Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Big up Shaggy Tojo

Word has it that the Shaggy Tojo produced Earl 16 track "Jah Messenger" (see Sudden Destruction post below) was recently played by the man Jah Shaka himself. Nice that Japanese reggae can be known a foreign for something more than Junko the dancehall queen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dubsensemania -> Dubsentimental?

I heard a little story. Dubsensemania, a Japanese reggae band started out indie, played lots of gigs, built a local following and eventually got signed to Sony Records for a two year contract. Sometime recently that contract ran out. The band is no more, but some members still play together as Dubsentimental.

Nothing exciting there. Theres a bit more to it though. The CDs released by Dubsensemania while signed to Sony were all Copy Control CDs, meaning they wouldnt play in anyone's computer and possibly their car stereo, etc. I dont have numbers to back it up, but no one I know bought those CDs, even fans of the band. The other thing about those CDs is the music did not sound like what the band sounded like live or like their previous studio work. DSM was a very fun live band, but these CDs were .... popish? mainstream j-rock sounding? boring? Talk is also that Sony wanted them to cover some old popular j-pop songs "inna reggae style".

The other bit that may come as a surprise is that being signed to a Japanese major label means the band goes on salary. Contracts here are not built around "X albums in Y" years, but "Band members recieve a monthly salary of Z Yen per month and will damn well do as they are told." Knowing what I know about Sony Music, the company probably owned the band name, merchandising rights and promotional rights as well. As weird as this may sound, for some musicians this can be a good deal. I know a few studio musicians who work for Sony Music as musical salarymen. Everyday they go in and play what they are told to and get enough of a paycheck to feed their families. Lots of studio guys I knew back home would have given their eye teeth for a reliable job like that and for most factory style cookie cutter j-pop the system works. Sell just enough CDs, do the promotional events, commercials and promotion events you are told to and you get a salary.

Evidently this wasnt quite the case with DSM. Some band members supposedly didnt want to keep on without Sony's monthly check, possibly the band no longer owned its name, so as I understand things, most members are working on solo careers or playing together sometimes as Dubsentimental. Have not seen them play lately, cant say how they sound now.

Somewhere I have some video of DSM recording at Ariwa Studio with the Mad Professor himself.

Anyways, wherever the band members are now, I wish them the best. Japan needs live reggae not more children screaming on a mic over backing tapes and calling themselves a soundsystem.

FWIW, all of the above is based on hearsay, take it all with a grain of salt, it might all be wrong.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Did a dub mix for Pole Pole Taxi Soundsystem, might come out on CD next year

Someone asked me to contribute to a compilation CD sponsored by a hamburger place down Yokohama way. The theme is "hamburgers and dub". Never heard of such a thing, but I'm all for promoting the local scene so I'll do that. With any luck it will be available outside Japan as well.

Have not mentioned it yet, but Ras Itak AKA Shaggy Tojo has produced an outernational CD collection "Sudden Destruction" with contributions from Japan's own Mighty Massa and vocalists from UK & JA and work from NYC also.

See list of artists etc here Page in Japanese, but artist list in english. There are a couple of 7"s to go with it, but they are VERY limited.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

some japanese music

El Riddim Conference

One mand act recording some nice demos. Not much information to say other than I got the demo CD at Drum Song in Shimokitazawa.

Check the sounds at http://elriddimconference.hp.infoseek.co.jp