DJ Krush

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DJ KRUSH is interviewed by Todd E Jones.

DJ Krush has been one of the most innovative and most respected DJs/producers coming out of Japan. With his music ranging from hip-hop to techno to acid jazz, some critics have labeled him the '€œGodfather Of Trip-Hop'€. While this may not be a term he consciously agrees with (or even cares about), there is a multi-layered psychedelic element to his music. In the past, he has done collaborations with The Roots, Guru, Big Shug, Anti Pop Consortium, Sly & Robbie, and many more. His past albums like '€œMeiso'€ and '€œMessage At The Depth'€ were both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. In 2004, he released '€œJaku'€ on Red Ink/Sony. '€œJaku'€ is a beautiful and mystical sounding album with many diverse Japanese instruments that U.S. audiences have never heard before. For example, the Japanese flute shakuhachi is used in '€œUnivearth'€ and '€œSlit Of Cloud'€. DJ Krush proves to be an innovative producer because he incorporates modern music to the traditional music. Even though '€œJaku'€ is mainly instrumental and steeped in Japanese culture, there are appearances by Mr. Lif and Aesop Rock who are both from New York City'€™s Definitive Jux. On a cold November evening in 2004, I had an inspired conversation with the legendary artist. DJ Krush has found balance in his life. He has found a state of peace through his music. T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI'm in the middle of the North America tour. It's going well.'€ T.JONES: '€œYour new album is '€˜Jaku'€™. Tell us about it?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œ'€˜Jaku'€™ means '€˜peace and calm'€™ in Japanese. Being on tour around the world, I wanted to do an album with Japanese philosophy and instruments. So I have Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player, Taiko drum player and other master players from Japan collaborating with me. Those instruments sound great and I got the best players in each field.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the title, '€˜Jaku'€™?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œIt'€™s theme is '€˜Wa'€™, which means '€˜things Japanese'€™ as well as '€˜full circle'€™, '€˜sharing'€™, '€˜peace'€™, etc. I think this concept is missing in the world today because of war and cruelty. I wanted to make an album that counter-balances all of the nonsense.'€ T.JONES: '€œHow is this album different from your last album, '€˜The Message At The Depth'€™?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI've been trying to do something new with every record. This one is no different. As I said earlier, I collaborated with Japanese traditional instrument players. That's certainly new and what I felt awkward doing when I was younger. As I got older, I wanted to re-discover the tradition of my culture and '€˜Jaku'€™ is the result.'€ T.JONES: '€œHow did you get involved with Red Ink?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œSony Music Japan is my label and they have a relationship with Red Ink. My last 5 albums including this one have come out on Red Ink in the U.S.'€ T.JONES: '€œMr. Lif raps on the amazing track, '€˜Nostferatu'€™. How did you hook up with Mr. Lif and what was that collaboration like?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œMr. Lif is on Def Jux, which is my favorite label. I met him at a party and wanted to work with him on this project. Working with him was great. Anyone who's original deserves my respect.'€ T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite song on '€˜Jaku'€™?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI like all the tracks on the record and all of the guest musicians are brilliant.'€ T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite album?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œToo many to name!'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat collaboration (out of all of them), are you most proud of?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI'm proud of all of collaboration works I've done.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat is the creative process like? Do you start off with a rhythm or a melody first?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œFor this record, I made the basic track and guest musicians add their sound to it. Then I took the recorded sound home and reconstructed it freely.'€ T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite drum machine or sampler?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œEMU-SP1200 CASIO-RZ1.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhen did you first get into music and DJ-ing?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œThe hip-hop documentary film from the 80'€™s called '€˜Wild Style'€™ got me into hip-hop. I was blown away by everything I saw on that film. I bought my first turntable right after I watched it.'€ T.JONES: '€œIs there a meaning behind your name, DJ Krush?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI was DJ-ing in Harajuku, Tokyo. They would close down the street on Sundays and there would be bands playing, artists making art, and I was there with my gang, DJ-ing. Some Americans came around and they started free styling. I guess they liked what we were doing. They used to phrase '€˜Crush em, Crush em'€™. Thus, the name DJ Krush.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of the term '€˜Trip-Hop'€™?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œSome people call me a pioneer of Trip-Hop but I'm not very conscious about what type of music I do. The music I made is about how much of myself, Krush, can be put into it. That's all I think about.'€ T.JONES: '€œWho are some of your major influences?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œMiles Davis, Coltrane, Jim Hendrix.