Why Lilhoney keeps on hustling

The Tokyo-based music video producer, model and multi-creator tells us about her career’s turning points and her female role models.

by MAKOTO KIKUCHI; translated by Leandro Di Rosa
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19 August 2020, 12:00pm

Based in Tokyo, multi-creator Lilhoney takes part in more than 20 projects per year, and although being quite busy, she lives her life to the fullest. She tells us about her career’s turning points, her female role models, and her prospects for the future.

“Lilhoney originates from abbreviating ‘Lilhoneyprincess,’” she explains. “Back in the days, the people around me suggested that I should try rapping, so I had to choose a rap name (laughs). I had no talent for rap, so I stopped immediately after, but that’s when I randomly decided my name. I got the ‘Lil’ part from the fact that I’m short and because I liked ‘Lil Kim’, and ‘honey’ from a rapper I used to like back then. I used to be called ‘Princess’ a lot since I was little, so that’s where it comes from. It feels pretty weird that the alias I’ve been using since six or seven years ago is something that I decided without much thought.”

Lilhoney’s activity covers a lot of ground: from being a video producer to modeling and casting, PR and styling. As she tells us, her career had “three turning points” that made such a diverse portfolio of activities possible.

“The first turning point of my career was when I helped Awich on the music video for her song ‘Remember’,” she recalls. “At that time, I used to live in Okinawa, and one of my friends told me about this music video. The person directing the shooting was Spikey John, who I worked as an assistant for after that.” Spikey John is a big time video creator on YouTube and has around 15 million views on the music video for “Cho Wavy De Gomenne”.

“I randomly asked to help on his shoots and ended up working on stuff like lighting and smoke. I basically became a staff member, even though originally I was a performer (laughs),” Lilhoney says. “The second turning point was when I was living in Ohio: Hidaka-Kun (Sky-Hi) was in the middle of his world tour and Spikey John, who at the time was in LA, called me on the phone and told to come to New York and help him on Hidaka-Kun’s world tour video shoot. I was pretty close, so I flew to New York and worked on both the music video and photobook. For the first time in my life, I was sent alone to scout for locations, and I also had to make the cast list, so I was basically acting as an executive producer (laughs).”

“The third turning point was in 2018, when I came back to Japan, and thanks to one of my connections, I was able to participate in Hidaka-Kun’s music video,” she continues. “At that time, Spikey John again unreasonably asked me to be in charge of casting and styling. It was the first time I had to do both at the same time, but when everything ended without any problems, I realized I really like casting and decided that I should focus on it.”

Although it’s full of challenges, Lilhoney enjoys her work from the bottom of her heart. “Even if my job can sometimes seem repetitive, there’s always some difference depending on the production, so even my easily bored self can find something to look forward to every day,” she says. “Trying to reproduce what’s in the director’s head through trial and error feels like a game, and it’s fun.”

Lilhoney, young creator, multi-creator, spikey john

I ask her if she has any role models. “I’ve never understood the concept of a role model before, but recently the person I admire the most is Japanese director Sayaka Nakane,” she replies. “Earlier this year, I was asked by her to participate in the NHK show Utatekune as a female ninja. I’ve never had the chance to work with female directors and staff members, so I was overwhelmed by their point of views and expressions, which are impossible to find in a men-dominated work environment. I thought it’s just so cool, amazing. I want to look inside their heads (laughs). I had to swing katanas around and got plenty of bruises, but it was a really good experience.”

Lilhoney, young creator, multi-creator, spikey john

In recent years, the number of content creators who, like Lilhoney, are active in many different fields is gradually increasing. I ask her to advise all those who aspire to become a multi-creator who doesn’t fit perfectly in any box. “When you have to face reality, think positive, and give it a try, no matter what comes your way,” she responds. “I didn’t go to filmmaking school, and I don’t know much about video equipment, but I think everyone should always try your best at whatever you want to do. Instead of complaining and not even trying, it’s better to give it your best, and if it doesn’t go well maybe it can’t be helped, but if it does go well you’ll feel like telling yourself ‘I told you so!’”

Recently, Lilhoney has been working on the launch of nhojyekips, a new music label. “Right now, I want to meet a lot of different people so I’m mainly working in casting, but in the near future, I want to work more on something for people of mixed race like me,” she says. “I can’t actually talk about it, but there are some projects in the making. I also love my modeling job, and I really want to keep having fun doing what I like.”