I interviewed the talented Beckii Cruel, the 17th most subscribed YourTuber (3rd in the music category) in Japan. Beckii made fame at aged just 13 with a YouTube dance cover to jpop song Danjo! Since then Beckii has traveled back and forth to Japan, released her own music, modeled and even had her own BBC documentary about her life. Beckii will be a special guest at UK conventions Alcon and Doki Doki this year!
How did you become interested in J-culture?
I picked up some Manga in a bookstore when I was 12 years old. I was fascinated by how it reads back-to-front and it lead me to research more about it online! I was soon engrossed in the entire world of Japanese culture.
I think my original Danjo outfit holds the most sentiment for me, but I rarely wear it now unless it’s requested. Nowadays I’m becoming more interested in street style, and blending cosplay elements with casual wear. My favourite outfits have to be both cute and comfortable!
I know you currently don’t cosplay much, but if you were, who would it be?
I recently started to watch more anime, so either Kurisu from Steins;Gate or Mikasa from Attack on Titan, as they’re the two most recent animes I have watched!
There aren’t any anime conventions on my island. I’m lucky enough to go to British conventions at least once a year, so I don’t feel a loss that there aren’t any. Many peers on my island have been quite rude to me about my work in Japan and my interest in Japanese culture and it has led me to be cautious about expressing that side of myself at home.
It was your 18th birthday this year, did you doing anything special for it?
My 18th birthday was on June 5th! I had a quiet time with my friends, we went to the local Chinese restaurant for a meal. Turning 18 didn’t hold anything of significance for me, as I don’t enjoy drinking and apart from that there’s nothing more it holds for me!
Absolutely not. I was very much aware of viral videos, and I was an avid content viewer before I was a content creator. However, I never imagined any of my videos had the potential to also go viral! My videos were created purely as a hobby to share with my online friends, and it still surprises me that so much has come from them.
Danjo is the song you are most recognised for, do you ever get fed up of it and think “I never want to hear that song again!”
When I was 14, I was returning to Japan every month or more. During that time I wore the Danjo costume or performed the Danjo dance at least once a day, sometimes three or four times! It was difficult to deal with as I didn’t want to appear ungrateful, being that the dance was the reason I was there in the first place, but there did come a time I was dreading I would be asked to perform it again! Now that I’ve had a few years break from seeing it daily I’m once again happy to perform it.
The BBC Documentary was an amazing experience for me. We spent around 6 months filming with the crew to gather the footage. What many people don’t realise is that roughly for every minute aired on television, there is an hour of footage it is cut from. So a 1 hour documentary is cut from 100 hours of footage. When you make that realisation, you also see that with such a large pool of footage they can engineer your demeanor to be whatever they see appropriate. As far as my own depiction, it was fairly accurate, however from viewing reactions to the depiction of my parents, I honestly feel they were inaccurate and single-sided. It was a big learning curve for my whole family but we have definitely grown to understand more about how the media works.
Can we expect to see another?
I have a new documentary on the way which should be released in late 2013. We shot it at the beginning of the year. It follows me recording my new single which should hopefully be available for listening very soon! Please follow me on Twitter for more updates as to the release of both of these things!
I think one of the most memorable experiences for me was landing in Narita airport for the fifth or sixth time and passing through security. The guards which attended to me all recognised me and asked, “Beckii?”! It was very surreal, being recognised not only at the airport, but by the security themselves!
How do you find your Japan fans differ from your UK fan base?
I find it’s easier to communicate with my UK fans, as of course there is no language barrier that way. I can feel closer to my UK fans in that way. However I feel that the Japanese fans understand idol culture a lot more as it is more inherently Japanese. I have some UK fans who are fans of me but don’t like idols or idol culture.
I’ve grown a lot more as a person. At this point in my life particularly, since turning 18 I have met many great musicians who have inspired me to work harder on my own music, and create music with more of a direct input from myself personally. My horizons have widened and I feel much more ready to take matters into my own hands in terms of my career. I’m still heavily grounded and cynical but I feel that with determination I am ready to choose paths I’d like to follow.
Beckii Cruel, five years’ time, where do you see yourself?
I’m already the Managing Director of my own company, Pretty Liberty. I hope to have created some genuinely powerful music and started working on publishing a magazine. The industries in which I work are very fast paced and so it’s hard to predict where I will be in 5 years, but I have strong determination to fulfil both of those goals, so hopefully that will be the case!
Keep trying and keep learning. I find it very difficult to follow my own advice in regards to this. I went viral at a very early point in my life and I had no professional training, yet when I was releasing music and performing it was expected of me to sing and perform at a highly professional level. Following that, even with my dances on YouTube many people expect me to be ‘the absolute best Jpop dancer ever’ because I am the one who has garnered the most success from it, however it’s not the case. I know many of my friends are more talented dancers than me. It’s hard when there’s so much pressure for your videos to be perfect when you’re still learning, but I hope to carry on dancing and uploading and I hope that people can understand when I make mistakes! Another comforting point is that I don’t believe I’ve ever performed a live stage set without at least one mistake, so I wouldn’t worry too much if that’s what you’re concerned about. Nobody has ever mentioned it to me, so either everybody I’ve met is very polite, or it’s not even noticeable!
I’m hoping to include some live singing in my set once more. It will be the third time I have ever sung live on stage, but I’ve enjoyed myself thoroughly each time I have done it and I’m very lucky to have such support each time! Outfit wise, at the last convention I performed at I wore some custom-designed maid dresses my own mother created for me! I really loved how they looked and so I’ll possibly wear them again, and of course throw some surprise costumes in the mix too!
Keep updated with all of Beckii’s news via:
Subscribe to Beckii’s YouTube channel!
Photo Credits: Both images of Beckii with a lollipop and holding a cake- Shan Fisher
All images can be found here http://beckii.co.uk/photos/