DJ Krush — read our 2011 interview with Krush here — has always been known as the premier Japanese turntablist. He’s a pioneer of Japanese hip-hop, and is well known for his zen-style of mixing, often incorporating nature sounds among his jazz and soul breakbeats. Now, Krush has embarked on a project that digs further into his roots then he’s ever dug before.
The traditional Japanese court music known as gagaku is the basis for The Garden Beyond, Krush’s recent performance at the Red Bull Music Academy where he played alongside Kodo, a group of traditional Japaense musicians, at the Tokyo National Museum’s Gallery of Horyuji Treasures. Holding ground with his usual mixture of electronics and scratches, Krush was joined by the sounds of the taiko, shakuhachi, and several other gagaku instruments.
DJ Krush has not always been into gagaku, which is surprising if you hear anything from the performance, as the sound perfectly melds with his DJ chops.
“To tell you the truth, we didn’t grow up listening to Japanese traditional music,” says Krush. “But now, as an adult, I realized how great these instruments are and want to pass this beautiful sound to younger generations.”
The combination was not only an exciting new venture for Krush, but also a feeing new horizon for the musicians involved, as gagaku is a genre built mostly on restrictive patterns. If you listen to the tracks the group produces with Krush, the chilly sounds coming from his turntable twisting along with the jangling, pounding, and whistle blowing of the gagaku group is an extremely unique experience.
There’s no news yet of an official release of The Garden Beyond, but check out a video of the recent collaboration below, as well as a stream of the full Horuji Treasures set from last month. [via Rocket News 24]
In 2011, we interviewed Japanese turntable legend DJ Krush (a.k.a. Hideaki Ishii) about celebrating two decades in the mix, his plans for the future and his thoughts on the earthquake and tsunami which devastated his country that year. For the first edition of Throwback Thursday, we’re republishing our conversation with one of hip-hop’s master mixers.
DJ Krush is celebrating 20 years in the business, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. To commemorate his anniversary, Japan’s king of spin is about to embark on a worldwide tour and will continue releasing new material via iTunes in preparation for a looming new solo album. Hugh Bohane got a chance to interview him just after his recent U.S tour.
What have been some of the best memories of your 20 year career so far?
DJ Krush: There have been many special memories in last 20 years and it’s hard to pick one. But if I had to pick one, I would say that one would be joining a band called Method of Defiance with Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrell (of P-Funk fame), who are both legends and have both been important artists for a long time, even before I started my DJ career.
How did this year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan effect you personally?
It’s was just such a sad story… some of my relatives live in Tohoku, where the earthquake hit. They were all safe but received some damage to their home. My city, Tokyo, looks like it is getting back to normal, but if you go to the Tohoku area there are many people still living in temporary housing and it will take time before they can return to any kind of a normal living existence. As you know we are still having the nuclear problem as well. I can’t begin to describe the clean up but the whole experience has had a big influence on both my ordinary life and my life as an artist.
How have your tours been going?
Most of my tours for this year are finished and they were all great tours and I had a wonderful time in each city. My 20th anniversary world tour will start from this December. I will be touring China in December, Europe next January and also in late March, America in mid February, and Australia and New Zealand in early March. Looking forward to seeing people from all over the world real soon.
What’s your feeling when you are playing on stage in front of large crowds?
I’m always so happy but I also feel tense as well.
What’s the best kind of audience to play to?
I’m happy to perform to any kind of audience who are interested in DJ Krush.
What’s the best part about being a DJ?
This can best be described in my music and how I communicate through my music…
What’s the hardest part?
I’m always changing but some of the audience tend to stereotype me into one style or into one set of songs… sometimes this kind of stereotyping makes it hard.
What records have you bought recently and or are listening to?
I’m currently working and producing in the studio, so I don’t buy or listen to other music just at the moment.
Rumor has it you maybe working on a new solo album and that there maybe a release coming, could you tell us about it?
I just started a monthly single project that is part of my 20th anniversary project. This is released digitally at the moment and the first two singles are on iTunes now. There will be further monthly releases throughout 2012. I am planning to release songs on vinyl as well.
What’s the process of making a DJ Krush album like?
I just throw all of my originality into it, in the same way I have done with all my previous work.
Your last album Jaku blended lush, traditional Japanese folk with hip-hop. Can we expect more Japanese traditional fusion on future albums?
Maybe you can!
What advice would you give to any young DJs starting out?
Find your own style, have your own vision and keep doing it.
“I think the most important point is that we (people) need to use technology and not let technology use us.”
Where do you see DJ technology going in the future? I have no idea about this. But I think the most important point is that we (people) need to use technology and not let technology use us.
Who are some Japanese artists that are inspiring you lately?
MC Sibitt is just one of the more interesting Japanese artists inspiring me at the moment.
Who are you looking forward to collaborating with in future?
I have some people already in mind, but I will have to let you know later!
A turntablist turned dubstep detontator, seduced by gigantic wobbles being able to hit the big time, DJ Kentaro’s kitchen sink mentality is a mere half-hour long, the development of stylus wrecker to Japanese exocet having him breathe fire and running the city into a fever. The cut and dice never leaves him, intelligently worked into “Crossfader” and electro-funk ease-up “Next Page,” and there’s more than enough hip-hop firepower — DJ Krush, D-Styles, Kid Koala, C2C — to bill Contrast as a purely multi-deck throwdown. “Kikkake” and “Higher” however immediately state his intentions to push the plunger down on billowing, chaos-in-Metropolis, midrange dubstep/drumstep, made for snapping stadiums into a state of smithereens. State of the art for sure, even if it’s following a fast becoming long tradition – massive sounding, but in reality engineered spotlessly.
UK mega-mouths Foreign Beggars are the perfect power boosters for “Step In”, and the same goes for ragga runners of de dance MC Zulu on “Big Timer” and Fire Ball on “Fire Is On”, turning what was already a demolition job into a game of wrecking balls playing dodgeball. You’re actually getting your money’s worth out of 30 minutes – too much more would’ve been overload, such is Kenatro’s unflinching bass/synth bloodlust that will estrange those wanting an exhibition of crabs and juggles, but will get a helluva lot more of the market onside. File under: Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Pendulum, Sub Focus