Six years ago at a party in Brighton, England, a hooded Japanese man entered the room and proceeded to tear up the place using only a Game Boy and a megaphone. Sofa cushions were flying all over the place as the crowd at this impromptu gig pogoed manically up and down to a frenetic blizzard of blips and bleeps generated by the makeshift instrument. This was the first time I encountered DJ Scotch Egg, an expatriate who hammered a name out for himself in Britain’s burgeoning chiptune scene, with an storm of grimy aggravating gabba beats.
The start of April sees DJ Scotch Egg, aka Shigeru Ishihara, splat back down onto home turf to perform at SonarSound Tokyo. The two-day event will also feature acts such as Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Ryoji Ikeda, Battles and Kode9. On Tuesday, it was announced that Karl Hyde and Darren Price of Underworld fame were also set to fly into Tokyo for a shot at the decks.
Ishihara released his last album, “Scotch Egg’s Encyclopedia of Hardcore Chiptune,” three years ago. During that time he dabbled in other devices, but came back to that hand-held piece of hardware.
“I stopped for one year,” he says. “The Game Boy is so limited, it was difficult to make new ideas after four years of nonstop playing. Then I tried using a computer to expand on the idea, but it didn’t work. I realized the answer was that using just a Game Boy is the most powerful thing. For example, it is so limited, so you’ve got to use more imagination to break its limitations.”
Ishihara is a strong supporter of the Japanese music scene and, as an international artist, hopes to promote it overseas. “Here in Japan there are so many amazing musicians and subcultures. But not all of them have a chance to get out of Japan. I believe some of them are much more inspirational and edgier in a positive way, but they have a smaller industry around them. So I think it is important to bring these artists to other foreign countries to introduce actual subcultures to new audiences.”
Ishihara says his new sound is minimal, but also describes it as “heavier and harder.” He sums up by promising his performance at SonarSound will be “small but hard!”
SonarSound Tokyo takes place at Studio Coast on April 2-3. For details, visit www.sonarsound.jp/en
or www.myspace.com/djscotchegg. In light of the recent Tohoku-Kanto earthquake, Beatink, the organizers of Sonar and the artists and sponsors participating in SonarSound Tokyo will donate profits from the event to the Japanese Red Cross. There will also be donation and information booths for guests at the venue.