#19 Satoshi Tomiie

Interview with Satoshi Tomiie

Satoshi Tomiie is a producer, co-owner of SAW RECORDINGS, and simply one of the best DJs in house music. Ever since his striking debut while he was still in college, his groundbreaking new styles have continued to captivate and demands the respect of music fans around the world. We interviewed him to learn of his visions and how he regards his fundamental roots, as well as his exciting new collaboration of music and contemporary art through the party at Le Bain he will hold for Japan Society Gallery’s upcoming exhibition.


– How did you become interested in house music?


I never was interested in music until I suddenly had the urge to play an instrument and started playing the piano at 2nd year in Jr. high school. Back then in Japan, YMO and Ryuichi Sakamoto were all the craze, but it was not until college that I went into electronic music when all that elaborate equipment became slightly more accessible. Loads of talent and effort are necessary in becoming a successful pianist, but then I encountered hiphop that was interesting because of how you can use a turntable as an instrument, which up to that point was merely a device one used to listen to records. In the early days of hiphop in Japan, we had minimal information, so I was trying to figure out how it works from what I saw on TV. I attempted to do scratch, and made tracks by having my friends rap. Although significantly smaller in scale than now, there was a scene, a form of culture amongst those who were in hiphop back then in Japan, which I was not necessarily in to. Right around then I came across house music, and it clicked for me. House music consists of a combination of sounds, a more simple way of creating music through rhythm rather than songs.

–What is the secret of success for staying at the best in house music world wide?


There are certain types of dance music that are heavy on the song elements, but mine focuses on rhythm and repetition, which I think allows it to be more accessible internationally because of the lack of the language barrier. I was also lucky because when I started, there were not as many DJs out there. Nowadays becoming a DJ is so competitive, because everyone wants to be a DJ, and it’s easier to make tracks; all you need is a little bit of knowledge & ideas, and the equipment is much more accessible. It must be much more difficult for those who started as a DJ now. Luck and timing do come into play.

– Would you say your roots are in Japan?


Absolutely yes, my fundamental roots are based in Japan. Although there might be a slight disconnect because I have been living abroad for so long, but still, I was raised in Japan till college, so it’s fair to say the basic part of me is Japanese. The part of me that is not too Japanese are superficial things I gained throughout the years of being out in the world, such as knowledge and experience. They are necessary in order to make it out here in the industry – almost like a technique, but my roots are undoubtedly Japanese.