With a musical career spanning well over two decades, DJ Krush is an almost mystical figure in dance and hip hop circles, infusing his dark and brooding music with an otherworldliness that is as unique as it is essential.
From the iconic, sparse beats of 1994’s ‘Kemuri’ to the swirling, tribal jitteriness of 2012’s ‘Kuroi Ame – Black Rain’, countless remixes and his most recent – eleven years waiting – album ‘Butterfly Effect’, DJ Krush has blazed a purposeful trail and deeply focused personal journey.
In the middle of his recent European tour dates to promote this latest album, Krush took a little time to talk to us about his music, the world and everything.
Butterfly Effect came out at the end of 2015, your first album in 11 years. How did it feel?
With the gap of 11 years since the previous album release (add name), I was thinking a lot about what I can deliver to everyone’s ears.
Finally, I decided that I had to make something based on the characteristic Krush sound, but I wanted to add an atmosphere that came from Krush now, in 2015.
I was thinking that the colour from before, but with kind of a brush from now would just not be enough, so I needed to find a new colour and and a new brush.
As a result, I think the new album presents a real difference to the work I’ve made so far.
Also, I managed to get rid of the frame and make music freely.
Why so long since the last one?
I’d been making new tracks to be released online, but they didn’t connect together as an album.
Also, during that time I had DJ’d in every country and 11 years was just gone before I noticed.
In addition, with release style, it used to be that you made an analog record or a CD, but the market has changed to online sales now because of the digital intervention.
I was cautious and careful preparing for the release because of this circumstance.
What’s your favourite track on the album and why?
It’s impossible to choose. Every song has such different views and texture.
It’s very much an album with a consistent flavour, not just a bunch of tracks. Is that deliberate? Is it important to you?
This is the flow of a moment, that is, the album flows from that current moment. Towards my future, but going beyond the “I ” at the moment…
If I have been able to move things forward with it, even just a little, I think this is good thing and it’s a product of myself.
Children around the world live in the “current” of the earth, they can enjoy it regardless of the good and bad impacts on the global environment. But they will also be the ones who suffer from the variety of influences that will effect the future of the earth.
I want to leave something better for future generations.
Past, present and future is the make-up of human life, but I think there is a will to try to move forward positively day by day.
One step ahead of our life, we do not know what will happen.
I think it’s necessary to bring that understanding back into focus again, so that thought led to the concept for the album.
There’s a darkness and mystery to the DJ Krush sound. Is that part of you?
A variety of reality has jumped into my life and this has to be part of my sound. The results are contained in the album.
Where do you see your music sitting in the history of Japanese music? Do you take references from traditional Japanese music, or the vibrant jazz and avant-garde scenes?
It has been influenced by a variety of music. The “feel” from the traditional music of Japan slowly came up from the bottom of my heart and touched my consciousness, blended with my consciousness.
The feeling is not unnatural. It’s a very nostalgic feeling, an almost indescribable sense of security that covers my heart.
Do you have a method to writing and producing?
I consider an imaginary short story and project the images without sound to the screen in my brain. Then I start to make a track, putting sound to the images.
There’s often a variety of patterns, but I try to use all of my imagination and the variety of colours I see, to finish songs that are rich with that palette.
What’s a typical day in the studio?
Sharpen the ear and concentrate on the screen which is full of music software. Fight against stiff shoulders and asthenia.
And when you’re not in the studio?
Many things. I might go to park or do some maintenance of the gear… If I have a time, I go to the sea and go fishing with a cold beer.
Where do you stand on Bobby Gillespie’s recent “the digital thing has destroyed music” statement?
I was born in the analog age, so I feel nostalgic when I enjoy music from an analog record or cassette tape. It has a fresh feeling and heart.
I have mixed feelings about the changing sales methods for music. I feel like I have to think more and more about other things aside from producing music.
It’s important to accept the good and the bad, as professionals we can’t expect everything to be ideal.
It’s convenient somehow, but also not really.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry, clubs or labels, since you started out?
The digital revolution has given rise to a huge variety of musical styles.
The amount of information available is much greater than before, and easy to access, so anyone can participate.
With such an information overload, I think it becomes more important for my work to be part of my own personality. Still incorporating the various influences, but as sustenance for my own sound, not dictated.
I would lose myself if I didn’t say “do not lose yourself” all the time.
Do you have one memory that stands out from over thirty years of making music?
19/04/1995 America – When the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed, I was in a NY studio.
11/09/2001 America – I did a photoshoot in the bottom of the World Trade Centre two days before the terrorist attacks.
13/11/2015 France – When the terrorist attacks occurred, I was at the beginning of the EU tour and arrived in Paris the next day.
22/03/2016 Belgium – I was in London on the second leg of the EU tour when the attacks happened. I’d planned to go Belgium two days later.
What sort of stuff are you listening to right now?
During the album production and tour I don’t listen to much other music.
What’s exciting about music?
Where did the name Krush come from?
Once upon a time, an American rapper who was in Tokyo gave me the name.
Do you have any essential advice for aspiring producers and creatives?
I’m not a great human to give advice to people.
Any restaurant with good Yakitori, Sashimi and Japanese rice.
What’s next for DJ Krush?
I have Asia tours coming up soon.
Get all latest tour dates, release info and downloads from the DJ Krush website