Interview: S★D File 07: Tomoya Matsumura
S★D File 07: Profile
S★D File 07: INTERVIEW
translation by nine dragons
“Each member of SUPERDRAGON will be introduced here in our relay interview series SD FILE. At this point, there’s only three members left! The first one we are introducing in volume 11 is Tomoya Matsumura, who told us all about the shy child he used to be.”
Tomoya, your hometown is Nagano Prefecture, right?
That’s where my father’s side of the family is from, yes. I heard that I was born about 10 days late. You know, it was always said among my family growing up, “Tomoya’s a little scaredy-cat.” Given the way I started out in this world, it seems like it’s always been true.
What kind of child were you?
I was incredibly shy and very afraid of strangers. If I was ever forced to talk to someone I didn’t know, I would immediately run and hide behind my mom. At my preschool, I didn’t really talk to my friends either. Things like that somehow…overwhelmed me.
Do you have any siblings?
I have a sister who is four years older than me. These days we get along pretty well, but in the past we literally fought all the time. She couldn’t come up with verbal comebacks, so she would just hit me instead. I couldn’t just let her win either, so we were known to have some brawls. (laughs)
I still remember this one epic meltdown so well, over a Nintendo DS. So, this one time, our grandmother bought my sister a DS for her birthday. It wasn’t my birthday, right? But I really wanted that DS for myself. I still have this crystal clear memory of myself throwing punches at her while tears run down my face over that DS.
At home, then, it seems you could let loose.
I was like that at home, yeah. At preschool, there were one or two classmates I could play with. However, other than those kids, I wouldn’t let anyone get close to me.
What kind of things would you do with the few friends you did have?
We would play make-believe that we were in Kamen Rider. The one I liked the most was Kamen Rider W. Actually, while my father’s side of the family is based in Nagano Prefecture, my grandmother on my mother’s side lives in Canada. I’ve never even met her, but we call each other from time to time. But, one day, I received a present from her in the mail. It was a Kamen Rider W belt! I was so incredibly happy to get that gift, and maybe I’ve always been emotionally attached to W in particular because of that. I always used that belt when we did make-believe.
What other kinds of ways did you like to play?
I’ve been told that, as soon as I got home from pre-school, I used to hole up in my room for hours on end watching TV shows on VHS. I can’t really remember what the shows were, but apparently I’d be in there for around 2 to 3 hours every day. Hmm… I really can’t remember what was on those VHS tapes at all. Probably anime and stuff.
What about your preschool? Do you have any special memories?
I have a strong memory of playing the prince in some play at the culture festival…
What was the play? Something like Cinderella, or…?
Wait, I think that was it! At first I was too shy to go for it, but the kids around me kept saying things like, “Wow, you’re pretty good!” and it encouraged me. So I thought, ‘Okay, let’s do it!’
You know, at the preschool age it’s not like you really have feelings that go as far as ‘love’ or ‘crush,’ but you start to notice what you feel about others, right? Like if someone is cute, or someone else is cool… Well, at the time of the play, there was a girl that I thought was kind of cute, and she ended up getting the role of Cinderella. Then, I knew it had to be me playing the prince.
That’s so cute. (laughs) You might be well known for kendo now, but when did you start practicing?
That started when I first began elementary school. I came to the age where being shy wasn’t cute anymore, and I was turning into a crybaby. My mom was getting worried about how I would survive at school, so she suggested that I sign up for it. At first, I cried every single day that I went to the kendo classroom. But then, around the time that I joined, there was a kid my age who was also new. In time, we got really friendly.
Later, that kid’s other friend also joined, and so the three of us practiced together everyday. That’s honestly what made me keep at it, I think. And when I was in third grade of elementary school, the three of us joined with two others from my district league, and together we won the local championship.
Wow! So by that time, you must have gotten over your shy phase?
For some reason, by second grade, I had morphed into being one of the bad kids. I don’t know what happened or why. Well, I guess at the time, I had become bigger than most of my classmates. Maybe that was the catalyst for turning out that way.
What exactly do you mean by “bad kid?”
Hmm, like skipping school and stuff…
…As an elementary schooler?
Yup. (laughs) I decided I was basically over the school thing. Before I even started school, my mom already had me on a pretty strict study routine at home. She had me doing homeschool workbooks and stuff when I was around 6 years old. That’s why, by the time I was in school, I thought everything was too easy for me already. Of course, I got scolded a lot by the teacher. But I already thought I was the smartest kid in the whole class.
When I was in third grade, my homeroom teacher approached me and said, “Why don’t you volunteer for class president? It’s a great opportunity to make the classroom a better place!” So then I did. But, literally the next day after I was voted class president, I was messing around with some of the boys and we accidentally broke some furniture in the school. My teacher was completely furious. She yelled at me, like, “Why did you even bother being class president when you act like this?” But in my head I was like, “Uhh, because you told me to???”
