The DJ/producer says the future of Japanese DnB looks bright


Originally published on on November 2009

Well-traveled DJ/producer DJ T-ak flies the flag for Japanese drum’n’bass, mixing it with the UK’s finest on one of the genre’s foremost labels, Hospital. T-ak featured heavily on acclaimed Japanese DnB showcase The Future Sound of Tokyo, released in 2007, and is known for smooth and dynamic sets. He spoke with Metropolis ahead of his upcoming gig at Drum & Bass Sessions, where he’ll spin alongside UK scene leaders DJ Die and Krust.

In the early 2000s, you helped transform London club Herbal into a DnB Mecca. How did you break into the distinctly British DnB scene?
It was quite a British scene, but people were always ready to accept others with new sounds. I guess we were part of the second (or was it the third?) wave of DnB in London. We began a night called Hexion­—the first DnB night at Herbal. The atmosphere was always very tight and smoky, with the sound system set up really well for DnB… [The scene] had a huge impact on me—this sense of freedom, of different cultures and music forms coming together.

Can you describe your relationship with Hospital Records?
The reputation we developed with Hexion meant people came to check me DJ—among them Hospital, [which] had a position slightly separate from mainstream DnB. They had a bit of an erroneous reputation as a jazz-DnB fusion label at that time, and were looking to expand in other directions; I think maybe I played a part. Despite me [now being] in Japan, the relationship is still strong. In some ways, it’s advantageous.

Was The Future Sound of Tokyo a turning point?
It was the culmination of a long process to get something onto wax. I recorded most of the tracks in London, so the album marked the closing of that chapter for me… I hope that establishing a Tokyo sound of a quality high enough to be released on Hospital will encourage people to take [Japanese DnB] seriously, and encourage others into production.

How are you sustaining the hype generated by TFST?
I guess the only way I can do that is to keep making and DJing good DnB. I did a track called “Voyager” with Makoto, which I think was my most successful yet. You’re going to hear plenty from other producers featured on TFST, who’ll keep Tokyo on the DnB map.

Overall, the scene here has been solid for years…
You’re right to say the scene has strong foundations here. Club nights like Drum & Bass Sessions play a really essential role… What’s important is there are new things in the music to engage people. Some people see dubstep as a rival to DnB, but I don’t see it like that—[rather], it’s re-energizing the music. Ultimately, we want people listening to a more rugged kind of dance music, and I think that’s what we’re getting!

Do you have any upcoming releases?
I’ve been working on an album of my own material, and if everything goes well, I’d like to release it next year. Beyond that, I’d love to work on a follow-up to TFST to showcase how the scene is developing. I’ve got some interests outside DnB, and recently have been working on some proper Japanese-style anime music!

The Future Sound of Tokyo is available on Hospital Records.

Bristol Sessions. Drum’n’bass: DJs T-ak, Die, Krust, etc. Live painting: Nick Walker. Nov 21, from 11:30pm, ¥4,000. Daikanyama. Tel: