In his native Japan, Jin Akanishi is a superstar. Since his early teens, he’s achieved fame as a pop idol, singer-songwriter (with the groups KAT-TUN and LANDS), actor, and radio host. After launching a successful American tour in 2010 to sold out (and screaming) crowds, Jin is back in the U.S. supporting his hotly anticipated English-language debut album, Japonicana. Released earlier this month, the disc features production by Grammy Award-nominated trio the Stereotypes (Far East Movement, Ne-Yo) and platinum hit maker Static Revenger (Madonna, Shakira).
Jin takes Manhattan at New York’s Best Buy Theater tonight (March 15) and hits San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom on March 17. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with the 27-year-old about the tour, the making of the album, his love for hip-hop, and hanging out with Justin Bieber.
How would you describe the new album?
The word ‘Japonicana’ comes from Japan, America and Spain. The “a” sound is for the females, so my album is a girl. There’s more than one genre—dance, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. It’s like my baby, because I created it from scratch.
How has the tour been going?
It’s really great. The crowds are great, good energy, dancers, and a lot of drinks (laughs).
What can fans expect at the shows this time? What’s different?
It’s a totally different concert. Everything’s different.
Is there a highlight you can tell us about?
Crazy lights and dancing. All the songs are from Japonicana.
You mentioned that the title represents all the places that influence you—Japan, America and Spain. How have they influenced you?
I’m Japanese, obviously. And America, my mom loves American music and used to listen to it when I was little. I kind of grew up with it. My best friend’s mom is Spanish, and she taught me a lot about the culture. So that’s how I got influenced.
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