For the nineteenth installment of our interview series, we introduce Risa Taniguchi.
Risa Taniguchi is arriving at the forefront of the dark techno wave that has washed over the underground in recent years. Since her first release back in 2018, Risa has attracted high profile interest from A-list players Chris Liebing, Amelie Lens, Dense & Pika, Pan Pot, Perc and Daniel Avery; has hit the Top 5 of the Beatport’s Leftfield Techno Chart and played everywhere from De Marktkantine in Amsterdam to Watergate in Berlin and of course all the most revered spaces all across Japan including Contact, Womb, and Vent.
She has delivered a continuous flow of new music on big labels like Pan Pot’s Second State, Dense & Pika’s Kneaded Pains, and recently an upcoming 3-track EP ‘Acid Flesh‘, which is a collaboration between her and Black Asteroid to be released on november 2022 via Chris Liebing’s CLR.
We chatted with her about this upcoming release, and a few more aspects of her career. Read the full interview below.
Hello Risa Taniguchi, it’s a pleasure having you in our interview series, thank you. First of all, how are you and where in the world are you taking this interview?
Hello! Thanks a lot for having me. I’m answering this from my studio in Tokyo, Japan, while having a glass of cold brew.
How and when did your career in the electronic music scene started, and what do you think has brought you to where you are today?
It was when I was a uni student that I first experienced a club in my life. I do remember the first event, which was a really mind-blowing night. Around that time, I had never listened to (I might have had “heard” tho) electronic music really, since I was a classical music nerd. The music being played at the venue was something very new to me and although I hadn’t even ever moved my body to the music either, I did find myself ending up dancing like crazy even without any alcohol drinks (my friend was looking at me and very surprised) – I was really mesmerized by everything existing at the venue. I was really curious about WHAT or WHO was controlling and ruling the space and found that it was “djs”. I had no idea what was “djing”, but right after that night, I started digging into electronic music by using overseas music blogs where we could find lots of free music and I saved money by working part-time (technically, it could be said as full-time tho!) to buy my own DJ gear. I was basically the type of person who wouldn’t take the plunge, but my decision to open the door to night clubs was made really quick and I was as if possessed with something.
Do you remember what was your first release ever, in what label, and how do you achieve it?
The very first release in my career was from my old own domestic label with my old alias, but as for international debut, it was from Lyase Recordings by Whitesquare and NT89, who were my friends. Then, it was followed by the first EP release on Clash Lion, owned by the three amazing artists Daniel Watts, TERR, and Shall Ocin. I was (am, also) really into Maceo Plex’ music and I had been trying to send my demos to his label several times. One day I found he had released an EP from Clash Lion and researched about the label. There was no magic or something like that, I just sent my demos to the label via social media and they liked my music, then it happened.
Congratulations for the ‘Acid Flesh EP’ made in collaboration with black Asteroid for CLR, tell us the story, how all this happened and ended up on Chris Liebing label?
Thank you! I’m really thrilled about the release. This summer, Bryan (Black Asteroid) was in Japan for his long sabbatical and he gave me a shout. Of course I knew him as an artist, but I was curious about how he got to know me. When we met up, he told me that one of his friends in the US, Hiroko Yamamura recommended me, so I really appreciate that. We talked about labels that we were interested in and CLR was the first and the most label we agreed on hoping to release from. Since Bryan had released his music on the label in the past, as well as he’s a good friend of Chris Liebing, we could send the finished songs to Chris and he liked it right away.
Risa Taniguchi & Black Asteroid ‘Acid Flesh EP’ drops on CLR on 18th November 2022. Tracklist. 01 Acid Flesh02 Compulsion03 Gunk Artist: Risa Taniguchi & Black AsteroidTitle: Acid Flesh EPLabel: CLRRelease date: 18th November 2022Cat No: CLR105Format: Digital Pre order: Soon at Bandcamp, BeatportFull details
How do you feel and how was it working in a collaboration with Black Asteroid? This was the first time ever?
Yes, it was my very first collab work with him and as I mentioned above, we met up in Japan for the first time in person this summer. Even though it was the first time to hang out, I quickly noticed that we had so many things in common that we love. For instance, we both like black clothes and he has produced show music for brands that I love, such as Raf Simons and Rick Owens, also we kind of have a darker side of aesthetics, and we do love wines. After we did studio work together, we went to a nearby restaurant and a bar, where we enjoyed several wines. I was really comfortable being with him, although we had never spent time together.
