Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2009
We’re not one’s to brag, but when it comes to Halloween parties in Tokyo, there’s the Metropolis Glitterball and then there’s… well, all the other bashes we can’t be bothered to go to. Now into its eighth year, the Glitterball just keeps getting bigger and better—though we can’t say we’ve seen any drop in the number of drunken white guys wearing costumes they really should’ve thought twice about before leaving home. This year, we’ll be taking over alife in Nishi-Azabu—the same venue that made our 2008 Valentine’s Ball such a blast—and teaming up with Japanese record label giant Avex to bring you the hottest new tunes. What’s more, if you dress to impress, you could stand to win meal vouchers, free hotel stays and our mind-bogglingly awesome, super-secret Grand Prize (past winners have gone home with round-trip airfares, or fabulous vacation packages). There are just 1,500 pre-sale tickets available this year, so book now to avoid disappointment.
Where alife, Econach Nishi-Azabu Bldg, 1-7-2 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku
Tickets ¥4,000. 1,500 pre-sale tickets—snap them up pronto before they sell out!
L-code 38954 (Japanese only)
– Book the ticket online: http://l-tike.com/metropolis-halloween2009
– Book by telephone: 0570-084-003
– Lawson ticket information center: 0570-000-777
Tickets will be sold until 11:59pm on Monday, October 26.
- 7-8:30pm Vivid (House, Electro)
- 8:30-10pm GTS (House)
- 11-11:30pm Nerdz Era (Live Otaku Hip Hop)
- 7-8:30pm Dwayne Wayne (Hip-Hop, R&B)
- 8:30-10pm Mattb (Made In Glitch)
- 10-11:30pm Switch Bitch (Techno)
- 7-8:30pm DJ Dante (House, Electro)
- 8:30-10pm Daniel Robson (All Mix)
- Start: 10:20pm
Grand Prize – Top Secret!
Nine lucky people will win a one-night stay for two at one of Japan’s best hotels, including breakfast: Ritz-Carlton, Peninsula, Conrad, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, Hilton and Hilton Odawara Resort & Spa.
We have tickets, meal vouchers and all kinds of goodies up for grabs for the Bledisloe Cup, Hard Rock Café, Tony Roma’s, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, California Pizza Kitchen, Rainbow Roll Sushi, Aquavit, Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant, Il Mulino New York, Brillia Short Shorts Film Theater, American Airlines merchandise
If you’ve played a lot of tricks this Halloween, bulk up your karma by donating ¥500 on your way into the party. All contributions go to support J-help (www.jhelp.com), a nonprofit group that provides emergency assistance and disaster relief worldwide. Recent projects centered on the cyclone in Burma and the earthquake in Sichuan, China.
By: Don Cripsy
They may be a couple of lightweight computer geeks, but Nerdz Era’s “future hip-hop” hits you with the full force of an 800-pound gorilla. As it turns out, the contrast between the duo’s name and their sound was intentional.
“In Japan, people think hip-hop is made by heavy-set, criminal types,” one-half of the duo, Broken Haze (Keisuke Ito), tells Metropolis. “But there’s a different kind of worldwide network producing hip-hop these days—people like us who aren’t from the ‘streets,’ but instead are otaku creating a new era!”
“Even if we wore XXL baggy clothes, we still wouldn’t look scary,” says partner Black Sebbath (Setsuya Kurotaki) with a laugh. “As soon as we get together, we start talking about the latest technology. We’re ‘beat otaku’ creating a new movement—you might call it the new form of Japanese hip-hop.”
In fact, there’s a rich history of alternative hip-hop in Japan, reaching back more than a decade to the abstract turntable experimentations of DJ Krush, who Broken Haze says was a major influence. Combining Haze’s background in hip-hop with Sebbath’s exposure to soul, funk and jazz at home, the pair’s meeting sounds like it was inevitable.
“Black Sebbath had bought my album and gotten in touch,” recalls Haze. “I then had the chance to hear one of his mixes and felt like we had shared tastes in hip-hop. We weren’t initially planning to work together, but it just happened naturally. I was intrigued by some of the unusual work he was doing—for example, a parents-and-kids rhythm workshop called ‘Kids Hi-5.’”
