- Soichi Terada has enjoyed a renaissance in 2015. Off the back of a well received retrospective compilation on Rush Hour in February, the Japanese house artist has spent the past few months premiering his new live show to European audiences. During a recent trip to Tokyo, Terada's hometown, I saw that he had been booked to perform alongside his longtime collaborator and best friend Shinichiro Yokota for the first time since 1998. That wasn't an opportunity I was going to pass up.
Billed as "an intimate evening amongst friends," that's exactly what this party was. The venue, Click, is a tiny basement with a capacity of about 30, tucked away from the bright lights of Shibuya beneath a motorway overpass in east Tokyo's residential Ikejiri neighbourhood. It was easily one of the sleepiest places I visited during my two-week stay in Japan.
The club resembled somebody's living room, complete with a bar and plenty of cosy charm. There was bedding in one of the corners and a single bathroom opened directly onto the dance floor. It also featured one of the most DIY soundsystems I've ever encountered, assembled in-house using cheap plywood and supported by cinder blocks. As soon as I descended down the club's narrow stairs, I was greeted by Terada's familiar cheshire cat grin. Charged with a welcoming energy, he passed through and said hello to everyone with open arms, followed closely behind by a more modest Yokota.
The space filled quickly. Given the comically small crowd, which was a mix of locals and young ex-pats, it wasn't long before everyone was on the same page, egging on the warm-up DJ as Terada set up his hardware. Once the microphone, camcorder and small LCD screen were in place, he stripped down and donned one of his token floral shirts.
Terada began by powering through shorter, sequenced versions of all his big tunes— "Saturday Love Sunday," "Shake Yours," "Low Tension"—though the crowd cheered loudest for "Do It Again" and "Sun Showered." His eccentricities burned brightest when he left the synths to flail his arms about, using the video camera to show the crowd track titles from handwritten labels, and creating distorted visuals on the screen via a handheld video synthesiser. This mania and endearing humour added a lot of personality to what was an already banging set.
Yokota eventually took the reigns sometime after 2 AM. His sophisticated live session was much more relaxed and centered mainly around his keyboard, of which he is a surefire maestro. His set was deeper and jazzier than Terada's, dropping some unreleased cuts and an alternative rendition of "Do It Again." It would have felt more natural had the the running order been the other way round, but an ever-charming Terada kept the crowd revved and the atmosphere jubilant.
Sadly I had to leave the club early to catch a morning flight home. As I made my way for the door, I passed Terada, who reached out his arms as if to bid me farewell. But instead, he shoved the mini kaoss pad he had been using into my hands, and with a huge grin, elicited me to have a go. I brushed the screen, heard the soundsystem's warm, high-pitched response and laughed the whole way home.
Photo credit: Thomas Sebastian