How long does it take you guys to make this EP, and how was the process of working in a collaboration, it was in sessions, by distance, both, how was it?
We did studio work together during his stay, he was bringing some of his own recorded samples and I had my external HDD with tons of my own files too, so I opened Ableton Live and imported some of his samples. I jammed with it for a while until I found a specific groove from it, by using mine too. After he left Japan to be back in the states, we collaborated remotely too, by using Live projects only with built-in Audio Effects, so we could see the arrangement with each other. Exchanging musical ideas with such an experienced artist was really a fun process for me. There are both kinds of songs in the EP, ones arranged by him mainly and ones by me. I found it so cool that the final songs contained lots of signature sounds from both parties!
How would you describe the sound you both made for this EP?
I’d say the 3 tracks will definitely provide you an illusion where you are as if inside a dark night club.
Bryan has literally one of only sound & feel he creates, especially the ones that his modular synth collection generates inspired me a lot. I’m so sure I couldn’t make this EP without his talent. With this collab work, I’m now considering integrating some new hardware synths into my production.
Any other releases on your side planned that you can tell us a little about?
I’ve just confirmed another EP release on a label I’ve worked with several times, really nice to be back on the label. I’ll keep you posted once the information goes out.
What do you enjoy the most, producing music or DJing?
For me, that’s DJing. Music production is an activity of facing with my own-self and it sometimes poses a challenge to me. I started DJing first, and in order to make my sets more unique, I naturally started making music. I’d have to admit that Making Music is Hard. But the tougher the process is, the more I can receive the sense of achievement when someone (can be a label, or audience, or even myself) gives me a nice feedback. This rewarding moment makes it hard to stop making music.
How and when did you learn to produce music, any tip?
When I was almost giving up my DJ career, I asked myself what I would do if today’s my last day. Then I answered like, “I want to dj overseas”. Then, the next question popped up in my mind was, “how can I make it happen?”. As a dj based in Japan, there was only one way to spread my name to the world, which was obviously to make my own music. Honestly it was challenging in the first years, (still now) but I was really lucky enough to have great and supportive people around me. While I learned how to make music using YouTube and analyzing what made a song great with using my favorite tracks, I asked for feedback on my demos to artist friends, and one day they told me my music was cool. There’s no tip actually, I just studied hard.
How do you prepare your DJ sets when djing? How do you organize your music or playlists/folders in your USB’s when going to play a gig?
Pretty simple, I make a bunch of folders in my USB using rekordbox, and always pick up some newest tracks that I purchased and put them in a folder, so I can easily find them in my set. I always try not to make an identical setlist in my gigs, so the audience can experience a unique set from me.
In your opinion, what do you think has changed or is changing in the electronic music industry, since you know it, and if you consider it good or bad?
I’m based in Japan at the moment, so I can only talk from a Japanese point of view, but nowadays less younger generation go to a nightclub in my country. They are now pretty conservative and don’t go out at midnight. I guess I’m the last generation where clubbing was considered as one of the “cool” activities for lads. Then, the club scene in Tokyo was deeply connected with the fashion industry and we enjoyed a lot to dress up with our favorite brands’ clothes and to show it off in a club and dance like crazy. I’d say it’s a sad thing.
To this moment, what would you consider as your most significant achievement in your career as an artist?
It’s a very recent story but I heard that Chris Liebing recognized me as a producer and he said I’m a “great producer”. When I first heard that, I instantly remembered my early days as a wanna-be producer, who was sticking to YouTube production tutorials, and felt a sort of a sense of achievement.
Thanks a lot for your time, to close the interview and for curiosity, what kind of music do you listen to besides electronic music?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, I’m a big fan of classical music. I do love Claude Debussy’s piano pieces such as Estampes and Images. I play them sometimes when I feel like unwinding myself. I love Chopin’s piano works too, such as Barcarolle and the four Ballades.
Thank you for having me, it was fun to look back on my early days and follow the trajectory. Have a nice day!
Listen below to the SlamRadio # 517 with Risa Taniguchi & Black Asteroid:
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