Makoto Shimizu had a peculiar entry into making drum & bass. He was heavily inspired by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto while growing up in Tokyo, going on to complete a degree in Acoustic Engineering as a route into a career in music. As a producer he quickly became known for his style of pacey, soul-informed breaks, forming close relationships with scene leaders like LTJ Bukem and DJ Marky from early on in his career. Bukem in particular was a shining force in Shimizu’s rise – in 1999 he signed him to his coveted Good Looking imprint, helping to introduce his music to the genre’s UK stronghold. In between work on his own Human Elements label, the UK remains a key part of Shimizu’s musical story – last year saw him release his Salvation LP via D&B behemoths Hospital Records, with a further project on the horizon helped by his imminent relocation to the country. He joins us in Room Two at our Lovebox Later session next weekend, and ahead of the date he sent us a mix of musical, jazz and soul-influenced numbers typical of the Hospital camp.
Not really. I just tried to showcase of what my current DJ sets are like.
Where did you source the records from?
Some of my own music from my last album Salvation, a remix I did with DJ Zinc, also a few brand new ones from DJ Marky and lots of new music from Hospital Records.
You pursued music as a career after discovering Ryuichi Sakamoto –can you describe the effect of hearing his music for the first time?
I first heard his music on The Last Emperor soundtrack. I was already into music because of my dad’s influences and listened to classical and jazz music a lot back then. But hearing Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music on film was something entirely different and inspired me in many ways. Especially as a Japanese musician, at the time there weren’t many who were as well known and as active overseas.
You famously signed to Good Looking Records – were you already a fan of LTJ Bukem at the time?
Yes, I was. Good Looking were huge back then and released so much good music.
How did you first meet DJ Marky?
I think he came to a little gig of mine in Tokyo with Bryan Gee, as the next day they were playing another show. This was more than 15 years ago! I still remember he wanted the new tunes that I was playing at the time, but I couldn’t give him any as I was exclusively signed to Good Looking back then and they were quite strict about those things. Sorry Marky! But since then we became the best of friends.
Can you describe where drum & bass is at in Japan right now?
Drum & bass in Japan was massive in the 90s. The scene slowly shrank over the years, but we still have at least a few drum & bass parties every month. It’s nothing compared to the scene in the UK and Europe, but there are still people who love drum & bass, with some artists in Japan making their own music too.
What are you up to through the rest of the year? Any music we can expect from you?
I’m actually relocating to the UK this summer. It’s tiring going back and forth between the UK and Japan all the time and not be able to make music when I am away. I’ve always wanted to move and considering my age, I think it could be last chance to move over, so I’m doing it! I’ve been very busy in the studio the last few months working on a project for Hospital Records – I can’t tell you any details yet, but it’s very exciting as it’s something different from me. Hopefully, it will be finished by the end of this year.