Grooveman Spot @ the TurnaroundFri 2 December @ The Bacco Room, 53 Nelson St, AK CityPre-sale Tickets $20+BF from Conch Records, 115A Ponsonby Rd.
Grooveman Spot (aka DJ Kou-G) has been kicking around the Japanese music scene since the early 90s. A wide-eyed kid from Sendai city, he was captivated by hip-hop as a teenager. Kicking his journey off as a dancer after watching videos by MC Hammer and Heavy D, the next step in his journey was CD bin and record crate digging. Flicking through the stacks at the local Tower records, Kou-G, started building a collection of hip-hop, soul and rap records and CDs.
Then enamored with the likes of, as he puts it in his limited English, "Bobby Brown, Public Enemy, Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley", Kou-G's frame of reference for musical inspiration didn't just come from the Black American musical landscape. As he explains, "DJ Muro, DJ Watarai and Rhymester", three early era Japanese hip-hop performers were also a big catalyst for him. Listening to bootleg mixtapes of Funkmaster Flex's New York radio shows were equally key for a fifteen year old Kou-G, who decided to he wanted to become a DJ. From DJing came an association with MC U-Zipplain in 1996. Inspired by the classic dusty piano chops and signature monotone raps of East Coast US crews like Gangstarr and D.I.T.C (Diggin In The Crates), Kou-G and U-Zipplain formed an influential Japanese hip-hop duo named ENBULL.
He reflects, "It was so natural to make beats when I started DJing. When I was eighteen, I made a loop with a Bob James sample on an Audio Technica disco mixer. It has a cheap sampler which can sample only two seconds. I added a drum break by double trick on that loop I made, and recorded that. Then I started to investigate beat science from DJ Premier and Pete Rock. I was kind a quick learner for that and bought a MPC 2000, made beats everyday and let my partner MC U-Zipplain from ENBULL listen my beats and record raps on my beats."
From ENBULL, Kou-G eventually began producing solo work under the Grooveman Spot alias. Along the way becoming associated with a renowned boutique record store/label and crew based in Shibuya, Japan named Jazzy Sport, Kou-G found his range of influences expanding. Releasing his first Grooveman Spot album Eternal Development in 2006, Kou-G became, in his words, "borderless musically". Flipping the crackly New York boombap sound through a slick Japanese soul and beats filter, he began crafting smooth modern classics, records which would win him recognition across the global underground.
Now living back in Sendai city, Kou-G has since released a second album Change Situations and a series of EPs. Currently tapping an eighties dance music vibe in his works, he's also found a new sense of space back in Sendai city, and looks forward to, as he puts it, "new production reflecting this lifestyle I have now".
Having visited New Zealand before in 2009 for a series of shows, Kou-G is eagerly anticipating a return this December for a show in Auckland at The Turnaround. Speaking on the growing connection between the New Zealand soul, beats and hip-hop scene and the Japanese scene, Kou-G is very enthusiastic. "I think it's wonderful. There are many unknown New Zealand artists who I think should put their music and information out to the world… I think music is a universal language indeed".
Having been in the game for fifteen odd years, when Kou-G thinks back to his mindset when he started ENBULL, he isn't surprised he's still doing the music thing. "Music is the best way for me to express myself and send out my messages. I'll keep making music until I can't".
By Martyn Pepperell
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