Q&A: Soichi Terada
We are honoured to be welcoming Soichi Terada to the HiFi Club on 18th February. He is widely regarded to be the custodian of electronic music’s cheeriest live set. While many producers frown into their gear, or simply fail to entertain the spectator, the Japanese 51 year old beams. And he has every reason to be happy. In what should be the twilight of his career, he is shining more brightly and more fiercely than ever before. As well as his classic tunes from the 1980s and 90s resurfacing, he is continuing to produce and tour. We had a quick e-mail chat with him before he makes his way to Leeds on the UK leg of his trip.
You always seem to be very happy and enthusiastic. Where do you get you energy? Do you have any more melancholy moments on tour? Can it be a stressful experience, or is it all positive?
It seems to get energy in two ways. The first is joyful emotion to be able to play songs that I made more than 25 years ago, and the second is the flashback of simple happiness to listen to house music that I heard more than 25 years ago. It has been all positive.
You had a gap of several years before you started releasing music again properly. What did you do in the time off? Were you still making music? What do you like to do in your free time?
I had the gap for more than 25 years until the reissue of my ancient song. I went into the video game industry, and was addicted to Jungle or Drum’n’Bass from the latter half of 90’s. I am still making music, not only new house tracks but also some mixture between dance beats, 8-bit music and Japanese traditional music. I like to swim, play football or go to museums in my free time.
Because of the sudden rise in popularity of your older releases, their value has gone up immensely. How do you feel about your records selling for over $100? Do you agree with these prices?
I wish I could have manufactured more vinyl copies in the early half of 90s. At that time, quantity was only 200 to 400, so that the price is going to be so expensive. No, I don’t. Probably it’s caused because it’s hard to find those records.
You founded Far East Recordings in 1989. How has your production set up changed since then? And how has your approach to life in general changed? Do you have a family at all?
Far East Recording was very tiny production meaning only me myself, then it worked for my advertisement as a bizarre track maker. I might say it has worked as my passion to represent my music. I have not married, but I have family.
It is well documented that you spent time in New York in clubs alongside figures such as Larry Levan. But I am interested in how you view Japanese clubbing. Has the club scene there influenced you at all?
Yes, it has. In the beginning of 90’s we had clubs like ‘Yellow’ or ‘Gold’ in Tokyo at where hot house music used to be played. They influenced me very much. I only spent a short time in New York in the 80’s and 90’s.
Do you enjoy touring in the UK? Have you got any fond memories of playing or visiting here in the past?
Yes, I do. I have old memory in United Kingdom in 1987. I had been staying in London for a month, and playing melodica in the Underground stations. I got small changes from passengers and much fun. Still now I kept coins I got in that time.
You are bringing your live set to HiFi next month. Why did you choose to do this and not a DJ set? Do you still collect vinyl records?
I just wanted to play my ancient songs with my ancient instruments (like AKAI’s sampler) wearing my ancient shirt I bought in 90’s. Now, I am not collecting vinyl records any more.
Why do you think people have suddenly taken interest in your music? Do you think it is something about the 1990s sound and aesthetic? Do you think house music reached a sweet spot around that era?
I guess my ancient tracks have a Japanese accent that US or UK don’t have. I wanted to sound them just like as US and UK, but I could not. It might be both a weak point and a merit.
When you made music, did you consciously try to retain some Japanese identity, or did you try to imitate the western sound as much as possible?
I used to attempt to imitate the western sounds, but I just could not. Unconsciously they had a strong Japanese accent just like my English speaking. I wish I could remove such accents in productions and speaking.
What are your plans coming up for Far East Recording?
I have plans to release my new tracks from Far East Recording.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Now I am listening to the Shinichiro Yokota’s new album.
Dimensions and HiFi present Soichi Terada (Live), 18th February 2017 – ticket link here.