Title: Deus Ex Machina HARAJUKU Tokyo Sound and Domestic party produced by Kazuki OkuboCulture
In the backstreets of Harajuku lies a popular fashion and cafe spot called “Deus Ex Machina HARAJUKU.” Originally from Australia, “Deus Ex Machina” in Tokyo features a cozy space where people from all over Tokyo can come and enjoy a sun-filled cafe on the first floor surrounded by motorcycles, surfing, snowboard, and skateboard collections throughout. Foreigners and Japanese alike frequent this store, creating a naturally international atmosphere.
Every Friday from 7:00pm to 11:00pm, Deus Ex Machina HARAJUKU features a DJ/Artist event called “Deus Trapdoor.” This space is suddenly transformed into an art gallery opening reception party, a four hour set by a famous DJ, or a foreign artist’s performance when visiting Japan. It is sure to highlight any one’s Friday night in the Harajuku area.
The producer of this event is Kazuki Okubo, a DJ and a aficionado for high quality sound systems, where one can see his style featured in the entire space and event itself. As the face of this establishment and a seasoned barista, he sits down with NOCTIVE to discuss the Japanese nightlife over a freshly made cafe latte
Q: What do you think about the Tokyo Nightlife scene?
A: I think it is definitely heading in the right direction. As the recent increase of foreigners to Japan the nightlife entertainment has also improved too. However, the increased number of interesting events has diluted the industry so that the number of events that everyone can enjoy together has also decreased at the same time. Overall, the number of parties and types of venues has definitely increased so there is a wide selection of events available to choose.
Q: As you are the producer of Deus Ex Machina HARAJUKU’s Deus Trapdoor event, what is the recent direction of this event?
A: Since the beginning of Deus Ex Machina HARAJUKU, we’ve had a DJ Bar event every Friday with the same DJ. However, since upgrading the sound system in July 2018, the program then started featuring DJs of different genres to play at Deus Trapdoor.
Q: As a store of a globally renowned fashion Deus Ex Machina located in the heart of Harajuku, it certainly has a Tokyo-style feel to the entire space wouldn’t you think?
A: The people who come to the store at night think that we are a DJ Bar - where actually, Deus Ex Machina is an apparel brand, and the store concept is based on a cafe. As our customers come from many different countries, I spent a lot of time thinking how I can design the basement space to be a Tokyo Souvenir for people to bring back — a space that becomes a must-go destination for Tokyo visitors.
While people who have some knowledge about music have their own preferences on which club has good music, I wanted to produce a space where people with absolutely no idea about music or don’t go clubbing can easily enjoy themselves. As a result, I thought about what would be the best sound system setup for my guests and I came up with a MADE IN JAPAN’s Sound theme that exemplifies Japanese craftsmanship and thus becomes a souvenir of Japan.
Q: That’s why the entire sound system is a combination of products which are made in Japan, right?
A:Exactly. The entire setup is made by sound systems made by Japanese companies. For example, the mixer is made by ALPHA RECORDING SYSTEM, the speaker is made by TAGUCHI, and the record player needle is NAGAOKA DJ-03HD. The spin needles made by NAGAOKA is made specifically for DJs and produces an amazing organic sound. The ALPHA MUSIQUE mixer can produce a full range sound and so when all three systems are paired together, it produces a sound that is perfect for this space.
By the way, the Taguchi speaker was the first one that we installed and it was a perfect fit for our space.
Q: It seems like the sound system turned out to be highly integrated and creates a very unique quality that can only be found here. I found it interesting that while Deus Ex Machina is a foreign brand, the DJ that plays here are predominantly domestic artists.
A: While there are many Deus Ex Machina satellite shops around the world, each one is localized to its specific location. For example, the shop in Italy mainly features road bikes as the store concept.
Since Japan is famous for its powder snow, we make limited edition snowboards and snow wear for the Japanese market as we don’t have such cold weather in Australia. As a result I started to think about what would be the best way to create an event in Tokyo that follows Deus Ex Machina’s localization concept. The answer for me is sound that is completely Made in Japan.
