DJ Krush's grooves transcend cultures around the globe
By Naughty Mickie

Born in Tokyo, Japan, DJ Krush became interested in the hip-hop scene after seeing the Charlie Ahern film, "Wild Style" in the early '80s. In 1987 he formed Krush Posse, a hip hop act which performed throughout Japan. The group broke up in 1992 and he pursued a solo career, turning heads with his use of turntables as live instruments and doing free sessions with live musicians on stage. He released his first album, "Krush," in 1994.

Krush is considered one of the pioneers of mid-'90s downtempo electronica and instrumental hip-hop scenes. He was the first Japanese artist signed to James Lavelle's Mo' Wax label. His sixth album, "Zen" was "Best Electronica Album" in the 2002 AIFH Awards in the United States. In  March 2007, "Suimou Tsunenimasu" a DVD collection following his 12-year career was released in Japan. "History of DJ Krush/Suimou Tsunenimasu" (Red Ink/Sony Japan), a three DVD set with booklet, became available in US September 2007.

Today, Krush is a producer, remixer and DJ and also creates soundtracks for film, television and commercials, as well as works live sessions with various musicians from a range of genres. His sound is and has never been what America considers mainstream hip-hop, rather Krush incorporates music from different cultures and genres, and writes original grooves. And although he is no secret, he stays true to his underground roots. To see Krush perform live is a thing of beauty and awe.

DB: What were your musical influences during your childhood? Did you play any instruments or sing?

Krush: I grew up listening to different kinds of music; Japanese pop/rock, Western hard rock, heavy metal, jazz, etc.  I used to play drums in a rock band when I was in middle school.  Since I didnít have money to buy a drum set, Iíd bang on cookie cans to practice (laugh). 

DB: Did you attend college? If so, where and what did you study?

Krush: No, I didnít attend college.

DB: What kind of jobs did you have when you were getting your music career started?

Krush: I was working at construction site when I started making music.  Iíd work all day, make music all night and went back to work without getting a sleep.

DB: I have read a number of stories, but please share with me how you came to be involved in hip-hop.

Krush: I discovered hip hop when I saw the movie ďWild Style.Ē  I was 20 years old. Deejaying, rapping, graffiti, break dancingÖ everything that I saw blew my mind.  I tried those things out myself and realized that deejaying is what I wanted to do with my life, an art form that I could do to express and identify myself.

DB:  How do you choose the word or theme that you work around to create your albums?

KRUSH: In everyday life, things keep changing and the world is moving at warp speed. I scan the world and things happening around me, ďdigestĒ the information that I take in, filter them through me and find a keyword or a theme there.  Once itís found, I transfer it into my sound and spit it out.

DB: How do you write/compose your music? Where do you get your ideas?

Krush: I first have a drink and then take a deep look into myself to see what I find there. I then piece together fragments of the images in my head and translate them into a sound as if I create a soundtrack to that vision.  I usually come up with a piece of drum sound to start with, and add other sounds onto it as my mind imagery and my instinct leads me. Thatís the process of my music making.

DB: What kind of technology, computers, etc., do you use to create your music?

Krush: -Computer (both PC/Mac) -Software: Ableton "Live" -Rhythm machine/mixer: EMU SP1200 -Pro Tools, etc..

DB: How do you hook up with other artists around the world for collaborations?

Krush: I come up with a concept of an album, select guest artists I want to collaborate with based on the concept, and start contacting the artists that I want to work with at the moment.  I write them a letter with my thoughts on the concept and ask if they would be interested in being part of the project.

DB:  How do you keep your hip-hop sound true and not stray like many artists in America?

Krush: Though I love hip-hop and the basis of my music may be hip-hop, I donít think my music can be fit into a certain genre.  My music equals myself and is about how much of myself can be put into it. Thereís no end to knowing myself and searching for whatís buried inside of me. I think of my lifetime as one album and Iím still in the process of making it. So I just keep going with my own music.

DB: Why do you maintain an underground sound and ethic as opposed to going mainstream with your music?

Krush: Thereís nothing I intentionally do to maintain an underground sound. I just make the music I want to make and find myself in underground scene.   

DB: Hip-hop was born in the early '70s and I am aware you came to it in the '80s, but how have you seen it evolve? What is the future of the genre?

Krush: Obviously, hip-hop has become a huge global scene and has branched out to many different styles over the years. For the future I expect ďcosmicĒ hip-hop that defies any boundary. Freedom of expression is what I love about hip-hop.

DB: What other projects are you working on, such as film soundtracks, etc.?

Krush: No, Iím not working on any project right now.  Iím in the middle of my North American tour and have been traveling a lot Ė Iíve played in various European countries, South Africa, Taiwan, Russia and Japan this year alone.

DB: What do you plan to do after this tour- record? more touring? a different project?

Krush: After the North American tour Iíll be touring in Japan and possibly in some other Asian countries. Hopefully Iíll be able to sit down in my studio and start working on my new album next year.

DB: Please feel free to discuss anything I may have missed asking you or that you would like to say. You are also welcome to give me a message for your fans who will be coming to see your show.

Krush: Never give up! Keep doing what you believe in. Hope to see you all at the show!

Catch the coolness of DJ Krush at www.mmjp.or.jp/sus/krush

Also visit my blog at http://mickieszoo.blogspot.com

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