We celebrate 20 years of this Japanese label's humble dedication to obscure music.
For 20 years, Emura has worked full-time, solo, running EM Records. "Anyone can start a label and put out a record, but keeping it going is another thing," he said. "There are many people who can tell you how to start it, but nobody can teach you how to sustain it for a long time. The advantage of running it all by yourself is that you don't have team or company meetings to make decisions. That saves a lot of my time." EM Records launched in 1998, after Emura left his position as a record buyer at noted digging spot Jellybean Records in Osaka, where he started working part-time as a university student.
Inside his office, the largest wall is covered by floor-to-ceiling shelves holding his personal collection of vinyl, cassettes and books. The bookshelf is filled with titles like Ethnic Music Encyclopedia, Jamaican Patois Dictionary, A Guide To Indonesian Music, Japanese Music History and The Blues Book. A small desk sits in the centre of the room, with two speakers neatly positioned on both sides of the computer screen at ear level, tilted inwards ensuring the sweet spot is just right. In front of his seat there are original artworks for three of Roland P. Young's albums, two of which were painted by Young's wife. On the left side of his desk is his CD collection, with a Trojan Dancehall Explosion compilation alongside an Alvin Lucier album and numerous titles I have never heard before. In the back of the room, near the window facing the street, sits a portion of EM Records' two-decade catalogue.
The collection in Emura's office includes music from almost every corner of the world in a huge variety of styles from various eras. Pretty much all of it is obscure. EM Records has reissued gems from the past, but the label has also released cutting-edge contemporary music. It's hard to comprehend how much musical knowledge Emura has accumulated over so many years of working with records and being at the centre of Osaka's vibrant scene.