Name: シェキドル (indies), Sheki-Dol (major)
Date of debut: May 17th, 2000
Record label: SPREE RECORDS –> Sony Music
Disbanded: January, 2002
Sheki-Dol was a Japanese pop group, active from 2000 to 2002. The name of the group was made up by the theme «hot». «Sekidou» (Equator) and «garu/gal» (Girls) were put together, creating «Sekidou Girl», as well as incorporating the phrase «Shake it». And there you have their name: Sheki-Dol.
After the success of Morning Musume, Tsunku and the agency UFA held several auditions for girls wanting to be idol singers. The auditions were held sporadically, and the audition called «4th Morning Musume & Heike Michiyo Protegee Audition», held on May 17th 2000, would spawn three winners; Matsuura Aya (who went on to a solo career), and Ibuki Ooki and Ami Kitagami who would form the group Sheki-Dol.
Tsunku described Sheki-Dol’s music as «rock» and «hard core rock music» after recording their first song. Their music is rougher and more noisy than most of the bubblegum pop Tsunku has been famous for, but it still lies firmly in the pop category.
In the summer of 2000 Sheki-Dol participated in the Hello! Project summer concerts, their first time on stage ever.They sang the then unreleased song «Kokoro no Pheromone» at the cocnert «Hello! Project 2000 Atsumare! Summer Party».
Sheki-Dol is probably one of the least popular groups within Hello! Project. During live events they were said to treat their wota really bad, so their fanbase never grew, it just steadily declined. They had a live event which fans called "the 15 people live event" as only 15 people showed up; unthinkable for any group or artist within Hello! Project at that time.
In October, Sheki-Dol started their own column in Sony Music Magazine, called «Sheki-Dol reneval series, my Resume». They were featured once a month for 11 columns. Midways, in October, the column changed name to «Sheki-Dol no Kokoro Maruhadaka», meaning something like «Sheki-Dol bares it all», where the column changes from infotainment to a series og pshycology tests.
But it wasn’t until November they released their first single, labeled as an indies release (but for sale everywhere), and released by Spree Records. The title of the single is «Kokoro no Pheromone» («Pheromone of the Heart»), a rock song with a medium tempo and easy-going, laid-back vocals. The song was used as the ending theme to the tv show «Sanma No Super Karakuri TV.» Sheki-Dol also started their own radio program, which ran until their disbandedment, called «Funky, Monkey, Sheki». It aired once a week (Fridays or Wednesdays) from 3:30 a.m. on Bay FM.
Every New Year’s Eve, a Japanese tv show called «Kouhaku Uta Gassen» is aired on national tv. It is the most watched program of the year, and it is a song competition. Only the best selling and most famous artists are invited to the show, and in 2000 Morning Musume were invited to perform at the show. Sheki-Dol got to be on stage behind Morning Musume. Ami Kitagami said in an interview : “Even though we were hidden behind Morning Musume, we were actually on the stage, and that’s what counts (lol)”
In February of 2001, Sheki-Dol was part of the Hello!Project’s «2001 Sugoizo 21 Seiki» concerts, held in Osaka and Nagoya. They also became regulars at a radio show called «FM-Fuji Pop Jerry Beans», which started airing in January of 2001.
In March, Mami Suenaga joined Sheki-Dol as a new member. Asked in an interview how it was to join a duo that already had been working together for some time, Suenaga said: «We broke the ice in a matter of a few seconds.» Ibuki said: «It has been only a few months since Mami joined us, but I feel like she’s been a part of us all along because she fits in so well. Many people tell us she is a perfect addition to our group.»
In March, they also participated in the H!P Dai Undoukai (a sports event). Their uniform numbers were 筋 (muscle), 肉 (meat), 質 (quality).
Shortly after becoming a 3-member group, in April, Sheki-Dol released their second single «Tetteiteki Unmei» (A Total Destiny), also categorized as an indies release.
Two months later they released what would be their third single, an anime tie-in titled «Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu» («Overall, I Love You»). It was the theme song for «Crayon Shinchan», an anime that follows the adventures of five-year-old Shinnosuke «Shin» Nohara and his family and friends. The song also appears on a compilation album for the anime. Music magazines described the single as a cute pop song with fun-loving beats. Just a few weeks after the release, Sheki-Dol participated in the H!P summer concert, singing «Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu.».
Promotional live events & meet and greet sessions were also held this summer. If you purchased the single, you’d have the opportunity to take part in the special event and receive a voucher for the meet & greet session. In addition, special merchandise was given away at the event spaces.
In August, Ibuki decided to graduate Sheki-Dol to become a model. Sheki-Dol was featured in several photoshoots for several magazines when they were active, and in these interviews Ibuki’s interest changed and she wanted to pursue something else than music.
Saki Arai went to an interview with the agency, after being told to go try out. She passed the audition and joined Sheki-Dol the same month.
School festival appereances were scheduled in November at the Nippon Sports Science University, but was cancelled due to fire.
Around this time Tsunku and UFA decides to release their fourth single as their major debut single, as their previous three relesaed were labeled indies. They also switched record labels to Sony Music (same as Heike Michiyo). Several magazine promotions and interviews were scheduled, and they pushed Saki Arai to the front being center in intwrviews, and also on the cover of the single. It is entitled «Ai wa Muteki ~Hatachi no Yoru no Chikai~», and was released on December 5th, 2001. The girls said in interviews that their new single is so different from their previous, and that is has a grown up sound and sounds more mature. They all feel this suits them well, as the average age of the group is 20,1 years.
Around the same time the agency issued a message saying that Mami Suenaga needed medical attention, and for a short while Sheki-Dol was a duo again (as seen in their final column). Just a short month after releaseing their major debut single, it was announced that Sheki-Dol had disbanded. The reason for this was the previous statement, saying that Suneaga needed medical attention. It was later revealed that she was pregnant, and this is the real reason for the end of the group.
In one of their final interviews, they said: «Following stereotypes and patterns are boring. Rather than fearing the unknown, by enjoying new opportunities, Sheki-dol is constantly making an effort to widen its horizon. The future seems very bright for Sheki-dol.»