Monday, September 9, 2013

Peculiar Person of the Month: Yumi of The Oishii Project


David Rondinelli


Yumi is a member of Oishii Project who has taken her love of fashion and singing into the group to become one of its strongest members. At 3’11” Yumi packs a powerhouse of time management into her day between performing, learning new dance routines, and being the group’s event coordinator, proving that it really is the little things that matter. Aside from being a part of Oishii Project, she is also a singer/songwriter for a second band called Psycho Bando all while being a champion gamer at Animal Crossing. Yumi was kind enough to talk to This Peculiar Life NYC about all that it entails to being an online singer.  

This Peculiar Life NYC: Tell me how you found out about Oishii Project and what made you want to be a part of this group?

Yumi: I’ve been active with looking for auditions involving both acting and singing, and I happened to stumble on Oishii Project from a Google search of auditions. Curious, I checked it out and I’ve always been into Japanese music, culture, and fashion so I decided to give it a go!

TPL NYC: On some of the videos, the girls refer to their time in the group as "generations". How long is a generation in Oishii terms, and what generation are you?

Yumi: The term generations is used to indicate seniority in the group. For example, if you were among the first group of girls to get accepted into Ichigo (strawberry), Kiwi, or Lychee, you would be considered a first generation member. [We also have  Mini Cherries who are the girls in training.] Since Micchi and I are among the second group of girls to join Ichigo, we are considered second gen. members.

TPL NYC: Along the same lines, I hear that the girls are split into groups. What group are you in? Did you get to pick, or did you get assigned?

Yumi: I’m in the Oishii! Ichigo group. We didn’t get to pick our groups. Instead, we were assigned to our groups.

TPL NYC: Do you ever get shuffled around to different groups?

Yumi:  Each group was formed to bring out the strengths in each group of girls. Ichigo is both sweet and sour, so musically, our group personifies those certain characteristics. Kiwi is tart… ish. Hahaha! I love kiwis, they’re delicious. Anywho, the music for the Kiwi group is a little more edgy. Lychee is sweet, therefore the Lychee group has music that’s more… well in my words ‘cutie pop’! I make up my own genres of music too, can’t you tell, ha, ha, ha!

TPL NYC: What is your favorite part of performing with the group and what is the hardest?

Yumi: Oh man, it’s so hard to say what my favorite part is when it comes to performing with them. As a part of the U.S. branch, we haven’t been given the opportunity to make our debut yet. The U.K. branch, however, has had many performance opportunities! Lucky girls! 
It is much easier for the UK girls, though. Here in the U.S. we’re so spread out, so coming together for a performance can be costly. Come back to me again next year, and I promise I’ll have something to say about in terms of performance!

TPL NYC: I know there are auditions; could you tell me what the audition process is like to become a part of the group? In the same vein, what was your audition and how did you put it together?

Yumi: I have a terrible memory, but if I remember correctly, we were told to put together a video that contains two minutes of introduction, two minutes of singing one song in Japanese, two minutes of singing another song, and finally, two minutes of dancing. I had such a hard time with my audition because I talked a LOT, and I couldn’t just say something in two minutes without having to cut an extra four or five minutes of talking. Everything took so much time for me. I wasn’t used to filming myself, so I had to film everything separately and then put it all together at the end.


TPL NYC: What are rehearsals like? Do you ever choreography you own routines? If not, how long does it take you to learn one?
Yumi: Rehearsals are normally by myself. For learning music, it really depends on how much time I have for learning a song. Generally, I’ll listen, sing-along several times, and work on areas that have a harder time memorizing. Dancing is a different story. I’ll admit, when it comes to dancing, I have two left flippers, haha! If I have to memorize a dance, I’ll set up an hour or two during the day where I’ll practice my dancing. It also helps to be in a group full of other girls that dance! So if I ever have any questions, I can always run to one of my girls to help me out.

TPL NYC: What do you feel it is about yourself that makes you stick out from the other girls?

Yumi: I’m fun-sized!

TPL NYC: You want to be a singer/songwriter. Who are some of your influences in style and music that made you want to pursue this?

Yumi: Some of my biggest influences are Cream Vision, Utada Hikaru, Koda Kumi, Mika Nakashima, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, M-Flo, Whitney Houston, Ne-Yo, and just recently I’ve been listening to some K-POP too! Like 2NE1 and Girl's Generation.

TPL NYC: Is it difficult to write music?
Yumi: It really is different for everyone. What works best for me might not exactly be what works best for someone else. I personally take a little longer to write music than I would like to, but it’s something I’m continually working on. Hopefully I’ll get much better at it!

TPL NYC: Of the original songs that you have written, which one do you enjoy performing the most?

Yumi: My performances are usually in front of an American demographic, so I usually perform “Dear Cupid”.

TPL NYC: You have so many different looks. Just about every Vlog you do, you look different. Is it hard for people to recognize you with so many different looks?

