In his native Japan, Jin Akanishi is a superstar. Since his early teens, heâ€™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 Yorkâ€™s Best Buy Theater tonight (March 15) and hits San Franciscoâ€™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 â€˜Japonicanaâ€™ comes from Japan, America and Spain. TheÂ â€œaâ€ sound is for the females, so my album is a girl. Thereâ€™s more than one genreâ€”dance, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. Itâ€™s like my baby, because I created it from scratch.
How has the tour been going?
Itâ€™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? Whatâ€™s different?
Itâ€™s a totally different concert. Everythingâ€™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 youâ€”Japan, America and Spain. How have they influenced you?
Iâ€™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 friendâ€™s mom is Spanish, and she taught me a lot about the culture. So thatâ€™s how I got influenced.
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