Translation by Closet Yi
Translation by Closet Yi
Lastly, since we're spending a lot more time indoors, is there any fresh music or movement in the scene that you've discovered lately that you would like to share with us?
Translation by Closet Yi
Congratulations on your first collaboration EP release with S.O.N.S! Could you explain us how you two started working together?
Translation by Closet Yi
Who is Dj Romy Mats? Could you introduce yourself briefly?
I'm based in Tokyo. Since 2017, I’ve been working as a party organiser and promoter at my resident party called 'Kaitai Shinsho (解体新書)'. As a DJ, I usually play hypnotic / psychedelic techno, bass music from UK, speedy electro and breaks, broken and noisy EBM, african and middle eastern inspired sound, and more experimental or leftfield stuff etc. I think it's my style to mix these music eclectically. Of course I sometimes play house and disco stuff, but I don't have much opportunities these days. Putting that aside, despite my short career and young age, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to play in great parties like DJ Nobu's 'Future Terror', 'Rural Festival', Boiler Room Party in Tokyo, and the main floor of Contact Tokyo etc. So I’m enjoying the moment now, growing up based on these various experiences.
You've been organising the party 'Kaitai Shinsho(解体新書)', which comes from the Japanese surgery book under the same name. How did you come up with this title?
The actual 'Kaitai Shinsho(解体新書)' was published by a medical scientist named Genpaku Sugita, who majored in western studies, in 1774, and it was the first English to Japanese translated book about western medicine. Briefly, this book was created by translating various medical books written by German, Dutch, French and other doctors in European countries into Japanese and reconstructing the important parts. Personally, I think the origin of this book is similar to that of the electronic / dance music scene in Japan. The scene of Japan has such a strong identity and history, but I believe that this is a result of actively incorporating and interpreting various electronic music from around the world. In fact, even though it’s a small part of the scene, I’m constantly looking for new electronic music from around the world for my own mix sets and working hard to introduce wonderful international producers / DJs to Japan. I felt that this situation is very similar to the activities of Genpaku Sugita; his publication of Kaitai Shinsho as a result of his work. That's the main reason why, but actually I didn't thought like this from the beginning. When I started the party 3 years ago, I discussed a lot about the titles with VJ Camel (aka Akio Oda) who is my organising partner. At that time, we were thinking of a title that would have a strong impact and would not be buried in many parties, and after talking with each other, we came to the conclusion that a title using kanji would fit both conditions. After that, we kept on listing idioms in kanji as candidates, but when 'Kaitai Shinsho(解体新書)' came up, we thought it's strong enough and the meaning also came to my mind, so we chose it as the title.
How would you evaluate the goals and accomplishments of running the party brand by yourself for the past 3 years?
I definitely have a sense of accomplishment. Because we have continued our efforts to maintain our uniqueness along with the party build up, we were able to receive positive feedback constantly. At the 3rd anniversary party at Contact Tokyo, I had a toast with VJ Camel right after the party started, and we said to each other that we would have never imagined three years ago that we could have our anniversary party at such a huge venue. But now, I think the present is a legitimate place considering our efforts so far. And on the other hand, I think the reason 'Kaitai Shinsho' exists today is because there were so many people who have been supporting us, and also great local artists who played a lot of times in our party such as Mars89, Saskiatokyo, Albino Sound, k_yam and HELKTRAM etc, plus, people who came to the party. This is by no means humble, it’s an obvious facts. I can’t thank them enough. And then, I think there is still a long long long way to go. I just keep trying something new.
However, even before you started djing or promoting you've been working as a journalist as the chief editor of 'Higher Frequency' magazine. How did electronic music(or dance music) become involved into your life this much?
I'm not a producer at all, but I know electronic music has changed my life definitely. And what hasn't changed since I started listening electronic music as a teenager, is that this kind of music is always exciting and always makes me feel fresh. I used to dig and listen to alternative rock and indie rock a lot when I was a teenager, but I gradually started to feel that there was no big difference between any of the new albums coming out, so I really got into electronic music from then. And when I started to feel that electronic music is creeping up on indie rock increasingly year after year, I began to think that electronic music might be the undifferentiated frontier of all present music including pop, rock, and rap. That point of view hasn't changed even now. My current motivation of life (or of all general activities) is the expectation that something new will start to happen from electronic music.
We also heard the news that you performed in many different countries in Asia(Bangkok, Hanoi, Taipei, Seoul, etc.). What is the core of your motivation that makes you keep going on in all these activities?
