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Satoshi Tomiie - Busier than an Asian dashboard

Author: Dean Millson
Tuesday, 1 October 2002
Satoshi Tomiie is on the phone from New York on a Monday night. "Thanks for this", I say. "How was the weekend- I'm sure you're exhausted". "Yeah well," he says, "I just flew back in from Ibiza today. But its been great." We proceed to have a conversation about where he's been touring in the last six months and by the end of it I'm the one who is exhausted.

Satoshi Tomiie has really come into his own over the last twelve months. Getting the opportunity to mix the latest edition of Global Underground's Nubreed series has obviously helped, but Satoshi is more than just a DJ too. Like anyone worth their salt in the electronic music industry, Satoshi is a respected producer (he's remixed the likes of Kosheen, U2 and even Mariah Carey) and record label owner (SAW records).

During the early 80's, Satoshi was a fan of the US Hip Hop sound. After training as a Jazz pianist in is youth and playing in various bands (including one of his own) he started experimenting with producing, making his own sounds and recording them to tape - "There wasn't anything like Acetates in Japan at that time, so I couldn't really play any of my stuff at parties". As the story goes, a Japanese cosmetics company asked Satoshi to produce a track for their forthcoming promo parties, where the father of house music, DJ Frankie Knuckles was playing. Knuckles heard the track, saw some potential, and inquired whether Satoshi would be interested in a collaboration. This collaboration eventually led to them creating the seminal house classic "Tears" in 1989. Since then he's moved to New York become a part of the highly successful DEF Mix Crew, along with Knuckles and fellow house head David Morales.

Nowadays, Satoshi is a champion of a darker progressive sound. Still part of DEF Mix with Knuckles and Morales, I found it interesting that he was the only one of the group to shift away from their more traditional house roots. "Well Frankie invented house, so I don't really think he is going to change," - I guess I should have figured that - "but for me it's just about personal taste I guess". Satoshi goes on to tell me that he was initially intrigued by some of the darker house that Knuckles was playing at one point and he progressed from there. "But it's all house music to me, and I don't really like necessarily staying with one sound for too long anyway".

I was interested in finding his opinion about how formulaic much of the darker progressive house has become, seeing as it is obviously a sound that he has had a big part in shaping (see "Love In Traffic"). "Everything is becoming somewhat the same I guess, but that means it's time to try some different sounds".

So what about Global Underground- Is this his first mix CD- "I have done a few small projects for Japanese Magazines, but nothing on this scale". One thing that has always interested me with commercial mix CD's is how much the label drives the track selection. Had the GU boys had any say in what he played- Were there any licensing issues with any of the tracks that he wanted to use- "They didn't actually hear the mix at all until I delivered them the final one." Total control was given it seems which I must admit surprised me a little, but then again maybe this is one of the reasons that the GU compilations have been so successful.

Satoshi will be in Australia was part of Future Entertainment's Gods Kitchen Tour. After blowing audiences away with his gig at Room 680 in 2001 - I missed it damn it, but people are still talking about it - Satoshi gets the opportunity to bring his deep sexy progressive sound back to Melbourne with a 3 hour set. What can we expect- "Well I'll just be trying to build things the way I normally do. Hopefully everyone will like it".