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
"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
"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."