DEFIANT'S SOUNDTRACK TO TOKYO

What magazine issue all about Tokyo would be without a fitting music playlist? Ever since the beginnings of Yellow Magic Orchestra in the 70s (who had a monumental international influence, comparable even to Kraftwerk, on genres as diverse as rap, ambient and acid house) Japan has embraced electronic music and crafted its very own take on futuristic pop music, paving the way for many wonderful innovations.

In more recent years, it’s hard to overstate the music-producing prowess of Yasutaka Nakata; alongside being one half of the chart-topping Capsule, with producing power names like Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu under his belt, we can safely say that pop music is a better place for his contributions. Speaking of Kyary, it’s hard to ignore her infectiously saccharine songs and their accompanying videos directed by 6% DOKIDOKI’s Sebastian Masuda. Her overcharged universe is as addictive as it is uplifting, so it’s no doubt that she has become the emblematic Harajuku Girl.

On the flipside, Japan’s counter-culture was looking towards the African-American hip hop subculture (interestingly, the aforementioned YMO had been sampled by genre-defining hip hop artists at the time). The Japanese hip hop scene only truly took off in the late 90s/early 00s when a slew of Japanese artists directly exposed to U.S. culture moved back to Japan and imported their ‘exotic’ musical style. Arguably the most iconic of these artists is the duo m-flo. With their intuitive approach to rap – a notoriously difficult style of singing to replicate in Japanese – through hybridised half-English half-Japanese lyrics, and their abundant involvement with production and collaboration (artists like Ryuuichi Sakamoto and Kanye West are ticked off their checklist), m-flo are internationally regarded to be the bellwethers of J-hip hop. Compounded with the music, hallowed urban streetwear labels of Japanese origins like A Bathing Ape and visvim have undisuptedly changed the global makeup of the hip hop lifestyle.

But, enough of the history lessons. We’re just scratching the surface here; grab your headphones and join us as we compile a list of the All-Stars of J-pop and Tokyo-inspired artists <3

We start our melodic adventure with Taquwami’s dreamy synthpop remix of Ryan Hemsworth, and end with the soothing sounds of Doss. Everything in between is sure to make you feel like you’re drifting through the streets of Shibuya at night-time. Listen to Strawberry Machine’s adorable lullabies or dive into the Neo Tokyo world of Perfume. Dance to capsule’s energetic tracks or wax and chill to a bit of Nujabes. Let yourself float away to cuushe or head-bob to Amiaya’s techno-rock fusions. Whether you’re a technopop cyberphile or bright and colourful pastel otaku, whether your more Trippple Nippples than Coltemonikhas, there’s something for everyone on our hand-picked hits from Japan. Indulge on a kawaii overdose with Defiant Magazine’s saccharine playlist!

WRITTEN BY Orion Facey PHOTOS BY Bacall Michaels