The final months of 2016 left Yusuke Kawai feeling confused. The electronic artist who records under the name tofubeats came across a BBC news segment touching on the concept of "post-truth" — the Oxford Dictionary named it word of the year and defines it as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief" — and it struck a chord with him. In late October, he uploaded a seemingly angry lyric-focused rap song reaction called "Shoppingmall" to YouTube.

"It's not aggression, it's more like a void ... an emptiness," Kawai tells the Japan Times at cafe Anjin in Daikanyama, Tokyo. "Things aren't getting better. There aren't any answers to the problems we are facing. I don't know what kind of music I should be making, or even what I should be doing to make a better future."

Kawai realized, however, that he was well placed to voice these feelings. As tofubeats, he's gained attention as a producer in the style of Yasutaka Nakata (who has remixed his work) and Tetsuya Komuro (whom he has collaborated with). He's stepped up to the microphone plenty to deliver Auto-tuned vocals over wonky sounds that he fostered as one of the biggest names in Japan's netlabel scene, but his major hits were born from creating music for guest vocalists such as Chisato Moritaka and Bonnie Pink.