When Mark Redito plays Circus Tokyo this Friday, June 16, it marks a big moment for the Los Angeles-based electronic artist born in the Philippines.
“In Manila as a child, I grew up with Japanese pop culture,” Redito tells Metropolis over email as he preps for his upcoming Asian tour. “During that time, most cartoons and shows for kids were dominated by Japanese media. I also remember liking the soundtracks from these shows which I’m sure seeped into my music as an adult.”
Ultimately, far more than theme songs from Japan shaped Redito’s fizzy, up-tempo electronic numbers. He says his sound has also been heavily shaped by Shibuya-kei acts such as Pizzicato Five and Cornelius, and especially inspired by the electro-pop creations of Yasutaka Nakata and, especially, his work with the trio Perfume.
“I remember my reaction the first time I heard it was: WTF IS THIS? There’s something about his melodies that are so catchy and so poppy that you can’t help but move! I also admire and take inspiration from how he arranges the songs and his ‘in your face’ mixing style.”
Redito isn’t just inspired by maxed-out J-Pop. He began sharing the music he made in the early 2000s under the name Cocolulu, a name he eventually discovered also belonged to a Japanese cosmetics company. His earliest work veers from chiptune pop to wriggly bedroom tracks recorded using various toy instruments and a cheap microphone. His sound gradually came together and grew less rough around the edges, and Redito adopted the name Spazzkid to release a handful of EPs and singles compilations. His breakthrough came with the 2013 full-length Desire, a set of synth-pop numbers with a strong emotional core, further explored on the subsequent Promise EP in 2014.
Then, Redito’s pace slowed down. “I have taken upon myself to study and improve things that I know in terms of music production, but also try to improve myself as a human being. I have started a mindfulness practice in the past few years that includes journaling and meditating.” He moved away from the Spazzkid moniker in favor of his name, partially because of the derogatory meaning of “spazz” in various countries, while also feeling “disconnected” with what it represented as he moved in new directions.
“I think that I gave myself permission more to experiment and to go against whatever “the scene” or my peers are doing,” Redito says. “For the longest time, I carried an insecurity about it. ‘Is it pop enough? Is this a banger? Would people like this?’ And I still do think of those questions but my starting point lately is ‘will I like this? Will I be proud of this? Is this me?’”
Beyond expanding the borders of his music, Redito has also pushed to highlight artists of color, women and LGBTQ backgrounds at a series of shows he started in July 2016 called Likido. “The past few years I noticed that the lineups for shows, sometimes ones I’m playing or attending, weren’t very diverse,” he says. “They are usually dominated by straight white artists, usually men. I thought to myself, what would it look like to have an alternate space to that.” The subsequent parties, held in Los Angeles, have featured a wide range of artists from all sorts of backgrounds, including Osaka native Seiho and Tokyo-based outfit Bae.
Before more Likido gatherings and his new album, Redito embarks on this Asian tour. As well as his stop in Tokyo, he’ll also play Osaka, and venues in South Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. As for Japan, this will be his first trip, and he’s excited to see friends and connect with local artists.
“And definitely food! LA has a big Japanese-American community and we don’t have a shortage of good Japanese places but I’d love to experience Japanese food straight from the source.”
See Mark Redito play Circus Tokyo on Friday, June 16, with Parkgolf, Carpainter, Tomggg and more. Doors open at 22:00. Advance tickets cost ¥2,500, while at the door they cost ¥3,000.