1) Thankyou for being the first official interview on our site. As you know, our site is focused on jazz and hiphop. Do you have some favorite jazz musicians?
oh man too many to name! but I really think all the giants deserve their praise,
from Charlie Parker, Miles, Coltrane, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins,the whole be-bop to fusion era, to more classical stuff. I also really like Sun Ra. For contemporary artists, my friends David Boyce, David Ewell, Marc Carey, Sameer Gupta…
they’re certified geniuses and always an experience to watch them live.
2) What hiphop musicians are you listening to these days?
Usually it’s people around me, who makes beats and records…
Kalhex, LASTorder, Doc Max, Cash Flow (RIP), Yeti Beats, CAV3.
Sometimes I buy artists that I like, I recently bought Pharaohe Monch’s W.A.R,
KRS-One’s Meta-Hisotrical, and Hopie’s Dulce Vita.
3) We know you have worked with the late great producer “Jun Seba”
nujabes. What was it like working with him? Did you guys ever work in
the studio or was it all done via internet?
We met up around 2000 or so and we’ve been collaborating in and out of studios.
It’s been a growing experience for both of us, literally and spiritually, since we never
really expected the music would gain an international youth following.
…for the record, Luv(sic) Part4 was recorded at his studio in Kamakura last year after his
passing, so that’s the only version the label prefers to release officially.
We were in there for hours and it must have been like the 30th take or so,
that’s why my vocals are a bit cracked as I really tried to feel it.
4) You have infused different genres and styles into your music from
traditional Japanese music to jazz. Do you think you can ever stick to
one style of hiphop or would you rather prefer to blend different genres?
You have to remember that’s how hiphop has been from the beginning.
I think it’s much better to lead than to follow, and that goes for independent artists as well.
That said, I will always love and keep doing boom-bap styles because if you can’t
nod your head or bboy, scratch over it, it’s not hip hop in my book.
5) In Japan, there are actually many music stores with a separate
categorization for the sub genre jazzy hiphop. Why do you think the
Japanese people have embraced this style of music so well?
Well I can write a book on that : )
I think it gained acceptance in Japan because aesthetically a lot of non-hip hop listeners and
on average girls could relate to jazz-based loops than club bangers.
Personally, it doesn’t matter what it’s called, if it’s good then it’s good and it will stay
even after the category disappears.
Generally speaking, there’s things good and bad about it, how it has been promoted
and watered things down, especially when people start wanting a certain product.
As in the case of Jazz, there’s a big difference between a movement that’s initiated by the scene and a category defined by the industry. If you’re an artist it’s always about breaking expectations, in a good way. You can’t give into the demands of labels, sometimes stores and distributors that will specify “you have to make a (fill in blank) sound because it will sell” or worse yet, “you can’t make that sound because it won’t sell”.
6) What was the weirdest or most interesting that happened to you while on
Ummm I just think that being on the road is a really interesting dynamic, when you can feel that you’re supposed to be there. It’s a chance meeting with everything, yet it’s also destined.
Just meeting people that you connect through music, since you share so many things between you, even if you come from different backgrounds you speak a common language and it’s like meeting an old friend. Although these days the hip hop criteria has faded and I feel more flexible as long as someone’s doing something unique.
7) What projects are you working on now? Is there anything we can look fwd to in the near future from you?
Besides working on the FTTB mix series with DJ Icewater, I am working on a few different albums with various producers. My instrumental folder is always stacked, so I have to find a particular motivation to choose which one to tackle! Again, I really don’t like repeating myself so I want to do something unique every time.
This year’s been crazy after 311 because I have been busy researching the radiation issue in Japan, which I have been a part of for the last six years. I recently scored a documentary called Ashes To Honey that speaks about the future of energy in Japan, so I’ve been traveling with it also.