Takaaki Itoh has been one of the most prolific artists in the past decades from Japan. We are ecstatic to present the first contribution to our MNMT Podcast series by the label owner of WOLS. We’ve had the pleasure to share some words with Takaaki in the form of an interview, which can be read below. The mix prepared for MNMT shows Itoh’s intricate mixing abilities, as well as his musically versatile side, diving into deep, yet danceable territories and showcasing his darker side. Enjoy.
1. Hi Takaaki, thanks for agreeing to this interview and making a mix for our podcast. How have you been?
I have been checking MNMT all the time. Very happy to be a part of it.
2. You have been producing for more than 20 years. In those years, your style in producing has changed quite a bit over time. Could you tell us a bit about how your sound has evolved over time and what your influences were that made you decide to change it up?
No strong decision to change on my mind. Actually, I used to play more harder than my current style and also produced this style. Maybe because I got older, I changed to a more mellow style. But for DJing and producing both, I don’t categorise the style I play in, be it hard or deep or any other style. I always pick up music which is good and cool.
3. What is your process when producing music? What do you do to become inspired?
Its like creating a sculpture. I start from zero and always keep changing what I’m working on when in the process of making it, until something comes out that I’m happy with. The final shape turns out never to be like what I was expecting in the beginning.
When I’m at the club as well I also get inspiration and influence, listening to a good DJ inspires me.
4. Can you tell us a bit about artists that have had a huge influence on you when you were younger, prior to when you started producing music? Could you share some tracks from these artists and explain how it influenced you at a young age?
Jeff mills influenced strongly me at a very young age. After him followed Steve Bicknell as an inspiration, his old releases from cosmic label opened my eyes.
I’m more on DJ than producer side. Their tracks was intend to DJ using as a tool. It’s what I like.
Steve Bicknell – Lost Recordings #1 – Why? + For Whom? – Cosmic
Jeff Mills – The Purpose Maker – Axis
5. It seems that in Japan the nightlife has less freedom to flourish than in Europe. (For example clubs being raided due to licensing issues) Do you agree with this and could you share us what you think is the reason is for this?
Its very vague. Law for licensing is fixed, but really gray. Because they don’t know what are the good things and what are the bad things occuring in the night scene exactly, the raids are quite arbitrary. If police come to check up on the club, we feel like bad lottery winner. A lot of people not participating in nightlife have the perception that clubbing is evil and think ‘why dare you guys do so.’ Narrow minded stuff.
6. How do you feel about the current state of the Japanese techno scene? Are young people still going out to discover new music and talented DJs and producers, or do you feel it is becoming less than before and why do you think this is the case?
I think the Japanese scene has a different sense for music. I don’t say its good or bad. But that sense forms the characteristics of the scene.
7. Could you tell us a bit about your favourite gigs (both festival and club nights) that you have played over the years in your extensive DJ career?
I like to play in Berlin, playing in Berghain and Tresor are always great.
Currently, also Bassiani in Tbilisi, Georgia is amazing venue.
As a festival, Freqs of Nature in Germany was great.
8. Recently I wrote an article on emerging producers from Japan, which can be found here Are there some other up-and-coming producers from Japan that you feel should should be mentioned? If so, whom?
There are a lot of good DJs in japan and they are spreading all over the world now. And new producer, Shingo Suwa is good and new.
9. Can you tell us a bit what people can expect from you in the near future, what are your upcoming gigs and releases planned?
New EP from my label WOLS will come later this year and some remixes for other labels. Gigs, I can go to Europe for a tour from japan quite often. I really appreciate being able to do this.
10. Can you also tell us a bit about the mix you have made for our podcast?
I tried to make an essential mix. I love what people in MNMT like.