For this exclusive interview, MEOKO has reached out to the far-eastern corner of the globe to shine the spotlight on one of Japan’s hottest exports, Tomoki Tamura. The Japanese DJ has found a home in Berlin most recently, while he has also treaded upon the East London’s ever-bubbling scene bringing his A-game to underground parties wherever he wanders. Now regarded as a strong reference point of the underground scene building bridges from Japan to London and beyond, Tomoki has just joined forces with Berlin based Inground Bookings, an agency bursting with talent. His productions continue to show off his impeccable skills and things are also going well for his label Holic Trax which he launched in 2012 with artists such as Mr. G, Kate Simko, Chris Carrier and Rick Wade to name a few. He took some time out of his schedule to give us the lowdown on his career exploits so far.
Hey Tomoki, how are you? First of all, we wish you a belated Happy Birthday from MEOKO HQ! How do you feel, one year further into your music career? Is it where you want to be?
Yeah I am well and thanks for the birthday wishes. It’s been a quick year, a lot of things are happening as I’ve started a new life in Berlin. Setting up my studio, releasing many great tunes through Holic Trax, DJing and producing too. We have done few label nights and it went very well so I’m looking forward to doing it more all around the world.
I know you had gigs in IPSE and Watergate during your birthday week, but how did you celebrate your special day?
I was DJing on the night so partied hard with many of good friends. Watergate gave me a bottle of whisky for my birthday so I was totally dead next day…It was such a fun night!
Can you remember what stage you were at musically one year ago?
I think it has not changed much – a year is short. I need more time, but I feel my label Holic Trax is getting a lot of love from many great DJs around the world, I am very happy about it.
Doublet is a new side project of yours with Tuccillo. Tell us a bit about how this came about.
We are good friends and enjoying studio time together, it is the most important side to a collaboration. We also have same kind of background for house music, we both love a lot of US old school house music, I actually did remix for his track featuring Barbara Tucker from King Street Records NY a long time ago and 4 or 5 years after this, I finally met him in London. Tuccillo is the one of the best producers for me and I learn a lot of things from him these days. We DOUBLET are ready to show you many bombs in 2015, pretty exciting!
Now, you recently joined up with Inground Bookings agency. Was there a particular reason for this?
I have known Valerio who is the head of Inground Bookings for a pretty long time. He has a great passion for music and he’s a good man too, so I am happy to be with them. They are a new and young agency, so I hope I can do well on their roster to build them up together. I am happy to see them working hard for me!
What benefits does having a booking agency bring you, the DJ?
They can work and spend the time to boost your profile that in turn you can use to create great music. They also have other ideas, connections and a direction which you never think of before. It is always great to hear someone’s thoughts for you from a different perspective. All artists love to play but they need to say NO some times, which the agency will help you.
There is an interesting range of sounds on the Inground roster. Which artist in particular excites your senses?
Saverio Celestri is producing great house music and is also a good vinyl junkie DJ.
Which Inground artist do you have the most in common with? Is there potential for some collaboration?
Maybe Saverio Celestri as I have met him and he lives in Berlin. He is a very young great producer so he might have some crazy ideas that I could never think of.
There is a clear international representation amongst Inground artists – Koromoto is Venezuelan, Saverio is from Italy, DoubtingThomas hails from Germany while you are Japanese. But it’s Berlin that holds you and your influences all together. How much of a role does Inground have in this?
I do not know strictly their policy, but definitely Berlin is a melting pot for all types of artists and their cultural background and influences. It’s always good to see diversity and people coming together for a cause, and they do this well.
A number of Inground artists including yourself have done podcasts for Deep Afterhour on soundcloud which focuses on the deeper emotions at an after hours. Does that feeling reflect your type of productions or the particular mood you like to play?
I think I am not the man for the afterhours, but if I do, I prefer some nice emotional house & disco than banging house/techno. When sun comes out, you need goooood music.
Let’s talk a bit about your Holic Trax label of which I’ve been a big fan. Founded in 2012, the label is still young, but you just released a digital exclusive by Mr. G whose “Danceholic’s” EP was the first release. Was it natural to invite him back for another release after such a good job first time round?
Yes of course, I am very happy to have another bomb EP from him. His sound is special, no one can make same sound as him – that’s why I am big fan of his. I guess everyone wants to have tracks from Mr. G for their label these days so I am very lucky to have that. I want Holic Trax to be a small and strong label rather than just big so it is very important to have good relation between labels and artists to make a family house.
A consistently strong output and a high calibre of artists like Mr. G, Tuccillo and Rick Wade characterise the label. Is it a case of attracting these artists or do they come to you?
I could say it is both, but things come together organically. I trust that people who have a similar feeling for music will end up together one day.
What’s the key to building up such a well-respected party like Holic?
Enjoy the party with our followers and friends as much we can and make great music is what we believe in and also a good space is important.
Can you let us know what you have in the pipeline for Holic Trax?
Around 10 EPs are ready to go for 2014 & 2015, they are bombs!
What were the difficulties in making the crossover from the Japanese scene to the ‘western’ scene bearing in mind language barriers? For example, your biography is bi-lingual on RA – do you ever find this a hassle?
Yes, of course, language is not easy so I went and did and English course first for one year. But London is a melting pot anyway, people come from everywhere so I feel the most important thing is to meet good people and friends who can help you and your project. You cannot do all by your self. Go out and meet many people rather than make friends on Facebook.
Which other Japanese talent should we keep an eye on?
Keita Sano who has released 2 tracks on Holic Trax, he is wicked producer.
I’ve never been to Japan before, but I am so curious to visit. The Japanese scene, by the sounds of it, is a growing one. Festivals and events like Mindgames: The Labyrinth are attracting more and more attention. Can you give us more of an insight into why electronic music is thriving so much over there?
So far I know that Japan has got a pretty long history of club music, like even Larry Levan came to play there a long time ago. Japan is very far from Europe or the US so it was not easy to share information from one to the other, but these days there are many great web magazines which people can use to find information on other places and also many of the Japanese producers releasing music from good record labels in the world. I am hoping Japanese dance music and club culture will be closer now to the rest of the world. I think clubbing culture in Japan is not common like London or Berlin. That’s why people there love and know the music so well. This is the reason of good quality.
TOMOKI TAMURA EXCLUSIVE MIX HERE..
By Geoffrey Chang