ATARASHII GAKKO! Photographed by Dennis Leupold


Money Mark was recently raving to us about ATARASHII GAKKO! who he has been producing. AG! for short.

ATARASHII GAKKO! The J-Pop sensations — a girl group quintet, formed in 2015 and signed to 88rising in 2021. Their upbeat and just delightfully fun way of being is beginning to radiate into far flung places across the globe with over five million TikTok followers. And you’re guaranteed they’ll make you feel great, just listen to their latest song ‘The Edge.’

Introduction by Sarah J. Edwards

Interview by Money Mark

Photography by Dennis Luepold

This is an excerpt from brand new book, Vol.4 Nø 1

“ATARASHII GAKKO! came to LA and that’s when we turned a Studio City AirBnB into a recording studio. We also recorded some at Henson. We really hit it off.” 

Money Mark


ATARASHII GAKKO!’s Suzuka, Mizyu, Rin and Kanon are ‘sicker than your average’. They can hop across genres with ease. The girls’ music cleverly dabbles in hip hop, dance, pop-rock and jazz, all performed with an unmatched positive energy presented via their intuitive and precision self-styled choreography and humour.

It makes perfect sense that Keyboard Money Mark would work with the group. He extensively recorded and toured the world with Beastie Boys for almost two decades — that’s how we met.
The keys on Beck’s ‘Where It’s At?’ to Yeah Yeah Yeah’s newest album ‘Cool It Down’…that’s all Mark.
He’s produced too many artists to list…a few of his favourites accomplishments? ‘Check Your Head’, AG!, Sinkane, Plastilina Mosh’s ‘Juan Manuel’, De La Soul’s ‘And Anonymous Nobody’ Dave’s last recorded performance. He performed guitar, harp and synth for Seu Jorge and importantly, there’s his own new song ‘Imaad Wasif.’

Mark has also created original music for some of Hollywood’s major drama-comedies, ‘Horrible Bosses,’ ‘Fun With Dick and Jane’ to ‘Along Came Polly.’ He studied theatre design and used to tour with dance troops playing the piano. He was a carpenter, which is how he met Beastie Boys. Mark is low-key, laid-back and a loyal friend to many. His oeuvre of work will bring you delight. You see the running theme here?

It was by a few strokes of good fortune that you’re now reading about them all here.

“[AG!’s] manager saw me in the Rick Rubin documentary called ‘Shangri-La’ on Showtime — but before that, we briefly met on a sidewalk cafe in New York City through a mutual friend who she was having lunch with,” explains Money Mark.

A Los Angeles AirBnB

“[AG! came] to LA and that’s when we turned a Studio City AirBnB into a recording studio. We also recorded some at Henson. We really hit it off. 

“They literally came to LA and through fate into the SoCal summer breeze. It worked.”

The feeling is mutual, as now AG! have playfully adopted the legendary keyboard player and producer as their “father.”

On that Los Angeles trip, amongst other tracks, the positive vibes produced a song called ‘Happy Hormones,’ it has a Prince feel of harmonies, bass and keys. It was written by Mark and AG! and was almost immediately picked up by NPR.

When Mark introduced us to AG! We instantly felt they were perfect for BLAG, Mark also volunteered to do the interview. The girls jumped at the chance to collaborate with him again.

So here’s AG!’s first international magazine cover story, interviewed by the legendary Money Mark.

Suzuka, Rin, Mizyu, Kanon and Mark are about to unleash a whole new load of happiness on the world.

Interview via translation on zoom.

Money Mark: Hello! Can you hear me? Can you see me?

ATARASHII GAKKO!: Hi Mark! Oh, you’re frozen…

Kumitaisou: Human Pyramids

Money Mark: OK, let’s try this. The general questions I have for you are revolving around happiness. [Mark shows yellow sticky with keyword, HAPPINESS]
First, let me ask you about kumitaisou (acrobatics, human pyramids).

Kanon: Kumiaisou? It’s so cool that you know about it!

Money Mark: Yeah, [Sarah and Sally] wanted me to ask you guys about it. Why is it controversial?

Kanon: I don’t think it’s controversial.
Suzuka: Yeah, don’t think so, at least not in Japan.
Mizyui: If anything, people worry that it’s dangerous sometimes.
Rin: Kumitaisou is something we all grow up doing in school as young as grade school. So it’s something very familiar to a kid growing up in Japan. You can say we’re all trained at it early on. In our case. we kept at it, so we’re pros!

Money Mark: Oh, I see. I was wondering because I’ve seen some videos from maybe Germany where a group of people were doing a big human pyramid, and they were stacked really high up, and they fell down with some of them getting hurt. So it can be dangerous if you’re not trained like you guys.

Suzuka: Yeah, that’s scary
Kanon: I think in Japan, at least in school, we don’t stack too high, so we keep it safer.


Money Mark: I think your kumitaisou is an interesting part of your stage performance. You can see that the audience loves it, I think they find it iconic, and it makes them very happy.
Who’s the one at the top of the pyramid? Rin?

Kanon: I think Suzuka is on top the most.

Money Mark: Suzuka is on top! Wow. [Suzuka is the tallest out of the four of them]

Rin: Normally, the tallest person tends to be at the base of the pyramid, so our kumitaisou might be a little different than the norm.

Money Mark: AG! is kinda weird in a good way, so that makes sense.  
ATARASHII GAKKO!: [Laughs], yeah!

Money Mark: Let’s talk about your athletic abilities. When I watch your show, I think you’re like super athletes with super powers. The audience loves this idea that you appear to be superhuman.
I’ve seen you guys look all chill and relaxed in real life, but when you get on stage, something turns on and you transform into super athletes. Where do you get all this energy from?

Mizyu: Hmmm, I wonder what it is?

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