First Summer Uika – her music, her career and her personality

Who is First Summer Uika, you may ask? Maybe this could give you an answer:

A first glance into her world.

No? At first I was drawn to First Summer Uika’s quirkiness and weird behavior on stage. But I dug deeper and found other parts of her – she’s not only cool, unfiltered and funny – she’s also very professional, pragmatic and intelligent.

She is known for being a part of the Japanese pop/rock groups BiS (2013-2014) and Billie Idle (2015-2019). Both groups have a punk attitude, and both criticize the Japanese idol group concept in some way, while also making well-produced hits with choreographed dancing and a thought-out public image. Some kind of mix, or constant back-and-forth race, between commercial and anti-commercial.

BiS was a chaotic group where everything happened at once and everything was a publicity stunt. Controversy, some legitimate critique and pure shock value – they behaved like they weren’t “supposed” to behave. From one angle BiS was an empty shell made out of marketing, from another angle they were art at its best, criticizing the current state at the right time, creating a whole new genre of “alt-idols” and achieving legend status (“BiS had a legendary smell even before I entered.” – quote from First Summer Uika’s ask.fm page). They made some more or less controversial music videos, and toured with the noise band “Hijokaidan” (“非常階段”) under the name “BiS Kaidan” (“BiS階段”) and did some really outrageous punk shows. Then BiS ended (they came back later but with new members, watch these videos if you want to know everything). First Summer Uika was in BiS for only a year, but it seems to have left a big mark.

“I think BiS is supported by everyone because of its excellent musicality and storytelling. If you’re just doing radical things, then it might be sensational, but I don’t think it’s widespread. The strength of the song, the trajectory of the story, and the strength of the story make me feel like I won’t die, and because there are wild elements in the story, people are drawn in more and more.”
(auto-translated from https://realsound.jp/2021/02/post-711872.html)

BiS music video.

After this First Summer UIka created the group “Billie Idle” with one member from BiS, and later extended it to a four-person unit. They didn’t have any clear direction either – except that they were “NOT IDOLS” (but still kind of). One of their things was to make as many types of music videos and songs as possible, apparently. They’ve got the ballad, the punk track, the retro 80s song, the electropop thing and the rock hit, and music videos in ever-shifting genres. Billie Idle had a way more laid-back tempo than BiS, and focused less on upsetting people and more on having fun.

“Uika: […] But BiS was a group like a “super express train”, so I couldn’t get off even if I got off, and it was taken in before I knew it. On the contrary, I think I should have just said “I can only see what is in front of me!”
──Rather, isn’t it like you’re still on a super express train?
Uika: It was the fastest when I was in BiS. On the contrary, BILLIE IDLE was slow, so in that sense, it’s just an express train that stops at a major station (laughs).
(auto-translated from https://natalie.mu/music/pp/firstsummeruika)

Billie Idle disbanded in 2019, and removed all their stuff from the internet. But guess what, someone uploaded it again:

Anarchy in the music scene by Billie Idle.

When researching about First Summer Uika, I noticed three themes she often comes back to when it comes to music career and life: How she doesn’t have any specific dreams, her pragmatic and logical view on circumstances, and how she fits better as a supporting member rather than as the “main character”. The last one in particular sounds weird to me, because in my eyes First Summer Uika has obviously been the most charismatic one – the “main character” – in all of her constellations. The one that stands out and does all the funny and surprising antics. With the natural energy to just take over a place. But Uika sees herself more as a person standing besides the star rather than the star herself:

“Uika: When I saw a star-like person who was one of the best in the tournament, like the so-called XX contest, and realized that “I’m not a genius, I’m an ordinary person,” he said, “I see. It’s impossible to behave.” Therefore, I changed my mind about how to become an “excellent ordinary person” who is a companion who helps such talented people. Maybe I was thinking that I could be a genius until I was a junior high school student.
[…]
The moment I realized that I was a human being who had no excellent points, although I could get a good score, I thought, “Oh, then, let’s do our best to become a supporting player.” […]
(auto-translated from https://realsound.jp/2021/02/post-711872.html)

“I think I’m good at analyzing how I live on the spot. For example, when I’m an idol, if everyone sings in a high voice, I sing in a low voice, or if there are many fluffy women in the theater company, I’m going to be a manly character. Maybe it’s because I don’t have any outstanding talents or skills that I have naturally cultivated my analytical and self-producing skills. However, I don’t think I can match the main character.
(auto-translated from https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/8fa5a96eb3c81c46a8af6f7131385a70657656bcUPDATE: this article seems to be gone from the internet, so it’s source: “trust me bro” on this one)

She’s probably right about herself, at least more than I am. Her self-awareness is impressive – she totally knows her strengths and limits, and does what she knows how to do. For example, in Billie Idle, she was in charge of creating choreography and writing parts of the lyrics, but didn’t compose any of the music.

“Uika: I have never composed music in my life. I wrote the lyrics in BiS and BILLIE IDLE®, but that was also because I was asked, and I didn’t want to make my own overflowing feelings into the work. I don’t feel like creating spontaneously. If anything, I like how it works for the organization and planning. Even when I was in the high school light music club, it was fun to play a band together, but as a director, I was enthusiastic about how to organize the organization, what kind of live concerts I would do at the school festival, and so on. […]
(auto-translated from https://realsound.jp/2021/02/post-711872.html)

“MAMESHiBA NO TAiGUN” and First Summer Uika collaborating.

