translation : Maki Gotô, Ai Takahashi and Airi Suzuki - VOCE interview (1st part)

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——Even after you graduated,  within Hello! Project groups such as Morning Musume。'21 and ANGERME gained momentum and many new fans. As elite members, what do you think is the greatest thing about Hello! Project ? 

Gotô : Being in Hello! Project made me a better person. I learned how to behave with others and I think I would've been a much more mischievous girl if I hadn't joined Hello! Project. Being surrounded by adults of all ages and working in a group of girls every day since being a teenager, where the words "I can't do it" isn't tolerated, has given me a lot of mental strength. Even now, there are times when I miss the fun and the tension of this friendly competition with other members !

Takahashi : Gotô-san always says things like she was "ignoring the rules" but from my point of view, she was one of the most reasonable members. I've been saying "I want to sing songs created by various people", and I did so thanks to Morning Musume. I became a person who will definitely accomplish what she puts into words. I felt really sad when I graduated, but I think I've really understood the importance of being true to your words thanks to this experience.

Suzuki : Every year, all the Hello! Project groups would get together to perform during summer and winter tours, and it was a true battle for °C-ute. We wanted to show the fans and the other groups how much we had grown in half a year. Even during the rehearsals, I was paying a lot of attention to the other groups, thinking "She's got cute!" (laughs). When older members were rehearsing, I would watch monitors, and study them. 

Takahashi :  I know ! I miss that.

Suzuki : Being able to learn from your seniors and also being stimulated by the more energetic juniors makes it an environment that keeps you on your toes. 

Takahashi :  Each of the members has a burning desire not to lose to anyone else, but we also take pride in the individuality of our own group. We don't envy or want to imitate the other groups, but instead focus on owning our unique skills, and I think that alone naturally raises the level of Hello! Project as a whole. Even after graduating from Hello! Project, I still amazes me every time I see the group perform. 

Suzuki :  Being a Hello! Project OG is something I could never change, and I still get inspired by the current members, so it makes me wanna do my best to be a good role model for them. But I have to confess that I used to be jealous of other groups, like "Wow, Berryz Kôbô are getting such great songs !" (laughs) 

Takahashi : I understand (laughs) I also already thought things like "I wish we could've sung that".

Gotô : You see how there's monitors everywhere in big lives venues. I used to check the rehearsals of the other groups. I was really happy to see younger members come to see me when I was rehearsing. 

Suzuki :  The front of the monitors was always very crowded during Gotô-san's rehearsals. We were always envious because your performances usually had something new that no other groups had even done before (laughs) 

Takahashi : You had such cool songs as a soloist, so I tried to imitate you a lot, thinking "How can she be so sexy ?!".

——Which song would you pick if you had to perform together ?

Takahashi : Definitely a new song.

Suzuki :  I'd like a song that doesn't clash with our ages. But now that I've gone solo and created a new image, it'd be interesting to go back to my old self. Like going back to my roots and sing nostalgic songs ! 

Gotô :  I've been watching these two's YouTube videos lately and realized again how good they were at dancing, so I'd like to perform a song where we have to dance really hard. But as Airi said, covering a nostalgic song would also be interesting ! 

Takahashi : By the way, I loved the unit Gomattô !

Suzuki : Me too ! It's a legendary one ! 

Gotô : That feels old (laughs) I'd like to see you two perform "SHALL WE LOVE?". I'm sure you'll be very cool !

Takahashi : Please let us do it ! How shall we name our group... "Goaiai" ?

Gotô : I don't think this would sell a lot... Or on the contrary, will it feel fresh ? (laughs)