"I believe DJs have a role to create a space where people can escape from their daily life and release themselves"
Risa Taniguchi, surely is one of the biggest names that recently emerged on the techno scene. We had a chance to talk to her, so enjoy your reading and check out her latest releases.
Hey Risa! Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day?
Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to chat to me ☺ I am in Tokyo at the moment. Which is where I have grown up my whole life. I just woke up and made a nice café latte to ensure my morning starts off right.
How did you first get into electronic music? Was it your first real musical love or were you a keen listener of all sounds when you were younger?
My first musical experience was classical. I have been playing piano for about 20 years now, but I never had listened to electronic music before I was a student. It was at University and during my studies when I first heard it when my friend took me to a local club in Tokyo.
What were your first experiences as a DJ?
It was a small venue located in Shinjuku, which is in the center of Tokyo. The club was called Club Wire, however it closed about 10 years ago. I played with a friend of mine, and I remember that I was so nervous my hands were trembling with nerves.
How did you start experimenting with electronic music?
I was listening to the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy a lot around that time, but it was right after my first club experience that I became really fascinated by the way electronic music was made. I stated to get some savings together and spent it all on buying a second-hand pair of Pioneer’s DJ rigs. I practiced in my room all the time, as I had no-where else to do this.
How did your parents react to all this?
At first, they were very surprised because right before that I was always listening to Classical music, and of course they are very different. After a few years passed since I started DJ’ing initially, they then told me that they actually met each other in a club in Shinjuku!! Hahaha. They can’t therefore blame me for loving the music, and the scene, as they both did too when they were younger.
How much and in what way did Tokyo have an impact on your music?
Back when I started clubbing, fashion and the club scene in Tokyo were deeply connected with each other. I also worked in a high-end designer clothing shop in Tokyo when I was younger, so yes, I’d say Tokyo did and still does have a big impact on my career.
Are your DJ sets flexible or inflexible?
I’d say flexible, and to be flexible I always carry tons of music folders in my USBs.
How would you define your sound?
I always find it hard to answer to this question to be honest, but I’d say my music represents songs that I want to play in my set. And I tend to focus on drums than melody.
Do you think DJs can ever be true artists, or how would you describe their role?
Of course! As long as they have their passionate about their music and have confidence on their skills. I believe DJs have a role to create a space where people can escape from their daily life and release themselves.
Do you let yourself get carried away / influenced by the environment and by the people, or do you prepare your set?
I don’t usually prepare whole my set to adapt my music with the environment on the spot, however, to make adjustment quickly in the booth flexibly, I always try to make separate folders listed under my own categories. I guess this can be seen as ‘preparation’ in many ways, but maybe more just to be organised. I sometimes picture a story to myself before the set too.
Are the travels and your altered living conditions have an influence on the way you are producing?
Yes, the current conditions makes me focus on producing when I’m in my home studio with the time restraints.
Would you like to share a set? Can you tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
Here’s one of my recent set made in my studio with Ableton Live for Secret Cinema’s GEM FM:
What makes a good mix to you?
By understanding each song I play in depth. I try to listen to all the songs in my folders many times before I actually play them.
Who or what influenced you to get into the music industry?
My friends, who brought me to a venue for the first time, and who produce music.
What have been the most influential factors on your career so far?
A few people who support me all the time, and who listen to my songs and give me their feedback.
How do you search for the music that you play in your sets, and how much time do you spend looking for music?
There are many ways to do that, for example when I listen to DJ sets from artists across the world and find my favorite songs from their set, or from my daily browsing on Beatport. I usually check new music once a few days.
Where was your favorite place to play, what was your most interesting gig, and for what reason?
When I was staying in London for a few months a friend of mine there invited me to a small bar where some DJs play and I happened to play some music. I forgot the name of the bar, but it was really interesting one for me, because of the local vibe and I was very happy to see they were enjoying my music in the UK.
What makes you happy?
Eating food and drink with my homies in my city. Also, when I can create a nice song.
What could you tell us about the following labels and artists?
It was really awesome to release one of my EP on his label, even though we had never communicated before, he liked my songs and let me release it on his label. Awesome person and awesome music.
He always influences me especially with his sets. Always smooth transition and amazing selection. I also like his early music a lot.
Charlotte de Witte
When I found she played my songs I was really happy. She came to Japan a few times and I talked to her and enjoyed her set a lot. She’s always been really keen to support new artists, so I appreciate that. I also really like the concept of her label KNTXT.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you keep there?
Actually, I haven’t got out of my home recently due to the Corona Virus outbreak, and instead of going to shops, I have been buying much more music on Beatport.
How do you deal with CV19 confinement with your work?
I try to consider this situation as an opportunity to stay at home and focus on production more than ever. I did have some nice shows, which have had to be cancelled, which is a shame, but we all know that everyone is in the same situation and they can be re-scheduled. I have enjoyed producing a lot, and what has come out of this experience musically at least. It's a very concerning and uncertain time for many, so I hope this is over soon.
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
This situation made me explore what exactly is my role and what should I do as a musician. With this outbreak, I’m a bit concerned that there might be a big deviation among artists on their insights and thoughts. But I believe after the virus is gone and everything is back to normal, there must be a huge celebration across world and that I get to see some of my industry friends again and get back on the dancefloors.
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
I put my favorite songs together on this Sportify playlist.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’ve been working on an EP and just started live streaming from my tiny studio.