After25 seeks music ties for Tokyo, Berlin

by Mike Sunda

Special To The Japan Times

From Vincent Van Gogh’s ukiyo-e inspired paintings to novelist Natsume Soseki’s period of studies in the United Kingdom, Tokyo has long cultivated intercity relations with the likes of Paris and London through the mediums of art and literature. However, when it comes to linking Japan and Germany’s respective capitals, you’d be forgiven if nothing immediately came to mind.

This week, Laurent Novatin and Ryotaro Chikushi — both of whom are event organizers, based in Berlin and Tokyo respectively — will attempt to foster a partnership between the two capitals via their After25 event.

After25, whose title alludes to the quarter-century since the Berlin wall fell and subsequently inspired an explosion of subcultural growth within the city, consists of both a daytime conference and then a club event at Unit in Tokyo’s Daikanyama neighborhood at night.

“(Ryo and I) are developing our own music search and discovery technology (Moretrax.com) and so we wanted to get connected more deeply with the tech and music scenes, and industry of both cities while also helping out the struggling subcultural scene in Tokyo by inspiring key players and actors here with stories from Berlin,” explains Novatin, who has invited speakers such as Robert Henke (co-founder of music software company Ableton), who will also perform as Monolake at the night show, presenting Lumiere — a spectacular audio-visual live show that uses high-power lasers. Elsewhere on the bill, Japanese musicians including DJ Nobu and Open Reel Ensemble will provide proof of Tokyo’s own potential for creativity and forward-thinking artistry.

“I think people are drawn to Berlin’s club scene and low cost of living, and then eventually experience the freedom that the city offers, which is where the real creative scene is born. Even though more people have come to Berlin and living costs are rising, the core values that made the city what it was are still very much at the forefront of the way people think and the local government operates,” Novatin says.

“Tokyo is quite the opposite. The high cost of living already takes away a lot of freedom but, socially, there is also a negative view of failure. Experimentation goes hand in hand with failure and without it there can be no growth. Nevertheless, Tokyo has one of the most diverse subcultural and creative scenes I have seen — it is very isolated from the mainstream but the potential for growth is massive. We believe that supporting creators and entrepreneurs is key to carrying the city through the next decades both economically and socially.”

After25 takes place at Unit in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, on March 1 (¥4,000; 11 p.m. start; 03-5459-8630). Robert Henke, Yuko Asanuma and Burnt Friedman will appear on Dommune.com on Feb. 28. For details, visit www.moretrax.com/after25 .