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de-VICE the 3rd

DJ KENTARO enters the picture

home on da range: 2007
the rambunctious de-VICE philosophy spiel
de-VICE back issues
a quickie with PLAID
a quickie with MR. SCRUFF
HAPPY FEET movie review
michael arias on TEKKON KINKREET
DJ KENTARO enters the picture
MAD PROFESSOR huffs and puffs
the de-VICE answer to Tarantino's DEATH PROOF
ZUZUSHI 2 melbourne vs. tokyo
KID CALMDOWN and SLEEPY ROBOT: sydney's coolest djs?
ISNOD is good
J-MACHISMO: top men in Japanese anime cinema
DJ NEO: acid meister
photographic exhibition KEITAI KOUTURE
IF? Records gets all shameless & impudent
movie review: PAPRIKA
SON OF ZEV: who's your dad?
GENIUS PARTY: new anime from Studio 4C
RYOJI ARAI: the best kids' book ever made into animation?
does DIGITAL PRIMATE have a siege mentality?
just how sweet is KANDYMAN?
jonathan more on COLDCUT
much ado about BASEMENT JAXX
JEFF MILLS: one man spaceship
from the back of the fridge: SI BEGG
from the back of the fridge: GAIJIN BABY
e-us if u really have'ta

text by Andrez Bergen - published in the Daily Yomiuri, 17 March 2007


DJ Kentaro has a yarn to tell about Spank Rock, the current U.S. underground electro/hip-hop outfit still riding high on the strength of last year's album YoYoYoYoYo.

Kentaro, got together with members of the outfit to cut the tracks "Free" and "Space Jungle," for his debut album Enter.

"We got together in my studio in Tokyo, and they started saying they wanted vodka, so we went and got a bottle and recorded the tracks drinking vodka - I think the live, or rough, vibe of the studio came through in the finished sounds," he says.




COLDCUT (2006)



SKALPEL (2006)


Enter is Kentaro's first official artist album, but he's no slouch. He snatched the DMC DJ World Championship in 2002 on the back of a superlative showing as both turntablist and scratcher, and Jonathan More and Matt Black - from renowned veteran British outfit Coldcut -have been singing his mixing praises for years.

Fortunately for this particular deejay, More and Black have also been able to put a swag of money where their mouths are, as they're the guiding lights behind Ninja Tune - the label responsible for unleashing Enter.

"They saw me on tour in 2003," Kentaro says. "Then I played on their Solid Steel show [on the BBC's London Live radio station] in 2004, did a Japan tour with DJ Food, and toured Europe with Coldcut. Then I signed the contract - it's a great relationship."

This relationship led to contact with acts like Spank Rock, too. But being a member of the Ninja Tune posse also means unavoidable contrasts with label-mates like Coldcut, DJ Vadim, Skalpel, Hexstatic, Kid Koala, and Mr. Scruff.

Kentaro asserts that he's unfazed, though.

"I think it's a given that you're going to be compared in the music industry. I just know that if I keep making my own music, it will fit into the Ninja color - the reason why Ninja's such a good label is that everyone has a different style," he explains.

One of the strengths of Enter is its diversity. Layered within the tracks are references to his signature DMC-related deejay forte of turntablism and scratching, exponents of a hip-hop muse. Yet, also filtered into the mix, are contemporary breaks, off-kilter beats, drum 'n' bass, electro and the odd angry sample.

"It was really a case of reflecting my usual music life, without hiding or distorting it in any way," Kentaro says.

So, just how difficult is it for a DMC world champion - whose specialty is the art of manipulating turntables - to change tack, go into the studio, and produce an album using software and rack-mounted machines?

"I actually started producing my own music about six to seven years ago, and found many similar aspects between constructing a [live turntablist] juggle and track composition," Kentaro explains.

"So, from the get-go, I had a lot of fun making tracks and I was also able to play them out when I deejay. I think this was the ideal process for me. Anyway, I really enjoy producing, and think that in many ways it was only natural that this album came to be."

Spank Rock weren't the only artists involved in the album's evolution. Also featured are Little Tempo, New Flesh, the Pharcyde - and fellow Japanese duo Hifana (aka Keizo Fukuda and Jun Miyata), who have conjured up some superb inroads themselves over the past year, both in their live work and studio output.

"I've been doing stuff with them [Hifana] for a long time now, and we have a mutual respect for each other, as well as always enjoying ourselves when we work together. They live quite close by, so we go out quite a lot, too. It's something that's definitely going to continue."

Hailing from Japan means an ongoing exposure to local musical legacies and traditional sounds - think enka, taiko drumming, and the scores to kabuki recitals played on national broadcaster NHK - and Kentaro isn't afraid to cite their collective influence on his own musical palette.

"I really like their distinctive rhythms and melodies," he acknowledges. "When you hear me juggle, I think the beat naturally becomes a similar type of rhythm to those influences. At least, that's what people tell me, anyway."

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