No matter which city I’m playing, it's totally different from playing in Tokyo (the atmosphere of the floor and dancers, the sound, my mind), so it's always a lot of fun. The best gig for me was at Safe Room, Bangkok in November and at B1, Taipei in August. Of course, it's not only about my gigs, it's also very interesting to see local DJs, and to communicate with DJs, promoters, customers to learn more about each scenes. There are many things that I don't know until I visit the city, so my current motivation is to get some new experience. In 2020, I’m going to start an exchange program between Asia cities and Tokyo. so I would be happy if I could know more about various wonderful parts of Asian dance music scenes, and increase our possibilities.
Could you explain about the mix set? Who would you like to recommend this mix to listen to?
This is a live recording at Contact Tokyo from last year July. I think the first half was strange and difficult to grasp the beat, but in the second half, it became intense techno but hypnotic. I find this mix has a pretty aggressive configuration so I hope the listeners look up this mix set whenever they want to uplift their feelings.
Translation by Closet Yi
Parrish Smith - L'Importance De Doute
Sleep D - Shark Tempo
Struction - Seel
Locked Groove - Eden feat. Stella (Prequel Tapes Remix)
Rhyw - Biggest Bully
Szare - Sink Hole
Call Super - The Mess
Kr!z - Salvation
Oliver Rosemann - Intermediate World
Yogg - Close Enough
Schiari - A Far Vision
Nobusawa - Raspberry
Peter Van Hoesen - Second Hologram Rose
Objekt - Runaway
PTU - Over
Selections courtesy of local selector and producer, Seiryun.
Co-Owner of Clique Records and running both Daehan Electronics and Braindance Records. Whilst usually going across genres, this mix is rather straight forward with some dubbed out minimal techno to more colourful cuts. Tracks that make you wanna stay out late.
(aka Nitrous Oxide Systems) Founding members: Frankie $, KAZUHO, Kenchan, k_yam. N.O.S. burst onto the Tokyo house scene in March 2018 on a turbocharged trajectory to somewhere new. N.O.S. comprises 4 members: producer/DJs: Frankie $, KAZUHO and K_yam and visual director Kenchan. Although based in Tokyo, N.O.S. outlook is borderless, looking to tie together various strands of future music throughout and beyond Japan. N.O.S. is not just tracks and a clothing line; N.O.S. is also a platform and a party that will continue to hold the torch for the true underground ravier side of the house scene that emerged around 2013 across Europe, America, and Australia. So far N.O.S. has brought Denis Sulta, Randomer, DJ Seinfeld, Baltra, Shall Not Fade Crew, D. Tiffany, Asquith, Fede Lng, Deejay Astral, DJ Bowlcut, Miley Serious and Seoul Community Radio Crew to Japan and its members have been supporting a variety of other events and international artists across Tokyo's dancefloors.
Inside the rich underground dance music scene in Japan with such a long history, it's very impressive to see fresh movements from relatively new crews like you guys. People can see your names in local line ups often, and we've seen your parties going big with international bookings as well. Recently N.O.S. did several shows in Contra Seoul and Pistil under the title of their brand name too. It seems like you guys are setting up a new paradigm in the scene now, do you feel the change as well?
N.O.S. has been active for just over a year but I think we have managed to achieve more than we originally imagined in this short time span. Including domestic and international shows we have organized around 8 parties. We don't feel there is that much meaning in simply booking overseas artists and running parties though, so we were sure to make progress on the and have put out four releases from core members.
With organizing parties, we put a lot of thought into the lineups, the tour arrangement, one-off t-shirt collaborations and the artwork and visuals on the day. I think people appreciate that we make an effort to cover all these angles and we have managed to develop our brand gradually with each party and release.
In terms of playing Korea, we feel that the growing Korean club scene is very important for us and for this part of the world. It has been a great honour and massively inspirational for us to work with a large number of Korean DJs, especially those around the Contra and Pistil scenes, including DJ Bowlcut, Shins, C'est Qui, JNS, Airbear, Jesse You, Seohyun, and Kino Kino. We feel these DJs have an abundance of originality and share a similar musical vision, and it has been energizing to see them in action firsthand. Through the relationships and friendships we have developed playing and organizing in Korea we were able to be a part of wildly successful 'Rave Age 2 Tokyo' party organized by The Internatiiional, as well as collaborating with Seoul Community Radio to live stream one of our events from Circus. We want to continue such collaborations and continue pushing the envelope in both Seoul and Tokyo.
Could you explain more about the musical background being shared in each crew? Also what kind of inspirations do you get from each other & other artists?
