Datafruits brings netlabel talent to a wider audience

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

It was a bit of good timing for Tony Miller when two underground music scenes he liked intersected in 2011.

“I was becoming increasingly interested in the U.K.’s pirate radio scene, and I thought I could use my Web engineering skills to make something similar. I was also getting really into Japan’s netlabel scene and thought this could be an interesting place to showcase some of that.”

Later that year, Miller created Datafruits.fm, an online radio station in the mold of Britain’s Rinse.fm and Sub.fm, but with a Japan-centric sound. Miller’s site streams DJ sets from artists operating within Japan’s Internet-based netlabel scene. Listeners can tune in from the site’s main page, or download shows later.

Miller started Datafruits while living in Tacoma, Washington, but he eventually visited Tokyo in 2012 and met some of the artists associated with the Maltine Records netlabel.

“It was difficult to attract DJs initially,” he says, citing problems trying to figure out which software programs should be used for broadcasting. “Now that I’ve done stuff in Japan, though, it has gotten easier.”

At first, Miller says he wanted Datafruits to feature “nearly every genre and style I was interested in,” including a fair amount of music built around 8-bit video-game sounds. The people contributing sets to the station, though, have been leaning toward music associated with Japanese netlabels.

Datafruits isn’t the only online radio station catering to Japanese indie music, but Miller thinks he is still delivering a “unique and current” selection from a specific Japanese scene.

“I get a lot of sets from artists in Japan, but also from people in America and South Korea,” he says. “I mostly look for someone who can put together a consistent mix with a good flow, and has at least a somewhat similar taste in music to me.”

So far, Datafruits has featured online sessions from Maltine cofounder Tomohiro Konuta (better known as Tomad), footwork artist Foodman and Tokyo-based electronic act Seimei. The latter helped Datafruits set up events in Japan including a non-Internet party dubbed Bass Gorilla, and a Datafruits session on Tokyo-based concert-streaming website 2.5D in March. These physical parties gave Miller something he says is lacking from an online station.

“I can ask pretty much anybody to play Datafruits, that’s really great. On the other hand, there’s nothing like a scene where people live fairly close together. It’s easier to collaborate that way.”

Miller says that, for various reasons, Datafruits hasn’t been broadcasting quite as much as it used to (he says he used to do a show at least once a week), but he hopes to change that soon. “I am writing lots of code everyday, I have lots of ideas for how to make it more interactive and fun.”

“I want to keep working in this space and see what’s possible.”

For more information, visit www.datafruits.fm.