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Steruss

by Mike Sunda

Special To The Japan Times

You’re performing on the Red Marquee this year as a result of winning the Rookie A Go-Go competition at last year’s festival, how does that feel?

crime6 (MC): Last year we didn’t expect to win at all. There were so many great bands — actually lots of them came out to watch us today. The way it works is by number of votes, and everyone helped support us by spreading the word on Twitter and on the Internet.

Belama2 (MC): I think there were both bands who understood how the system worked, but also those who didn’t really. We were lucky enough to be performing at a good time of night so there were lots of people watching and they all looked as if they enjoyed our show. We enjoyed it, too. Our results from the first round of voting weren’t super impressive or anything, but we knew that we’d like to play on one of the main Fuji Rock stages next year and so we carried on putting the effort into getting the word out through to a second round of votes and so forth.

What were your impressions of the festival that year?

Kazz-K (DJ): Personally speaking, it was our first Fuji Rock and we knew that there weren’t that many hip-hop acts or anything, so as a hip-hop DJ and crew we all wanted to show the appeal of hip-hop to rock fans, too.

I heard lots of people coming out of your gig earlier and it seemed like they had just seen you for the first time. A lot of them were comparing you to Jurassic 5.

crime6: We’re really happy to hear it!

Belama2: There’s two of us MCing at the moment but when we started out we had four MCs in the band — we were set up just like Jurassic 5. They were a big influence on us.

Kazz-K: When Jurassic 5 released their album “Quality Control” in 2000 we thought we wanted to do something like that — we just happened to lose a couple of members on the way, and now we’re set up like this.

You performed some tracks alongside fellow Yokohama natives Atata and Cypress Ueno & Roberto Yoshino, how did that come about?

crime6: We asked Atata to play with us as soon as we found out that we’d be performing.

Belama2: We’d started making those collaborative tracks (“Last Day” with Atata and “Mic Chuudoku Parts 2 and 3″ with Cypress Ueno & Roberto Yoshino) before we knew about our Fuji Rock appearance. We weren’t sure whether we’d be playing or not, but we still had a feeling we might be able to. We decided to start preparing for the possibility anyway and practiced those songs that we would be playing together. We performed “Mic Chuudoku Part 2″ as our last track at Rookie A Go-Go last year, and now having played Part 3 earlier today there’s that connection this year, too.

crime6: Even though they’ve got families and other things to deal with, we were so appreciative that they’d come all the way out here just to perform the one song with us. Even during the performance we thought that aspect really transmitted across to the crowd.

What’s so special about the Yokohama scene?

crime6: Everywhere else in Japan, when people ask you where you’re from you answer with the prefecture you live in, or if you’re from Tokyo then you say Tokyo. Yokohama is in Kanagawa Prefecture, but when people ask you where you’re from you always answer “Yokohama” with pride.

Kazz-K: Yokohama has a history of being influenced by the American West Coast scene, so that was something we’ve been brought up with.

Belama2: Regardless of genre, we wanted to make music that represented the city we’re from — Yokohama. It just so happened that the art form we chose was hip-hop. You asked what’s special about the Yokohama scene: An alt-rock band like Atata mainly performs in live-house venues, we play mostly in clubs, then there’s DJs like LEF!!! Crew!!! — but ultimately we all come together, there’s no walls or boundaries between us. There’s no sense of the genres being separate from each other. We’re all just happy to be around cool, talented people. Then when each of us tours and plays in other cities, we’re all spreading the Yokohama style.

So who are you looking forward to seeing this year?

In unison: Jurassic 5, of course!

crime6: We’d obviously been communicating with Fuji Rock from the beginning, and we’d requested to have two turntables for our performance. Whether the request didn’t go through properly or not I don’t know, but when we arrived for the rehearsals there were no decks and we were thinking, “Oh, sh-t!” So the Fuji Rock people went looking and they came back with two decks … with Jurassic 5 stickers on them! They’d brought them all the way from the White Stage (where Jurassic 5 played later). We were practically shaking!