Formed back in 2012, Travis Japan is a seven member group consisting of Chaka, Umi, Shime, Noel, Shizu, Genta, and Machu. Throughout their career, the group explores a variety of genres from pop, hip-hop, to even jazz! Last year, the group migrated to the U.S. to start a new era in their career along with a re-debut under Capitol Records. To get an inside look on their big move and new beginnings, EnVi had the chance to catch up with the members of the group in an exclusive email interview. 

All About the Moving Pieces

Last May, the group released their debut EP titled Moving Pieces. The EP also features their single with the same name that’s produced by renowned producer, Poo Bear. This time around, the boys sported a more sleek and laid-back style that allows fans to see the group in a more mature and suave light. In the music video for the single, the boys show off their dancing skills as they perform the song’s choreography in sharp synchronization. But despite the unity they show in the choreography, the song still manages to showcase each of the member’s individuality.

Shime shared, “The concept is a cool and modern theme for Travis Japan. I think the lyrics ‘keep moving’ represents who we are right now.” The group’s resident fashionista, Machu, added on, “‘JUST DANCE!’ and ‘Moving Pieces’ are completely opposite from one another, style wise! ‘JUST DANCE!’ is energetic and with a message that everyone should have fun and dance! Very exciting song! ‘Moving Pieces’ is sexier and cooler than ‘JUST DANCE!’”

Photo courtesy of Johnny and Associates.

The Big Move

Before working on their re-debut, the group moved to Los Angeles to study English while also sharpening their vocal and dancing skills. Making such a big move can be scary, especially when the members aren’t fluent in English and have never lived abroad before. “I couldn’t see my family or our fans, so I had a lot of worries. But I’ve gotten used to living in LA and I learned to communicate with people overseas more than before,” Machu confided. However, he also shared that making time to get on a call with his mother daily helped him during the big move.

The group then flew to Miami to work on Moving Pieces with Poo Bear. During this recording process, Umi tells us that the group sang right beside Poo Bear instead of recording in a booth. The group was able to feel more relaxed during the song’s recording as they didn’t feel alone. The boys also worked with choreographer Travis Payne to create the choreography for the song. A fun fact is that the group was named after the renowned choreographer as a homage to how Payne helped shape the group. This time, Payne created choreography that incorporated Michael Jackson’s influence with Travis Japan’s style.

Working with those great teams are some of the most unforgettable memories for us! Even though there were some cultural differences between the U.S. teams and Japanese teams, that didn’t hinder anything. In the end the goal was the same,” said Noel. “When I entered the U.S. scene for the first time, I was really surprised. It wasn’t something I was used to. However, after a while I got used to it, cultural differences and all! After all, whether in the U.S. or Japan, it’s totally the same that people who create something they love to take each other’s hands to work together! We love both!”

Behind a New Beginning

This debut EP marks a new chapter in Travis Japan’s story, with Noel comparing this EP to a family picture for him. But of course, making a debut in the music industry is never easy, let alone a foreign one. Umi got sincere and confessed to EnVi that the scheduling for the EP was tight despite having so much to get done. “I didn’t have enough time to learn the songs actually,” Umi said. “I got to listen to these songs five days before the recording session. But I worked very hard and was able to learn them by listening to them every night and every morning.”

However, these challenges are balanced out with the excitement and anticipation that the group had toward the EP. The members also felt a personal connection to the album’s music, making the arduous work a labor of love. “I like my part of the song called ‘Charging!,’ which is ‘I’m weak alone, but the impossible and the pain disappear.’ I like the part as the lyrics overlap with my feelings,” Shizu said as an example. 

Now that the EP is out, the members hope that this debut will allow them to see their fans more.

Whatever it is, or was, or will be, we just want to spend time with all the fans,” Genta shared,“and I hope that more people will get to know the songs of Travis Japan as well as the members at the same time. I really like the EP. I hope you love the songs as much as we do.”

A Sweet Candy Kiss

After releasing their debut EP, the group continued to release a new single titled “Candy Kiss.” It is an upbeat and lively track that’s an earworm and is sure to be a mood booster. For its video the group takes on a colorful sci-fi concept where they get the party going with a crowd of extraterrestrials. Ultimately, the group shares that the song is meant to encourage people to get up and dance!

Compared to their usual songs, the group shares that this one felt more laid-back as they recorded things in a more impromptu way than they usually do. “During the recording, the producer added ad-libs that weren’t there originally,” Machu elaborated, explaining this new creative process. “It was very American style, which was an exciting experience. Very different from Japan, where things are usually locked well before we enter the recording booth.”

Photo courtesy of Johnny and Associates.

With so many exciting releases in 2023, the group has successfully entered into a new chapter of their story. As they continue to hone their skills and work on new exciting music, we can’t wait to see what else Travis Japan has up their sleeves. Despite the many accomplishments and feats they’ve received in the new era, they remind us that this all wouldn’t be accomplished without their fans. Chaka said, “I want to deliver our songs, performances, and personalities to as many people as possible, and I want it to be loved by them! To create great works with fun and love! We believe in the fans who are supporting us now while training ourselves together.”

Want to learn about more artists? Check out EnVi’s spotlight on From20 and HELLO GLOOM here!