LE BAIN: Last winter, you moved from New York to Berlin. You were raised in Tokyo, went to school in France, and then lived in NYC for a while. As of today, do you feel like a New Yorker in Berlin? A citizen of the world?
ALEX FROM TOKYO: Life is a journey and I have been very lucky to live in Tokyo, Paris, NYC, and now Berlin—four capitals with totally different strong identities which have all definitely made me a music citizen of the world. It feels right for me to be in Berlin today as a base to work on all my music and audio projects. Berlin is such a creative, liberal, and cultural capital at the center of the world's music and art scene. It also has been great to be back in Europe after all those years living in Japan, and NYC has a certain energy I was missing. I have always felt different everywhere I go in the world, but music connects all of us.
"Vietnam is booming in every way!"
You spent the last months all over Europe and Asia and you toured Taiwan and Vietnam last week. How is the club scene there?
I played for the first time in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City three years ago at this little club/gallery space called The Observatory. I have been playing there twice a year and watching the scene grow, and now I am starting a residency there. Through The Observatory, we are talking about a great new free-form, eclectic, quality underground dance music community. The same is happening in Hanoi at a very good club called Savage, where I played for the opening. Vietnam is a a beautiful country, it is booming in every way, and a fresh underground scene is definitely blossoming! Taipei has one of the greatest music venue clubs in Asia called Korner. It is quite an institution with a great alternative scene from indie rock to deep electronic music. There is a great connection between all those specialized underground clubs and cities in Asia.
In what ways are those underground clubs different that the ones in Tokyo, Berlin, or New York?
There is a great, pure energy, the vibe is a bit more organic and relaxed than in all the big capitals, there are great local DJs, and the local crowd is very enthusiastic, hungry, and receptive to an amazing high-level mixture of different dance music sounds from all around the world. It is a new clubbing experience and lifestyle that I feel is very refreshing and exciting!
Let's go back to Europe and Paris. Is the Parisian electronic scene as active, fun, and busy as it looks?
There always has been amazing music and so many talented and inspiring DJs, artists, musicians, and labels coming out of Paris, but I felt the club scene was pretty segmented and trend-oriented. Today, there is a lot of energy and a new young, enthusiastic music-loving crowd. It feels fresh and quite different, which can feel a bit weird sometimes. There are lots of very good crews with very open-minded receptive crowds, like the great Mona party with DJ Nick V, the Haiku party, La Mamie's etc. Paris needs a great proper medium-size club, though!
"Tokyo still feels like home somehow."
I see you just played in Ibiza with Harvey. Wow. Tell us about that.
It was my very first time playing in Ibiza and it was great to play with Harvey. I played in the second room of Black Coffee’s residency at the brand new big club Hi. I went to see Harvey at his weekly Monday residency at the charming legendary Pikes Hotel and that was quite the real Balearic experience with a very nice older crowd of middle-aged ravers. I also spent some good time with my dear friend, the New York-based DJ Willie Graff who is from Ibiza. Willie plays every Wednesday with one of the original Balearic DJ Pippi in the Funky Room at the original beautiful Ibicenco-style built club Pacha. It was fun to experience the great Las Dalias hippie market where they had this nice open-air party called Acid Sundays. There are some new, exciting things happening again in Ibiza besides the big commercial clubs.
Let's go back to your roots. What’s up with Tokyo?
After all those years visiting and working regularly there, Tokyo still feels like home somehow. The energy is not as a high as it used to be, but it is still a very exciting and inspiring megalopolis. We've been doing our Sunday Afternoon party Gallery every few months at CAY in Tokyo for 19 years now! I will be playing late October at the very good club Contact and at 0 Zero with Dimitri for Halloween. One unique aspect of the nightlife in Tokyo is all the great small DJ music venues.
Is there really a Tokyo Black Star [Alex' band] live project in the making?
I am planning to re-launch my label World Famous from Berlin and we are working on it now, with the three of us putting together a Tokyo Black Star live show project for next year to tour!