Recently signed to Avex and with a debut EP due out at the top of next year, Nerdz Era’s music blends the abstraction of Krush with the razor-sharp electro of recent visitors AutoKratz and the glitch-hop of LA scenesters like the Glitch Mob, whose member Edit Haze backed in a Tokyo appearance a few months ago. They are equally comfortable behind the decks, or manipulating laptops with USB controllers, and have recently been mashing up dancefloors at clubs like Unit and Ageha. For Glitterball, they are preparing a live set that promises to be as powerful as it will be brief.
But just don’t call them “electro.”
“We’ve been able to play with leaders of the so-called ‘electro’ scene in Japan like The Lowbrows and Dexpistols, but even if you ask them, they will also say they don’t categorize themselves that way,” says Haze. “In fact, even when we’re invited to do an electro event, we feel that what we’re really playing is hip-hop. The great thing about the scene—whatever you call it—is that artists have a lot of flexibility, playing different genres of music irrespective of BPM or sound type.”
Nerdz Era play 11-11:30pm on the B1 level. Info: www.myspace.com/nerdzera
By: Dan Grunebaum
University courses now exist to teach the profession of DJing, but when the three members of GTS started out more than two decades ago, they had to make their own way.
“I was managing a pool hall in my neighborhood, and we bought some turntables and a mixer,” recalls DJ Gee in an interview at his Shibuya management company Artimage. “I would practice every day—it was the beginning of the DJ boom—and the shop was like my home. Every weekend, we would host a DJ party, but after a certain point I wanted to play out, and began to spin at a Shinjuku Ni-chome club called Boogie Boy.”
“I was into black music from high school, and first got into DJing through hip-hop,” says Turbo. “When house came along, at first I didn’t like it. But then I began to understand that it was really just an extension of black music.”
Acknowledging GTS’ roots in black music is key to understanding their sound. In addition to representing their names, GTS stands for “groove that soul,” and their approach grows out of a deep reverence for soul, funk, Motown and disco.
The evolution of their partnership began when Gee and Turbo started to spin together at Boogie Boy, and with the addition of Satoshi Hidaka in 1995, the lineup was complete. The three considered releasing an album soon after.
“In Japan at the time, DJs were still basically club staff—it wasn’t a career,” says Gee. “But we began to feel we wanted to leave something lasting, and it was a time when a few Japanese DJs like Satoshi Tomie were beginning to produce their own music. So we decideded to release something on vinyl.”
To GTS’ surprise, the track “Through The Fire,” featuring house diva Melodie Sexton, ended up becoming a hit, launching the three on a career that has taken them from the outer wards to formative house clubs like Gold and Yellow and current key dance venues Air and Warehouse.
“I was lucky,” Turbo says about the start of his own career. “An older friend—a music fan—said he wanted to open a DJ bar. He invited me to DJ because he knew I had a lot of records, and even offered me a salary! Then I met Gee, and we began to spin together at this bar in Koto-ku, as well as other clubs in Ni-chome and around Tokyo.”
Over the years, GTS have had the chance to work with legendary divas like Sexton and J-pop stars such as Double, both of whom appear on their new album Majestic, and also through Gee’s ownership of Artimage to help launch the careers of a number of acts. Majestic, for example, features upcoming English-Japanese singer Baby M on the uplifting “Last Chance” and emerging vocalist KG on a house cover of Stevie Wonder’s “As.” The presence of other covers of Donna Summer and Black Box classics provides a good indication of the back-to-basics house music to expect from GTS’ set at Glitterball.
GTS in fact go so far as to call their sound “R&B house.” “There isn’t really anything such as R&B house, but for people who don’t really know house, we wanted some catch copy that would be easy to understand,” Gee explains. “And our roots are in soul and R&B, so we wanted to emphasize that.”
“Our music is wide-ranging,” says Gee about their upcoming Glitterball set. “We’ll be playing upbeat music, mixing in our own tracks with classics. Hopefully folks will like it!”
“His style is gorgeous; mine is forceful,” adds Turbo. “Mix us together and see what happens!”
GTS play 8:30-10pm on the B1 level. Info: www.myspace.com/groovethatsoul