Ninjala Interview: Steve Aoki and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Gush About Remixes, Gaming, and J-pop

As the holidays near, gaming is taking center stage with fans around the world as they look for their next big obsession. While Playstation and Microsoft are pushing their new consoles, Nintendo is sticking firm to the Switch and its vast library of games. All eyes are on the console's library as fans are searching for new titles to try, and that is why Ninjala is becoming such a hot topic. After all, the free-to-play battler has everything you want in a game, and that includes a banging song.

If you did not know, Steve Aoki teamed up with GungHo's Ninjala team to bring an iconic J-pop song to the game. The award-winning DJ released a special remix of "Ninja Re Bang Bang" from Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. The track has become a hit with gamers and non-gamers alike. And in the wake fo their collaboration, ComicBook.com got the chance to speak with Aoki and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu about Ninjala and their love of gaming:

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Q: What was your first introduction to Ninjala? How did you first stumble upon the game and its colorful characters?

Steve Aoki: They approached me to remix the song before the game launched. I'm a huge fan of Yasutaka Nakata and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, so my answer was immediately yes. And then when I saw a video of the gameplay, the pop world-view and characters made an impression on me. From there, the "Ninja Re Bang Bang" remix came naturally. I thought the sound of the remix would complement the Ninjala game perfectly. I'm honored to have gotten the chance to work with one of my favorite artists Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and I hope you guys enjoy the remix while you're playing the game.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: I was curious about the name “Ninjala” and tweeted about it. Then Ninjala reached out to me asking if we wanted to work together, so we decided to collaborate with “Ninja Re Bang Bang.” I thought that the colorful world and ninja theme was a perfect fit with the song.

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Q: Ninjala combines the best of melee combat with cute characters. What is your favorite part of the game? Is there something about Ninjala that drew you in immediately?

SA: The bright colors and vibrant energy between the stage design & the character design immediately drew me in. The idea to combine ninja action with bubble gum is so fun and unique. You can also customize your ninja character from head to toe in both fashionable gear and also weapons that suit your style. There are "Ninja Re Bang Bang" ninja costumes and dances from this collab in the game, which you should definitely check out.

Q: Ninjala is a fun game with super cute characters! You are known worldwide for your ‘kawaii’ aesthetic. Were you excited to bring your distinct style of pop to Ninjala?

KPP: In Ninjala Season 3, my outfit from the original “Ninja Re Bang Bang” music video was re-created in its entirety for character avatars to wear. The outfit is a black-based ninja costume with flashy red, blue, and yellow patterns designed to look like throwing stars, but I noticed that in Ninjala, they added this sparkly texture that makes it look even cuter! They even made the original dance for the song into an emote, and I was so happy seeing the Ninjala characters dancing to my song because it fit them so well!"

Q: Obviously, you worked with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu on a remix of "Ninja Re Bang Bang" for the game. What was it liking working with the singer? And how did you approach remixing one of her most famous tracks?

SA: I loved working with KPP, she’s a legend, a young legend, and I’m such a fan of hers, I love her music, I love her visuals, just love everything about her, so it was such an honor, and such a pleasure to work with her, and I just love her voice so much, just a massive fan of hers. This track has all the bells and whistles to make this one of the greatest KPP tracks for sure, so I had to come strong with the drop, and I wanted to put together a very strong melody over the breakdown, that would keep the energy going, keep it fun natured like she is, and add a 2020 Aoki sound to it. And have it live, in a fantasy world, a video game world, as well as something that I could play at my shows. It was quite difficult, but when I got there, I was doing backflips in the studio.

Q: You worked with Steve Aoki on this Ninjala remix of Ninja Re Bang Bang? What was that process like?

KPP: The remixing was done entirely by Steve, so I wasn’t involved in the process, but he posted a video of his mixing studio on his Instagram Story. I was so happy to see he was working on my song, I just had to share it!

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of remixing well-known songs such as "Ninja Re Bang Bang"? Is there a certain creative process you adhere to, or do you approach each project differently?

SA: I approach each project differently for sure, and with this one especially I had to, because you already have an amazing original song, and I needed to strip away layers so I could put the Steve Aoki DNA in this remix, and the drop has to be phenomenal to match the incredible nature of the original. But the challenging aspect for me was making sure the new melody that I would work with on the breakdown works well with her voice, and the balance of the nature between the original and what I added. I wanted it to be a very clean balance, so that the original elements of the track really do shine, but the new Aoki elements make it an Aoki remix and make it brand new. And the drop was also a few days that I spent really creating so it does its job, so it can exist in the two worlds: my shows and the video game setting.

Q: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is an iconic singer to fans of J-pop both in the United States and overseas. Are you a fan of the genre? And if so, do you have any recommendations for new fans in the United States?

SA: I am a massive fan of the genre of J-pop, and I’ve been wanting to work in the J-pop world and community for a while. I’ve been working in K-pop for a while, and to be able to finally get to my own culture and work with my favorite singers in J-pop was the best way to get introduced into the world of J-pop. For any new recommendations, for new fans in the US, you have to watch the videos. The videos are a great bridge into the world of J-pop, you get to see so much more, you get to feel it more, you get to see the colors they use, the dance they use, the vibe they have, it adds so much of the context into the music, and then you’re sucked in.

Q: What message do you have for your fans overseas? It has been a wild year, so do have any encouragements or projects you want to share with your fans in the US?

KPP: This year has been very tough since Coachella, the festival in Mexico, and my USA solo concerts were all cancelled, and I couldn’t meet any of my fans in person. But I am very happy that I am able to share my music with everyone in new ways, like through this game. Next year is the 10-year anniversary of my debut, so I want to actively share new music and play it live for my fans in person. Please look forward to it!

Q: Finally, the remix for Ninjala is pretty much perfect and fans would love to see you work on other video game remixes. Is there a particular franchise that you would like to work on one day?

SA: Yes, I would love to work with Pokemon, I think that would be the next video game remix I would like to do.

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