After leaving King & Prince and Johnny & Associates in March of last year, Genki Iwahashi made his solo debut the following December with the single “My Lonely X’mas.” On August 10, he released his debut album, “How To Love.”
Arama! Japan recently conducted an interview with Genki in conjunction with the release of “How To Love.” In the interview, Genki opened up about the album, his mental health, and his future activities! Check it out below!
You have struggled with panic disorder for years, and in effect have become a role model to many who are also struggling with this and similar disorders. How are you currently dealing with your disorder?
Mental health is something that I believe is very important for our generation. I hope I can bring it more attention, and with it a sense of understanding to people looking in from the outside.
Improving your mental health is a continual work in progress and something that takes time, focus, and care. I am always getting better, but I do have my bad days, and to be honest it can be quite difficult sometimes.
There are many things that help me including my new team, being in the company of people that I know have my best interest at heart, and of course my puppy Murphy. My friends and fans have done so much to support me and help me feel loved and safe.
Many were surprised that you started a solo career despite having panic disorder. How are you able to balance your disorder and your career?
I was actually planning to leave this industry for good. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for me, I literally felt my world collapse around me. I was planning to go live in LA for a short time and work a part-time job while attending school.
The idea of starting over was daunting, but I thought I didn’t have a choice. There was an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from my fans and my best friends. I love my fans, they are always there for me, and I couldn’t walk away from that. So I made the decision to try it and work at my own pace.
When you can control your own schedule and workload the difference is night and day. If I don’t feel I have the mental strength to go on tour or work long hours, I can take a step back and know that I’m not letting the people around me down. Our schedules in this industry can be grueling, and it takes a toll on your body and mind, being able to just take a step back and breathe is a blessing.
What are the differences between being in a group and being a soloist for you?
Performance-wise, there’s quite a large difference. As a solo performer, there is a lot more pressure on you, It is just me up there. If I make a mistake or something is off, I don’t have others to lean on for help. I do love both styles of performing.
There’s a large difference for me mentally as well. When I feel the pressure of work building, I can take all the time I need to recover and not worry about letting the people around me down.
It seems that since you started your solo career, your passion for fashion has really come to the forefront, with you working with brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton and magazines like Numero TOKYO and GQ Japan. What does fashion mean to you?
I absolutely love fashion and I’m so grateful that these brands have noticed and reached out to me. I have always felt that I can express myself and my feelings better through art than I can verbally, and fashion is just another avenue for me to do that. I can express myself or just lose myself in the colors, materials, and design. I love working with fabrics when designing my tour goods for example. To be able to see my designs come to fruition is so fulfilling!
What does this album mean to you? What is your favorite song on the album?
The album for me is my voice. I’m able to bring attention to mental health and show myself that even though things can be hard, it’s always possible to come back from that dark place.
I love all the songs on the album, and poured my heart into making each one of them, so they are all my favorite! But, if I have to pick one, I really like the song “G・E・N・K・I”, which I wrote myself. I wanted to make a song that would make people “genki” (Japanese for “energetic”) so I focused on lyrics that told that story. I’m really excited for everyone to hear it!
You have some English-language songs and spend a lot of time in Los Angeles. Do you have plans to start international activities?
I think everyone in our industry wants to start international activities! It’s exciting to travel overseas and try new things. I think it’s an uphill battle, but I’m just enjoying it.
I have some exciting news to share with everyone, but you will have to wait a little longer before I can talk about it!
What do you love the most about Los Angeles?
Being in California is one of the largest contributors to my improving mental health. First of all, the sunshine and weather can literally and figuratively brighten up my day!
Everyone is so nice! Even people whom you have never met will strike up a conversation with you. It’s always good to reach out to the people around you, you really don’t know how far a simple “Hello!” or in my case a “I like your shoes! (LOL)” can go for someone who is struggling. I think all humans just want to feel love!