We listen to pretty much everything and are digging for new music day in day out. I think we have a wide variety of influences, but all of us feel an affinity towards and have a lot of respect for UK dance culture and everything that has stemmed from the lineage of hardcore jungle and rave music. Our actual output in terms of a label tends towards the more personal and has less of a dancefloor emphasis. In fact, a lot of the tracks have been written after something happened in the producers' personal life, rather than as an effort to make something that will work in the club.
Is there a specific goal or belief that each crew has been following consistently since the beginning?
From the start we wanted to make sure that whatever we did went beyond the simple concept of organizing a party - we all produce and have an interest in clothing as well so we thought that with a slight DIY vibe we would be able to make something interesting. I think we have been largely successful and have had a good reception on our releases, both in terms of music and clothing. I think we've been able to use these elements to effectively push what we are doing to a wider audience. Reaching this wider audience is our biggest objective. We don't want to limit ourselves just to Tokyo when thinking about our movements from here on in.
N.O.S. played in the last 'Rave Age 2 Tokyo' night in Shibuya WWWb hosted by The Internatiiional along with Dj Nozaki, Licaxxx, CYK, Shins, and Airbear. Especially the set that N.O.S. and CYK played was presented more as a rival match between each other. How was the night?
The night had really special energy - The Internatiiional T-shirts have been doing the rounds in Tokyo for a while now so I think there was a certain level of hype surrounding the event, and the lineup was super on point. The vibes on the day were fantastic with a great turnout and everyone smashed their sets. I don't think we payed too much attention to the 'versus' element as we're all really good friends and just ended up having fun - although it was exciting to see play a much ravier set than normal, with Nari pulling out some jungle tunes towards the end. I think Moriura-san and The Internatiiional team did a fantastic job here and I definitely think there needs to be another round.
Let's move on to the mix now. Could you explain about the selections, did you have a certain concept or musical standard arranging the mix?
Frankie $: In English we have the phrase 'raving mad' - so I tried to select both tunes that fit the classic stricter early 90s definition of 'rave' or hardcore jungle music, but also some tracks from other genres (electro, techno) that feel like they are encouraging dancers to lose control. I went for a strict all-vinyl single-take mix (complete with imperfections) as I felt that 'rave' implies a certain level of roughness and rawness. I also made sure to intersperse old tracks with new tracks to show how old tropes have been recontextualized by new generations and also as a nod to the originators.
Where can we see N.O.S. in the near future? Any upcoming events?
We have largely been throwing parties at Vent and Circus. Coming into our second year we are planning to reduce the number of events in Tokyo to work more deeply on the label and clothing and also to free up some resources to push our residency at Contra.
* On 29th June, N.O.S. is having a Party at Contra. Please see further details below.
Lastly, can you tell us other interesting Japanese producers or crew names that you guys want to recommend for the people who are following N.O.S.?
and have massive respect for them as artists and promoters - their bookings are always on point and parties are always jumping. We also have to recommend Licaxxx; a great friend of ours but also a fantastic DJ. She has been making moves both at home and abroad and is a serious selector with a deep knowledge of dance music and the ability to mix effortlessly between analog and digital. Another fantastic DJ is - a highly talented old-school house DJ who recently tore up Pistil with , as well as the Akashic crew who have been organizing a wild outdoor party called at a new location each year. The b2b duo of and Tatsu and their party Yellow Card is just one more interesting party organized by friends of a similar age in Tokyo - there really is a lot going on.
In terms of production, we would recommend . He has released on the label - which has put out tracks from artists such as Ross From Friends - and is well known for his warm and delicate analog production. His synthwork is world class.
N.O.S. presents Seoul-Tokyo Exchange Party #01 w/ Kino Kino(FEMME/KOR), Seohyun(Contra/KOR) 2019. 6. 29(Sat) 23:00 - Late @ Contra Seoul Entrance: 10,000KRW(Before 1am) / 20,000KRW(After 1am)
[한국어 인터뷰 읽기]
Hi, Shins. It’s nice to see you here. Let us start from the question that we’ve always wanted to ask. How did you make your DJ Name?
It’s a kind of stupid story. I’m very tall and have very big legs so my friends called me ‘Big shins’. Then when I was thinking of a DJ name, I had to think of one quickly. I thought ‘Big Shins’ sounded too childish so I decided to shorten it to ‘Shins.’
How were your early days of DJing?
I started DJing during my first summer living in Korea, so it was 2011. I played music mainly in Hongdae at venues like Exit bar or Freebird. Then I met Rou Set who used to play for ‘Multi’. Multi was the promotion company that came before Cakeshop and I played some of the Multi parties. When Cakeshop opened, they asked me to play at their club so I learned to play on CDJs and improved a lot. I ran 2 or 3 parties at Cakeshop for a while and even played at their opening night.