After being away from music a while after Billie Idle’s disbandment, she returned with the debut solo single “Chameleon” (“カメレオン”) and a collaboration with the pop group MAMESHiBA NO TAiGUN (豆柴の大群) in 2021. And First Summer Uika isn’t limited to music, no, she seems to be as good at other entertainment genres as at music – before joining BiS, she did theater and was in a band in school, later she starred in a movie, and after 2019 she has started appearing in various TV and radio shows. Despite her success, she doesn’t seem to have dreamed of reaching it. Earlier, she never dreamed of being an idol, but became one anyways. Her career appears to be just a couple of attempts at trying on different things and succeeding at all of them.

“[…] In a life without basic setbacks, I’m just jumping at something interesting on the spot without worrying too much about money. But that’s why I think there is now, and conversely, I was able to experience everything because I didn’t have the feeling that “I only have a dream as an actress.” Maybe it won’t change, and I won’t stick to it too much. However, when I do it, I’m very particular about it, and I’ll do my best to make the project a successful box office. Because the work is fun. […]
(auto-translated from https://realsound.jp/2021/02/post-711872_2.html)

“I’m often asked in interviews, “What are your goals for the future?” But I don’t have big goals. All you have to do is do what you have been given in front of you so that you do not waste your chances and relationships with others.
(auto-translated from https://otekomachi.yomiuri.co.jp/lifestyle/20201028-OKT8T244385/)

First Summer Uika shows little emotional attachment her own works. This lets her see them for what they are, and then make logical decisions of how to change or not change them. Refreshing, and pretty rare for being in the music industry. And maybe good for both the mind and the creations coming out from it. I got a glimpse of this personality while going through the over 3000 questions and answers on her ask.fm page. There she has answered fan questions about everything, both high and low, and both about music, life and make-up. She easily breaks down problems from the questioners and offers well-put solutions, no matter the subject. When asked about her music career, she has a thought-out answer to almost anything – her insights in music business and her understanding of music groups and how their art affect the world and change over time is way beyond her 2-4 years of music industry experience at the time of the questions. She has a lot of great advice on the page, which doesn’t fit here.

──How do you recover when you fail at work and feel depressed?
Uika: I’m a rather positive person, but sometimes I’m depressed. However, there must always be a reason for failure, so in many cases, the cause and effect are compared and resolved by theory.”
(auto-translated from https://otekomachi.yomiuri.co.jp/lifestyle/20201028-OKT8T244385/)

Live with Billie Idle.

First Summer Uika inspire me. Why? Mostly out of pure intuition. But if I’d try to put it into words, I think it’s because she is a mix of different worlds and does everything in all these worlds very well. She takes everything seriously no matter what it is, and manages to have a career where she at one end poses nude with suspicious liquids covering her face together with her bandmates (click and watch only if you wanna click and watch it) and at the other end has a somewhat mainstream radio and TV career. All this without trying to hide anything or pretending to be someone else. In reality it’s not that weird to have different parts of one’s personality that get used in different situations during different times, but not all people dare to do it, and not all people carry it as well and confidently as First Summer Uika does.

The following quote is written on First Summer Uika’s ask.fm page. It’s translated automatically which gives many errors and weird phrasings, but you should be able to understand it if you read carefully. Here Uika talks about leaving earlier eras behind her and going towards new things, while still bringing the old with her in some way. I think it’s a good conclusion of the text and a way to get into First Summer Uika’s mind:

“Well, I’m not so particular about “former”, so I’m perfectly fine. BiS is back now, and I think it will be called because there are times when I can only ask the “former”, so if that happens, I think it’s my turn.
Even when I introduce myself, I still often say, “I used to be an idol called BiS.” BiS is a topic that is relatively well known to me. I’m glad that it is gradually being transmitted to BILLIE IDLE®. When I talk to theater people in Kansai, I say, “I used to live in the theater company Retort Cabinet.”
[…]
From the fans’ point of view, the bigger the “former”, the more it may seem that they rely on the title if they continue to give their name. When you get a job, even if you change your educational background or general job, the hiring rate is different between a major company and an unknown company. Everyone should be using a usable name. It’s the same.
However, since the physical strength of the “Gen” is limited, the expiration date will come someday. The effect of “original” diminishes. That is when the “former” group is forgotten. So by then you have to create or find a new “source”. I found it. It is a “Omoto” called “First Summer Uika” that is not found anywhere else.”
(auto-translated from ask.fm/firstummeruika)

First Summer Uika fishing with her groupmates.

…and, the name? Why “First Summer Uika”? Apparently, “Uika” (her real name, “初夏” written in Japanese) can mean “early summer” in Japanese. Attempting to google this name at the beginning of summers was pretty hard, so she had to change it. Even the English phrase “early summer” (“アーリーサマー” transcribed in Japanese letters) was difficult to google, so she changed it to “First Summer” and added her real name “Uika” afterwards (= “First Summer Uika“, or “ファーストサマーウイカ” in Japanese letters) (source, source 2).

Bonus: Listen to these two disstracks Uika did with her BiS collegues (the two topmost songs): https://soundcloud.com/disidol

And if you want to find out more: Instagram, Twitter, Youtube!

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