DJ Krush is an OG. Like Yakuza OG. He thankfully opted out of the gang life early and, after being inspired by American hip hop culture, went on to pioneer the craft in his homeland of Japan. After more than 20 years later and a stack of exquisite albums, the only felony he’s involved in now is being criminally underrated.
I had a jovial chat with him and his translator about his latest album, influences and touring.
David Sullivan: Are you looking forward to your upcoming Australia tour?
DJ Krush: Yes I love Australia, whenever people ask me which country I like to perform at, I always say number one is Australia
David Sullivan: It’s been 11 years since your last album, although you have released a number of singles since then, is the album format still important to you?
DJ Krush: Yes, it is important to put out albums because first there is a concept and then based on a concept I make an album, so it’s pretty weird for me to release singles actually.
David Sullivan: I see, so your new album is called The Butterfly Effect, is the concept of chaos theory interesting to you? What is the meaning behind it?
DJ Krush: Back in March 2011, there was a massive earthquake which hit Japan, there was a tsunami and a lot of people got killed; there were power plant issues. I’m getting older and I realised these things happen around us which can change everything, the slightest thing can change peoples lives. Based on that I realised I really needed to think about how to go on with life.
Also all the environment that’s changing, the weather and climate and things like that. Things that are not only caused by human beings but also by acts of God.
David Sullivan: Speaking of nature, I feel like all your albums, although they are electronic, they still feel quite earthly and natural. Do you use field recordings to get this kind of sound?
DJ Krush: I didn’t do any field recording, all the equipment I use is pretty much digital. The concept was to make it sound more analogue, not only the recording but the sound itself, that is how I wanted to make it – digital but with an analogue feel.
David Sullivan: You’ve been around for quite a while and technology has made it’s way into music in this time, how do you harness that? Are you happy to use new technology?
DJ Krush: First of all, I really appreciate the evolution of technology, but there are good things and bad things both with the recent technologies and the old ones. The important thing is to decide how to use it. You don’t want to be used by the technology, you use the technology. You have to really decide how to deal with it.
David Sullivan: There were a couple of moments in the new album where I heard a few J Dilla sounds, are you inspired by him?
DJ Krush: I like J Dilla’s distinct sound, I didn’t try to sound like him but I listen to a lot of music in the past, so maybe that taste in music can reappear here and there in my work
David Sullivan: I read that you gave a record to Guru from Gang Starr, and that started a friendship, do you remember what the record was?
DJ Krush: Ahh, Gang Starr was in Japan with the Canadian group the Dream Warriors, I actually gave a record to DJ Premier, not Guru, I remember it was the instrumental to Wild Style. The vinyl instrumental was not released in the US, it was only out in Japan.
David Sullivan: This is a silly question which I apologise for, I would never usually ask a question for a list, but, speaking of DJ Premier, would you have a top five American producers?
DJ Krush: Hmmm!! Too many! Definitely DJ Premier, Pete Rock… J Dilla, DJ Shadow for a different perspective, the guys from Low End Theory. Also I really like Free The Robots.
David Sullivan: Ah yes, Free The Robots is on the album, how did you guys collaborate?
DJ Krush: We just did back and forth via email, just sending beats back and forth, adding beats over and over to each other. Things were very smooth.
David Sullivan: How are you feeling about the album now that it’s out?
DJ Krush: The album is finished and released, but I have been pretty busy with touring, it hasn’t soaked in yet. The tour finishes in Spring next year, so when that’s over I’m going to start thinking about another recording.
David Sullivan: Are you still enjoying touring as much as you were when you started?
DJ Krush: I enjoy meeting people and seeing people around the world, having direct feedback from the audience is really awesome. The problem is the food. That’s the only problem!
David Sullivan: You miss the Japanese food when you’re away?
DJ Krush: I’m getting old, when you get old you miss your home food.
David Sullivan: True, I had a lot of ramen in Tokyo and you definitely can’t find it like that anywhere else!
DJ Krush: Haha, oh well that’s bad for you sorry!
Australia & NZ Tour Dates 2016
Saturday 16th January: Main Stage @ Mona Foma festival, Hobart
Sunday 17th January: Faux Mo Club Stage @ Mona Foma festival, Hobart
Thursday 21st January: Neck of the Woods, Auckland
Friday 22nd January: Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Saturday 23rd January: Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Tuesday 26th January: Sydney Festival – Sky Terrace DJ Series @ The Star, Sydney