OVER&OVER PRESENTS 019: CHIDA
January 29th, 2021
Words: Bad Lieutenant
Tokyo has long been an engine for innovation in art, fashion, design, and music.
A pioneer in the design of listening bars, museums, and clubs, Tokyo (and Japan in general) is known for some of the best sound systems and immersive experiences in the world. Over time, Japan's dancers have earned a reputation for their openness to different genres and their pervasive enthusiasm for all types of music. The commitment to staying on the floor no matter the musical narrative is reflective of the breadth of Japanese DJ's that have emerged over the past 30 years and the willingness of these musical purveyors to experiment with new styles. The capital city has always led the way for Japan's vibrant underground ecosystem.
Tokyo had its share of important clubs in the 1980s, such as Cave and the legendary Space Lab Yellow designed by club mastermind Daizo Murato. Seminal DJ Tohru Takahashi spent time in NYC in this era and melded his experiences abroad into the musical aesthetic of his residencies. Larry Levan and Francois K would tour Japan in the late 1980s, further establishing Japan's ties with the international dance music scene.
Since the late 1980s, Shinsuke Chida has been at the center of Tokyo's house music locus. He began his career after graduating college before working his way up the proverbial ladder, paying his dues as a resident club dj, A&R manager and record label affiliate. Chida's steady rise to prominence in the 1990's and 2000's mirrors the trajectory of Tokyo's emergent house music scene, transcending from a provincial DJ to important player on the international stage.
Well established in Japan as primarily a deep house DJ, Chida's style evolved over time. By the 2000's Chida was on the shortlist of Japanese DJ's regularly touring the European circuit and recruiting big acts for curated tours through Japan. One of the highlights of this period of growth was the founding of Ene records, a label where Chida remains head honcho and visionary. With releases from some of the most respected producers and dj's around, Ene Records has become one of the most sought after in underground dance music today. Chida's sterling reputation as a DJ his focused production output over the years has contributed to the label's high profile. Instead of putting out a constant stream of records, Chida chooses to only release music he believes is timeless. As a result, Ene averages a few record titles per year. This steady approach allows him to attract top level talent from artists he respects in order to release distinctive music that’s hard to categorize.
(Chida, Tiago and Lovefingers showing a little love)
In line with his lifetime passion of digging for and collecting records, Chida’s DJ style has a wide berth. Listen to a Chida set (like his 2016 Tokyo Boiler Room appearance below), and you'll get a taste of everything from melodic techno to disco edits from obscure international source material.
While Chida does not limit his style, it’s important to note that he came of age as a DJ in 1990's Tokyo when deep house was the defining sound. For our OVER&OVER PRESENTS series, Chida harkened back to his musical roots, delivering an hour long mix of his favorite deep house records from the past.
Read his interview, hit the j, and plug in your headphones to be transported into the dreamy, euphoric world of Tokyo’s clubs in the 1990s. Chida will be your guide.
Hello Chida! Thank you for being part of our series! We are very excited to share your mix with your fans and our growing OVER&OVER community out there.
This is a deep house mix of your favorite records from the 1990s that were heard in clubs throughout Tokyo. Could you tell us about the scene in Tokyo / Japan at that time?
The Tokyo club scene in the 90s was chaotic, exciting, and underground with many good rave parties at warehouses. One of my favorite aspects of that era was there was no SNS, and no smartphones - which is hard to imagine today! People enjoyed the music for music's sake rather than capturing the moment to be shared to a wider social media audience.
I kept going to the clubs to see my favorite local DJs and the legendary ones from the US and Europe. My favorite Club to dance and to play was “GOLD”’. Its sound system was amazing and designed by Jim Toth from Jupiter Sound.
Check around 1:18:50 in this documentary to hear it’s beauty.
How was this mix recorded? Are there any standout records for you in the mix?
All songs in this mix are my 1989-1999 classics since when I started collecting records, especially the first song of this mix:
Ellis D (aka Junior Vasquez) - It's Paradise from the album “Free Your Mind” released on XL recordings in 1989.
The second tune, 808 State - Sunrise (from the album Ex:el released in 1991), made a great impact on me when I was a high school student.
These are still my favorite afterhours tunes. The rave classic, 51days - Paper Moon, has been one of my all-time favorites since 1995.
How has being from Japan shaped your identity as an artist in dance music?
Until when I decided to start making my own music around 2007 I was just one of the local DJs who shared the music from other countries. I used to play mostly UK & US deep house/disco/garage in my DJ sets for a long period of time, because there were only a few Japanese house music producers in those early days. So, I can say there was no special Japanese House music scene like the NY/Chicago/Detroit house scene in terms of production.
In the 90s, all DJs here used to buy & play the same records. By the mid 90s I was a club promoter of mainly US house music labels like Strictly Rhythm, eightball, Nervous, MAW etc. I worked for an agency & independent record label as A&R management for almost 10 years. I'd say this gave me a good understanding of house music.
However, by the early 2000s things changed, and new Japanese producers started to emerge here. I had the opportunity to work with many interesting people who became friends. At that point I made the decision to share our friend’s music with DJs/listeners in the overseas club music scene, and that's why I started Ene Records in 2009. Every time I played a gig I tried to support and play my friend’s music as much as I could.
What were some highlights of your last few years as a dj and record label owner before Covid?
The party “CockTail d’Amore” in Berlin that was organized by Italian producer/DJ duo Discodromo changed my DJ life. When I played there for the first time in 2016, I knew this was the place I really wanted to be!! They asked me to play once or twice every year until 2020 when everything changed.
CockTail d’Amore had 3 floors, an insane crowd, and the best sound system and best capacity (4-500 people) for the main floor. Of course Panorama Bar / Berghain is the best in Germany, but CockTail has a more wild, free & hard core party vibe. Sadly, the venue called Griessmuehle where it was held closed last February. I feel fortunate to have played at the last CockTail party for the club’s closing on Feb 9th, 2020. It was the best 9.5 hours of dj’ing I’ve had in the last three decades.
Also, as the Ene Records label owner, I’ve been grateful to keep releasing 12” vinyl of good music from friends since the start of the label in 2009. There are actually only 20 releases, but these records remain some as some of my favorite/classics!
How have you adjusted to life during Covid?
DJ gigs are 80% less than before Covid and there is a soft lockdown again in Tokyo now, which the government will ask us to maintain for at least one more month.
I had more time in 2020 to focus on recorded dj work and productions. I did many podcasts, remixed 5 of the other artists on Ene, and remastered all titles of Ene releases 2009-2020 for Ene bandcamp, which will be released soon! I’ll continue to focus on making new music, and doing label things until when I can tour again.
Are there any releases on the horizon for Ene you’d like to tell us about?
The next 2 titles for Ene have just arrived in Japan and they are gonna be released within a few days... Please check Last Waltz and Zen Rydaz on my Ene Record soundcloud page to hear them!
I’m also releasing an EP from talented young Jakarta producer Arvin Fajar including 3 original tracks. And CockTail d’Amore resident Luigi D Venere’s new project “Solid Air”’s EP is coming up this Summer. A lot in the pipeline. Stay tuned to Ene Records soundcloud page for news.
Shinsuke Chida: Thank you again for your time and sharing your creative energy. We appreciate you!
Thank you for giving me such an opportunity!!