DJ Krush
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DJ Krush

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Hideaki Ishi aka DJ Krush is a Japanese gentleman who has innovated dance music to a degree where he stands alone as not only one of Japan’s most influential DJs but also the worlds. Having first started DJing and producing as Krush in 1990, last year Ishi celebrated his 20th year as DJ Krush. Next Month, Ishi is coming to Australia as part of WOMADdelaide, a festival in South Australia that celebrates culturally diversity in music bringing together artists from all around the world.

“I am really excited about it. I have heard very good things and look forward to presenting my music to new and old audiences.” Additionally, with Ishi always wanting to keep evolving DJ Krush’s sound, he’s always on the look for new collaborators from different genres. “So many styles and so many genres are interesting to me that I will be taking interest in everything that I can see while I am in Australia. If I discover a style of music from a country that little is known about then I will consider collaborating with them in the future.”

Despite his overtly philanthropic tone there is one genre that doesn’t particularly excite Ishi and that is dubstep. “As a DJ you always keep an ear out for what is fresh and exciting, I do not believe that dubstep is fresh or exciting anymore, there is some music within that genre that is well produced and mastered but there’s also a lot of music that is neither of those because when something becomes so popular it is easier for some producers to cut corners.”

Speaking of buzz genres, when DJ Krush first broke into the international scene with his record Strictly Turntablized in 1994, the trip hop was the buzz nomenclature of the time and with his big beat sound DJ Krush was thrown under the trip hop heading and in more recent years he has been labeled the godfather of trip hop.

“It’s a bit of a funny one being referred to as the ‘godfather of trip hop’, I think it was coined sometime, somewhere by a journalist and everyone seems to pick up on it but it’s not a title that sits too well with me because it wrongly implies that I just play trip hop when in actuality what I do play can never be neatly placed in any one genre.” He now softens his line slightly explaining where the title may have come from: “In the early ‘90s when the sound known as trip hop was coming out of Bristol me and a lot of my colleagues did listen to a lot of it and incorporate it into our sets.”

Trip hop originated in Bristol, England around 1990 as a sort of variation of the big beat sound that was getting played in clubs in that city. Well known exponents of trip hop are Massive Attack and Tricky (with Tricky originally being the DJ/rapper in Massive Attack) yet like Krush both of those acts have publically said that they do not like being pigeonholed as just trip hop.

Staying back in the ‘90s when Ishi was first starting his career as a musician, he had a very interesting part-time job as a delivery boy for the Japanese mafia – Yakuza. Interestingly, Ishi explains that these days the Yakuza is so frowned upon that it risks extinction, “Compared to 10 to 15 years ago there are very strict laws in Japan outlawing any organised crime activities. Socially it has become unacceptable to be associated with the Yakuza. There have been cases where incredibly famous TV personalities and stars have been sacked from their job for having even the remotest association with the Yakuza.” 

DJ Krush’s performance at WOMADelaide will take elements from his entire career because last year he staged his 20th year celebration as Krush and since then his sets have looked back across his entire career. Ishi revisits what his 20th anniversary show was like in Tokyo in July last year.

“On the night I played for seven hours! That included a one hour live set, Japanese MCs who have been with me for my entire career, traditional Japanese instrument players jamming live over my beats!”

BY DAN WATT