DJ Krush has been one of the most innovative and most respected DJs/producers coming out of Japan. With his music ranging from hip-hop to techno to acid jazz, some critics have labeled him the “Godfather Of Trip-Hop”. While this may not be a term he consciously agrees with (or even cares about), there is a multi-layered psychedelic element to his music. In the past, he has done collaborations with The Roots, Guru, Big Shug, Anti Pop Consortium, Sly & Robbie, and many more.
His past albums like “Meiso” and “Message At The Depth” were both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. In 2004, he released “Jaku” on Red Ink/Sony. “Jaku” is a beautiful and mystical sounding album with many diverse Japanese instruments that U.S. audiences have never heard before. For example, the Japanese flute shakuhachi is used in “Univearth” and “Slit Of Cloud”. DJ Krush proves to be an innovative producer because he incorporates modern music to the traditional music.
Even though “Jaku” is mainly instrumental and steeped in Japanese culture, there are appearances by Mr. Lif and Aesop Rock who are both from New York City’s Definitive Jux. On a cold November evening in 2004, I had an inspired conversation with the legendary artist. DJ Krush has found balance in his life. He has found a state of peace through his music.
MVRemix: Your new album is ‘Jaku’. Tell us about it?
DJ Krush: Jaku’ means ‘peace and calm’ in Japanese. Being on tour around the world, I wanted to do an album with Japanese philosophy and instruments. So I have Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player, Taiko drum player and other master players from Japan collaborating with me. Those instruments sound great and I got the best players in each field.
MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title, ‘Jaku’?
DJ Krush: It’s theme is ‘Wa’, which means ‘things Japanese’ as well as ‘full circle’, ‘sharing’, ‘peace’, etc. I think this concept is missing in the world today because of war and cruelty. I wanted to make an album that counter-balances all of the nonsense.
MVRemix: How is this album different from your last album, ‘The Message At The Depth’?
DJ Krush: I've been trying to do something new with every record. This one is no different. As I said earlier, I collaborated with Japanese traditional instrument players. That's certainly new and what I felt awkward doing when I was younger. As I got older, I wanted to re-discover the tradition of my culture and ‘Jaku’ is the result.
MVRemix: How did you get involved with Red Ink?
DJ Krush: Sony Music Japan is my label and they have a relationship with Red Ink. My last 5 albums including this one have come out on Red Ink in the U.S.
MVRemix: Mr. Lif raps on the amazing track, ‘Nostferatu’. How did you hook up with Mr. Lif and what was that collaboration like?
DJ Krush: Mr. Lif is on Def Jux, which is my favorite label. I met him at a party and wanted to work with him on this project. Working with him was great. Anyone who's original deserves my respect.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on ‘Jaku’?
DJ Krush: I like all the tracks on the record and all of the guest musicians are brilliant.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite album?
DJ Krush: Too many to name!
MVRemix: What collaboration (out of all of them), are you most proud of?
DJ Krush: I'm proud of all of collaboration works I've done.
MVRemix: What is the creative process like? Do you start off with a rhythm or a melody first?
DJ Krush: For this record, I made the basic track and guest musicians add their sound to it. Then I took the recorded sound home and reconstructed it freely.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite drum machine or sampler?
DJ Krush: EMU-SP1200 CASIO-RZ1.
MVRemix: When did you first get into music and DJ-ing?
DJ Krush: The hip-hop documentary film from the 80’s called ‘Wild Style’ got me into hip-hop. I was blown away by everything I saw on that film. I bought my first turntable right after I watched it.
MVRemix: Is there a meaning behind your name, DJ Krush?
DJ Krush: I was DJ-ing in Harajuku, Tokyo. They would close down the street on Sundays and there would be bands playing, artists making art, and I was there with my gang, DJ-ing. Some Americans came around and they started free styling. I guess they liked what we were doing. They used to phrase ‘Crush em, Crush em’. Thus, the name DJ Krush.
MVRemix: What do you think of the term ‘Trip-Hop’?
DJ Krush: Some people call me a pioneer of Trip-Hop but I'm not very conscious about what type of music I do. The music I made is about how much of myself, Krush, can be put into it. That's all I think about.
MVRemix: Who are some of your major influences?
DJ Krush: Miles Davis, Coltrane, Jim Hendrix.
MVRemix: What CDs or LPs have you been listening to lately?
DJ Krush: Demo tapes that I get all over the place during the tour.
MVRemix: Did you like the movie ‘Lost In Translation’?”