TREKKIE TRAX: Restarting after a burnoutMusic
The music scene in Japan is often referred to as the Galapagos, denoting that music has evolved uniquely, isolated from the rest of the world. Many producers and DJs in the club scene, no different from those in the fields of anime, game, and pop music, are struggling to make it. The internet-based label “TREKKIE TRAX” is no exception. While EDM took the world by storm, young creators inspired by bass music, game music and peculiar Japanese techno emerged. Many up-and-coming artists like Carpainter, Masayoshi Iimori, and Fellsius belong to the label, and none of the sounds they producer are quite like those of other regions – even compared to other Asian nations. Members of the label have managed to get releases from other prestigious imprints such as Diplo’s Mad Decent and DJ Snake’s Premiere Classe, and all seems well. In this article, we will retrace their steps along with a report of their 7th-anniversary party.
One of the largest clubevents in Tokyo, ageHa, boasts a capacity of 2,400 clubbers. Located at the end of a fairly long walk from the Shinkiba Station, the venue held the 7th-anniversary party of TREKKIE TRAX along with the bass-music centered party “WORLD CLASS.” San Holo was featured as the guest DJ, who showcased a hybrid set using a guitar and CDJs. EDM shows, which have been ridiculed as “just pushing a button,” are gradually evolving. San Holo, who performed in front of a jam-packed ageHa dancefloor, showed us what dance music could be today.
The members of TREKKIE TRAX, on the other hand, showcased the diverse sounds the label encompasses, from bass music to house and techno. Although not exclusively, Carpainter can be categorized as techno, while Masayoshi Iimori is in charge of bass music, and Fellsius house. Regarding the directions that the artists are heading, label owner futatsuki comments, “we want to start from ground zero, again. Festival music is declining, so we are constantly talking about how we want to proceed with our label.” By the way, the 7th-anniversary party was the largest event they have ever produced. Interestingly, the label is upscaling their operations while the artists are diversifying.
futatsuki also has some things to say about the “Galapagos” circumstances of the Japanese music scene. “There are several decades worth of Japanese pop-music culture influencing the scene, which is completely isolated from the context of the music scene abroad. Of course, we keep an eye out for the trends overseas, and we invite international artists to perform in Japan, but I still think a good portion of the music is made specifically for the market in Japan.” The chances are that this month’s music chart in Japan is completely different from the one in your country. One could use positive words like “originality” and “identity” to express this situation, but there are downsides to this. For starters, if your target audience is the world, it would be difficult to sell your tracks in Japan. I have personally seen this happen too often.
Seimei, who is the Co-Founder of TREKKIE TRAX, explains, “I used to think we should just focus on the market abroad and do whatever we like, but now I’m starting to reevaluate the potential of the domestic market. I think we have reached a new phase as a label.”
“To tell you the truth, our operation burnt out two years ago,” futatsuki explains. “Because we don’t release a specific genre, we lost sight of what music to release next, and what kind of party to throw. It took about a year for us to get back on our feet. Many of our friends that used to party with us left the club scene because they started to work.” This may be something peculiar about the scene in Japan. How is it where you live? Do people stop partying once they’ve graduated from college?
“We’re back to the basics. As Seimei said, it feels like a new phase for us. We’ve been around for seven years, and it feels like we’ve come full circle. Perhaps we need to release tracks that, as TREKKIE TRAX, we can confidently say we love. We’re also building a new fan base from scratch,” continues futatsuki. Amidst the chaos that is the Japanese music scene, I expect them to overcome all obstacles and open up a new frontier, and rise again from their burnout.