Teenage Dream: Ryota Katayose

Teenage Dream: Ryota Katayose

Get to know Ryota Katayose, the J-pop sensation that's poised for worldwide domination—starting with Coney Island.

Get to know Ryota Katayose, the J-pop sensation that's poised for worldwide domination—starting with Coney Island.

Photography: Eric T. White

Styling: Scott Shapiro

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

To the average music consumer, the world of J-pop is intriguing, even if they can’t process the overwhelming scope of the booming industry. But to the fanatic, J-pop is an entire culture that transcends language and international borders, and Ryota Katayose was destined to be apart of it. The Japanese artist grew up in a musical family and shot to stardom in 2012 when he was announced as a vocalist of GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE. The seven-member boy band has become a sensation in their native Japan, racking up four studio albums and selling out stadiums across the country. Next up on Ryota and the group’s agenda: global domination. 

How did you spend your summers as a teen? 

I was on a soccer team, so I was playing soccer all day everyday the whole summer!

When you were a teen, what did dream about becoming when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to become a musician or to be able to work in music somehow. Since my dad has been a high school music teacher (back then and even now), music has always been with my life, I grew up in it. I started to play a piano when I was 5 too. It has been my only and biggest dream: to live in music.

What type of music were you listening to as a teen? 

Because my dad used to listen to American music (global music) and some classics at home, that was all I was listening to as well, when I was little. My first CD I ever bought was Stevie Wonder’s Inner Vision, when I think was 10 years old. When I started junior high school, I started listening to lots of J-POP, learning all about it from my friends. I became a huge fan of a group EXILE, and now, I work with them under the same management company. They are my heroes, mentors, and big brothers.

Did you have good taste in fashion during your teenage years?

I honestly didn’t care much about fashion. I was always playing soccer and getting all muddy anyways. I found my interests in fashion when I started working as an artist.

Is youth important? If so, how? 

Yes. I think it’s important. People are the youngest in their own age today, right now, at this moment. I think it’s important to treasure every second of being the youngest in your lifetime. And, you can only look back at your youth when you grow up. I think it’s necessary for me to look back once in a while and remember what was important and was exciting when I was young, so that I can appreciate my current state a lot more.

What's your impression of Coney Island? 

It was my first time there! But, I somehow felt like I’ve been there before. I think it was because of the nostalgic vibe the place has. I had a great time shooting there but I would want to try the Cyclone the next time!

What's one piece of advice you wish you could tell your younger self? 

Be yourself! Don’t try to be anybody else, just be you.

If you could spend your summer anywhere/doing anything, where would you be and what would you do? 

Paris. I’ve been there once but I love it there. I’d love to spend a summer there wandering around the city, going to all the galleries and museums, drinking wine at outside terrace. That would be fun!

Did you like Disney as a kid?

Yes! I don’t remember why but I think I really liked to watch Peter Pan and 101 Dalmatians.

Credits: HAIR KIYONORI SUDO, MAKEUP KAITLYN SIMKO, PHOTO ASSISTANT CAIT DURRA, STYLIST ASSISTANT JASMINE FONTAINA, PRODUCERS ALICE LONGYU GAO, ELLA CEPEDA

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