You mainly play at Contra, Pistil, and Ain these days. Usually, what kind of music do you play?
Those early times, I played UK bass, UK garage and all that kind of stuff. From starting like that, I moved into playing more house, techno, acid and breakbeat stuff which is much more enjoyable to me. Actually like anyone, my music taste has developed and also my DJing style has matured.
Can you tell us how the change was?
I like thinking about long mixes and playing for 2 or 3 hours. It’s more like one musical journey than playing many genres and mixing frequently. In the past, I just wanted to play bangers all through my sets. When you are a young DJ, you want to play the best song that makes everyone dance every time. However, it’s boring for a DJ to repeat that and also for an audience because you easily get tired physically. In the sense of making it like a journey, the energy takes people up but also brings them down so that they can stop dancing and drink or be relaxed. It sounds more grandiose than it is, but it’s kind of simple.
You have seen the expansion and growth of the Korean music scene in recent years as an international one who plays in the local scene. We guess your perspective can be different from others.
It’s very strange to be a foreigner DJ living in Korea. I am very much a local DJ and just someone who supports local artists and touring artists. But many Koreans think of me as a foreign DJ so I don’t get approached as often. So I do sort of sit outside of the scene while being inside the scene. I’ve watched the scene grow but also shrink recently, going backwards a little bit. But what I have noticed is many more talented people coming out. Lots of producers, designers, singers, artists across many different media. While I think the clubbing scene is a little bit difficult right now, the creative scene is really vibrant. Being a sort of foreign DJ here means I am kind of just looking at it from outside all the time and have a slightly different perspective.
As a British, does your background influence your playing? How did it go?
100%. I am very much a British DJ. The music that has influenced me and the scene that I grew up in was of course British. Recently I’ve been exploring acid and breakbeat and it’s either from Britain or music which is directly influenced by the British genre itself. But of course, I am also influenced by the city I’ve lived in for the last 8 years. As you hear in the mix, there are two Korean tracks. Whereas England gives me a lot of influence and source materials, Korea is giving me a different way to DJ or perspective on it.
Can you describe it more in detail?
In Korea, the audience doesn’t come to the club with preconceived ideas of what songs they will hear. They often don’t have as much knowledge of the genres that are being played like the typical clubber in London. So it’s liberating to be able to play music to an audience just purely to make them dance and not to be worried by whether the music is ‘cool’ enough or ‘underground’ enough. It’s freeing and allows me to have more fun when I play.
I lived in London and it has this long history of electronic music and modern clubbing so that the British can be serious about clubbing. For example, My cousin⏤a London boy⏤was going to a real acid house raves in the 80s. When they used to wear one white glove and have a whistle, everybody was taking ecstasy. He would tell me what it was like to be going to these clubs, warehouses, and illegal raves. He inspired me to go clubbing and I understand that most Koreans don’t have access to those kinds of stories and histories and that makes a big difference. But from a different perspective, it is freer in that way.
Tell us about two local tracks in your mix.
The first Korean track in the mix is a track called ‘Helter Skelter’ by Two Tone Shape. Two Tone Shape is made up of two incredible young producers here in Seoul. I wanted to include their music because they are live producers. They can do a live show and they are making real club music. Not enough Korean producers have been making club music. They make nice music but not for the club whereas Two Tone Shape are doing that. This is one of my favorite tracks of this year without a doubt. This song, in particular, can be played in any type of set, regardless of genre. They have 4 or 5 good tracks that they have already released. I highly recommend them.
The second track is by one of my good friends V!SION who is a member of Circuit Seoul. Circuit Seoul also produce music which they can play live in clubs, and which DJs want to play in their sets. There are 3 members who are all great DJs separately and also a good crew together. All of them make ravey, acidy music inspired by British rave culture and music. I like V!SION’s track because it has a rough and retro sort of feel to it. I really enjoyed his track and other tracks he produced as well.
You are always saying you want to support local artists and underground scene. Your project ‘Nodaji’ is all about that kind of supports.