Sounds like you were a questionable class leader (laughs). After that, did you make any attempts to behave?
Sure, I did. For example, I used to just say whatever I wanted to people without caring what they thought. So, my teacher talked with me and told me to be more careful in how I speak to others.
But at the same time, the way I was made me quite popular among the boys in my class.
Oh? What about the girls?
I don’t think they were too interested. Probably because I had a little bit of a bad attitude towards them. I say ‘bad attitude,’ but I feel like saying I was a total jerk. I always made snide comments and sarcastic remarks over everything. I think this is something that’s still a problem for me… (laughs)
So you were one of those people who always give some unnecessary commentary, or something like that?
Yes, that was totally me. So the girls were like, “No, he’s gross…he’s a jerk.”
From my own perspective, if that’s what I was saying about you, then it must have actually been pretty bad (laughs). Do you remember participating in any elementary school events?
I participated in the relay race on Sports Day. I was pretty fast actually. I was the third runner in my team.
So you were athletic and had good grades? I’m pretty sure there girls out there who liked you.
Well, perhaps being a jerk outweighs those things. (laughs)
You must have had a lot on your plate back then. Between kendo and school, weren’t you a bit busy?
Well, it was right around that time that I started figuring out how to choose my battles.
For example, when it comes to studying, I’m the type of person who only needs to look over something once to remember it fairly well. Of course, there are things I struggle with too. Memorization is hard for me. But if I focus on memorizing just what I need to, I can get the same grades as if I spent hours studying, right?
If I don’t want to do something, It’s hard for me to move past that. It’s the same with kendo. When practice started getting harder and harder, I started to like it less and less. I started to think about what I had originally wanted to do in terms of kendo, and realized that I had come to accomplish what I was looking to. Also, I had just got picked for SUPER★DRAGON, so suddenly it came down to the reality that I had to choose one of two paths…
Well, as we all know now, you chose SUPER★DRAGON. Being in SUPER★DRAGON must have consumed all of your time in middle school.
In a way, yes…
I was incredibly close with my elementary school friends. But, when middle school came along our class was already getting split up anyway.
In that sense, it wasn’t a very jarring transition for me.
Did anything from middle school leave any sort of a lasting impression, then?
On Sports Day, I participated in the Swedish relay. The distance you have to go increases bit by bit from the first runner to the last, and I was the last to run on my team. I ran harder than I ever had in my life but the other guys were really fast as well. We reached the goal at basically the exact same time, but the judge called it for the other team and said we lost.
I couldn’t accept that. That memory serves as a special reminder to me that the world is unfair. Even the people watching were like, “I can’t even tell who won.”
That is definitely unfair. What about second and third grade?
I did the relay then as well, but if I stayed as last runner it just felt like I was trying to re-do what had happened before. I guess I could never fully move past that one time.
You’ve been promoting with SUPER★DRAGON since elementary school. How did that all begin?
It was at the end of second grade when I got scouted, and so I joined EBiDAN in third grade.
My parents went to Harajuku to do some shopping and I had also come along, when suddenly these strangers came running after us. (laughs)
What made you interested in doing it?
My family didn’t go all the way out to Tokyo that much, and just the previous day my mom had joked around with me, saying, “You’ll probably get scouted there!”
But seriously, in those days, my mom was really obsessed with this. (laughs) She always got carried away gushing about how cute and adorable I was all the time.
Seeing your childhood pictures, I would have agreed with her. Just look at how you would stare right at the camera!
My smile is much more charming there, than it is now. (laughs) Well, I don’t even smile now.
So did your mother’s daydream become a reality?
My mom was basically screaming, “We’ll do it!”
And then at the company, when a script for a play or something was passed over to me, my mom would say to me something like, “Try to do this once and see how it goes, okay?” I was too embarrassed by it, and so I was like “No!”
But for some reason, I ended up getting in anyway.
Surely, there’s no child around who would be like “No!”
For sure. (laughs)
When I entered EBiDAN, I had no end game in mind. It was only after I became part of SUPER★DRAGON did I really begin to push myself there. In the beginning, rather than wanting to to succeed for my own sake, it was more like I didn’t want to be a loser compared to everyone else. I didn’t have any way I wanted to be like. However, I still really enjoyed the lessons. I also got pretty close with the other kids who were with me.
So from there, did everything just fall into place?
Not exactly. I pretty much dropped from all of the auditions I tried out for.
I constantly had thoughts like, “What’s wrong with me?” and “I thought I had gotten pretty good at this dance though” and so forth. I got so frustrated that I eventually set out to prove myself. That was what got me selected for SUPER★DRAGON, which was the final fulfilling moment for me.