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat CDs or LPs have you been listening to lately?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œDemo tapes that I get all over the place during the tour.'€ T.JONES: '€œDid you like the movie '€˜Lost In Translation'€™?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI haven't watched it yet.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat is the last incident of racism you experienced?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œNone, particularly.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhere were you on September 11th, 2001? How did you deal with it? How has it affected music?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œIt happened right after I got back home from my US tour. I was doing a photo shoot right near the World Trace Center just 2 days earlier so, I couldn't believe what I watched on TV. It has affected my work. My previous album, '€˜Message At The Depth'€™ was a direct response to 9/11. The album before that, '€˜Zen'€™ was a hopeful album for a new dawning century. I felt like that hope was shattered.'€ T.JONES: '€œWord association. I am going to name the name of an artist or group and you say the first word that comes into your mind. So, if I said '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say '€˜John Lennon'€™ or '€˜Abby Road'€™. If I said, '€˜Public Enemy'€™, you may say '€˜Revolution'€™. Okay?'€ T.JONES: '€œUnited Future Organization.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œBuddies.'€ T.JONES: '€œJay-Z.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œWhat would it be like if Jay-Z's rap and my production are mixed?'€ T.JONES: '€œAesop Rock.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI wanna do something with him again.'€ T.JONES: '€œKahimi Karie.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œHas a unique creativity.'€ T.JONES: '€œMomus.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œMy younger daughter seems to be a fan of his.'€ T.JONES: '€œPortishead.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œMy favorite.'€ T.JONES: '€œTricky.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI like him.'€ T.JONES: '€œGil-Scott Heron.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œSpeaking of which, I haven't listen to his music for a while.'€ T.JONES: '€œPublic Enemy.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œClock.'€ T.JONES: '€œThe Roots.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œHow're you guys doing!?'€ T.JONES: '€œKool G. Rap.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œMaster, Classic.'€ T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œDon't forget your pal, Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan (Laugh).'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite part of your live show?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œMy show is simply about connecting with the audience. I enjoy sharing a vibe, a time, a flow, a space, and a groove. I try to communicate what I feel that night to the audience.'€ T.JONES: '€œHow are Japanese audiences different from U.S. audiences?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI don't feel any obvious difference, especially lately.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat was the biggest mistake you have made in your career?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI got a too drunk and put a record on top of another record that was already spinning. The needle popped. It made a huge, horrible noise! It got silent for a few seconds but, that actually added to the fun.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat advice would you give to up and coming DJ'€™s and producers?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œFrom my own experience, I know how hard it is to become able to make a living as a DJ or a producer. But those who have original style and think, '€˜This is something only I can do'€™. I want them to keep doing what they're doing and expand their possibility.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat are some major misconceptions do you think people have of you?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI don't know.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhen working with vocalists, do you have the tracks ready or do you make the music with or around them?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI have the basic track ready for them. After the vocals are recorded, I take it home and work around it. Sometimes, I get inspired by the vocal at the recording studio and make new tracks right then and there.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat makes a specific track need a guest vocalist?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œWhen I start production of a specific track, I specifically make a vocal track or instrumental track. I don't decide after, I decide before I make the track.'€ T.JONES: '€œDo you want to be cremated or buried?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI don'€™t know.'€ T.JONES: '€œWhat do you want on your epitaph?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œI haven't thought about that. Maybe it's time to start thinking.'€ T.JONES: '€œAny future collaborations or releases for DJ Krush? What can fans expect from you next?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œJapan tour, Asia tour. The traveling continues. I'll just keep playing and making anyway.'€ T.JONES: '€œAny final words for the people who will be reading this?'€ DJ KRUSH: '€œThank you so much for all of your support! I'm having great time touring and getting a lot of inspiration for my next record.'€ Thank you DJ KRUSH!!! The Official Website for DJ KRUSH: http://www.mmjp.or.jp/sus/krush/ Interview by Todd E. Jones toddejones@yahoo.com For this complete interview, go to http://hardcorehiphop.cjb.net

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