Over the weekend, I traveled over 500 miles round-trip from Tokyo to Kyoto to see one of my favorite Japanese underground artists, in the blue shirt, perform at an exciting live music event held during the day called “ALPS0415“. The venue was a club called Metro that was conveniently located in Jingu-Marutamachi Station close to downtown Kyoto. I have traveled to a large number of places in Japan and gone to many music events, but to my surprise this was the first time I had ever seen an actual club located in a train station! After drinking many beers and cocktails with my friend who lives in Kyoto, we decided to go and party with some of the best underground producers in the Kansai region.
I first discovered in the blue shirt online through his album called “Sensation of Blueness” which he released through Tokyo’s continuously growing independent label called Trekkie Trax. The album caught my attention due to its cover artwork and the unique name of its famed creator! I have seen him perform in Tokyo before and briefly spoke with him at the Trekkie Trax 5th Anniversary party held earlier this year, but since his shows have recently been relatively rare and I wanted to see more of the clubs in Kyoto, I decided to make the Journey to the West here.
The above video was taken by me the first time I saw him at an event in Tokyo called 家だけにyeah!
One of the reasons that I love in the blue shirt as an artist is because he has a deep understanding of how music and aesthetics go together. His music video for “Stevenson Screen” depicts scenes that one encounters in everyday life in Japan with sudden bursts of color that go along with the upbeat instrumentals. When I listen to this song and walk around my neighborhood of Tokyo, I feel energized and in-tune with my surroundings but also nostalgic of my childhood in America at the same time. A lot of the vocal cuts in his songs correspond with the thoughts of my bilingual mind. I have developed the tendency to simultaneously think in both English to Japanese, and a number of his songs use samples from both languages interchangeably. While this song uses distorted vocals, one can find many ambiguous themes and meanings within it:
in the blue shirt’s music uses a complex range of samples with some being taken from familiar songs worldwide (both classical music and recently popular radio hits) to those that are from other lesser known underground artists, and also some arrangements composed by himself! He is known to use synths, keyboards, and guitars in his compositions as well as a variety of sound editing software. His music appeals to a lot of videogame and anime fans due to its style and often retro feel, but some of his recent releases and remixes have an oldschool R&B influence and it is evident that his music is influenced by a number of artists and genres. I would honestly recommend his music to everyone! I think it is very upbeat and happy, and gives its listeners a lot to think about!
One funny thing I like about his Soundcloud is that much of his earlier song artwork is a simple drawing of PaRappa the Rapper placed on different backgrounds and photoshopped into some pretty hilarious things. On the back of the laptop that he uses to DJ, he has a decal of PaRappa as well, mirroring the aesthetic of his music.
Kyoto Metro is truly a phenomenal club. There is a sign outside the entrance that says “No Dancing” but literally everyone inside standing in front of the main stage was jumping up and down and vibing to the speakers. I walked in just as a live band (called Dalljub Step Club) was going on, and they were singing about pizza and the lead singer was crowdsurfing. It seems I arrived at the perfect time! After watching another high-energy artist called Miii DJ, in the blue shirt took the main stage and starting playing a mix of his classic hits and what I assume are exclusives that he is working on for his new album:
The performance that he put on was simply amazing! He really knows how to work a crowd with his animated and dynamic movements. I love the sound of the electronic and highly synthetic jams with the extra instrumentals he plays during his live performances. I fortunately was able to make my way near the front of the stage right before he went on, and I am happy I could see the way he DJs up close because it is very unique! The extra dog barking SFX he added during this song was very creative and made me happy that I had seen it live:
I stayed until the end of his set, gave him my thanks for an amazing show, then quickly made my way back on the last shinkansen to Tokyo! This weekend was an unbelievably crazy adventure, but I am happy that I got to experience more of Kyoto and see its underground music scene! Kansai artists are often overshadowed by Tokyo ones, but it is evident that the music scene of the Kansai region is growing and looks very promising!
in the blue shirt usually announces his events on his Twitter account, because that seems to be the most efficient way of spreading the word in the Japanese underground music community. Be sure to support him on Bandcamp if you are interested in his music!