Meet FAITH, the Next-Gen Band Symbolizing J-Pop’s Expanding Diversity

FAITH is a five-member up-and-coming J-pop band whose latest track, “Party All Night,” has been getting huge airplay.

The two female and three male members members — Akari Dritschler (vocals), Toko Arai (bass), Ray Kastnar (guitar), Rei Yajima (guitar), and Luca Melancon (drums) — are all 19 years old going on 20 this year, consisting of childhood friends and their friends from Ina City in Nagano, Japan. Three of the members have mixed heritages with half-Japanese and half-American roots, and the band’s songs depicting the real emotions of teenagers all in English are quickly gaining popularity, mainly among people around the same age.

After forming in 2015, the band made it to the finals in a teen-only band contest in 2017 and was named “‎New Artist of the Week” by Apple Music. In December 2018, FAITH opened for Against the Current’s world tour Tokyo concert, and the young band’s song has also been featured in the popular reality show Terrace House.

Their music infuses mainstream melodies into sounds reminiscent of ‘90s Western pop music, and is somehow new and invokes nostalgia at the same time. FAITH’s style is global pop that connects naturally with listeners around the world, like a scene from a family drama or music playing in a car stereo in a faraway country.

The radio chart-topper “Party All Night” is a track on the band’s debut album, Capture it, released Jan. 15. The song is being featured on 71 power playlists on radio and TV stations across Japan, and requests from listeners are pouring in as well. The band’s tour promoting the set is quickly selling out.

In an interview with Billboard Japan, Dritschler shared that recording their first full album “expanded the range of what we’re able to do” as a band. The variety of songs on the project are teased in the album trailer featuring the members playing cards and sharing a bucket of popcorn. Watch below:

Guitarist Yajima also looked back on a two-week stay in New Orleans that greatly influenced the making of “Party All Night.” The three male members traveled together as their “high school graduation trip” last year around the time that happened to coincide with the Jazz and Heritage Festival.

“Luca has relatives in New Orleans,” Yajima explains. “We set up a drum kit in the guest house and jammed in the morning, then went to hear live music outside, then returned to make songs again based on the sounds we were inspired by. We lived like that for two weeks, and (‘Party All Night’) was born organically from there.”

Kastnar added: “We saw Santana. That was so lit!”

Aside from “Party All Night,” the album is packed with the young band’s efforts to challenge themselves, including “Lonely,” a song written back when the members were still in high school and rearranged for their debut project; “Caught Up in Time,” a country-flavored number that develops dramatically toward the end with a string orchestra; “19,” a positive tune about a 19-year-old’s defiance toward society and being true to oneself, inspired by Dritschler’s stay in New York, and more.

When asked if the band’s goals have changed since finishing the record, Dritschler responded by noting, “Our long-term goal has become clearer now. We want to play big venues eventually, and be able sell out any place just with our band’s name.” Yajima shared, “We’d love to perform at huge festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella, and tour worldwide.”

“And in order to do that,” Kastnar added, “we have to achieve each short-term goal that we face.”

Dritschler concluded: “We plan on focusing on each concert that we do, and keep brushing up our performance so our audiences can thoroughly enjoy our shows.”

What is notable is that radio and TV stations all over Japan are promoting an English-language song by a youthful band consisting of both male and female members with mixed heritages as “J-pop,” at a time when Japanese society is quickly shifting toward embracing diversity before the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The song’s breakout popularity also symbolizes the new trend in the way people in Japan listen to music, with the prevalence of streaming services making it easier for listeners to create personalized playlists that disregard traditional musical classifications such as J-pop/Western music and various genres.

The young members of FAITH, who grew up in such an environment, are already keenly aware that regardless of where they are based, they are connected to listeners around the world through their music. The next-generation J-pop band is set to overcome borders, genders and age to step out on the global stage with their colorful and solid pop sound.