’re more of an adult ANSIA now (not in that kind of way!). We want to challenge ourselves in new ways and continue to grow.
-“PRAYER,” NIA’s first single, was released on February 24th. How was the creation process for this single different from your time as ANSIA? Did you try anything new?
Fukamachi Hikari: In terms of the songwriting process and recording process, nothing changed. We’re used to making songs a certain way. What we did try to change was the sound—to challenge ourselves make it sound different from ANSIA. We changed the key of one song to make it heavier. We’ve also added some rap into ANSIA’s songs before, but we did it a bit more this time as NIA.
The biggest change was in the vocals. Our vocalist normally sang everything from melodies (of course), to raps, and to screams. This time, however, the other members of the band added some vocals. That was the biggest change. You can hear a lot of different voices. It makes us feel more like a band, with everyone on microphones. (laughs)
In terms of songs, we made some sound choices that were different from ANSIA. There are 3 tracks on the new single: the first song is really heavy, the second song features a new sound that we haven’t tried before, and the third song sounds like a traditional ANSIA song.
Tateishi Jin: We produced most of this single at my home studio. You might be picturing some luxurious space with high-tech equipment, but it’s not that. It’s just a tiny part of my house. Even so, I think we produced something that you’d think was made in a high-tech place. I kind of like making music better this way.
We also decided to try adding in the other members’ voices to the rap sequences.
Kurita Kouhei: As a new member, I tried to make my style of bass playing stand out. I also rap a bit. I think this single does a great job of showing ANSIA’s progression to NIA.
-Your 3rd anniversary one-man—also your first one-man as NIA—will be held on March 5th. Do you have any special plans for that?
Fukamachi Hikari: Well, on February 19th, we hosted our first event show as NIA at Shinjuku BLAZE. We recorded some video footage from that show and we’ll be recording our one-man show as well. Our plan is to mix the footage from those two shows and release it as a DVD. Two of the tracks we’ll include on the DVD (from the show on February 19th) will be given away as a separate DVD at our one-man show on the 5th.
Tateishi Jin: We’ll give away a sample DVD of our February 19th show. As for the performance, expect something more new and aggressive than you’ve seen before.
Kurita Kouhei: This day will be special for me because it will be my first one-man with NIA. Trust me – it will be a special day for everyone. Look forward to the sample DVD we’ll hand out on that day as well.
-Now about your upcoming Europe tour – how did you receive this opportunity to tour Europe?
Fukamachi Hikari: It was all about timing. As ANSIA, we’ve gone to America and Taiwan before. When we told our new bassist, Kouhei, about that, he said that he’d never toured or even been overseas before. One of his dreams is to tour outside of Japan.
So I thought, why not grant his wish? I talked to some people I knew about how we wanted to spread our music around the world, and someone introduced us to REALive. They just happened to be visiting Japan when we were playing a show, so they came to see us and liked us.
Ultimately, we’d like to tour anywhere in the world that we can—America, Asia, anywhere. We have a song from our time as ANSIA called “lien…” that’s very special to us. I wrote it when my father passed away. One of the lyrics is “kimi no uta ga kono sekaijuu ni hibike / tsuzuku mirai e to” (Your song resounds throughout the world / And into the future). I want NIA’s music to resound throughout the world as well.
Kurita Kouhei: It has been my dream to go overseas with music for a long time. Hikari making this happen for us has been the best gift I’ve ever received. I’m really grateful to him and the members, and I’m glad that I’ve had this dream long enough to make it happen.
Nishikawa Tatsuki: Our leader Hikari listened to Kouhei talk about his dream of playing an overseas tour and decided to give it a shot. I think the fact that we’ve played at Anime Expo, a huge convention in the United States, helped us make it happen.
-Do you have any goals or things you want to try during the Europe tour?
Nishikawa Tatsuki: I want to take a drive with a beautiful European woman in the passenger’s seat…oh wait, I don’t have a driver’s license! (laughs)
Tateishi Jin: We’re not planning anything special ahead of time. I think anything special we do will happen spur of the moment, adapting our show to each show’s atmosphere.
Fukamachi Hikari: Well, whenever we’ve played overseas, the language barrier is really obvious. Our lyrics are mostly (and obviously) in Japanese. Even when we sing in English, we don’t really understand what we’re singing. (laughs) Our English sounds very Japanese. But despite the language barrier—whether it was in America or Taiwan—the crowd got really into the music. It made me realize that language doesn’t really matter when it comes to music. Our goal for this tour is to overcome the language barrier again and see how far our music can take us.
