Crossing Rain, a Hawaiʻi boy group, is comprised of members (left to right) Jorden Kealoha-Yamanaka, Evan Harutoshi Doria (aka “Haru”), Shotaro Takasawa, Asher Morgado, Wyatt Keola Dean Kaneshiro (aka “Monarch”), and Devin Teruya. (Photo by Shawna Takaki)
By Shawna Takaki | Staff Writer
Crossing Rain is a musical boy group composed of six members that was created in March of last year by Tirzah Entertainment right here in Hawaiʻi. They’re the first of their kind in Hawaiʻi and creating a new type of musical group with their blending of different genres, but more importantly, they’re also six boys who want to spread our aloha spirit to the rest of the world.
Crossing Rain, shortened to XR, performed a “Nice to Meet You” showcase at the Blaisdell Concert Hall on Feb. 26 this year, their biggest performance to date.
“Being able to perform for our fans … they were singing back our lyrics, some of them were doing our dance moves, and they were excited about different parts of the song,” said Wyatt Keola Dean Kaneshiro “Monarch,” the official leader of Crossing Rain. “A lot of the audience knew about us, knew who we were, so it was so much fun.”
They plan on performing throughout the world for their fans. The group is having their next “Nice to Meet You” showcase in San Francisco soon, though it was recently postponed, and many members hope to go to other countries in the future such as Japan.
“We’re just six regular people that had a passion about performing or some aspect of it,” Kanehiro said. “… We want to represent Hawaiʻi in the best way that we can. We wanna represent what aloha means to us and to our families in the best way we can. I think as a whole, from Crossing Rain, we just wanna say we really love and appreciate our fans and couldn’t do what we do without them.”
Their music is dubbed “H-pop,” meaning Hawaiʻi pop, and their sound is a blend of different genres such as hip-hop, reggae, and R&B. Crossing Rain’s music is influenced greatly by the members, who partake in the music and choreograph their dances. Their music closely resembles older boy bands such as New Kids On The Block in their title track “Come Back Home 2.0.”
They’re also very inspired by J-pop and especially K-pop in their music and particularly choreography. K-pop choreography is a specific mishmash of hip-hop, contemporary dance, b-boy dance, jazz funk, and many more, which informs some of how Crossing Rain uses many different genres in their music.
Their creative input emphasizes how Crossing Rain as a musical group is influenced greatly by the unique input of each member and the bond between the six of them.
Devin Teruya, a member of Crossing Rain, greatly treasures the bonds they have formed over the past 13 months.
“We’re very comfortable with each other,” he said, gesturing to the others. “It’s like we have five new brothers. … [I’m] just very grateful to be on this journey together with these amazing guys.”
This point seemed very true. They were all extremely friendly with each other and the gathering with the group boisterous and fun. But while united by their love of music, each member is very different. Their ages range from 13 to 21, and their individual interests and upbringings shine through in the group’s music and image.
The youngest member is Shotaro Takasawa, a 13-year-old from Japan and the only member who didn’t grow up in Hawaiʻi. He moved here three years ago and began taking dance lessons, which led to his deepening interest in performing. He is a fan of J-pop groups such as Radwimps and was inspired by many people, such as Jungkook from BTS and particularly his father Yamaguchi Tatsuya, a former member of J-pop band TOKIO.
“We wanna become leaders ourselves, [and] we just wanna make people happy,” Takawasa said quietly with a smile.
The lead dancer of the group is 15-year-old Asher Morgado from Waianae, who was in 24-7 Danceforce, an acclaimed dance studio and is one of the choreographers for Crossing Rain’s dance routines. He also taught choreography through classes, despite his young age. His affinity for dancing and movement was apparent through how he often spun and bounced during the interview. He was constantly moving his body even while not performing. Before he sat in his seat for the interview, he first spun.
“I really love how all the boys, they’re just very hardworking and … in the beginning, I thought, ‘I don’t know how they’re going to act, me teaching choreo.’ But they really got it and I’m really proud of them,” Morgado said.
Apart from his love for dancing and singing, Morgado also hopes to go into acting one day and dreams of being in big blockbuster films such as Marvel movies.
Evan Harutoshi Doria, known as “Haru,” is from ‘Ewa Beach and 18 years old. He attended James Campbell High School and graduated last year.
He trained for five years at Studio 808 Dance Project and is another one of the choreographers of the group, co-creating the dance for their songs “Come Back 2.0” and “Not My Type.” He’s an experienced and well-rounded dancer, having learned hip-hop dance, street dance, breakdancing, b-boying, ballet, and contemporary.
“Before I start making choreography, I have my earphones in and just listen to the music over and over,” Doria said. ” … That kind of puts me on a path to creating it.”
Devin Teruya, also 18 years old, is from Pearl City and attended ‘Aiea High School. He co-choreographed “Come Back 2.0,” their title track, and was also a member at Studio 808 Dance Project. His musical influences include musical artist Lewis Capaldi and many K-pop groups such as BTS, Twice, Blackpink, Stray Kids, and Day6 in his choreography and music. He also auditioned as a finalist for a K-pop group in the past.
“I love and idolize K-pop, and I want to emulate that in our work as well,” Teruya said.
He was noted by his fellow members to be a caring, calm person, and he spoke quietly but assured.
The lead vocalist, Jorden Kealoha-Yamanaka, known as “J,” is 20 years old and moved to Oʻahu from Hilo to perform with Crossing Rain. He started playing the ‘ukulele when he was 6 years old and has been brought up with music since then, singing on stage since he was a child. He also plays guitar and piano, which he uses in creating music for the group.
“I’ve been singing since … I was born, I think,” Kealoha-Yamanaka said. “I was surrounded by a lot of music and brought up in a musical family.”
Kealoha-Yamanaka’s father is local Hawaiian musician Mark Yamanaka, a 14-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winner. His entire family is musically inclined and a big part of why he pursued music was the way he grew up.
He’s also a lover of tattoos and has one on his arm and another on his chest, with the former being the scripture “Philippians 4:7” and the latter being a chest piece with designs representing his family. There’s also a crescent honoring King Kamehameha on his chest.
Wyatt Keola Dean Kaneshiro, known as “Monarch,” is 21 years old and both the official leader and lead rapper of Crossing Rain. He chose the alias “Monarch” due to it being an ungendered term for royalty.
“When people sing or rap my lyrics, I want them to feel like ‘Monarchs’ too,” Kaneshiro said.
He was a well-spoken individual and passionate about creating music. Kaneshiro and Kealoha-Yamanaka wrote “Water” and “Not My Type” together. They were inspired by a lot of different musical influences, and Kaneshiro loves to mix many musical genres into one song when composing and writing. In “Not My Type,” they were inspired by both reggae and Ariana Grande. This resulted in the light and breezy reggae-like track.
“I get inspired by places … nature or even architecture can be inspiring, and obviously, music, other people’s music,” Kaneshiro said. “My favorite artists, my favorite rappers, inspire me a lot. And I often find myself turning to their music when I feel I’m at a creative stoppage. I know that I really really like a song or an album if I can’t wait to go home and make music after listening to it.”
Crossing Rain’s first album, “DREAMS,” was released in December and can be purchased as a physical CD or found on over 150 streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and more. The album has nine songs. The title track is “Come Back Home 2.0,” and the music video can be found on YouTube here.
For more information on Crossing Rain, go to their website here.
“We want to represent Hawai‘i and what aloha means to us in the best way that we can through our music and group,” said Kanehiro.