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Hip Hop's DJ Krush

Author: Katie Elles
Wednesday, 30 April 2003
As a child DJ Krush was told not to touch vinyl for fear of leaving fingerprints. He went on to becoming Japan's pioneer Hip Hop DJ, and in the realms of production his take on the Hip Hop sound is unmistakeable.TranZfusion's Katie Elles discovers the "Chi" of DJ Krush.

Your style has been described as everything from dark underground beats to soothing hip-hop and breaks. How would you describe your music-

That's for someone else to describe. I see them as sound spaces of visions I see in my head. Call it what you will. I can just say that I try to portray and communicate the air, the atmosphere, the "Chi" of DJ Krush in my music.

What attracted you to hip-hop when you first started Djing back in the early 80's-

It's the movie "Wild Style" that got me into hip-hop. Things I had never seen before were appearing one after another, leaving imprints in my mind. I had never seen graffiti painted on subway trains. Oh how beautiful it was. I had never seen break dancing. I thought it was a magic trick. How could those guys spin on their backs for so long- I was looking for the strings! I had never seen DJs before. The concept of, not just handling vinyl but scratching back and forth, it blew me away completely. You know as a child we were told not to touch vinyl records because our fingerprints would get all over them and it would ruin the record. I remember seeing Wild Style for the first time vividly.

Creating intelligent, experimental concepts in your tracks is something you are renowned for. How has being signed to mainstream labels such as Sony influenced this approach to your music, if at all-

I feel very fortunate to be signed to the labels that I am and was signed to and get a support in reaching an audience around the world. But I don't think that influences the approach to my music. I just create my music. I don't make a certain type of record because I am recording for one label as opposed to a different one. I get inspirations for my music from everywhere...every day life, Tokyo life, travelling the world, watching news...anything really.

You recently collaborated with cutting edge hip-hop crews such as Antipop and Anticon. How do you choose the artists you work with-

I come up with a concept for an album and just start contacting the artists that I want to work with at that moment in time or I feel would add to the overall concept of the album. I write a letter with my thoughts on the concept and ask if they would be interested in being a part of the record and if they would spare their time to work on it with me.

Given your limited grasp of the English language, how do you communicate with many of your artists and how does this affect your understanding of the lyrics you feature-

If I want to know what a lyrics is about I just have someone translate it for me. I have never thought of it as a problem. Even when collaborating with international artists, I communicate the concept of my album and the artists either get it or they don't. It may seem clich'd but music is really universal. I think I am an example of that.

On your last album, The Message at the Depth you include a track called Toki Notabiji (Journey of Time) featuring the lyrics of fellow Japanese artists. How important is it for you to maintain a Japanese flavour to your music-

When I make my music, my emphasis is to make sure it has the Krush sound no matter what the canvas is. But Japan's unique culture including its traditional¡¡way of thinking such as "ma"(time and space with tension) definitely has influence on my music and is important.

What can you tell us about the Japanese hip-hop scene in general and how does it differ from international scenes-

Some copy US hip-hop. Some really want to bring out their individuality with hip-hop as the source. Hip-hop has grown in that there are younger artists pushing the envelope.
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