The Japanese Dance Music Scene According to Luciano — a DJ-superstar that South America has Given Birth ToMusic
Luciano is a DJ-superstar based in Switzerland. Raised in Chile, he has witnessed the expansion of the dance music scene in South America over the past 20-30 years. Since the turn of the century, he has been periodically visiting Japan. What does the Japanese nightlife scene look like to someone so worldly? We asked Luciano while he was in Japan for the JAPAN NIGHTLIFE MEDIA [NOCTIVE] LAUNCH PARTY, NEW DAWN BREAKING, that was held at the club ageHa in Shinkiba.
—It’s been a while since your last visit - how do you like it?
LUCIANO (hereinafter, L) I’m really happy to be in Japan again, I visited Japan numerous times between 2010 and 2015. In the past four years, I’ve begun touring all over the world, and I didn’t get a chance to visit Japan. I’m also happy that I got to connect with the Japanese people on music knowledge and the evolution of technology, and that I get to visit Japan like this. Japan is one country that I would like to visit at least once a year.
―What do you plan on doing while you are in Japan?
L I don’t plan my schedule that much. I’m here to DJ, first and foremost, so I think about ways to focus on that. If I still have some free time, I like visiting Shinto shrines before my DJ performances. It helps me meditate and find my center before a gig. The atmosphere is perfect because I play a lot of organic genres of dance music - in addition to house, techno, and minimal.
―I believe you’ve experienced the nightlife scenes of places all over the world. What is your take on the scene in Japan?
L Each destination has a different perspective, so it is difficult to compare them. The music is different as well. I think the people in Japan, in particular, have a deep understanding of electronic music. They tend to enjoy experimental and futuristic types of music. I always feel that the listeners in Japan are more advanced than in other countries.
―Do you think the people are open-minded?
L Yes - I think that is true, in general - and the people are also into culture and fashion. I think they tend to enjoy experimental sounds over the mainstream stuff that is played on the radio. I like experimental and futuristic sounds, and it seems acceptable to try those out when I am in Japan. It always amazes me how connected to the music the Japanese crowd is.
―What would you like more of from the nightlife scene in Japan?
L From the 90’s to the early 2000s there was a thriving club scene in Japan. There were different types of clubs, like YELLOW and LIQUIDROOM, and there were many record shops. I used to play at those venues. However, the Japanese laws took those venues down, and the arrival of mp3 made it tough for the record industry. In order for the nightlife scene to flourish again, I think the audience needs to listen to a lot of music and practice. I think festivals are a good place for practice. Getting the audience to be open-minded, and to enjoy all genres, is just as important as teaching them their Japanese roots because Japan is an important country for dance music in general. Japanese artists have discovered new sounds and each genre has evolved in its own specific way - this is another thing that amazes me. I played at a party called Chaos with Fumiya Tanaka and his precision is something I’ve always wanted. He was great - he seemed to be rooted in the local culture, but ready for international stages at the same time.
―Is there somewhere you would recommend readers to go to?
L It’s tough to pick one, but in terms of record shops, I would go to Technique. I also enjoy going to Harajuku. When I first went to the electronic music store FIVE G - which specializes in synthesizers - I thought I walked into a museum. I guess it’s a hidden gem. When I visited Japan in 2003, I toured clubs and bars in 11 cities, including Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Fukushima, and Okinawa - that’s when I really got hooked on Japan.
―What do you think about the Japanese nightlife scene, including the club scene?
L I think there’s a lot of hope. Social media has definitely changed things, but I think it is more of a benefit to society today. Sometimes it can present some places with no redeeming qualities as interesting places to go to, but that’s also good. I just think it’s important to shed light on the back-to-roots kinds of things - necessary stuff.
―What is your favorite nightlife activity?
L Dancing! I love to dance!
―By the way, what kind of teenager were you?
L I was trouble (laugh), but music helped me out. I was really pure about music. I’ve been living in Switzerland for a few years now, but I grew up in Chile. In Chile, the dance music scene was pretty underground until the 90s. One-hundred attendees was considered a big crowd. Things changed in the 2000s after the dance music scene flourished in South America. Now, dance music is really popular in Chile. Everyone goes out to dance on the weekends, and that’s the kind of time and place I was DJ-ing in.
―Tell us about your summer DJ schedule.
L I have a few residencies in Ibiza during the summer. I will play every Friday at a party called Vagabundos at Amnesia. Also, I am currently working on a new track featuring the Jamaican singer Luciano. He sings reggae, but I want to merge reggae with electronic dance music. I think it will be a special collaboration - Luciano vs Luciano - like Motown or soul.
2-2-10 Shinkiba, Kouto-ku, Tokyo Japan