Have you found the best Internet radio station in Japan yet? If not, this is certainly a good time as there are new shows from Zeljko Kerleta, Tom Wieland and guest appearance from Gilles Peterson on Compost.
There are 100 regular shows to choose from at Samurai FM plus they often have specials, such as the recording of Grand Central's Jon Kennedy 'Live at the Seco Bar' in Tokyo.
However, the show that links East and West the best is the Nippon Speedy Express hosted by 'Nippon' Nik Weston & Dom 'Speedy' Servini. Nik's links with Japan have been further enhanced by his recent marriage to Yuki who comes from Kumamoto in Kyushu (near Fukuoka). Gerry gets hectic with Nik:
It means 'shiiiiiiit!' / 'frustrated' / 'angst'... he just thought it would be amusing to call a club night that. Bingo! We got the Japanese audience on our side immediately
There have been 16 Nippon Speedy Express shows since you started in January last year. Who thought of the partnership with Wah Wah 45's record boss Dom Servini?
I thought it'd make a nice combination and a little different from the forwardsbackwards show I do with Nigel 'Best Man' Prankster. Dom and me both love the same things and very different things. We've had loads of emails about the show so people seem to like it. The only thing we have a problem with is finding time in our schedule to record it. Dom's got more fingers in more pies than Mrs. Beaton and Mr. Scruff put together so sometimes it's a bit tricky to do shows!
How long have you known Dom?
I've known Dom for ages. We've played with each other (ooo errrr missus) for years and I love his label. Probably initially through Chris Goss at Hospital Records. I've known Chris since the early 90s when he was doing Tongue and Groove (the record label with Tony Colman, 1992-5). Chris DJ'd at my club night in 1996 and we've played at each other's events since then. Chris was doing Wah Wah for many years as a Friday weekly with Chris's brother Simon and Dom.
In the late 90s you were running a club called 'Mukatsuku' at the Clinic and the London Evening Standard newspaper nominated it as club of the year in '97. You had loads of guest DJs from Japan. Is this where your Japanese connection started?
Well, the Japanese bug hit me in the early 1990s. I was at the United Future Organization's first gig in London and I was very much into that whole Swifty Mo' Wax thing. It wasn't just about music; it was about the presentation and style. I loved the early DJ Krush, Monday Michiru, Mondo Grosso, Takemura and Silent Poets stuff as well. And as a record collector, I was busy buying superior Japanese pressings with thick vinyl and obi's. My first Japanese club night was with a guy called Mike in 1995 and we had Japanese visuals, a Japanese host and Japanese DJs. We had some awesome nights at Mukatsuku and I still bump into people who reminisce about it. It was just a case of right place right time.
We had some amazing guests as well! We paid everyone a flat fee of £30 and had Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Vadim, DJ Chillfreeze and Smash Hunter all on the decks.
After Mukatsuku ended we did several other nights all with Japanese connections and some of our boys we were involved with went onto do great things. DJ Afro recorded some tracks on Krush's latest album and DJ Go won the World Group DMC Championships a year or two ago.
Mukatsuku is now the name of your PR company. What does 'Mukatsuku' mean?
It was a name chosen by one of my partners Mikel who at the time was married to a Japanese girl. She was always saying it.
It means 'shiiiiiiit!' / 'frustrated' / 'angst'... he just thought it would be amusing to call a club night that. Bingo! We got the Japanese audience on our side immediately. There was always an element of humour in the night. Security guards giving out lollypops to every visitor, handing out fresh fruit or sweets to the dancers, that kind of thing.
When was your first trip to Japan and what are your impressions of the country?
Well, I've just come back from my 7th trip there. I've done 6 DJ tours now and I suppose the first time was 5 years ago. I love Japan. You need serious amounts of dosh just for records alone. I've just got off the phone to Mr. Scruff and he was saying that he spends 3 grand on vinyl every time he goes (I'm like JESUS!!!!!). And I thought I was a vinyl junkie! The food is amazing and the sound systems all over Japan are wicked. Puts every other country to shame. The worlds best sound system is in Sapporo, not checked it out but Gilles Peterson said it's AWESOME! The sushi is out of this world!
