Dance group s**t kingz keeps exploring new ideas

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The members of s**t kingz: from right, kazuki, NOPPO, Oguri and shoji

The group s**t kingz has created choreography for more than 350 songs by Japanese and foreign artists, including Daichi Miura and BE:FIRST, and they have gained worldwide popularity due to their intricate dance moves and catchy tunes.

The four-member group, formed by shoji, kazuki, NOPPO and Oguri in 2007, has also appeared on many music shows as backup dancers.

I was recently able to sit down with the multitalented s**t kingz as they mark 15 years together.

A cluttered mind

The group’s choreography is based on the style of street dancers, but it also creates a sense of nostalgia as it is reminiscent of the era of Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire.

The group is holding a stage production called “HELLO ROOMIES!!!” this autumn. The play is about the agonizing everyday life of a puppet named A, who dreams of becoming a film director. The show also depicts the garbage that accumulates in her mind, as well as her quirky friends.

In the show, the four members took on the challenge of trying to dance with a puppet.

“Puppets can expand the audience’s imagination,” said Oguri. “Humans can express happiness by smiling or sadness by crying, but dolls have no facial expressions. It’s really interesting to think about how to respond to the imaginary emotions [of an inanimate object].”

A scene from s**t kingz’ music video of “TRASH TALK feat. Novel Core”

The members shared their ideas with each other, trying to create a story around the concept of “accumulating garbage in the mind.”

“There is physical garbage, but there is also mental garbage,” said shoji. “We thought it would be interesting to show A’s life from the perspective of trash.”

Discussing and experimenting with new things is the group’s style.

“We hate doing the same things all the time,” said shoji. “We ask each other, ‘What’s next?’ and change directions to do something we’ve never done before and make something entirely new.”

The new stage production can be seen at Morinomiya Piloti Hall in Osaka on Nov. 10-13, then at NTK Hall (Nippon Tokushu Togyo Shimin Kaikan) in Nagoya on Nov. 18-20 and finally at New National Theatre, Tokyo, on Nov. 29-Dec. 1. The show’s theme song “TRASH TALK feat. Novel Core” has already been released.

Making themselves known

The group performed live for the first time in 2007. Initially, they only planned to work together for a limited time, but while asking each other, “What’s next?” they ended up forming s**t kingz.

In the beginning, shoji, who is a little older than the others, started working an office job after graduating from university. For about two years, he was a company employee by day and a member of the group by night.

However, the other three took a different route and studied abroad in the United States. Feeling left behind, shoji soon quit his office job and flew to California to join them.

“It was really difficult at first because it was hard to keep up with everyone there,” shoji said. “But we were able to hang on because we were together. If I was alone, I would have come home feeling depressed.”

The group gradually gained more confidence and won Body Rock, the largest dance competition in the U.S., in 2010 and 2011. Following their wins, the group attracted worldwide attention and received offers to perform and hold workshops.

They have traveled to more than 25 countries so far. When they went to Europe, where the world’s top dancers gather, they were always teaching others and learning from them to become better themselves.

“Most dancers overseas work alone, so teams like ours are pretty rare,” Oguri said. “Slowly, we have made a name for ourselves as the four-member group s**t kingz.”

Unique album

While being active in the scene as successful choreographers and backup dancers in Japan, the group began performing original works on stage in 2013.

“Without speaking, we convey a story only through our acting and physical performance,” kazuki said. “This is our true value. When performing on stage for more than 90 minutes, we can make a wide range of expressions and get very intricate. I think it’s our chance to give 100% and test our abilities.”

A scene from the show “Dance ga Sukina Tadano Henjin” (Just a weirdo who likes dancing)

Last year, the group did something unique and released a “viewing album,” which was a compilation of videos featuring their choreography to original songs.

“Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to hold live performances,” Oguri said. “Streaming performances online also isn’t easy due to copyright laws and other things like that, so we decided to make an album.”

After deciding on the concept of the album and having discussions with musicians and directors, they created a collection of eight videos and released “Flying First Penguin.”

“I’m glad we did it,” NOPPO said. “Thanks to the album, we were able to appear on music shows.”

It seems that four people is the ideal number for this group.

“When we dance, no one is in the center position,” kazuki said. “It helps us create new expressions because it becomes harder to make a formation.”

NOPPO said, “If I get tired, I can move to the back and let the others take the lead.”

The issue with having four members is that it is difficult to decide by a majority vote.

“We are often divided down the middle,” shoji said.

The group will keep talking until they are satisfied. It is why they are willing to do new things, free from conventional ideas.

I look forward to what the future has in store for them.