07 Jul 2021
by puaweiyi | ES RADIO, Interview
After more than a year, we invited Dazzle Drums back for Electric Soul RADIO #10!
Nagi and Kei Sugano, the team behind Dazzle Drums, are a DJ-Producer duo from Tokyo, Japan. Both members began DJ-ing individually in the 90s until they teamed up in 2005. Since then, their mixes have been released by numerous labels including FuFu Records, King Street Sounds, Afrocentric, Tony Records, Nulu Electronic, Tribe Records, BBE Music, etc. Their mixes have also been played by many domestic and foreign DJs including Tim Sweeney, Louie Vega, and DJ Nori during their sets. Although rooted in soulful house music, their selection blends a wide variety of tracks of dance and house classics as well as current songs.
We caught up with the duo on what they’ve been up to for the past year, how they are coping with the pandemic, and many more!
Hi Nagi and Kei, what has changed since the last time we talked last year? What have you guys been up to?
Each situation is different, but here in Tokyo, as in the rest of the world, the activities of clubs, DJs and artists have been greatly restricted. With so many restrictions, we had the occasional chance to party ourselves into good manners. While the audience was basically small, we continued to promote the rent fundraising activities of each venue through live streaming and other means. For us, it was fortunate that we were able to connect with people all over the world, even if only a little, by starting a regular program on Worldwide FM.
You guys were part of 88 - Double Happiness, Compilation Vol . 1 from FuFu Records. How did you guys feel about being part of a compilation in collaboration with other producers within Asia?
While our activities were limited, our participation in this compilation was very encouraging and motivating. Here in Japan, we are lagging behind when it comes to awareness and action on global climate change, so we are hoping that even a little bit will change. We are very interested in the scenes in other parts of Asia, and it would be great if, like in Europe, each Asian party scene could be established locally, so that people could come and go as they please. We hope that the LCC network will expand more. It is difficult to sustain anything, but we would like to be aware of it.
How has the pandemic affected the scene in Japan? Do you think the electronic music scene would change even after the pandemic is over?
The fact that famous artists from overseas could no longer come to the festival gave local artists a chance to be known. Due to the pandemic, there may be a shift in the audience from party to party and generation to generation. It feels like taking a break and starting all over again. We hope that clubs and audiences will remember to support local artists even after the pandemic is over. We want to create a unique local scene.
You both mentioned in our previous interview how the Tokyo local scene had evolved in the past years. Would you name a few emerging talents in Japan that people should pay more attention to?
This is a very hard question. As for DJing, there are a lot of new talents in each scene, and we think the opportunities to play have expanded compared to the past. However, since the audience is limited, everyone is going through a trial and error process. As for composing, there are fewer opportunities to release music than in the rest of the world, but we’re gradually starting to see opportunities to release music on labels originating in Japan and on our own. We are planning to release a record with local artists only at our party Music Of Many Colours at Contact Tokyo. Our friends at this party, Kengo, SHOWHEY, HEAVEN, T.P, Phenol and Mazlika are DJs that we trust musically.
Also, you mentioned how historically in Japan there’s no habit of going to clubs and bars compared to some major world cities. Do you guys see a positive change in the upcoming years?
With the Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government finally realised the economic benefits of late night music bars and clubs. So they started to think about revitalising the late-night business. However, the pandemic brought everything to a halt.
We need to have more serious discussions with our colleagues about how we can make it easier for Japanese people to enjoy music and meet people in clubs, because the image of dance music and the club scene is still not good in some parts of the Japanese public.
Japan has one of the best gastronomies in the world. If Electric Soul users were to ever visit Tokyo, what places would you recommend them to visit for good food and drinks?
Most of the time we eat out is before and after the party. Therefore, when I'm hungry in Tokyo, we usually go to a ramen shop where I can eat cheaply and quickly.
For example, if you want to eat delicious clear soup ramen, Oreryu Shio-Ramen(俺流塩ラーメン)
If you want to eat ramen in a rich pork bone soup、Hakata Tenjin Shibuya south entrance (博多天神 渋谷南口店)
As for alcohol in Japan, the friends I meet at parties often drink Soju instead of Sake in clubs. It is usually drunk with lemon soda (Lemon-Hai), oolong tea (Oolong-Hai) or jasmine tea (Jasmine-Hai). In some shops you can choose the brand of Shochu. We recommend brands such as Kinmiya(キンミヤ), Nikaido(二階堂) and Rento（れんと）.
Could you also share with our users recommendations for nightclubs and bars in Tokyo? Is there a “hidden gem'' that travelers won’t be able to find in a travel guide?
Although smaller than the venue above, the venues loved by local DJs and music lovers are 0 Zero, DJ Bar Bridge, HEART, OATH, RED BAR, AOYAMA TUNNEL, Aoyama Hachi (青山蜂), Azumaya (東間屋), KOARA, The Room, Solfa, COUNTER CLUB, etc.
Many of the venues are in the Shibuya Aoyama area, but there are also many other deep local venues in Sangenjaya, Shimokitazawa, along the Chuo line and in downtown Tokyo that you can explore with your friends.
Which emerging local artist from Japan should be next on our radio?
Well, if we choose one, we recommend Kengo, who has been DJing for over 15 years with us. He is a DJ who can play according to the atmosphere of the place.
Currently, we are having a party with friends who can respect DJ's musical expression like Kengo. We hope that such friends can be made outside of Japan, and we sincerely hope that the Asian dance music scene will grow further. We're glad to participate in Electric Soul Radio with various Asian artists this time.
Stay up to date with Dazzle Drum's latest activities on Electric Soul, Instagram (Nagi), Instagram (Kei), Facebook, Mixcloud, Soundcloud, and their official website.