DJ Krush lays down cuts for the faithfulWalking the streets of Hongdae, the neighborhood around Hongik University, it was hard to miss the small black flyers scattered all around announcing DJ Krush’s appearance in Seoul.
DJ Krush, 42, marked his second visit to Korea by performing at Club Otwo on Friday. The Japanese mixmaster has gained more fans in Korea since his last visit in 1999.
Even before opening time, partygoers waited in a long line in front of the club, anticipating his music.
To the welcoming crowd, he said, “About 10 years ago, there weren’t too many people who could understand my music, but I continued. Now, I believe more people appreciate my work.”
His abstract, experimental sounds with strong beats are hard to define or categorize in one particular genre, such as electronica, hip-hop, or house, since they combine a number of elements.
He expresses himself through his music, and these days he includes many traditional Japanese instruments, such as tsugaru-jamisen (Japanese guitar), shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and Japanese drums.
In explaining the reason, he says, “I have traveled all around the world as a DJ. The more I travel, the more I see myself as Japanese.”
Just like other children, he wasn’t interested in traditional Japanese instruments when he was young.
“Traditional Japanese instruments are not as powerful as Western instruments,” he says, “yet they carry more delicate sounds.”
DJ Krush is a small man, yet he exudes strong energy, just like his music.
He wore military cargo pants, a designer baseball cap and and a large mud-colored jacket. Against that carefree, casual style, his white shirt and spotless white shoes ― including the soles ― provided a contrasting clean vibe.
The military design and the spotless white contrast might be a way of telling the story behind his music. His eighth album “Jaku,” released in 2004, is about “wa,” a Japanese character which means peace and harmony.
“I see too much violence and gunpowder in the world. They are the residue of distorted “qi,” or spirit. At least through music, I wish to talk of peace and love,” he says.
DJ Krush also spoke about what inspires him, how he relaxes, and how best to understand his music.
Q. Aren’t you worried about running of out ideas?
A. I don’t worry too much about running out of ideas. As long as I’m alive, I will get inspiration from meeting people. My worry is not about my inspiration drying up, but more about how to capture the ideas. Usually, I get inspired from watching movies, pictures and little children.
How does it feel to look at the dancing crowd in a club?
Watching people dancing at a club, I feel like I am painting with music and evaporating into the dancing crowd. Those who get a groove on from my music are the ones who understand my music and the spirit. Unlike other club music, mine contains Asian elements. I don’t think my music is made for dancing, but it feels good seeing people dancing to it because having a different perspective is always a good thing.
How would you say your working style differs from others?
How would you describe an airplane that is flying not too high and not too low? My working style is not much different from other DJs. Just as a painter draws one line, steps back to have a better view, and steps up closer to add or delete a line, I do the same thing with beats and sounds. One thing I can tell you for sure is I practice a lot. I have passed out at the turntable several times.
What kind of music have you been listening to recently?
I haven’t listened to other music for a while because I’m traveling all the time. After work, I go home and that’s it. I sometimes listen to animation soundtracks.
What do you do in your free time?
I go fishing. I don’t need any music when I go fishing. I just enjoy the peacefulness. Besides, in Japan, you never know when a tsunami will come. I’m just one of those middle-aged men. I get a bottle of sake and fish.”
Can you recommend a good way to understand your music?
If your brain gets numb while you are listening to my music, then you’re doing a good job.
What was it like to work with DJ Shadow?
I always wanted to work with DJ Shadow because he does similar music. I wanted to see how he spins, and I believe it was a great experience. There was of course a language barrier, but as a musician, sound is a language.
Are you happy with your life?
I’m satisfied with my life. I’ve been faithfully living by my beliefs, and doing what I want to do. I want to extend myself as much as possible through music.
by Stella Kim
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