Westerners guide to Japanese electronic music artists – Part 1

We all know it is tuff to follow the music scene nowadays. Ever since the internet matured there is an abundance of music, artists, DJs, etc. What I like about it is the availability, but I miss going to record stores and the hardware (read CDs, records, tapes etc), so I am doing that when I travel to Amsterdam, Tokyo, or any other bigger city that still has something worth the name record store. Also, it is obvious that there are geographic differences in what is hot and what is not. However, this post is not about that, it is about Japanese artists that I think is worth mentioning; artists that I have gotten to know visiting Japan over 4 trips, or simply digging for new music to my rekordbox. Maybe I can enlighten some of you with some great artists and some very good tunes to play at your next party, wherever that is in the world. So let us get to it.



Shinichi Osawa:

Shinichi is possibly better known under his Mondo grosso moniker. He originally did US Garage and Deep House with tunes like “Butterfly” and “Don’t let go”. Butterfly is a US Garage track that I prefer in Francois Ks Jazzy Vibe Mix, which goes more Deep and a 4/4 drum with some cool bongas. With “Don’t let go”, I like in the OSJ 12″ Club Mix version, which is a straight forward funky house track. Anyway,  as of late, apparently Shinichi has gone big room.

Shinichi Osawa has done a few remixes as well. The best remix of his, hands down, is the Shinichi Osawa Tokyo Garage Mix of “Romeo” by the Basement Jaxx. A true Garage House killer track that you need to check out.

Tunes to check out:


Jazztronik (Ryota Nozaki – 野崎 良太):

Jazztronik is a free music project lead by Ryota Nozaki, but with no specific members. Since Jazztroniks sound is somewhat undefined, as Ryota, the virtuoso pioano player, the componser and musician, is not bound by any genre, it will never get boring listening to the releases of the project. Jazztronik delivers anything from a traditional house track to broken beat with jazz influences. An example of the latter is “Samurai”, the tune he is probably best known for. And I say “He” as Jazztronik equals Ryota Nozaki in my opinion. Another case in point is “Mista Swing” which is a straight through Latin House track that would set any latin dance floor on fire.
Jazztronik has attracted fans all over the world with his unique and interesting blend of genres. So if you are looking for an ever evolving artist with the bullets to surprise, this is the music project for you.
Tunes to check out:


Kyoto Jazz Massive production team is made out of the two brothers Shuya and Yoshihiro Okino. Again a music project, which is specializing in crossover jazz and electronic styles. I can definitely recommend the KJM Works of Remixes + Re-Edits.

Tunes to check out:


Shuya Okino (沖野修也):

One of the brothers from Kyoto Jazz Massive, Shuya has done well in his private ventures as well. The sound from Kyoto Jazz Massive is retained in his private productions, so no surprises there. Just high quality house music that you must check out.

Tunes to chek out:


Ryoma Takemasa:

Whatever this Japanese DJ and Producer puts out you can expect interesting stuff. He has earned great feedback from DJs like Laurent Garner and James Holden for Deepn’, which was remixed by Gonna as well as The backwoods. The tune that got me interested is “Strictly street (my home Setagaya)”, which is a Jazz style minimalistic house track. It is worth all your efforts to get hold of all of Ryomas stuff.

Early on Ryoma spent a few years in the United States. When back in Japan he started off as hip hop DJ, but eventually ventured over into house music and Techno.   He released his first Album in 2012 called “Catalyst”, which I can only highly recommend. Check out my review of it here.

Tunes to chek out:


Towa Tei:

Towa Tei, an original member of Dee-Lite, who left the group in 1994 to go solo. His base is now Tokyo and he has released several solo Albums, well 16 other them (acc to Discogs). He has been in a bunch of collaborations, and is also know for his work as producer for Geisha Girls and Koji 1200. His style is a mix of everything is seems with House and disco on the one side and some down tempo stuff on the other. I love his cover of Tom Browne – “Funkin’ for Jamaica”.

Tune to chek out:


DJ Yoku:

…is one of the originators of Osaka’s house music scene. Early in his career he moved to London. When he came back to Japan, he formed a band called A Hundred Birds, an orchestra that with strings, horns, etc performs house classics and original compositions. They have released a handful of albums and EP’s on labels like François K’s Wave, King Street and the Japanese outpost For Life.

Tune to chek out:


Satoshi Tomiie:

The lifelong student of jazz and classical piano, Satoshi Tomiie, is arguably the most successful Japanese DJ. Since the late 1980s he has been at the forefront of the global house music movement, and Satoshi’s debut single ‘Tears’, co-produced in 1989 with Frankie Knuckles, the “Godfather of house”, was an instant club hit. He used to be a touring keyboard player for composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and has remixed some of the biggest names in Pop music.

He released his ground breaking new club sound in the “Full lick” album in 2000, which came to set the benchmark for a new developing house scene. “Love in traffic” because an underground hit. He is now based in New York City and runs the Saw Recordings label.

Tune to chek out:



So far it has only been a few, and so many yet to be mentioned. So, to be continued in Part 2


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