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PEOPLEText: Takahiro Nakagawa

Shuya Okino has been leading Japanese Jazz club scene with his various works such as producing Mondo Grosso and Monday Michiru, playing as a DJ and operating a club “ROOM” at Shibuya, Tokyo.
Lately, he released an album under the unit name of COSMIC VILLAGE with Ryo Kawasaki and Monday Michiru as guest musicians. In this album, Okino specifically presents “the unity of Japanese 70’s fusion music and contemporary club music” which he has been expressing through his DJ play.
We, SHIFT, interviewed him about “Jazz of 1997” and more.

This time, you released new album under the name of “COSMIC VILLAGE”. All tracks in this album were selected from Ryo Kawasaki’s previous works. How did this project begin?

It’s started at the club ROOM, I met a person from the record company which Mr.Kawasaki has contracted. I was asked to write some comment about Ralph McDonald by this person. Then we started chatting and I found he liked 70’s jazz, fusion as well Mondo Grosso and Monday Michiru. Through this chat, the idea of Mondo Grosso and Mr.Kawasaki playing together was born.

I have been fond of the tune “TRINKET & THINGS” which is also the title tune for your album. I guess this tune, which represents the 70’s Japanese Jazz and Fusion, is quite popular in the world club fields. Could you tell us why you chose “TRINKET & THINGS” for your album?

I’ve loved this tune for long time, too. So, we planed to make an album which I would make sounds and Mr.Kawasaki would join. But I didn’t want to make my album in a style lile “Ryo Kawasaki meets Shuya Okino” because it seemed to me too market conscious. Therefore, I made an unit and this unit played tunes of Mr.Kawasaki. I think this way worked and could prove my contemplation to “TRINKET & THINGS” well.

I would like to know about the sound creation for this album. You introduced the Drum’n’ Bass to “TRINKETS & THINGS”, did you have this idea from the beginning?

I listened some musician arranged “TRINKET & THINGS” before. On the other hand, I read a comment “Jungle is Bossa Nova in the 21st century” by Everything But the Girl, and I felt “wait a minute” because I had my own desire to define a relationship of Bossa Nova and Samba in terms of Jungle that doubled the speed of the break beats.
Meanwhile I was trying to create new fusion of Bossa Nova and Drum’n’ Bass in my way, I got a chance to arrange “TRINKET & THINGS”. So, I decided to arrange this tune with strong and contemporary beats. And since we followed Mr.Kawasaki’s approach in some way, we invited him to play with us which meant really something for us.

Could you tell us about the concept of “COSMIC VILLAGE”? When I read a phrase “the 21st century hippy”, I got an impression that you were going to built new generation hippy village in Japanese Jazz scene, like 60’s hippies made communes and villages based on their thought and religious belief.

The relationship of COSMIC VILLAGE’s members are very good, let’s say, we eat together and talk about many things, not only music. And I like the feeling of commune very much.
Nowadays in Japan, it’s getting very rare to talk about something seriously. Moreover there is some atmosphere that having discussion and debate is somehow embarrassing. But I think it’s rather cool to discuss something seriously.

I guess everybody has a desire to communicate with someone who has same or similar idea and opinions. If not, it’s too desolate.

I think we need “places” where we can talk about our lives and even outlook on the cosmic. So, I hope people come to the place I made, and find “place” for themselves.
I used the phrase “the 21st century hippy” with these wishes. In a way, “COSMIC VILLAGE” is a commune I’ve thought of and this VILLAGE symbolises these commune kind of matters.

It seems you are aiming the village or commune to link creative activities, like Andy Warhol’s Factory.

In fact, many different kind of people, such as photographers, actors and musicians come to ROOM. And I always hope the encounter at this place will be the motive and driving forces for their creative works.
60’s and 70’s cultures have strong influences on 90’s fashion, music and so on. And, of course, there are some special things from 90’s. I’m trying to remain fine things from 60’s and 70’s and at the same time, introduce these from 90’s on good balance. With doing so, I hope something like 90’s Factory is grown.

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Fernando Trocca