Around the World with A-Trak, Part II

October 13, 2008

Join The FADER's newest weekly columnist, A-Trak, who will be sharing with us the life and times of a superstar DJ and globetrotting gentleman. His column is called Around the World until he tells us otherwise.

Part II: Kanye West, Soulwax, Tokyo, Paris, bloggable crepes, Michael McDonald

When we last left off I had just arrived in LA to link up with Kanyeezy. He's finishing up this 808's & Heartbreak album much faster than his typical pace and we wanted to catch up on the music before I head out to Paris, where I'll be living for the fall. He was recording in an undisclosed location with a nice courtyard with patio chairs. Usually, studio sessions in LA or New York are hell because everyone wants to come and hang out, but not this one. Actually, when I showed up he was doing an interview. He also had a meeting with Vanessa Beecroft which led to them collaborating on his listening party—you've probably seen the flyer on the blogosphere. I listened to the whole album and then once everyone left we went over a bunch of the songs and made some tweaks and exchanged some ideas. There were songs where he wasn't quite happy with the effects on his voice so I took some stems and worked on them in the following days. We stayed at the studio pretty late appreciating each other's beards and finally called it a night.

Now remember, I'm coming straight off the Unibros tour here. The next day I had to fly to Paris but due to some last-minute schedule changes and flights that couldn't be moved around I was only going there to spend the night before flying to Tokyo. Of course if you're in LA it would be much easier to fly straight to Tokyo over the ol' Pacifico but I was stuck with this crazy itinerary. So I flew to Paris with a connection in Dublin on the sub-par Irish airline with the unfortunate name of Aer Lingus. They didn't even give you your own TV on a 10 hour journey!! I watched part of the Hulk movie and fell asleep. Once in Paris I settled into my new home and probably talked to teapots or something, I was so beat. And yes, the next day it was time for another long haul to Tokyo. Air France has superior catering but on this flight I was stuck with a TV that was basically broken but not completely. The image was a dark shade of black and white, like black and grey. The flight was completely full so I couldn't switch seats. But since the TV still kinda worked, I kept trying to watch movies and ended up doing a whole lot of squinting. They also had the Hulk movie so I fast-forwarded to where I left off last time. I saw the scene with the 2nd monster and the army general is like "shoot it! -- which one? -- well not the green one, stupid!" and I was sitting there like "the other one's not green??". It was all grey to me. So then I slept some more.

When I arrived in Tokyo in the morning my hotel room wasn't ready yet so I walked around with my interpreter looking for new Serato records and Sennheiser headphones. Sometimes when you're on tour everything breaks at the same time, but you can turn that negative into a positive and use it as a pretext to get to know a city. Except it was my 10th time in Tokyo so I didn't particularly feel like getting to know anything except a massage. I got that a few hours later. Then I linked up with the Soulwax guys and we got some Korean BBQ dinner. Afterwards I went with them to this tiny little bar that they love. It's called Grandfather's and it only fits about 10 people. It's dark and looks like a log cabin, and behind the bar the walls are lined with record shelves. They only play FM pop from the late 70's and early 80's. The bartender was this old mustachioed man, and basically when you place your order for a drink you can also give the waitress some requests for him, which you write down on a coaster: Supertramp, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, stuff like that. The old man at the bar gets the coaster with the request and, without hesitation, reaches back to exactly the right shelf and pulls out the record you were jonesing for. It's a sight to behold.

On my 2nd day I went to Osaka to play at a Radio Soulwax event. I took the bullet train and when I arrived in town I did a bit of shopping. I had been to Osaka before but this was my first time shopping and hanging out there. Apparently you're supposed to eat squid when you go there but I didn't. Not that I'm scurred, it just didn't happen. I did film this thing though:

The following day I headed back to Tokyo, walked around Harajuku for a bit and ate the most bloggable crepe ever. There's this little side street with a bunch of crepe kiosks and they all offer about 30 types of fillings and flavorings, each one more extravagant than the next. You can get cheesecake and strawberries inside a crepe, or pumpkin pie for Halloween, or in my case prosciutto with itarian salad. Yes they wrote itarian. Yes it's hilarious. Yes it was tasty. Yes they fold the crepe like a perfect cone that makes my childhood origami look like dead leaves. Later that night was the big show. This was that Diesel XXX party that happened in 17 cities on the same night. The Tokyo one was in this big concert hall where I once played with Kanye right after Ms Lauryn Hill (and I remember we saw Grand Puba that day). This time the lineup was quite different: Mr Oizo, DJ Hell, James Murphy and Pat Mahoney playing disco, Soulwax and 2manydjs, myself, Bonde Do Role, and many more. They had the DJs playing on this giant illuminated cube and the Japanese audience was indulging in the full rave experience. I heard that the Tokyo show is the one that the head of Diesel went to. It was ill, I'm happy I was a part of that. Except I played from 4:30 to 6am, went back to the hotel to shower and pack and went straight to the airport to fly back to Paris.

Here I am now in Paris. My body has no idea what time it is. But I'm excited to eat their tasty yogurt and make some lovely music. Let's see where these adventures take us next week!

From The Collection:

Around The World With A-Trak
Around the World with A-Trak, Part II