Former AKB48's Tomomi Itano loves going solo

Besides singing, Tomomi Itano is also keen to take on more acting roles.
Besides singing, Tomomi Itano is also keen to take on more acting roles.PHOTO: KING RECORDS

Japanese pop star Tomomi Itano confesses that it is great to be a part of girl group AKB48, but it is even better when she has the adulation of fans all to herself.

"Unlike doing an event for the group, you know that fans are here for you. They are your fans. I find that appealing," says Itano, 25, who went solo in 2013 after having been a part of the revolving-door girl group, whose more than 100 members take turns to appear at events and performances.

She was in town recently for her first solo fan meet and live showcase.

While she was one of the more popular members of AKB48 during her stint in the group - and also reportedly Japan's TV commercial queen in 2012, with 21 advertisements to her name - there was little room for individuality.

After eight years in AKB48, she was raring to go beyond performing upbeat pop tunes while wearing schoolgirl-like outfits.

"Now that I am a solo artist, I have the freedom to make music that is more my style. Compared to AKB48's dance routine, I prefer choreography that is more passionate, forceful and cooler. I can express my ideas and incorporate them into my work," she says.

Those ideals are turning into reality in her upcoming album, Get Ready, which will be filled with "danceable party anthems" that are a reflection of her personal music taste.

"I want people to get energised listening to my music. The music that I enjoy listening to is dynamic and make me feel pumped up," says Itano, who released her first solo album, S×W×A×G in, 2014.

Apart from music, she is keen to take on more acting projects, especially roles where the characters are "independent" and "fearless".

In the Japanese horror flick, Peeping Eye (2016), she plays a television station assistant director investigating the mysterious death of a man.

"I'm scared of horror movies, but I decided to do Peeping Eye because it is not just about scaring people. It also has a good story," says Itano, a fan of American zombie series The Walking Dead.

One might deduce from the singer's answers in this interview that she has a steely demeanour. Yet, she is not ashamed to admit there is strength in numbers.

"In a group, the workload is split among members - one is in charge of being the emcee, another is in charge of dance choreography. You have less on your mind. As a solo artist, you have to do everything. I have no one to rely on but myself."

For single men who want to lend the bachelorette a shoulder to cry on, she says: "I like tall guys, but he shouldn't be too muscular. I want someone who is capable and strives to do his best in whatever he takes on."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Going solo, and loving it'. Print Edition | Subscribe