DJ Takaki, considered one of the most skilled DJ artists and finalist on DMC, sits down with Hibiki Ichikawa, a qualified Shamisen player and instructor, to talk about their epic duet performance.
Robin from Coaching for Geeks attended a Q&A session along with a series of prestigious journalists. These will be referred to collectively as ‘Journalists’.
A translator is used to aid the pair and each will be referred to by name respectively.
Journalists: Thank you so much for meeting us. Well, thank you for such a wonderful show. That was brilliant. I was having a little dance.
DJ Takaki: Thank you.
Journalists: How was it for you, to play in London?
DJ Takaki: It was so impressive and it was so fun for me because in my case I moved to London last year. I still have a few times to play at London, but it’s important to try it out every time.
Journalists: So where did you live before?
DJ Takaki: I lived in Tokyo. I decided to move to London because the culture is better for me, more than in Tokyo.
Journalists: Your different musical styles complement each other and match so well together. How did you meet? How did this happen?
Hibiki Ichikawa: We met this January through one of my friends who played at a music event. This person introduced us. We tried to cooperate. Our first gig was so successful, so we should cooperate more and more.
Journalists: So it grew from one event into playing in the Square today.
Journalists: Where do you take inspiration from?
Hibiki Ichikawa: For me, of course, I play shamisen. So I play stuff from them. But in the UK I usually play by myself. I also usually play in the Japanese folk music style.
DJ Takaki: For me as well. Before I met with Hibiki, I always focused on the electronic side of music. I had never met a really good Japanese musical instrument player. But when I first saw his performance on YouTube I was so, oh my god, so influenced by his playing. I must say that I’m always pleased to play with him all the time and am influenced by him as well.
Journalists: How do you create the pieces, working together? Do you start with a melody? Do you start with a beat? Or is it…
DJ Takaki: When we create music, we are always in my studio together. And we spend three or four hours, five hours sometimes. Normally, I create all the sounds in my computer. Then we talk about which parts I play and which parts Hibiki plays, and then how we correlate [that].
Journalists: So going back to you, talking about the shamisen side of things. When did you start playing it?
Hibiki Ichikawa: When? Because when I was in Japan, I used to play the guitar. Then when I heard the sound of the shamisen, I was so moved by my teacher. So I changed my mind and thought I should be playing shamisen. So I started playing the shamisen when I was twenty. Then it was addicting practicing every day.
Journalists: When did you start getting into DJing?
DJ Takaki: When I was fourteen or sixteen I saw a famous Japanese DJ competition on the TV. It was so impressive and was influential. It was the first time I was interested in scratching and beat juggling. Somewhat the performance side of the DJ. And after on that I was focusing on good electronic music. Finally I was active in Tokyo for fourteen years and then I decided to move to London from Tokyo because New York and London have great electronic music scenes, better than Tokyo. And I thought in all things it was good for me in activities and in my life .
Journalists: You had some early success as a DJ.DJ Takaki: No, I think I didn’t suck.Journalists: You’re too modest.
Translator: Humbleness. He comes from Japan.
Journalists: For sure, but that’s, still. You had success. Congratulations! What’s your favorite piece to play together? Is it the same or is it different?
DJ Takaki: For me, when I do the beat juggling, using a turntable, using this kind of move. When I do those kinds of things, I feel like I’m drumming in real time. I create the bass from the beat juggling, then Hibiki plays, and I really enjoy that.
Hibiki Ichikawa: To be honest, I love every song. Of course, I had never played that kind of music before I met him. I have performed with several musicians who use flute, bass guitar and drum kits. They might follow me. But he’s kind of a director of music. I must hit the beat. I must concentrate a lot. This is a really good opportunity for me to play shamisen.
Journalists: Could you say if, from what you have seen today, there could be some sort of shamisen scene or movement in the UK arising? I see that from your website that you offer tuition for shamisen?
Hibiki Ichikawa: Ah, lessons.
Journalists: Do you think it could become popular in the UK?
Hibiki Ichikawa: I hope so. Because now I have over twenty students and I am teaching in Germany as well. So I hope more people become interested in shamisen.
Journalists: My first experience of a similar style of music was Dance Dance Revolution. I was wondering if you had ever played DDR?
Hibiki Ichikawa: I have seen it but I have never played it. Because I’m no good at dancing.
Journalists: What music do you enjoy listening to. What acts or bands?
Hibiki Ichikawa: I’m interested in listening to UK rock music. This is one of the reasons I came here to the UK.
Journalists: So have you taken any inspiration from the UK scene here?
Hibiki Ichikawa: Yes. I consider some of my original pieces influenced by UK local music.
Journalists: Would you consider covering a rock song?
Hibiki Ichikawa: I want to one day, but it’s difficult because the shamisen has no frets. I have to play each note by ear. So it takes time. But one day I will try to pick that note.
DJ Takaki: For me, I also like to listen to everything as well. But normally I check new electronic music from other websites as well. I want to use my DJ [skills] for techno, house , drum and bass. But I prefer local music as well. I like everything.
Journalists: What’s your aspiration? What’s next for the two of you? Album? Tour? Superstardom? The O Tube? Wembley Stadium?
Hibiki Ichikawa: As much as possible, we like to perform more, in London and through England.
DJ Takaki: I also think that we need to play more. Small or big venues. Everything and everywhere.
Journalists: There’s definitely an audience for what you’re doing. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for the performance.
Find out more about Hibiki Ichikawa and the shamisen on his official site.
Visit DJ Takaki’s Facebook page to find out more about his London DJ residences and more.
Robin Bates – asked most of the questions at this Q&A
Want to check out other Japanese band interviews? Have a look at what Mutant Monster are up to!
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