It’s only a little project. There is a small team of us. Myself, JNS, Apromani and a designer called Jaegal Sun. We want to support local artists. I am thinking what would help the scene here is to have more friendly interactions amongst creatives. I feel there are a lot of groups of people separated by geography, personality or feelings. There’s a lot of protection. ‘I don’t want to help you because I want to help myself’. So I think if the younger generation meets regularly at parties or events like our Nodaji Show or something else, they can hear other people playing music that they’ve made. They can play their music. Designers or clothing labels can exhibit their works. So that people have an artistic community. It sounds utopian but I think it’s nothing big. Just trying to foster some community spirit. So we are gonna record the Nodaji Show once a month on Youtube playing Korean music, produced in Korea. We’re going to do a party or event once a month in different locations around the city. Cafe Idaho, possibly The Edge, Willoughby in Sangsu or Hannam or any different areas but just to highlight different parts of music or creativity in Korea.
Supporting DJs and creators means a lot for us. However, sometimes we feel that it is hard to maintain the energy and keep doing supporting while we do our profit-making jobs so that we are amazed by your work. Why do you keep supporting in this scene? What makes you keep doing that?
I really want to see the Korean music scene developing. There’re so much energy and fun to be had here. And young Korean artists should be looking to travel outside of Korea. For too long it seems that we invite internationals to Korea all the time to show Koreans how good clubbing is. But Korean artists are also great so we need to send them other places, to show those places how good Korea’s clubbing scene is.
With the goal of expanding the scene here and increasing awareness of it globally, we can make it more professional so creatives can make a living doing what they love. Then in turn, just makes the scene better and more fun in that way. I just like doing it. I am not going to be making money so I am might as well just try and have fun with it.
We asked you to make a mix because we have enjoyed your work all the times. How was the process of making the very first mix of The Intl. Mix series?
I was extremely happy and honored that you asked me to do it. It was coincidently right as I am playing a lot more acid, breakbeat, and sort of music which fits with your brand. At recent parties, I’ve played more of it. You asked me at the perfect time. I had recently played at Contra with Airbear. We talked about the party before we played back to back. We both agreed we wanted to play breakbeat, acid, and techno. So I made a big folder, did lots of digging through my old collections, found new music and looked for stuff. I had a huge folder of relevant materials. It was such a fun party to play. Then, you asked me to make the mix. It was really fun to make.
You changed the name of mix from ‘Welcome to acid house’ to ‘Welcome to(breakbeat &) acid house’.
Yes. Of course, your slogan is ‘Welcome to acid house’ which made you guys famous but I think the mix series doesn’t have to be about purely acid music. My mix is not only acid but all sorts of rave music. Mainly, it is a lot of house, techno, breakbeat, and acid. So the name was the bit of a joke.
I had a lot of fun recording it. To me, listening and dancing to acid and breakbeat music is the most fun that you can have in a club. Because it is not super serious, not so aggressive, not challenging for people. It is hard to make people dance but I have had some of my best parties with this style of music. Whether I am DJ or at a party, it makes me want to dance. If you see me around, I don’t dance often. But If I am dancing, it is something that really got me.
The samples in the mix are interesting. Would you explain why did you use those in the mix?
The samples at the beginning and end of the mix are from a British TV documentary called <World in Action : A trip Around Acid House> from 1988. I wanted to try to show the hysteria around the acid house scene when it came out. None of the music I play is particularly old but it is influenced by the 80s, the original sound.
If you listen all the way to the end, there’s my favorite sample. A young girl says that their parents were all taking drugs as mods and rockers but now they are parents so they ban their children from going to acid house raves because of the drugs. But the acid house wasn’t called acid house because of the drugs, it was called acid house because of a method of copying samples from other records called acid sampling, which is not about drugs at all.
Yes, many people took drugs at acid raves. But it wasn’t called acid because of the drug ‘acid.’ People just went ‘Oh, it’s drugs thing?’ like they always do. I thought that was kind of funny. Korea has a big clubbing scene these days and all without drugs being prevalent. That’s surprising to some people. I kind of see a parallel between the kids who were told they can’t go clubbing to acid house and Koreans in a way. They just wanted to have fun and not be told what to do. People look at the Korean scene and how crazy the parties are, and they can’t believe that there aren’t drugs involved.
Makoto Murakami - Mountain Skins
Unknown Artist - Estate of Mind (Fantastic Man Edit)
Levon Vincent - These Games We Play
Two Tone Shape - Helter Skelter
Fabio Monesi - Ozyork
Matthew Styles - Montana
Eddie And The Eggs - Take Advantage Please
Luca Lozano - Calling All Dancers
John Heckle - 4am Chord
Fantastic Man - Acid Martin
V!SION - Paranoia
Tracey - Sidekick
Roy of the Ravers - Emotinium
Plant43 - Tongues of Fire
Lake Haze - Into The Unknown
Luca Lozano - Outer Space