Dommune welcomes British broadcasting platform Boiler Room to Tokyo

by Mike Sunda

Special To The Japan Times

It might not be a substitute for experiencing music in a night club, but the live-streaming medium has become increasingly popular over the years, offering viewers a chance to watch their favorite DJs from the comfort of their own bedroom.

In Japan, the most notable live-streaming music venue is Dommune, founded by Naohiro Ukawa, which broadcasts a mix of talk shows and DJ performances every night between Monday and Thursday from its diminutive studio in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

Just as Dommune is now regarded as an institution in the Tokyo club scene, Britain has its own equivalent in the form of Boiler Room, which is based out of London. The parallels between Dommune and Boiler Room are many: both have hosted the world’s top DJs, both are watched by tens of thousands of viewers daily and both have amassed a global following via the limitless reach of the Internet. They even began around the same time, with both streaming their inaugural broadcasts in March 2010.

In contrast to the high-tech polish of Dommune, Boiler Room began in a do-it-yourself fashion typical of London’s rich musical culture of pirate radio and warehouse parties.

“You won’t believe this, but I had never heard of Dommune until about six months into running Boiler Room,” explains Boiler Room founder Blaise Bellville. “They had tons of camera angles, live-video mixing and their own venue. We had the worst production standards ever: a USB webcam, an old MacBook and a diesel generator for electricity.”

Despite the humble beginning, Boiler Room has taken little time to expand its reach globally and now regularly broadcasts from locations such as Paris, Berlin and New York. This month marks its first visit to Tokyo, during which it will collaborate with Dommune to broadcast three special editions. The first broadcast will be in record store Jazzy Sport in Meguro Ward on June 17, with followups featuring local house and disco veterans Force of Nature (KZA & DJ Kent) at Unice on June 20, and the tantalizing prospect of noise acts Boris and Merzbow at the Dommune studio itself on June 24.

“It’s a big move for us,” says Bellville. “Our aim is to provide keyholes into musical subcultures and by doing so, to allow online music fans to connect with what would otherwise have been a distant and unavailable scene. Following that mission, Tokyo is of course a vital development for us. Call this trip a soft launch if you like, all we really know is that we’re definitely here to stay”.

Boiler Room Tokyo x Dommune takes place at Jazzy Sport in Meguro-ku, Tokyo, on June 17 (9:30 p.m. start); Unice in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, on June 20 (11 p.m. start); and at Dommune’s studio in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, on June 24 (11 p.m. and 9 p.m. starts). For more information, visit www.dommune.com or www.boilerroom.tv.