By his own admission, Shintaro Haioka was a late bloomer. The 32-year-old producer, one of only two Japanese artists taking part in the upcoming Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo, says he was an avid music fan as a teenager — but a lousy musician.

"I'm completely tone-deaf," he says. "I don't have any sense of rhythm and I'm a terrible dancer. I'm too embarrassed to go to karaoke, even."

Only after discovering the liberating power of music technology, with its sequencers and quantized rhythms, did Haioka embark on his present career. In his early 20s, he joined Bremen, a pop-savvy dance-rock trio who skirted the periphery of mainstream success during the 2000s, even snagging a slot at the Summer Sonic music festival in 2006.