Psychedelic techno from Tokyo's rising star.
Haruka is one of those underappreciated names you might only know from immersing yourself in a local scene—in this case, Tokyo—but that's starting to change. The up-and-coming DJ, who also collaborates with DJ Yazi as Twinpeaks and has a band called Senko, has been making a name for himself in Japan. He has a smooth, alluring style of mixing, which he learned in part from DJ Nobu, who took the younger DJ under his wing after seeing him open at a gig in Tsuruoka, Haruka's old hometown.
Now Haruka works side-by-side with Nobu in Tokyo, helping to run Future Terror, the iconic techno party that's still going strong after 17 years. Beyond the club circuit, Haruka has become a favourite at festivals around Japan, known for his versatility and eclecticism as well as his full-on techno sets. He'll make his European debut in June, with a show at Oval Space in London.
Haruka's RA podcast was made with a narrative in mind. He carefully puts together tracks, full of lush synths and big melodies, that take their time to build, the moods shifting gradually and naturally. It's more of an opening set than a peak-time workout, but it'd be one of those warmups that eclipses the headliner.
What have you been up to recently?
My days are quite fulfilling—last week I had five gigs. I also recently started a band, Senko, and today we rehearsed for our upcoming live show this weekend in Seoul. I finally quit my long-running day job and am concentrating on music now. I'm very fortunate.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I used two Pioneer CDJ-2000s and an Allen & Heath Xone:92 mixer, re-recording the mix a number of times. I asked Ryosuke of Pflaume Sound to handle the mastering. He's young but has a great ear, not to mention a wealth of knowledge and skills, and I often ask him for technical advice.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I tried to create a mix that fits into daily life. Using tracks from many different eras, I structured the mix so that it expresses a story. There is a sub-theme, "cat," and I'd be happy if you enjoyed the mix while walking or on a drive.
In addition to Tokyo, you frequently tour cities all over Japan. In a previous interview you said the Japanese scene "seemed to be more and more focused on international guests and content, with a tendency to think that an international presence is a requirement for it to be recognized or established." Tell us more about that.
Last week I played with Marcel Dettmann at Contact, which turned out to be an amazing party. I'm thankful for the opportunity to perform with DJs like him, and it is wonderful that we can experience such global talent in Tokyo. On the one hand, it's still difficult for local DJs. But at the same time, some Japanese artists are finally reaching a place of success and recognition in the world, which is good stimulus for the scene. Perhaps because of past economic booms and its geographical environment, Japanese scenes often get ridiculed for falling into the Galapagos Syndrome, but also it seems to be fertile soil for the birth of new, unique and interesting DJs, artists, and parties.
You recently resumed activity as Twinpeaks, your live duo with DJ Yazi. How did that come about? How is the collaboration structured?
We didn't specifically plan to stop working as Twinpeaks, but as our separate DJ careers kept us busy, and opportunities that satisfied our technical requirements were few and far between, until very recently we didn't have many chances to work together. Our methods are quite fluid, but recently we haven't done any hybrid live sets that feature hardware. We've each returned to our roots as DJs, and have been performing our sets highlighting the looping capabilities of 4 CDJs.
Tell us about Future Terror, the party where you are a resident.
A very small number of friends and I, with DJ Nobu at its center, operate it in a DIY fashion. We've reached our 17th year, thanks to the support of fans who look forward to it and gather from all over Japan for every show. This year we are planning an event in October and at the end of the year, and the concepts will be different. While I can't necessarily say that the situation with Japan's scene is great, there are many talented and hard-working DJs and crews that continue to struggle each day. One of Future Terror's most important roles is to introduce them at our party.
What are you up to next?
This June, I'm playing with DJ Nobu and Shackleton at Oval Space in London. It's my first-ever gig in Europe, which I'm really excited about. I'm also supposed to play in Vietnam in August, which should be quite interesting. Also confirmed are gigs all over Japan: Yamagata, Okinawa, Mie and Kyoto. Finally, I'm about to start recording with my new band, Senko. We'll be working with a dub engineer who I've greatly admired since my early teens, so I'm certain it will be an unforgettable experience for me.