Japan’s music legend speaks exclusively to DMC’s Dan Prince
Hideaki welcome to the DMCWORLD, a real pleasure speaking to you. January sees you celebrating more than two decades on the wheels of steel with your very special set at The Forum in London with the Soundcrash crew. What a journey you have been on, it must have been hard back in the day in your home country to get into the music industry?
“Hi Dan. Although it’s been 20 years since my debut release, I’ve actually been DJing for nearly 30 years. The very beginning was very tough because there was no predecessors in this field. I’ve been making my own way and 20 years have just flown by. I want to continue doing this until the day I die if possible. It might be cool to perform on the stage with a nurse putting me on a drip!”
Wow. Well, before you became one of the most important DJs in the world, you were part of the organized crime syndicate yakuza. What made you leave the world of crime?
“I was young and desperately looking for a place for me. I just didn’t know what to do, and maybe I was trying to hide from others by being violent.”
The first record you bought was the seminal ‘Rappers Delight’, who were your early musical influences.
“Well I learnt how to draw from Hip Hop and Jazz, which were areas that taught me how to fuse all types of music.”
You were tagged your DJ name by two artists from Tokyo who nicknamed you Krush and your brother Bang. Did your brother follow you in your musical footsteps?
“Not really, but we became interested in DJing almost at the same time and there was a time we did play together.”
It’s well known that you got started DJing when you watched the film ‘Wild Style’ in Tokyo. How/why did you even consider going to watch ‘Wild Style’?
“I just popped into the cinema on the spur of the moment, but it made me realize there’s something out there which I should live for. I had never thought it would change my life.”
What equipment do you use in your production today?
“Ableton Live8, EMU SP-1200, Technics SL1200, Vestax pmc20sl and Vestax vcm600.”
You once said in an interview back in the 90s that at the time you got around the Japanese / English language barrier in the studio when working other producers by using a lot of “facial expressions. If it’s good, you know, thumbs up and a smile.” Are those days long gone?!
“I think so. The verbal communication is necessary in terms of the discussion with an engineer over technical matter. However, I still believe sometimes music itself speaks everything between musicians.”
DMC have been the organisers of the DMC World DJ Championships since 1983 and the Japanese have done SO well since Kentaro swooped to conquer in 2002. Were you never been tempted to enter and did you / do you pay any attention to the DMCs…?
“I used to enter so many DJ competitions and won any number times. I’m simply pleased with lots of great DJs that have been emerging including DJ Kentaro & KIREEK. I truly want them to try to be a full time musician and feed their families with it. I believe DMC can give a lot of opportunities for those DJs, and I want it to continue leading this scene.”
What is the state of the Japanese Hip Hop scene right now? I remember when Hip Hop first started in Japan, the rappers would be intimating their American counterparts by spitting about the whole gangsta, guns, ghetto and pimp imagery – which just didn’t sit right in my eyes.
“Hip hop is becoming more familiar to everyone including both overground and underground here. However, some media just don’t understand its root and it made quite a few people misunderstand what it really is. Original and inspiring artists do exit here though.”
When your Krush Posse disbanded in the mid 80s due to in reality, a lack of enthusiasm for Japanese Hip Hop – did the thought to try another type of music ever enter your head?
“Not at all. I always believed in Hip Hop.”
What are the big tunes you are playing right now?
“It’s hard to say ‘cause it depends on the party, but I play ‘KEMURI’ almost always. The central part of my recent set consists of my own unreleased stuff.”
What has been your favourite club of 2011?
“Liquid Room in Tokyo!”
Not many people know this, but DJ Krush is very good at…?
“I’m good at lulling my children to sleep. Believe me, I’m really good.”
I love that. What artists that have escaped you so far would you like to collaborate with in the studio?
“I can’t mention any names yet, but I already have a few great ones for the album next year.”
Who were your DJ heroes growing up?
“Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Grand Wizzard Theodore and Grandmixer DST.”
What has been the most important club in Japanese club history?
“Shinjyuku LIQUIDROOM、ＤＲＯＯＰＹ ＤＲＡＷＥＲＳ、YELLOW、Shibaura GOLD、Shinjyuku TSUBAKI HOUSE、Akasaka MUGEN. Sadly, none of them exist anymore though…”
Which record that you have created are you most proud of?
“It’s impossible to be 100% proud of any, but I’d maybe choose “KEMURI” because it’s uncompleted in a good way.”
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
“To have two more arms and use 8 turntables simultaneously!”
What have you got planned for us musically in 2012?
“I’ll be on tour and playing in over 40 cities all over the world until the end of April. I’m especially looking forward to the one in London in January as I’m playing 3 hours set for the first time in Europe. The digital singles which I’ve been releasing monthly since last September will continue till this summer. These won’t be included in the next album so check them out. Also the vinyl which include the first 3 releases of the digital single series will be available exclusively at my shows. It won’t be distributed nor re-pressed, so it’ll be quite rare stuff. The next studio album is on its way too of course, and I’m hoping to release it by the summer. Finally, the project called “M.O.D”, which I’m doing with Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrelle, is going to have a release around Spring.”
Soundcrash presents… DJ KRUSH
Line-up: DJ Krush + Coldcut + Anchorsong + Kidkanevil + Special Guests tba
Venue: The Forum (Kentish Town), London, UK
Date: Saturday Jan 28 2012