Hiroko Otsuka – Mini Interview

1. Where are you from and how did you first get into jazz and then start DJ-ing?

I’m from Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo. I was in high school when I started DJ-ing. Listening to music was just a fashion for me and I played 70s punk on analog records at my friends’ events.
I got into Jazz several years after that. I was largely moved by the power of the grand spirits when I got to know independent jazz labels such as Strata East. It completely
broke the square image I had of Japanese Jazz which is largely standard Jazz.

My DJ sounds are jazz-centered and groovy. I receive
gig offers from everywhere in Japan, and even overseas including Spain and New York. I
played at Fuji Rock Festival, the biggest outdoor music festival in Japan, and Tokyo Jazz
2012, the biggest jazz festival in Asia with over 30,000 guests.

2. There are of course many female DJs but maybe not so many playing what you play. Why not?

Jazz in Japan tends to focus on the history of the music and major historical figures, in an academic way. So, I feel it’s created an environment where women’s strengths, such as feelings and sensitivity, is not expressed well.

3. Why do you think jazz is such a part of the music scene in Japan? I’ve profiled so many jazz cafes and bars on my website, many foreign visitors cannot believe how many there are. What is it about Jazz that has such an appeal here?

Jazz has been in Japan for a long time as a “foreign music” post WWII, but I think as it developed into more varieties, people found more spaces to express their individuality.

4. What are your upcoming projects?

Last year in December I released a CD DJ mix called JAPAN GUIDE ‘Piece The Next’, which focuses on some young musicians in Japan. I also produced the new release for the group RM Jazz Legacy. I hope to get JAPAN GUIDE Vol.2 going soon.

5. Top 3 favorite albums

Steve Reid 『Rhythmatism』/Max Roach 『Members, Don’t Git Weary』/ Ahmad Jamal 『Blue Moon: The New York Sessions』

Otsuka Hiroko www.djotsuka.com – @djotsuka

DJ Otsuka will be at Brooklyn Parlor in Shinjuku from 1930, tomorrow March 17th. http://www.brooklynparlor.co.jp/shinjuku/event/317_hirokootsuka_gmp/