Q: What are some good points about Japan's local culture in your opinion?
A: While I have only been close to the scene in Tokyo, I just feel that there are just so many high-level DJs in this area. In addition, while there are DJs that are considered global superstars in Europe, there are very talented but not widely known DJs playing in small bars in Tokyo. So I think it’s worth visiting different DJ Bars or Clubs and experience the different styles for yourself. Just try, and see if you like it or not.
Q: As the current building is scheduled to be rebuilt starting from the first week of March, what are you planning to do with Deus Trapdoor from then on?
A: All the way until March of this, I plan to have many amazing DJs and live performers grace the Deus Trapdoor stage. One of my favorite DJs, DJ CMT, who commonly plays at large scale clubs and parties will also be performing at Deus Trapdoor. Being able to enjoy the music from these DJs in this kind of space is such an unique experience in my opinion.
As we are not a club, we can only do events for 4 hours from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. One very good DJ can play from the beginning to last and create an amazing party the entire night. Our special point is that anyone can stop by for a small drink and dance on Friday nights after work while enjoying amazing DJ’s.
Q: Especially now, I have a feeling that if we go to Dues Trapdoor on a Harajuku Friday night, we can definitely have a good time.
A: while it is sometimes hard to enter a club or DJ bar, I feel it is perfect for Deus Ex Machina to be an easy venue for anyone to come enjoy our space.
For example if you enjoy DJ CMT at our location then it will be a great next step to check out his music at the actual club next time.
Q: Do you feel Japanese nightlife should become a certain way for the better?
A: Since the 2000’s I have been from the start of the club scene and experienced the excitement of young people to the music during that time. During that time, it was an experience in itself to be able to get into the venue and I personally want to experience that type of passion yet again. At the same time, I hope to see different types of venues and different types of parties for people to enjoy attending.
I also feel that as we start seeing the next generation of trend starters in the industry, entirely new scenes will start appearing. When the complication of Hudson River or Turntables on the Hudson was popular, my friend started Turntables on the Sagamigawa which is located near the Sagami river. Even if it is a small project, I hope more people start something fun.
■Deus Ex Machina HARAJUKU「Deus Trapdoor」
Deus Ex Machina HARAJUKU located in the heart of Harajuku itself will be holding Dues Records event every Friday night. Talented local Japanese DJ’s will be spinning during the entire four hour span for your utmost enjoyment. We will be open from 7:00pm to 11:00pm with 500 yen drinks with an open dance floor and chill space for all of our guests. On the way back from shopping in Harajuku is a perfect time to check out this nightlife entertainment scene. From April 2020, be on the lookout for the opening of Dues Cafe in Asakusa!
Address:3-29-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo JAPAN
▷Tokyo spots recommended by Okubo-san
＜ 1 ＞ Cafe Apres-midi
Cafe Apres-midi was started by Hashimoto Toru-san, who supervised the 90’s nite series million seller series FREE SOUL. His modern DJ Cafe and Bar is located in Shibuya’s Fire Street and is only open on Fridays and weekends. Okubo-san recommends coming here on Fridays as the mature atmosphere is perfect for enjoying the music.
Address:Inter Bld.2 5F, 1-9-11 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Japan
Open:Mon~Turs Close, Fri 19:00~25:00, Fri 19:00~24:30, Sat 11:30~23:30, Sun 11:30~19:00
＜ 2 ＞ COUNTER CLUB
Another recommendation by Okubo-san is a DJ Bar in Shimokitazawa called Counter Club. While it opened in November of 2019, it is part of the same group as the popular Solfa club in Nakameguro. Known for its DJs, drinks, and atmosphere, guests get into the mood just after one drink. This bar has similarities with my store as it also uses Taguchi’s speakers in a cozy space set perfectly into the town itself. As a result, I have very high expectations as an up and coming spot in Tokyo.
Address:SY Bld 2F, 5-29-15 Daisawa, Setanaga-Ku, Tokyo Japan
Open:Mon Close, Tus~Thur 20:00~Midnight, Fri / Sat 21:00~Morning, Sun Ask
▷Music from Deus Records