Yumi: I LOVE exploring with fashion and playing around with the different sub-styles of *gyaru. I haven’t thought too much about whether or not people would recognize me online. It might be a little more difficult to pick me out online, but offline I’ll probably be the first person you notice.

*Gyaru are various fashion styles dependant on different subcategories, but generally describes glamorizing tanned skin, blonde hair and old Hollywood glamour.

TPL NYC: Either way, how do you approach creating a new look? What do you use as inspiration? And how long does it take to make yourself look like that?

Yumi: I’m a big fan of the Japanese gyaru style. It’s something that I’ve been immersed in for about five years now, so that’s where I take my main inspiration from. When I’m feeling playful though, I’ll look at some favorite artists, music videos, or even fashion brands to mix and match. For a video, I usually have an outfit put together in 10-15 minutes. It’s fun! However, the downside to all of this is that my room simultaneously gets turned upside down.
Yumi in cosplay

TPL NYC: What is it about the J-Pop/ Cosplay look that appeals to you?

Yumi: I feel like the Japanese street styles I love look very unique, glamorous, playful, and cute! Gyaru itself has many substyles of its own! All of it is art! There are so many different styles, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to your own individual look as a result of how you feel you can best express yourself.
TPL NYC: Are you an anime/ manga fan, does that inspire your look? If so, do you ever cosplay as a certain character?

Yumi: I was much more into anime/ mange when I was in middle school and high school. I think I love my games a little more.

TPL NYC: What anime and manga do you enjoy watching and reading, and what got you into it?

Yumi: The last manga I was reading was Barajou no Kiss, I love the Aya Shouto’s art! When it comes to anime, I love mysteries and ghost stories, so shows like Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, Ghost Hunt, and Another are right up my alley.

TPL NYC: Tell me about the new Oishii Boot Camp? Why was that created, and what does the boot camp entail? I've heard on some of the vlogs that they have to turn things in. What do they have to turn in and what happens if they don't?

Yumi: The Oishii Bootcamp was done to encourage audience interaction, hone our skills, and to give fans and viewers a chance to get to know us. Most of the challenges were vlogs. The most recent one, however, was more of a musical challenge. Next to everything else that the public sees, behind the scenes, we also had various miscellaneous assignments we were required to turn in for the bootcamps. If any group fails to have all their individuals turn their assignments in on time, the entire group will be subject to punishment!

TPL NYC: Do you see Oishii Project as a stepping stone into more mainstream scene or do you like being a part of this niche?

Yumi: I hate looking at things as “stepping stones”. When I choose to become a part of something, I will try to give it my all. I don’t exactly feel like I completely fit in to the idol niche. However, I feel as if Oishii! Project does not completely conform to the idol stereotypes either.

Yumi with fellow Oishii member Jenny.
TPL NYC: One of your Vlogs mentions that you are tiny in stature. You also have a very cute look, do you feel that this makes you more marketable in something like Oishii Project?

Yumi: I am 3’ 11” totally fun-sized and fun-loving. Oishii! Project has a very cute vibe, so it never hurts to add to it.

TPL NYC: Aside from singing and songwriting, do you enjoy any other endeavors or hobbies?
Yumi: Aside from singing and songwriting, I also love fashion, nail art, working out, playing video games (holler at you Animal Crossing players!), and reading!


TPL NYC: How did you come up with your name Yumiko?

Yumi: The Kanji for Yumiko is 由美子, and it means Reason Beauty Child. It sounds fierce, strong – maybe a little bit diva. The name itself, however, sounds playful and cute.

TPL NYC: If you weren’t in Oishii Project, what do you think you would be doing?

Yumi: Outside of Oishii! Project, I’m involved in another band called Psycho Bando. So I would probably just have more time working on Psycho Bando as well as some of my other original pieces.
TPL NYC:  With a busy schedule, what is a typical day like for you?

Yumi: It depends on what day of the week it is. Sometimes I have band practice with Psycho Bando in the evening, and I usually have work three to five days a week. Recently I was also accepted as a staff member for Oishii! Project, and I am now in charge of U.S. booking and event coordinating, so Sundays I’ll have a morning staff meeting to attend to for Oishii! Project as well. In between all that time, I’ll have housework that I take care of, music recordings, and practice. When I can squeeze some more time in, I’ll be scoping the net for auditions.

TPL NYC: What does your family think of you being a part of Oishii Project?

Yumi: My family is very supportive! It’s a great experience to be part of a net idol group.

TPL NYC: Do you feel like you have had to sacrifice a lot of your personal life to be a part of Oishii Project?

Yumi: If you want to succeed in anything, sacrifices are inevitable. It’s great time management practice. I’m lucky that the people I love and care for are very supportive of what I do.

TPL NYC:  What are some upcoming events that Oishii Project has coming up?

Yumi: The Mini Cherries, our trainee group, are having their graduations soon! Right now they are going through a testing period. Some will be going into our pre-existing groups, and I have heard talk of perhaps a new mini group or two. We are also planning a U.S. Oishii! Project debut, so keep a look out for that in the next coming months!


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