Richard Pettauer on Fri, 5 Feb 1999 00:46:37 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> DJ Krush: Perfection from Japan

I did this email-Interview with Krush a week ago. He's a very
interesting musician, and this interview is part of a series
I do for a piece called "The DJ be the Writer" about
Electronic Music that I'm working on currently. Enjoy!


DJ Krush: Perfection from Japan

DJs are an important part of the electronic music scene.
Japanese drum'n'base would not be known too well in Europe,
if it wasn't for DJ Krush, who proved to be a perfectionist
handycraftsman of sounds.
With his new release "Kakusei" ("Awakening") he returns to
purely instrumental means to realize his vision of a
universal musical code.
His style is as characteristic as his permanent switching
between Drum'n'Base, Trip Hop, Hip Hop and ambient
In his creative approach towards recombination and
alienation of sampled textures he points the focus at the
originality that's part of the musician and not of the
hardware, as conventional understanding of music sometimes
His walls of sound reminds one of fractal graphics,
unfolding their complexity in the smallest of pieces. He
combines his aiming for perfection with a seemingly musical
minimalism, resulting in abstract intentions that not only
have to be heard, but to be thought.
When Slavoj Zizek says about Hip Hop, that "the subject is
reduced to a happy faced idiot, who isn't capable of
anything but meaningless murmur" (Slavoj Zizek: Das
Unbehagen im Subjekt. Passagen 1998), he overseas the
subliminal dimension in popular culture. The conditions of
its production as seen by Adorno and Horkheimer (Max
Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno: Kulturindustrie, Aufklärung als
Massenbetrug. In: Dies.: Dialektik der Aufklärung. Frankfurt
am Main 1998) are no longer sufficient to explain the
manipulative patchwork process that is typical of electronic
Only the generation of musicians, who accept hardware as an
instrument without pessimistic cultural fear will also
accept the new, distinctive dimension of electronic music.
DJ Krush is part of this generation.

?: It took you some time after your released "meiso" to
finish your next album. How would you characterize the main
changes that have happened in between the two releases?

DJ Krush: I had decided that the next album after "MiLight"
will be an instrumental. I felt like "MiLight" had completed
the "first stage" of my music, and I wanted to go back to
the basics again. I felt that with an instrumental music, I
can bring out all of my flavors. Compared to my second
album, which was also an instrumental, "KAKUSEI" has been
put together with more caution and precision to each and
every sound, as if looking & placing every bit with a

?) After listening to "kakusei", I got the impression that
your sound has become more ambient-like, sometimes very
quiet, but always combining scratches and samples in very
subliminal way. Would you call yourself a perfectionist?

DJ Krush: Basically, when I was working on the album I had
the intention of making perfect tracks. But it's almost
impossible to make the perfect album, espcially when there
are many guest artists. So although I am in a sense a
perfectionist, I haven't been able to create a perfect work
yet. What I do though, is to pay attention to the smallest
of details. Sometimes it may sound like a simple track, but
it has complex details to every sound you hear if you listen
to it really carefully.

?: Is "kakusei" a Japanese word or did you make it up? If
yes, then why this titel? If no, what does it mean?

DJ Krush: "Kakusei" is a Japanese word which means
awakening. Human beings doesn't use a lot of their right
brain. I wanted to get those right brains working. I wanted
to come up with an album that one would have to feel with
their brain, something you don't listen with your ears. To
tell the truth, I wouldn't have cared if this album didn't
have a title.

?) Electronic Music, in Austria especially Drum'n'Base, has
become extremely popular during the last two or three years.
One can sense a shift in the understanding or the patterns
of interpretation of music, going hand in hand with the
popularization of electronic music. Listeners, who wouldn't
have called a DJ a musician a couple of years ago are now
arguing about the skills of the turntabelists. How did you
notice this shift?

DJ Krush: In the past, DJs have been told that all they do
is play other people's records, even myself. But there were
always musicians that respected DJs. In Japan, I worked with
young Japanese bands. The band members thought of me as a
musician who creates sounds that cannot be made from musical
instruments, and not so much as a DJ. There are a lot of
band that include a DJ as a part of their member. DJs
ourselves don't see a gap between us and other musicians.
But there are still the "old-type" musicians that draws a
line between us and just would not approach us.      The
same kind of things could be said to some young hiphoppers
too, though I see a lot of the younger DJs are more open to
trying new things now.
It's worth a try, and if it turns out bad, then that's that.
For a DJ, being in a band is very educational. There's so
much you can learn from the experience. There will be so
much more interactions between the members & the sounds. You
need to find what you can do within that environment. As I
have said before, there isn't as much distance between DJs
and musicians now, and so the audience is also getting used
to seeing more of such interactions between DJs and bands.

?: Public Enemy released their new single on the internet,
more and more musicians start to creatively reflect the
possibilities of new media, stating that electronic media
must be seen as a whole and can't be separated into music /
media etc... What is your opinion on that and how does the
hardware you use influence your work?

DJ Krush: It's probably true, especially overseas than in
Japan. As far as the technology goes, I have to say that as
a DJ, there's no denying that I depend on it. But no matter
how advanced the computer is, or how electronic the
instruments may be, if the person can't bring out their
color, atmosphere & themselves into their music, the track's
no good. One must realize that ultimately, a human being
controls the instruments. That makes all the difference.
I don't say that the hardware doesn't have any influence on
my music at all, cuz that's ultimately where the sound is
produced. It's like the central station. What hardware you
choose to use is based on how you like the sound it
produces, how comfortable it is in using it, and how it fits
to your use. Using a different hardware would probably
change the outcome of the sound, but I don't think it makes
much difference in terms of your originality or
distinctiveness. The sound all starts from what you sample
and what you do with it. I think that whatever hardware you
use, your originality or characteristics will be revealed. I
mean, if that's not the case, then you can't call it your
originality, can't you? So whatever hardware I use to make
my music, it should be something so that anyone could tell
that it's KRUSH, from the mood and the atmosphere the sound

?: What is your approach towards music? DJ Spooky says that
music is language and vice versa. Would you call yourself
rather "writer" or "musician"?

DJ Krush: I like this saying. I wanted to stress the
statement here by Spooky. I do believe that music is
language, and language is music. When I make instrumental
music, I have in mind that music is a language. I believe
that music is the universal laguage that everyone on the
globe could comprehend, making everyone dance, enjoy, etc.
If someone on one side of the globe creates a sad track,
another person on the other side of the globe would hear the
track and know that it's a sad track. I have faith in that.
I believe that if anything, music can bring the world
I think I'm more of a "musician". I have different images in
mind when I'm creating tracks. But I don't think in words. I
create sounds that you can feel. There are so much that I
can't explain or express in words. Maybe I'm just not good
at it. That's probably why I make music.

?: What about the electronic-music-scene in Japan?

DJ Krush: There are now Japanese Drum'n'Bass players. Until
recently, It was all imports from US or Europe, but now I
can find ones just as well in Japan. Japan still hasn't had
a big break with electro music. But the young people now are
growing up in an technologically advanced time. When these
young people grow up and the next generation comes, the
electro-music scene may show a great change. Electro-music
has just started in Japan. The techniques of Japanese
musicians are advancing, but the instruments aren't catching
up to them.
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