FADER Mix: Taku Takahashi

This rollercoaster of a mix from the Tokyo legend introduces a whole new generation of Japanese dance music artists.

February 01, 2017
FADER Mix: Taku Takahashi Photo by Hiroshi Manaka

Back in December, I flew to Tokyo to take part in a brand new dance music conference called TDME. The first of its kind in Japan, it was set up to address the need to build a sustainable dance music scene on home turf — locally, it's J-pop that rules the charts — as well as support the export of Japanese electronic music around the world. The panel I was on was moderated by a sparkly eyed Tokyo producer called Taku Takahashi, who first made his name as the producer half of Japanese hip-hop duo M-Flo in the '90s, and went on to achieve legend status in electronic circles throughout the 2000s. (He once even got Ryuichi Sakamoto to "rap" on a track by cutting and chopping Sakamoto's words in his signature glitchy style.)


In 2010, he consolidated his love for dance music by launching Block.fm, an online radio station that's dedicated to showcasing a spectrum of club music styles. Who better placed, then, to introduce FADER readers to a new generation of Japanese artists shaking up the shape of dance music. On his rollercoaster of a FADER Mix, Takahashi reps rising crew TREKKIE TRAX, FADER fave Seiho, and Maltine Records affiliated producer Tofubeats, amongst others. Dive in below, and scroll down to read an interview with Takahashi in both English and Japanese, as well as peep the all-important tracklist.


Where are you right now? Please describe your surroundings.

I live in Tokyo, Japan. I have lived here almost for 20 years and if I were to describe this city in one phrase, it would be “chaotic order.” Tokyo is a place which is very organized and out of control. It is a energetic and interesting place to be.


Tell us a bit about this mix — what do you imagine people doing while listening to it?

All the songs in my mix is written and programmed by artists from Japan. We have a lunch box called “Makunouchi Bento,” which consists of a wide of variety of food. It is a very eclectic mix consisting of techno, electro, hip-hop, house, drum and bass, dubstep, and so on. Although I included a lot of loud music, I made it for people to listen to at home or when they're driving.

What's your earliest musical memory?


My mom teaching me all the traditional Japanese nursery songs. I always loved singing. Though I ended up making music instead.

How has the electronic music scene in Japan evolved since you first found success with M-Flo in the ‘90s?

Although M-Flo released music from major labels and had a No.1 in the national chart, we were — and still are — considered niche in Japan. We were hoping that we would give some impact to the scene and change the game in the Japanese music industry. Japan was ready for all the new ideas in music in the '90s, but gradually started to shift to a more conservative mindset in the 2000s. I am now very excited that there are so many talents in the underground scene, and Japan is shifting back to the more progressive side.


As a producer and DJ, what are you looking for when you listen to new music, and who is exciting and inspiring you at the moment?

Today anyone can make descent music if you have a computer. All the sample packs are very well made and instruments are much more affordable thanks to evolving technology. But at the same time, that means a lot of music can sound very similar — it's harder for producers to create something “original.” I tend to react better to something different from the general trend; something that's not perfect. Yes, I do love typical-sounding techno, drum and bass, and house music that is functional for the dance floor. But I get more turned on by something that's not mainstream. I prefer something glitchy that uses lots of sampling. All the music in my mix is by artists I am inspired by.

Please tell me a bit about Block.fm — what is it and why did you start it?


Block.fm is a web-based radio and news site that emphasizes electronic music. We have a lot of great shows by artists from Japan and around the world. I started this project 7 years ago as a pirate radio show because electronic music was evolving strongly but there was no radio show that focused on this exciting movement. At the same time there were so many great talents from Japan and they were not getting introduced in the Japanese music industry. I asked several radio stations but nobody wanted to do it because Japan's economy was not doing well and they could not get sponsors for the show. That is when I decided to do it by myself. We kept on making the show and because other big DJs in Japan understood where my passion and heart is, we got a lot of support. That is when I decided to make it official radio station. Although we are a underground station, we have strong support from the true music lovers and the exciting thing is that it is organically getting bigger.

What projects do you have coming up in 2017?

I made a remix for an artist named VOIA from the Attack the Music label. He is based in New York and has a great talent. I am currently working on new M-Flo tune.


And what lessons from 2016 will you be taking into this new year?

I learned that I should not judge myself and let other people decide. By judging who I am, it restricts my possibilities. I never liked listening to my old works because I was afraid to find flaws. But nowadays, I feel my flaws could be the voice of what I make. Of course, I still believe it is important for me to improve my ability to create music, but at the same time I've started to let go of my feelings and loosen up and enjoy creating music.

What's the last book you read that had a big impact on you? And why?


Frankly speaking, I haven’t read books in ages and don’t even remember what I read last. Aside from music, my favorite past-time is watching U.S. dramas. My favorites are Game of Thrones, The Man In the High Castle, Westworld, Mr. Robot, and Stranger Things. I have long been a big fan of U.S. dramas, but last year was a great year. It may sound dumb, but for me watching TV dramas is like reading novels because TV dramas these days are so detailed and very well made.

What's your favorite dish to cook and how do you make it?

That is another tough question. LOL. I love eating and cooking. If I were to choose just one dish, it would be my crab pasta with garlic tomato sauce with extra cheese. Cooking is very similar to making music — you may have a recipe, but you can always rearrange it and create different styles which makes you unique.


M-Flo - Global Astro Liner Intro featuring Lori Fine
Towa Tei - Technova
Banvox - Save Me
starRo - House Party
Bleu Toucan - Le chant du cygne (Shinichi Osawa Remix)
SEKITOVA - Foetus Traum Feat. Chisato Moritaka
Seiho - Deep House
Sugiurumn - PM 9:09
Takuya Matsumoto - Be
FPM - Wish You Were Here
Tofubeats -No.1 feat.G.RINA
Voia - Hyperloop (☆Taku Takahashi Remix)
Pa's Lam System - TWISTEP (banvox remix)
Dean Fujioka - History Maker (TJO Remix)
TeddyLoid - Die Younger feat KOHH
HyperJuice - G.I.R.L feat. Jinmenusagi (BROKEN HAZE Remix)
HyperJuice - G.I.R.L feat. Jinmenusagi (Original Mix)
REMO-CON - Hello Mr. Breakbeats (Album Edit Version)
KAN TAKAHIKO - NRG (Dubscribe Remix)
ナマコプリ - あったらいいな JAPAN(Masayoshi Iimori from TREKKIE TRAX Mix)
Carpainter & Maxo - Amazing!!!
三毛猫ホームレス - そばが食べたい
DE DE MOUSE - remember night
80Kidz - I Got a Feeling feat. Benjamin Diamond

Read the interview in Japanese:


















NYに住むVOIAというアーティストのリミックスをAttack the Musicというレーベルからリリースしました。彼は素晴らしい才能の持ち主です。そして、現在m-floの新曲を制作しています。










From The Collection:

FADER Mix: Taku Takahashi