They’re funky, they’re fresh and you have definitely seen them in Gwen Stefani’s music videos. We caught up with the Harajuku girls for a fun and stylin’ interview. They tell us what it’s its like to work with the legend Gwen Stefani and how they got so good at dancing. Rex Lee from Entourage even stopped by the shoot to say hi.
What is your background in dance, how did you get into it?
Rino: I’ve always loved dance since I can remember, and learned how to dance from watching TV. Starting from old school J-pop “Hikaru-Genji” to Michael Jackson! So I guess my background is all that commercial hip-hop and mix in to my own style.
Jenny: My mother put me in dance lessons at a dance studio when I was 3. I took ballet, tap, and jazz. I danced there until I was 13. But I wasn’t that great. Haha! When I moved to San Diego for college (SDSU), I got really into hip hop dancing. I joined a performing hip hop troupe called Culture Shock and that’s pretty much how I found my passion. After I got my B.A., I got an agent and told myself (and my parents) I’d only try dancing professionally for a year or so… It’s been 7 years! Who’d have thought?
What is it like working with a legend such as Gwen Stefani?
Rino: It’s always great to work with amazing artists but working under Gwen was one of the best experience that ever happened to me. She made my dream come true like, be able to perform for AMA’s or Grammy’s that Michael, Janet Jackson, and TLC (my idols) did , and I’ve got to travel all around the world with my good friends!!
Jenny: Freakin’ awesome! No for real, it was amazing… not only because we got to experience soooo much, but because Gwen’s a real, down-to-earth person. She is so creative and inspirational. And I got to learn more about my roots. Dooooope!
Tell us about what its like when you go on a world tour? What is your favorite place to visit?
Rino: For U.S. and Europe, we used tour bus which was like school trip! we would watch movies or see the views or just go sleep. For Asia and other countries we flew which was cool but tiring. It was weird because oneday you were in Australia but next day you are in Japan! In Europe, I couldn’t even keep it up where I was. Seeing different cultures , meeting new people, and being in places that I have always seen from books or TV makes you believe that anything could happen if you just keep it going. My favorite places were New Zealand, Hong Kong, Paris and Vancouver.
Jenny: Going on tour is amazing and so much fun, but at the same time tiring. We are so lucky to have visited so many places all over the world. But it is difficult to actually take in each city and experience it because don’t have a lot, or sometimes any, time off in each place. Its so hard to choose just one favorite place. I guess it’s a given, my #1 favorite, of course, is Japan! We didn’t have a lot of time off there so I hope to go back on my own time. I’m 4th generation Japanese American so I don’t have any family in Japan. I was so thankful I was able to go to there for Gwen because I had never been before! Thailand, New Zealand, Paris, and Monte Carlo were great too… See! I can’t just name one place.
Where do you find your inspiration? Is there any part of the world that you feel is inspirational?
Rino: My inspiration comes from anywhere. My favorite artists like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, or TLC. ( when I can’t find inspiration I always go back and watch their videos) My family, friends, nephews, niece, dogs, Art magazines, music, movies, old school dance footage, and food! Japan inspires me a lot. Since I have been away, it’s so fresh to be in there when I go back. Food, Fashion, Stores, Technology, Comedians, Dancers, and all that.
Jenny: I love New York, Japan and London.
Tell us about some of the celebrity projects that you’ve worked on:
Rino: I was on tour with Britney Spears “Onyx Hotel tour”, Movie “You got served”, and have choreographed for Janet Jackson.
Jenny: My first job was a Pepsi commercial featuring Britney Spears. I was so shocked to land such a great first job, even though you can’t really notice me in it. Haha! Its all good, I’m thankful. Rino and I worked together before in the Missy Elliot video, “I’m Really Hot.”
How would you describe your design style? What about your fashion sense?
Rino: Tomboy. I love guys cloth and all that baggy style. I ended up wearing my husband’s cloth all the time.
Jenny: Well, I’m not much of a designer… yet. Hehe… I’m interested in learning though. I like clothes that are different, artistic, and at the same time, flattering. I like to think I have good fashion sense… I would never want to be on the “worst dressed” list. But I know that I tend to get comfortable in wearing what I like, so a lot of my clothes are within the same color scheme and style.
Tell us about your upbringing, where are you from?
Jenny: I was born and raised in Torrance. Like I said before, I’m 4th generation Japanese American. “Yonsei babeeeey!” I went to South High School. (Where American Beauty was filmed.) I grew up by the beach with a wide mix of kids. My best friends were like the “United Nations” group: Japanese, Korean/Greek, Chinese, Jewish, Italian/Spanish, and Black/Caucasian. But ethnicity wasn’t a big issue to us, we just were who we are.
Some people would say I’m somewhat of a “banana,” but I’m learning more and more about my language and heritage everyday (especially from the girls). I actually took Japanese in high school and my family goes big every year for New Year’s Day, “Osho-gatsu.” But we are pretty “americanized.” What do people expect of 4 generations living in America and the 2nd generation being imprisoned during WWII for basically just being Japanese? It is what it is… I’m proud of who I am.
Rino: I came from Okinawa, Japan. The beautiful island.
Why did you choose to move to LA?
Rino: Because I wanted to be close to Michael Jackson! and Pursue entertainment here that inspired me the most. I just had to come here.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
Tell us about some of the music videos that you have been featured in:
Rino: Britney Spears and Madonna ” Me against music”
Missy Elliot ” I am really hot”
Mary J. Blige ” Love at 1st sight”
Marques Houston ” That girl”
Avril Lavigne ” Girlfriend”
Gwen Stefani ” What you waiting for”~”Now that you got it”
Jenny: Man, the “Rich Girl” video shoot felt like the longest. I believe I was awake for like 28 hours straight! The “Hollaback Girl” shoot was fun! It was cool because we got to learn different skills like Cheer, Drill Team, Small Flags (haha, I failed…), and Marching Band.
The Missy Elliot “I’m Really Hot” shoot was cool also. We got to ride in Quentin Tarantino’s P*ssy Wagon! And we got to represent Asians! Some other videos I’ve worked on besides Gwen’s, Robin Thicke f/Busta Rhymes “Wanna Love You Girl”, Christina Milian “AM to PM”, and Sunshine Anderson, “Lunch or Dinner.”
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Rino: Haitai! Thank you so much for liking me and your support! I will keep doing my thing and hope to meet you someday! and come to Okinawa!!
Jenny: Wow, thanks for the support! I never thought we would have fans, it’s kind of a weird feeling. But thanks for everything and keep up with us in whatever we do. I hope we’ve made a positive impact on those who care and I hope we continue to do so in the future. Believe in your dreams! Anything is possible!
Favorite restaurants: Alnoor (Indian cuisine) Iroha (Japanese cuisine) Creme de la crepe ( French Cuisine) and Dai-chan ( home made Japanese cuisine)
Favorite pieces of technology: Hybrid cars
Favorite designers: LAMB, Harajuku Lovers, Jeremy Scott, MAX RYUKYU, and any comfortable sweats.
Favorite restaurants: Japonica, Nobu, Daichan
Favorite pieces of technology: My mac laptop and my sidekick.
Favorite designers: Adidas Originals, Jeremy Scott