Widely recognized as Japan’s most popular foreign DJ, Vivid has been a mainstay in Tokyo’s nightclub scene for nearly a decade.
In the latest edition of T.H.E Interviews, Vivid speaks to us about the dramatic shift that the Japanese club culture has undergone, and reveals his plans for 2019.
T.H.E – Hey Vivid! Welcome to T.H.E – Music Essentials. How has 2018 been for you?
Vivid – Hi! 2018 has been one of my most significant years musically. I had six different releases all of which earned me over 1 million plays on Spotify. I also had the opportunity to tour in Taiwan, China and of course in Japan at some fantastic nightclubs.
T.H.E – You’ve been in Japan for over ten years now and have first-hand experienced the dramatic shift the electronic music culture has made. What can you tell us about those times years ago, where DJs were getting arrested, and no dancing was allowed?
Vivid – It was a challenging time. There were many intense moments when the local police would raid nightclubs. Management would be forced to either turn on the lights, stop the music or even in one particularly silly situation, force the DJ to start playing Jazz music. To avoid any troubles, nightclub security would tell customers not to dance. A nightclub where you can’t dance? It was absurd. Thankfully, due to the new regulations, nightclubs can operate normally assuming they get the proper licensing. (Side note: some don’t!)
T.H.E – What made you pursue being a DJ in a culture where DJs were getting arrested?
Vivid – I was already knee deep into the Nightclub circuit before the police started cracking down on Japan’s clubs. The law was always in place, but it wasn’t until 2015 did the cops start putting pressure on the nightclubs. Music and DJing have always been my calling in life, and I would pursue it no matter the risk even if it would mean suddenly dropping a Jazz tune, hah!
T.H.E – How best can you describe the evolution that the culture has undergone, and why do you feel it happened?
Vivid – After the new laws went into place, the scene changed considerably. One of the new regulations required nightclubs to have brighter lighting, which effectively eliminated any nightclub that was dark with underground vibes. So after this shift, a vast majority of the underground clubs closed, and the ones that are still open struggle. In place of these underground clubs, loads of “Disco” style nightclubs opened. These disco clubs tend to play very poppy cheesy music, so for a DJ like me, it became challenging to play at these kinds of nightclubs.
T.H.E – Do you feel that your sound has undergone an evolution too, whilst being amid changes that the club culture in Japan has experienced?
Vivid – Japan’s nightlife can be effectively put into two different categories. The casual clubber, and the music enthusiast clubber. The casual Japanese clubber isn’t caught up with the new sounds taking over Europe, so these Disco nightclubs will often play songs that are three years old. It’s not unusual for me to hear an LMFAO track on repeat…
But the underground scene is a passionate one, with huge bass music events happening at WOMB, ageHa, and Vision. But these are irregular and catered to a very particular crowd.
So regarding how the scene has evolved, we have two very different sides of the coin.
T.H.E – How best would you describe your sound now, compared to when you started off?
Vivid – I originally came to Japan as a trance producer and DJ, but through the years my sound has shifted to Electro House, EDM and now settled on Future House and Bass House.
T.H.E – Which DJs in the industry do you currently look up to?
Vivid – There are lots of producers in Europe that are killing it, but when it comes to Asia, there are a few DJs and producers that I respect. Rave Republic from Singapore is an exciting DJ / Production duo who have been playing all over Asia. MOE in Japan, is a female DJ, dropping unique sets at her ULTRA Asia Gigs. Also, Ray Ray from Taiwan is moving fast with her amazing tracks on Barong Family.
T.H.E – Lastly, what are your plans in 2019?
Vivid – 2019 is going to a big year for music for me. I can’t say much now, but expect some big labels, big collaborations, and even bigger shows in Asia!
Stream his latest single, ‘Black & Blue’ here.