A popular Japanese music channel on YouTube is set to host its first international live-stream event in June, featuring performances by a diverse selection of domestic powerhouses, including funk band ALI, hip-hop duo Creepy Nuts and rising pop singer ReoNa.
Founded in 2019 and boasting over six million subscribers, The First Take invites musicians to perform pared-down versions of their hits in a single take and in an empty studio. The aim is to highlight their “pure talent”. Before they hop on the mic, singers also give a detailed introduction of their songs.
Notable appearances in the past have included ones by Japanese pop sensation Aimer, Blackpink member Lisa and American a cappella group Pentatonix.
Parallels can be drawn with Germany’s A Colors Show , which features R&B and hip-hop talent from all over the world.
Inside The First Take is the channel’s debut live-stream concert, and takes place on June 16 and June 18. It will maintain the overarching theme of simplicity, and can be viewed through Stagecrowd, the Sony-owned virtual platform launched in Japan during the Covid-19 pandemic .
Kicking off the first day of performances is Tokyo band ALI, whose name stands for “Alien Liberty International”. Speaking to the Post , the band said performing at the event was “nerve-racking”.
“We have 2,000 people in the audience, but they’re all required to be silent during the performance,” lead singer Leo explained, referring to the live setting that simulates the plain and quiet environment of the channel’s studio productions. “Simplicity is the best,” he added, praising the channel’s unique monotone style.
With members hailing from Asia, Europe and Africa, ALI have a contemporary and international sound that blends together cultures and genres.
Leo, who has English, Spanish, Japanese and Filipino roots, cited reggae legend Bob Marley and hip-hop artist Questlove as two of his greatest influences.
“Tokyo is a place where cultures come together, and our band wants to embody such diversity,” Leo explained, adding that funk music, as a genre, represents “a sense of unity that is beyond borders, backgrounds and skin colours”.
For their next album, with “music world” as the theme, ALI plan to collaborate with musicians in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and the United States.
Since debuting in 2019, the ensemble have released several hits including Lost in Paradise, the chart-topping collaboration with Japanese-Mexican rapper Aklo, as well as their latest single, Teenage City Riot .
“Live-streaming is awesome because it lets you reach an international audience, and [the footage] will exist forever,” said Luthfi, who plays bass in the band. “We did our very best in this performance.”
ALI have a jam-packed schedule following Inside The First Take , which includes making their overseas debut in Saudi Arabia, putting out three new singles, and recording a new album to arrive next year.
With around 30 per cent of its audience being from overseas, the live-stream will be available in 18 countries and regions outside Japan, including Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and the US.
Tickets for the event can be bought for 2,000 yen (S$21) on Stagecrowd, where virtual attendees can watch the performances live or catch up afterwards, from June 23 to June 25.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.