Interview: Spin Master A-1 / by Metropolitan Society

3/16/16  Spin Master A-1   Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA


Spin Master A-1 

Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA

Spin Master A-1 is a producer, DJ, and turntable artist residing in Osaka. Spin Master has been in the Hip-Hop, Dancehall, and Reggae scene in Japan for a quite some time and continues to take his skills around the world. Often touring with Hip-Hop artist Shing02, he also contributes to Nujabes tribute shows and album recordings, along with his own body of work.

We were  able to catch up with Spin Master and discuss his past, Hip-Hop's legacy in Japan, touring, and more after the Shing02 and Spin Master A-1 show in Cambridge, MA.


Spin, you have performed numerous times with Shing02, can you talk about what it is like to work and collaborate with him?

Shing02さんのボストン公演の際に少しお話しさせて頂きましたが、彼とのコラボレーションについてお伺いできますか。Shing02 とは2003年ぐらいから一緒に音楽をやっていて、彼とのライブや制作はフィーリングや偶然に起こったアクシデントを大切にしている。


I have been collaborating with Shing02 since 2003. We like to embrace the intuitive and accidental nature of our music-making process, and I am always quite astonished by his ideas. When we play live, I try to support him by making an environment where he can focus on MC-ing.

3/16/16  Shin02 and Tomoki Sanders  Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA


Shin02 and Tomoki Sanders

Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA

You told me that an initial interest in Reggae led you into becoming a fan and creator of Hip-Hop music. What made Hip-Hop an enticing art form for you?



ゴシップなども含めて全体的に好きだけど個人的に好きなのはアンダーグラウンドでドープな物。大きなメディアでは伝えられないメッセージや楽しさ。HIPHOP イコール「俺らの特権」みたいな尖ったカッコよさ。レゲエは高校時代の友達が皆聞いてパーティーしてたからね。BOB MARLEYではなくSHABBA RANKSやSHAGGY,SNOWの時代 90's ダンスホールレゲエ。友達とダンスホールのレコードとかも買ってパーティーもしてたけど、ある日、テレビでDJ HONDA vs MIX MASTER MIKEのDJ BATTLEを見た瞬間に脳内がリセットされた。「同じターンテーブルつかってこんなクールな事が出来るんだ!」ってそれが俺の本当のHIPHOPの初恋。だからDJがHIPHOPの入り口。

I like the diversity in style and the battle culture of Hip-Hop. I love the “bragging” culture, but the music that resonates with me on a personal level is very underground. There are powerful messages that mainstream media cannot address – the community has this edgy attitude, “Hip-Hop is our privilege”.

Reggae music was really huge when I was in high school and my friends and I were involved in a lot of reggae parties then. We tended to listen to 90’s Dancehall music like Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Snow, rather than Bob Marley. My pivotal point into Hip-Hop was when I saw the battle between DJ Honda v.s. Mix Master Mike on TV. It was absolutely mind-blowing. I totally got brainwashed. That battle opened my eyes to turntablism and made me realize that you can do so much with the same turntables. It was love at first sight. That’s why I strongly believe that DJ-ing is the door to Hip-Hop.


What was the Hip-Hop culture like in Japan when you first became interested in this type of music and that lifestyle that comes with it? How has it changed since?




それは全てのエレメンツに言える事だと思う。これは他のアジアの国にが経験してい無い素晴らしい歴史だと思う。始めた頃のライフスタイルは 大学には行かず工場で働きながらEAT,SKRATCH,SLEEP,REPEAT, 

The Japanese Hip-Hop culture and its styles started to evolve in the late 80s. Some styles derived off of American Hip-Hop, whereas some were completely original and very unique to Japan, and you can say the same about the four elements – The way Japan began to develop Hip-Hop music is something very unique. I don’t see that trend in other Asian countries that also developed the Hip-Hop culture. It’s a beautiful historical movement to remember that was only prevalent in Japan.


Clothing and Hip-Hop have always gone hand in hand, do you have an interest in fashion?


ファッションは自分がとっさに気に入った物や友人のブランドが作った物を着ている。HIPHOPに影響を受けてたりHIPHOPに対してRESPECTを感じられるブランドが好き。最近はLafayette, About The Goods, ALIFE, Kith, sneakers n' stuff, なんかがクールで気に入っている。

I wear clothes that I am drawn to intuitively at the shop, and I also wear a lot of my friends’ lines. I favor clothing that is influenced by and shows respect to Hip-Hop. My recent favorite brands are Lafayette, About The Goods, ALIFE, Kith, sneakers n’ stuff and such.

3/16/16  Shing02  Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA



Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA


You recently traveled to South Africa, can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like?





South Africa was extremely stimulating; especially when I hung out with some wild animals! It was really inspiring. I also had the opportunity to spin at a local reggae club and a Hip-Hop club. The crowd was quite responsive, especially to the scratching. I’d love to visit again.


How does Hip-Hop culture vary when you travel?



top40やMTV HITSのトレンドな音楽はどの国にもあるのでそれ以外のシーンや人材を見つけるのが楽しみ。

It’s quite challenging to explain the differences of Hip-Hop cultures in different countries – but there are always new findings and discoveries when I travel. For example, visiting Cambodia was really cool because the DJ I saw there was top-notch, and in South Africa, everybody knows the classics and they all sing together. The trendy music like the Top 40s or the MTV hits are everywhere nowadays, so I like to dig deeper and find out more about other scenes and communities.

3/16/16  Spin Master A-1  Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA


Spin Master A-1

Middlesex Lounge Cambridge, MA


What is your creative process like when you produce music?



工程はDJの延長で、曲と曲の相性をみきわめながら合わせて編集する。そして生まれた曲は用途に分けて管理している。Rap用 Breakbeats用 Scratch用 Session用。

機材は昔からakai mpc シリーズが中心。

It depends – Sometimes I start from sampling, or I begin from zero. The production procedure to me is very much an extension of DJing. I edit the tracks depending on how they match and interact with other tracks. Then I categorize the finished productions depending on the uses – for rap, break-beats, scratching, and for session. My equipment has mainly been the Akai MPC series for a very long time.


Who were some of your biggest inspirations when you first started making music?



I would say the most influential people when I began writing music was DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Dust Brothers, Prince Paul, Q-Tip, etc. – The list goes on.


Listen to Spin Mater A-1's Soundcloud here.

Translation: Sakura Tsuruta

Images: Jeremias Perez