As the familiar melody of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” drifts into our ears, the ringing tune accompanies blossoms of lollipops that threaten to spill through your screen — this is the opening scene of the “Lollipop” music video, the title track of LIL LEAGUE’s newest album TRICKSTER

A six-member Japanese boy group, LIL LEAGUE debuted in January 2023 with their single “Hunter.” Officially released on February 28, TRICKSTER marks a milestone in the group’s career and discography as their first album. 

TRICKSTER includes the highly-requested digital recording of “FeiLong,” an up-tempo track previously only performed at live events. The rest of the album is lined with tracks like “15分” and “Okay,” which were all performed during the group’s first solo hall tour, “LIL LEAGUE LIVE TOUR 2023 ‘LIL GATEWAY.’” Of course, the list is topped with the title track “Lollipop” — a modern twist of a traditional jingle — that conveys the juxtaposing theme of “front and back.” 

For this comeback, EnVi caught up with members Kodai Yamada, Tatsuhiro Nakamura, and Haima Momoda over email about TRICKSTER, “Lollipop,” and their visions for the future. 

Stardom vs. Behind the Scenes 

The nostalgic, ominous melody paired with LIL LEAGUE’s playful and catchy vocals seamlessly intertwine to express the contradicting themes of “Lollipop.” Personal to the young artists themselves, the song’s “front and back” motif resonates with their experiences as people who stand under the spotlight of stardom. Though their seemingly exciting positions are yearned for by many, one wrong word or move can send them spiraling off the stage instantly.

“We hope that listening to [“Lollipop] will be a window into the true feelings of our members, including the struggles and conflicts we’ve felt behind the scenes of the glamorous world of show business,” said vocalist Kodai Yamada. 

Images courtesy of LDH.

The staccato and sharp lines at the beginning of the song’s choreography gradually transition into larger, more playful frames, complimenting its sentiments. For vocalist Tatsuhiro Nakamura, the final dance break is the most exciting part of the song to perform. 

“There are no lyrics, but I put a lot of meaning into the choreography and facial expressions when transitioning to this part,” said Nakamura. Another favorite part of the song for Nakamura is main dancer Matora Okao’s rap. 

“His wild and cool voice stands out,” described Nakamura, who chose this as the part he would like to swap for with another member. 

For mood maker Haima Momoda, it’s Sora Nanba — the youngest member — with whom he wants to swap so he can improve his bass vocals. Meanwhile, or Yamada, it’s Nakamura’s part. “I like the lyric, ‘Let me still hide the real face behind me,’ so I’d like to sing Tatsuhiro Nakamura’s part,” explained Yamada. 


From the start of 2023 with the group’s debut to the start of 2024 with their first album, TRICKSTER paints the group’s discography with a new definition — “difference.”

“We’ve been expanding our range of expression and have recorded a wide variety of songs as a result,” explained Yamada, who summarized TRICKSTER with this word. Upgrading from singles to a curated album, he describes how the album left different impressions on each member due to the range of songs they have presented with TRICKSTER.

Images courtesy of LDH.

“This release will be a major turning point for us, so we had a lot of discussions with the staff and carefully considered the direction of this release so as not to make a mistake,” said Nakamura, speaking true to the message of the song “Lollipop.” “We spent quite a lot of time working on our own music, and we’d like to continue our trial-and-error process to deliver even better songs in the future.” 

Since many of the 14 B-sides are songs performed while on tours, the members could reminisce over those performances and memories with fans when they formally recorded the songs. With each song having such personal meanings, it was hard for the members to pick a favorite B-side when EnVi asked for a recommendation. For Nakamura, his recommended track is “Higher.”

“When we performed it on the concert hall tour, I was very anxious because it was right after the release. But I felt the warmth of the fans when they sang along with us at the performance. This song reminds me of how I felt at that time,” said Nakamura. 

Yamada, meanwhile, is excited about the song “Okay.” “It’s performed by waving towels around. We hope that everyone overseas will get excited with their towels in hand.” 

Momoda chose to relive his audition with “Rollah Coaster” as a reminder of how far the members of LIL LEAGUE have come. “We’ve been singing this song since the audition; I think the dreams we’ve been chasing and our identities are all in this song.” 

Aside from “Lollipop,” “Tungsten” and “I Don’t Care” are two other songs on the setlist that have not been performed in front of fans yet. Unlike their previous tracks, the two songs are sung separately by two and four group members, and Nakamura looks forward to showing them to the fans. 

Redirecting Dreams and Visions for the Future

Now charging through the industry in their second year, the members reflect on their goals and visions for LIL LEAGUE. 

Yamada hopes for a dome tour. “We’d like to work hard this year. We want to carry out new approaches toward a dome tour together with what we want to achieve individually,” he said. 

Images courtesy of LDH.

For artists under the spotlight especially, support will always be the most solid ground they stand on. Momoda thanks those around him who have supported his dreams from day one, saying, “I would like to say that you should be grateful and work hard at what’s in front of you first.” 

Their fans are one of the largest sources of support that keep LIL LEAGUE going. Though this one-year-old group has mainly been active within Japan, they hope to expand their reach. 

“Thank you for your support,” said Yamada. “We’re mainly active in Japan, but we’d like to make many opportunities to meet you. We still have a lot of things we want to give to you, so we hope you will receive them someday.”

Profile courtesy of Mal Peterson.

For more LIL LEAGUE content, follow them on Instagram and TikTok! Don’t forget to also watch the “Lollipop” music video here to see LIL LEAGUE in action. 

Want more boy-group content? Check out EnVi’s interview with K-pop group VANNER here!