Another thing I personally want to do is physically cross the border between countries. Japan is an island nation, so you can’t physically walk into another country. The place we’ll be staying in Europe is 2 minutes from the border of another country. We can wake up in the morning, walk to the border, and have one foot in two countries!
Most of our shows are on the weekends, so we have Monday through Thursday mostly off every week.
-That’s a lot of free time! Where else do you want to go?
Fukamachi Hikari: Notre Dame Cathedral, for one. There are many stories based on it, but there’s a sad one in particular that’s famous in Japan: A Dog of Flanders. I want to go to the place that’s in that book, dress up our vocalist like a dog, and make a video. We do a lot of dumb things like that off-stage.
I also want to go to the Eiffel Tower, eat waffles in Belgium, check out Netherland soccer team stuff in the Netherlands (I’m a soccer fan), drink beer in Germany, and see the Berlin Wall. There’s also a lot of soccer stuff in Germany that I like…and I want to eat hambuger in Hamburg. (laughs)
When I was younger, I wanted to be a social studies teacher, so I’m really into history. I want to go to a lot of historical places as well.
Tateishi Jin: I really want to go to the place where A Dog of Flanders took place at Notre Dame Cathedral. I want to go there no matter what.
Kurita Kouhei: I want to go everywhere! I’ve never been outside of Japan. I can’t even imagine what it will be like. I haven’t thought of any specific places I want to go sightseeing. I’d like to just experience the different cultures and atmospheres of each place we go to.
-Do any of the members speak English?
Fukamachi Hikari: I speak a little. My younger brother went to school in America, so I’ve been there a few times. You can’t do anything without knowing at least some English there. Our vocalist can’t do anything. He knows maybe 10 words of English. The other members understand a little. I’m probably the one who understands English the most out of the 4 of us.
Nishikawa Tatsuki: English is really difficult…but I want to at least learn some phrases to say during the show. I’ll ask people around me that know English and prepare something!
Kurita Kouhei: I can’t speak English at all, so I’m grateful that Hikari can speak a little. Maybe I’ll try using the Google Translate app. (laughs)
-Back to the tour, what kind of setlist can fans in Europe expect?
Fukamachi Hikari: A setlist that expresses NIA 100% fully. We want to play everything from our really crazy songs to our slow-tempo ballads. You can also expect some EDM/Eurobeat-like songs.
-Will the setlist be different for each show?
Fukamachi Hikari: We’d like to change it for each show, yes. You won’t be able to see the same NIA twice.
-How long will each show be?
Fukamachi Hikari: We’re playing at a convention on the tour; that one will be about 40-50 minutes. All of the others will be around an hour and a half or 2 hours. We’ll get so tired…especially since most of the schedule is 3 days straight playing, then 4 days off. We’ll play a lot, then rest a lot, but while we’re playing those 3 days straight, we need to play them with everything we’ve got. We can’t think, “I’m going to save a bit of energy because we have another show tomorrow.”
-What kind of experiences do you hope to gain from the Europe tour, both as a band and personally?
Fukamachi Hikari: I want to gain more confidence. Even though all of our fans may not understand the words of our songs, I want to see how our music can move them emotionally all around the world. I want to bring those memories and confidence back with us.
Nishikawa Tatsuki: I want to experience the vastness of the world and the variety of people in it. I also want to make this tour—our first tour abroad as NIA—an unforgettable one.
Tateishi Jin: I believe music can overcome all language barriers. I want to experience that for myself. I’m looking forward to it.
Kurita Kouhei: I want to witness my dreams coming true, music itself, and traveling with the other members. I want my passion to reach fans. Music is the essence of the heart.
-Finally, please give a message to your fans and readers at S-T.net.
Fukamachi Hikari: We may be a band from a small island nation, but our music is powerful enough to resound around the world. I want you to come see and feel that for yourself. Please continue to give us your support.
Nishikawa Tatsuki: Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. I’m Nishikawa Tatsuki, the vocalist of NIA. A lot of people call me “Tacchan” for short, but when we tour overseas, I’ll be taking ideas for a new nickname. Call me whatever you like and let me know your suggestions! I’m looking forward to seeing you all!!
Kurita Kouhei: Thank you for reading this, and for discovering NIA. I hope that one day, I can meet everyone who reads this. I think we can make that happen. I’ll work hard every day to make that happen.
In case you missed it, here’s our previous article on NIA’s Europe tour. It includes all you need to know about dates, venues, and tickets.
Are you going to see NIA at any of the stops on their first overseas tour? Leave a comment and let us know where you’ll be!