With a big heart for Japanese vinyls

by Taishi Nagasaka April 1, 2019
With a big heart for Japanese vinyls

When it comes to Japanese music of all kinds, Taishi Nagasaka is very well known in Berlin’s scene as DJ ONONiiONIONIION. This is the first part of his series about music, food and life.

Since I am pretty related to the Berlin music and band scene (especially world music), I will write about this topic as well as about food, because I love cooking Japanese dishes and even organize a Japanese music and food event.

So maybe some of you know my DJ name, DJ ONONiiONIONIION, which was once picked up by Tagesspiegel. It was funny: although the writer didn’t make a mistake when he pronounced my complicated DJ name, they later spelled it wrong in the newspaper. It has since been corrected, but check the article out.

Japanese music enlightenment

I used to be interested in many different kinds of world music and therefore played a lot from Asia, Africa, Arabia, the Middle East etc. Then I met (or better re-met) Japanese music, music from my country, and got so much into it! Obviously, somewhere back in my memory I remembered it – and actually I can understand the lyrics. It is more interesting to me than any other music, although I have listened to a lot of western music. In 2006, I even moved to London because I did not like Japanese music and listened to a lot of UK sounds instead. But maybe now I have found my identity. Maybe maybe.

Anyway, I am especially into all parts of the Japanese musical construction (theme, song writing, lyrics, arrangement) which is so different from the western. For me it was some kind of thunder through my spine! I was surprised to find something so interesting right next to me. So this is exactly todai moto kurashi – which means “It is hard to see what is under your nose.”

Schlager love and hate

I also love this commercialized music back in the time and sell 60-80’s Japanese pop music. Maybe it is a bit difficult for some German people to understand this concept as it is “Schlager”, which especially a lot of young Germans hate.

Once I asked the members of my mate’s band Isolation Berlin (they are pretty famous) to DJ German schlager music at one of my events (I don’t tell you where). Some guys of the staff with coloured hair and tattoos complained about it and stopped the DJ! In fact, people looking like that in Japan are more open and see the fun in it. I’ve never expected that people could get so angry about music. Yeah, it is related to history and I can’t fully sympathize as I am not German. Anyway, some Japanese might dislike our pop music (like I used to do, too) but fortunately none of us hates it.

So I love music and I love to know more as there is so much interesting music everywhere in the world! By chance, I am able to introduce you to Japanese pop music.

Japanese music and food

I run two events every month in Neukölln as it is close to my house – yes, I am a bit lazy. One is a Japanese dinner and music event, the other is about international pop music.

The food event is held at a sweet and lovely Italian bar in Kreuzkölln called Oblomov where I collaborate with Mobile Izakaya Berlin. The concept is that you pop into a restaurant and a bar without the pressure that comes with going to a club where you have to pay 10 euros at the door, need to get drunk, take drugs, have to dance and where you feel a bit weird. Instead, you should feel interested and happy, yeah, different from your daily life, just a bit different.

Thankfully 80 to 130 people are coming every time, some of them only for drinks. There is a variety of people, from kids to old people, and together we create the atmosphere.

Sometimes people sitting at different tables become friends or more than that, others just listen to the music or slightly dance, and some ask me to turn the music down. They all enjoy themselves in their own way. I love it so much!

Something not to be forgotten is the food by Mobile Izakaya! At home, I cook Japanese food most of the time, especially for my Berlin born, half Japanese son, and I really love it. Especially as my mom had refused to teach me and at some point had to admit that I am a better cook than her. So I am very happy to be able to collaborate with Mobile Izakaya. I personally think they provide the best Japanese food here in Berlin, many things that I can not cook. They are amazing, with their many little touches and unseen steps during the cooking process etc. If you have not tried them, you should! Then you can finally say that you love Japanese food.

Japanese City Pop

As I have so many vinyls from different eras, which means from the 60s to the 80s, I change the concept every month and the next one is dedicated to the music of the 80s!

According to my experience, it is mostly liked by a young audience and the era is famous for city pop. In fact, In my opinion, the image of city pop is very different from what city pop actually is. (I will write about it at some point). Anyway, I will show some of this music, but also a different side of Japanese 80s music. So come and have fun with us on April 12 at the Japanese Dinner with Japanese 80s Music + Japanese Vinyl Shop.

The other monthly event is dedicated to international music at Klunkerkranich and I will tell you more about it in two weeks, as I will write here twice a month. Furthermore, I would like to pick up one song every time.

My first choice is 君に胸キュン Kimi Ni Munekyun by イエローマジックオーケストラ Yellow Magic Orchestra.

I used the jacket design for the food night flyer in April. Why? It is YMO, everybody loves them!

Thanks for reading!
Taishi Nagasaka

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