JAPAN — Electronic music is a global phenomenon that has flourished in the past decade, with the emergence of some of the world’s biggest artists like Disclosure and Daft Punk.
But the music of a particular region, Japan, has a different story.
As the country recovers from a devastating earthquake and tsunami, some artists are working to preserve their unique music.
And that’s putting them at risk.
“In the early 2000s, I was doing some music festivals,” says singer and producer Atsushi Nakamura, a self-taught pianist.
“And in the middle of that, there was an earthquake in Japan, and I was like, ‘Oh, my god, we’re in trouble.’
But I was very careful.
And I was a bit naive.
And so when I heard that the earthquake was going to happen in 2011, I started working on an electronic music festival called Kontai Japansu, and it was my idea to bring Japanese electronic music to Japan.
It’s not that I don’t love Japan, but I was really focused on the music.”
Nakamura is a pioneer in Japan’s nascent electronic music community, having recorded the music for a handful of Japanese festivals, including Kontaktsu.
His festival, in fact, was one of the first electronic music festivals in Japan.
Nakara is also a pioneer, as he’s the first Japanese artist to be awarded a Grammy in the electronic music category.
“I was in the early stages of producing, and we had to work hard on the recording, so I had to put in a lot of work,” he says.
“But the success of Konta Japanasu, which is my festival, shows that you can do it, because it was recorded by me.
The success of that is very, very important for the electronic scene.””
The success of the festival shows that there is an audience out there for Japanese electronic dance music,” Nakamura says.
Naksa and his festival partner are planning to hold another Kontaisu in 2020, and Nakamura is also planning a second one in 2021.
“Konta is the place where Japanese electronic culture is based,” Nakamara says.
And Kontas are like festivals.
It starts with a music festival, and then you have a music video, and so on.
And then you also have the DJ set up.
And of course the live DJ, and of course, the video.
I’m a musician, and my passion is electronic music, so the music was really important for me.
It made me want to go into music production, and that’s why I started producing.
Nakuamura, however, isn’t just making music for Kontashis.
He’s also a producer, recording electronic music and producing some of Japan’s biggest bands.
The two men have worked together since 2007, when they launched a music label, Ruka Music.
“We started in 2007,” Nakana says.
“[I was] in the beginning of making music, and the studio was about 15 people.
Then I was in Tokyo, and they were like, What is this?
What are you doing here?
I was shocked.
I was completely taken aback.
But they were very happy with me.
I went back to Japan, did my own production, then I went to Japan again.
They were very, really happy with the quality of my work.
I didn’t have a lot to worry about.
They just wanted me to be happy.
And after about two years, we were happy, and finally, in 2008, I had my first studio.
I did my first recording in Tokyo.
I started making a lot more tracks.
And now, Raku Music is really, really big.”
As Nakamura works on his latest album, titled Japannen, he is trying to create a sense of continuity between the music he made in his previous studio and his current project.
“There’s a lot that we’re going to do,” Nakamo says.
“But I want to create something that is the same, but is very different.
I want people to know that there are different kinds of music, but it’s all about the same type of music.
I really want to do something that’s going to be very similar to my previous record.
So if people like it, then that means they’ll be excited about what we’re doing, but there’s a little bit more of a difference in the music and the production.
That’s why the songs I’m going to record will be very different than the ones I made before.
We want to make music that is not just another song that people will enjoy, but something that they can really feel a connection with.””
There are some tracks I’m recording that will sound very similar in terms of production,” Nakara adds.
“There are a lot tracks where the production is really the same as before