There weren’t any apprehensions?
There were some apprehensions…
Well, when I joined EBiDAN I was in the position where I would need to call people like Reo and Jean my “senpai” already. But even among the rest of the trainees, there were already people who were leading among us, getting praised for their dance skills, people who were cool, and so on already filling the seats. So I felt, how could I stand shoulder to shoulder with these people? The age gap and the fact that I had never spoken to them before caused me to worry as well.
I thought that I’d be someone who holds everyone back, and that they would end up frustrated by me. But the moment I understood just how gentle Reo and Jean are… (laughs) There was no reason to feel strange around them ever again.
If you had to pick someone who had the greatest influence on you, then, who do you think it would be?
There’s a lot of candidates…but, for me personally, it would be Jean. He was the one who introduced me to the world of rap music. Without him leading me there, I wouldn’t have started rapping myself. I think I really owe all to him for giving me the chance to find my passion.
Earlier, you talked about how you don’t like to grind for the sake of grinding, but it seems that you’re actually quite motivated in this case.
I guess falling in love with something can unlock that desire within me. When it was brought up to me that I should start rapping myself, I saw that opportunity as a blessing and was overjoyed. As soon as I fell in love with rap music, I was listening to all the songs and artists that I could. The way I wanted to be as a rapper came into vision and it felt like someone pulled a trigger in my life.
What kind of rapper do you want to become?
How do I put this…? Basically, I really admire those who can take all these experiences and emotions from their own life and integrate that into their rap. That’s cool to me. I want to be a rapper who can talk through my lyrics about where I’m coming from, and the things that shape my own reality. So with that, when I get certain feelings or thoughts in my day to day life, I usually try to write down what I feel in a notebook so I can see it in words.
Like affirmation of the emotions you experience as you live your life?
Yes, that’s right.
When it comes to SUPER★DRAGON, what most gives you a sense of accomplishment?
I would have to say our live performances. The time when I started to understand the effect of performing live basically coincides with the time that I began to fall in love with rap and get that visualization of my ideal self. These days, after our shows are over and I’m chilling out in the bath, thoughts like, “He did great at this part,” or, “I looked cool doing that,” randomly come to my mind. Scenes from the show that day keep playing in my head like flashbacks.
So, when’s a time that you thought you looked cool lately?
When we did the TRIANGLE unit tour. For Thunder Dragon’s show we had a live band backing us, but before we did the performances I couldn’t see how I would fit in with that. But when we actually did the first show, I could see myself being enveloped in the raw sounds of the music, and it was like I had managed to break out a little of what I thought were my limits.
It was like hatching out of my shell. I can tell that the experience changed me.
That makes me look forward to seeing you in concert!
Now, your SUPER★DRAGON-themed middle school life is coming to a close, and you’re coming up on being a high school student instead. Is there anything you’re looking forward to?
Hmm..Is there anything? I guess, karaoke? (laughs) There’s laws that prevent middle school aged minors from being in karaoke complexes and arcades after 6 pm, you know. I always love going to karaoke with my friends, but every time we go, as soon as it hits around 5:45 pm, the karaoke complex reception contacts us like, “Okay, it’s already getting to be the time.” Then I’m like, “Oh crap, I’m still in middle school!” (laughs) When I don’t have to deal with that anymore, I’ll be happy.
As well, every once in a while SUPER★DRAGON will be given the opportunity to participate in some evening events that lead into the night, but we’re still not able to participate in the ending portion. I look forward to the time when we’ll be able to do that kind of thing.
And lastly, please tell us how you’d like to see yourself in five or ten years.
After five years…I’ll be 20?!
Right now, I’ve been making an image for myself that’s based on trying to appear cool, but five years from now I’d like to shift my focus to something else. I want to get to the point where I can truly reach people with my thoughts.
Because of my age, people don’t take me seriously. But, 5 or 10 years from now, when I have some more years of experience under my belt, my message might carry more weight in other people’s eyes. By then it’ll be easier to spread what I have to say to the world. I want to be someone who can do that with my music.
I can’t remember anything from this time, but that’s my grandmother next to me. I love my Grandma!
This is from one of my first trips to Disneyland. I liked the Dumbo ride so much I must have gone on it a countless number of times.
My dad went on a business trip to Vietnam, I think it was, and this is from when we went to the airport to greet him home.
This was taken at my grandmother’s house. It was on this visit that the DS thing happened.
I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself after putting together a Kamen Rider W belt that I got from a magazine gift with purchase. The pajamas here are from W too!
It was freezing here. Even though I didn’t want to go back after about an hour, my sister kept us at it. I’m crying on the inside…
S★D FILE 07: 30 Questions
S★D FILE 07: SCANS
ALL SCANS BY NINE DRAGONS • 300 DPI • 92.8 MB