Q&A with Antal after 18 Years of Returning to JapanMusic
The soulful DJ from the Netherlands has been returning to Japan every year for 18 years. Today, he shares with us some of his favorite things in Japan.
Mixmag (hereinafter, M): Rush Hour and Japan have some history now. Do you remember your first visit to Japan?
Antal (hereinafter, A): I think I went to Japan for the first time in 2002. Taro Akiyama (Sleeping Bug Records) invited us, and I played at La Fabrique in Shibuya (closed in 2010). I remember being super-hyped about my first trip to Japan. I’ve visited Japan every year since then, and now I can’t count how many times I’ve been. I go two or three times a year now.
I think my relationship with Japan has been great for a long time. Projects like the Rainbow Disco Club (hereafter, RDC), as well as record shops we do business with - like disc union ( https://diskunion.net/ ) and Newton Records ( https://www.newtone-records.com/ ) - come to mind. To be frank, I think the dance music market in Japan is shrinking, and this isn’t limited to stuff put out by Rush Hour. However, there are many great parties and clubs, and that amazes me every time I visit. VENT, where I played last time, is also a good club.
M: You’ve played at venues all over Japan including Tokyo and Osaka. Is there a particularly memorable gig that stands out?
A: The RDCs, for sure, but in terms of indoor parties, I’d say the Rush Hour label showcase we did at Daikanyama AIR (closed). I got to perform with mainstay artists Hunee and Soichi Terada. We got some great reactions, and it is a fond memory for me.
M: It’s the tenth year for the RDC. I think the presence of you and Rush Hour is important to the event now. What do you recall from the first performance?
A: My first performance at the RDC came about because DJ Knock of the Sound Of Vast ( http://soundofvast.com/ ) label invited me. Rush Hour handles the distribution of his label’s records, so we were friends and business partners. Before he returned home, we went to Trouw (one of the top clubs in Amsterdam until it closed in 2015) and Panorama Bar in Berlin and had some great times. When RDC moved its location to Higashi-Izu Cross Country Course in 2015, I was offered a chance to perform for the first time. I performed as part of the Rush Hour All Stars (Antal, San Proper, and Young Marco). I’ve been invited every year since - like, “Let’s do this again!”
My family joins me for the RDCs every year - my kids love the festival. Higashi-Izu is such a beautiful place. I think it was the first year - my daughter woke up early in the morning because of jet lag, so I went out for a walk around the venue. We found a restaurant with an amazing view, and we went back to the hotel and returned to the restaurant with my wife and my other daughter. We had breakfast and took in the beautiful scenery. That is another unforgettable memory.
M: How did forming the Rush Hour All Stars come about?
A: That was actually proposed by Knock (laugh). When Rush Hour received a booking offer for Trouw’s closing party, we decided to perform together as the three main artists of the label, since there were so many artists scheduled to perform. So, we formed the unit back then, but it remains a Japan-exclusive unit!
M: Are there things other than the gigs that you look forward to when visiting Japan?
A: Other than the gigs…? Everything! I like Japanese culture, Japanese food, Japanese sake, Japanese people… I’m always looking forward to meeting up with the members of RDC, and going to Japan is like a holiday for me. I try to find new restaurants every time I go. I’ve even been to the ramen festival. Also, I’m always looking for good music, and Tokyo is a great place to enjoy fashion and architecture as well. I love Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Japan is so much fun, even just looking around is fun. Everything is high-quality and inspiring. What I experience in Japan energizes me for when I go back to the Netherlands.
Photo : Atsushi Harada
Special thanks : Yasuharu Fujiwara(wakyo / otembasake)
Interview & Text：Kana Miyazawa