Jayda B leaves a dent on Tokyo’s electronic scene

by

Special To The Japan Times

Radio host Jayda B is wrapping up an interview with Japanese electronic artist starRo as I enter JBS, a cozy Shibuya bar where the walls are lined with records. Later, she’ll edit the recording down for her self-produced program DENTradio, which airs weekly on a radio station in her hometown of Atlanta. She began the show while studying in Japan in 2010, and takes care of all the program’s promotional elements, including writing descriptions and social media blurbs in English and Japanese. But now, it’s her turn to be interviewed.

“I’ve only been back in Japan for a few months and already everything has been really busy,” she says. “Everything I’ve been positive about has actually happened. But it has been happening so quickly.”

Jayda B recently began hosting another radio show, Press Play Japan, hosted by Block.fm, a Tokyo-based English-language Internet radio station. The program aims to introduce Japan’s underground club music to local non-Japanese electronic music fans and those outside the country.

So how did she end up here? Jayda B says her interest in Japan was a direct result of how boring her Latin class was in high school. (“It was so, so boring,” she says.) And the only other language class with spaces for new students? Japanese.

“I picked it up really quickly and continued with it through college,” Jayda B says. She then found herself diving into Japanese music, citing electronic duo m-flo as her entry point.

“You aren’t just saying that because of Block.fm?” asks the radio’s employee Tom Kinoshita. Block.fm was founded by m-flo’s Taku Takahashi in 2011.

“No no,” she says with a laugh, “that’s just a coincidence — I promise.”

Eventually Jayda B came to Japan to study in Kyoto for two months, and later enrolled at Tokyo’s Temple University. She took advantage of an unused recording studio on campus to develop DENTradio.

“Nobody was like ‘Hey Jayda, do you want this radio show?’ I had to make it for myself,” she says.

After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, her university sent her back to the United States with the other visiting students. Jayda B returned to Atlanta, DENTradion went on hiatus and she began working an office job she hated.

“After a while, I just built up the strength to be like, ‘You know what, I’m going to go for it,’ ” she says of her decision to return to Japan.

In April 2015, Jayda B came back and restarted DENTradio. Her commitment to interviewing Japanese electronic artists caught Kinoshita’s attention as Press Play Japan was just getting off the ground.

“Our boss had always wanted to make something that was marketed more toward non-Japanese listeners,” says Kinoshita. “Taku specifically wanted someone who spoke English natively.”

Then, last fall, Kinoshita met Jayda B by chance in Shibuya’s Vision nightclub and asked if she would like to do something with Block.fm. In November, Jayda B hosted the debut episode of Press Play Japan.

The first show offered a broad view of the local electronic scene, jumping from wonky bass artists such as Seiho to disco tunes by Dorian. Despite trying to pack a little too much in, it’s a solid introduction to the scene.

Kinoshita says the target audience is English speakers inside and outside Japan. Press Play Japan offers a needed gateway into Japan’s electronic community on a relatively well-known platform. They expect the next episode to air sometime in February or early March.

Despite her workload, Jayda B is still producing and hosting DENTradio, and she has also started garnering DJ bookings. “I haven’t even put out my mix yet. I want it to be perfect — I want it to be fire!” It’s a lot to juggle, but she feels she can handle it,” she says. “I don’t know my limits … but I make sure everything gets done.”

For more information, visit soundcloud.com/dentradio and http:// block.fm.

Jayda B’s top three Japanese acts to watch in 2016

Seiho
His production is so top-notch, and his style is so unique. It’s eccentric but done in his own Seiho way. He’ll play his music and he’ll have all his different instruments on stage. And while he’s playing, he’ll do ikebana. He’s a unicorn.

Masayoshi Iimori
He’s with (record label) Trekkie Trax. Every time I’ve seen him live, it is so amazing to me just because he’s so into trap culture, and me being from Atlanta, it’s interesting to see his take on trap and bass music together. His mixes are just impeccable.

Parkgolf
He’s on Day Tripper Records, and he was actually discovered by Seiho. His production is really unique, too. He’s really fun, he’s really chill. He’s from Sapporo, and I enjoy watching him live — he’s so energetic and wild.