You are also busy promoting Especial Records, which is run by the Kyoto Jazz Massive. Whilst extremely popular with Jazz heads in Japan, things are taking off for the label in Europe with the release of two recent 12"s as 'European Editions'.
It's actually run by Yoshihiro from KJM. His brother Shuya runs another label called Quality. I've been working with Yoshi now for about 4-5 years. The reason we did the European Editions is that the Japanese releases are only sold outside of Japan by about 20 shops over the UK serviced by me. I haven't the resources to sell thousands of the Japanese edition 12"s or the network. And as Yoshi has been stung by a European distribution company in the past, this works as a stopgap.
The reason for doing the European Edition was so I could oversee the operation but get Goya to sell the records all over the world rather than just in UK. Countries are able to buy the European Editions for the first time as a result which is cool and of course helps me sell the Japanese only 12"s. You can normally buy a whole range of Japanese 12"s (not just Especial!) at the Record Room. Check out the site www.therecordroom.co.uk.
You've also recently done work for Club Brasil on a 12". Latin music has a hold in Japan that doesn't seem particularly logical or does it? Have they got a version of Rio Carnival in Japan?
Nothing seems logical in Japan. If you ever go you'll be completely blown away by so many things that don't seem right! Brazilian music is massive in Japan and the Brazil section in a major record store will certainly have you open-mouthed! I'm not aware of any 'carnival' in Japan as such on a big scale but I do know that the Sunsplash Reggae event is second biggest outside of Jamaica!
Would you say the track listing for the latest show is typical (see below)?
Well personally I'm into that jazzy hipity hop vibe and if it's Japanese then even better. I find myself programming music not as frantic as the 'Forwardsbackwards' show I do with Nigel. We play more funk on this show and maybe more hip hop. Dom loves that twisted stuff so that's a nice angle as well and works well with what each other plays! And you choose a Dom set where he didn't play any Wah Wah stuff! That's quite unusual! [He certainly got Jazzy - GH]
Now you are married, do you see your visits to Japan increasing to see the relatives and becoming increasingly broke?
More broke definitely yes. Yuki's Mum was asking the other day when she would be a grandmother (shhhhhhiiiiiiitttt!) so that would obviously mean more visits maybe. In the last 14 months, we've been to Japan 3 times and we're off again in May. We have to do the whole Japanese wedding ceremony kimono thing (see the picture above).
When's the next Nippon Speedy Express show due and any other news?
We aim to have a fresh show up every 2-3 weeks in 2005 and I've got two compilations coming out. One on Routine Jazz and another on Nuro Recordings plus another 'Club Brasil EP' in Spring.
That sounds like good news to me and even more reason to keep tuning into Samurai FM. Hopefully, we'll get Dom's side of the story before Nippon-Speedy-Express No. 17 comes along. Don't touch that dial....err I mean mouse?
Nik Weston www.nikweston.co.uk/
Also keep an eye on Nik's 'Japan Corner'.
fai-aoyama / What's new News
No. 16 Nippon-Speedy-Express Tracklisting:
Nik Weston 30 mins
1.Gagle 'SOS' (Inst.) (Jazzy Sport)
2.Gagle 'Rap DX' (Inst.) (Warner)
3.Deux Process 'Everyday' (Jazzy Sport)
4.Average White Band 'Schoolboy Crush' (DJ Mitsu the beats mix) (Soul Sauce)
5.Solar Apple Quartette 'Do U Love Me Too' (Break Reform Mix)(Further Out)
6.M Flo 'Astromatic Charm School' get on (Labsoul)
7.Ayb 'After The Summer Break' (Delic)
Dom 30 mins
1.Thinder & Lightning & Rain 'Super Funky (Pt 1)' (Voxpop)
2.Gecko Turner '45,000$' (Love Monk)
3.Visioneers 'Runnin' (Omniverse)
4.Masqua Myers & Iami Ayinde 'Black Land Of The Nile' (Jazzman)
5.Ira Sullivan 'Wonderful Sound' (PAUSA)
6.Povo 'Ed The Bull' (Raw Fusion)