Tokyo offers some of the most interesting and underground clubbing experiences, with venues like Contact and Vent taking the lead in industry heavyweight sets. It’s no surprise that Japan has started to unveil some of its homegrown talent of late, and one of those to take note of, is Risa Taniguchi.
Born and raised in Tokyo, she has been surrounded by the city’s electric atmosphere throughout her life drawing inspiration from the cities underground scene and playing clubs including Vent, Contact and Womb. Classically trained, Risa is multi-talented and a skilled player of the piano, trombone and violin and admits to always playing the darker side of even classical music, leaning towards minor rather than major.
Recognition for her first internationally signed track “What Are You Doing” came when she played for the very first time in 2017 at SXSW. The track was included on a VA which was released on Lyase Recordings was heavily supported by Daniel Avery, Maceo Plex, Perc and Amelie Lens.
She has a special sound and style of production. Her tracks are dark and distorted, with abrasive bass with some elements of acid. Using her own vocals on many of her tracks, she is setting the mark when it comes to eerie, linear heads down techno.
Read the short interview we had with her while listening to the lastest mix she did for our Body’s Up Radioshow.
WWD: Risa, welcome back. You did a mix for us earlier this year for our Body’s Up Radio Show and loved it. Can you let us know what has been going on for you since then?
A lot! Wow, things have been really busy. I had my first track out on Second State’s SUM VA, then another track on Kneaded Pains and Polymath. These are all labels I love and owned by amazing artists, so I’m really happy how things are going. Thanks for having me do a mix for you! It was a lot of fun to make….
WWD: Can you describe your sound in just three words?
Dark, Solid and Passionate
WWD: You made your debut on 3 labels already this year – Second State, Kneaded Pains and Polymath. What made you choose these labels?
It’s quite simple for me – the DJs and producers behind each of these labels are all ones who I admire, along with all the music which is released on each label from so many talented established and up and coming artists. This might sound a bit cliché but I really wanted to release my tracks on labels who really are into my sound, and appreciate it. Sometimes, it can be hard for me being based in Japan to figure out who is supporting my tracks.
WWD:A lot of your tracks feature female vocals, we heard that you always use your own – is this true? Do you think this gives your tracks a different element? What else sets you apart?
Yes, that is true! I usually get inspiration when chatting with friends, maybe on the phone or out to dinner. The vocabulary used can be different from each person, depending on where they are from and our social situation. Its maybe my most cherished and individual elements, and everyone’s voice is 100% unique to them, so why not use it to your advantage.
WWD: Being born and raised in Tokyo, do you think this has made entering music and DJ’ing career harder? If so, why?
Good question and I would say yes. There are several reasons for this, but one of the main ones is because of the language and cultural barrier. In Japan only about 10% of the population actually speak English, which is the worlds and also music industries common language. Luckily since being a child, I was always interested in overseas cultures and languages, so I studied English to ensure I knew how to communicate with others when they visit Japan or I travel abroad. With the industry here, it’s very segregated – you’ll release an interview, or an EP, or have a big event – but it’s all going to be in Japanese and on Japanese websites, which do not reach the UK, EU and elsewhere. Japan sees seniority as an important part of our culture, so you cannot really headline as a main act, or be at the top of your game, if you are younger. There are some exceptions, but this applies to most cases. I also changed my alias when I got my first release on Clash Lion, so that I could depart from my old career under DJ RS, so it was a fresh start in many ways.
WWD: Everyone knows Tokyo has a lot of amazing clubs, but can you provide some up and coming artists we should be watching out for from Japan?
I’d recommend Miyu Hosoi, who is an upcoming audio & visual artist based in Japan. Very talented and unique, she even performs at an installation stage with a surround audio system which is astonishing.
WWD: Can we look to see you playing in Europe anytime soon? If so, where?
In October I will perform at ADE for Second State’s showcase at De Marktkantine. It’ll be my very first Amsterdam gig, and I am so excited to be performing for Pan-Pot’s label showcase, after I opened for them in Tokyo earlier this year. They are such nice guys and made me feel so welcome.
WWD: Lastly, would do you think you would be doing as a job by now if music was not an option?
It’s hard to think of something outside of a music domain, so maybe I’d be a pianist because piano has always been one of my best friends in my life and I can’t live without her. But yeah, If I should somehow come up with some idea outside of music, I think I would do some marketing jobs within the fashion industry, because I like fashion (my mom was a designer) and analyzing things.
Buy her latest EP out on Polymath here