Le Bain

You Give Me JOY

We chat with Yuji Kawasaki and Takaya Nagase of the NYC collective Joy before return to Le Bain on Saturday, January 19th.
LE BAIN: Could you both tell us how and when you fell in love with dance music?
YUJI: I was shocked when I listened to an '80s hip-hop tape that my friend gave me. I was 15 years old. The tape had records like Double Dee & Steinski's "Lesson 3" (History of Hip Hop Mix) and Cold Cut's "Beats And Pieces," and it was so dope that I became very interested in dance music and club culture...
TAKAYA: I started going to nightclubs when I was in high school [in Tokyo]. That was first time I danced to a big sound system. I loved it. 

Which club had the biggest impression on you?
TAKAYA: The club Gold in Tokyo was huge. It was the first time I saw an entire building be a nightclub. Tony Humphries was playing on the main floor. This is where I experienced house music. Then I got the chance to see [the legendary NY DJ] Larry Levan play at Gold, and after that I couldn’t stop thinking about seeing New York. 

"JOY is a place to go on a musical journey." –Takaya Nagase

I guess your love for dance music brought you from Japan to New York.
TAKAYA: Everything that was happening in New York at that time, all the sounds that were coming out of New York, brought me here in the early 1990s. I experienced the nightclubs and the Loft. That changed my life. 

YUJI: I moved to NYC in 2003. I was impressed by the diversity. So many characters.

You two are part of the JOY party collective with Douglas Sherman and Nari. Can you describe the influence of 
David Mancuso's Loft parties  on JOY? 
TAKAYA: When I met David, I was very impressed by the way he played music. He would play songs from beginning to end without touching the EQ, mixing, or using any other equipment–just two turntables and pre-amp. I never experienced this quality of sound before. David created a community that became like a family at his parties. 

YUJI: Besides the audio system set up, I learned from Mr. Mancuso that the safety of the guests was the most important thing in order for them to enjoy the party. 

And what did you guys take from the Loft and instill into JOY?
TAKAYA: For JOY, we use the same way to play records. Sound quality is important–that’s why we don’t use a DJ mixer. Room acoustics are more important than sound equipment. JOY is a place to go on a musical journey. It is a safe place to dance and enjoy pure sound. We have created a community similar to the Loft. JOY is happiness. 

After all those years in NYC, what do you miss the most from Japan, in terms of music?
TAKAYA: Before I moved to New York, I would play at clubs in Tokyo. So many people would go out, and they were so excited. I miss that energy. 

YUJI: I miss my DJ friends, party people, and good record stores in Japan.

Tell us about the latest thing that gave you JOY.
TAKAYA: I am feeling joy right now. I am traveling in Spain with great company. 

YUJI: I'm currently making my own music and it gives me a lot of joy! I'm enjoying every step.
On Sunday, September 16th, Le Bain presents Nouveau York Sunset
feat. Takaya Nagase and Yuji Kawasaki (JOY, New York)
The Standard, High Line | 2pm

This post was originally published in September 2018. 

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