Mix / DJ Shikisai

I had the pleasure of DJing with Shikisai a few months ago at Bonobo. He was our guest, at the recommendation of Max Essa, with whom Shikisai shares a residency at Tokyo`s Trump Rooms (a reference to the card game rather than the current U.S. president. I think). Max, particularly impressed with the young chap`s sleazy sets of “Morning Music”. Shikisai`s mix for The Remedy betrays a passion for song. Across genres. Love in all its hues. Smooth supper club Jazz. Symphonic swinging syncopation. String-soaked Soul. Boogie-fied Ballads. Feel Good Reggae. Skanking Lovers covers. Rocking Rocksteady. Horny Sambas. Big Band Cubano Boogaloo. Exotica. Easy-Listening. Heartbroken orchestral arrangements. He even manages to squeeze in some Country. 

Where is your home town?

Amami Oshima. I was born in a port city in the south of the island which is located between Kagoshima and Okinawa.

Where are you based?

In Tokyo now.

How long have you been DJing?

I started when I was 13 or 14 years old. So for about 15 years.

What inspired you to start DJing?

When I was small, I grew up listening to American Pop, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rockabilly. A lot of 50’s and 60’s music. I loved Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. Looking back, I was a strange kid (laughs).

Then, for a while, I listened to Japanese Pop and European Dance, but at 11 or 12 years old, I was influenced by electronic grooves on the radio and immersed myself in Techno. One day when I was at junior high, I learnt that there was going to be an outdoor House music party on the island. I was too young of course but I could not give up the idea of going. So I consulted a teacher at school. The teacher must have felt my passion and agreed to accompany me as my guardian. Once we got there, the teacher went home leaving me at the party (laughs). I listened to House music played by local DJs such as DJ KING, KITOSHI YASUDA, DJ HIGAKIN, and Reggae and Dub played by Coral Sound, under a sky full of stars. I was completely knocked down when the sun rose over the sea. That evening is the basis of my sound today. I earned money delivering newspapers to buy cheap turntables and 4 channel mixer. That’s how started my life as a DJ. I`m still grateful to the teacher who accompanied me and opened this world to me.

Where were your first gigs? 

A Reggae bar called Jungle Base. I played Pop-Trance and Pop-House alongside Reggae and Hip Hop DJs.

Where do you currently buy your records?

I tend to buy files and less records these days, but I go to Disk Union because looking for records is easy there.

Max Essa told me that you play some amazing records at the end of the night. You`re such a young guy. How did you learn so much about music? 

When I was in Amami Oshima, the scene was small so DJs would play Dance classics at Reggae parties and Dub Reggae at House parties. Hip Hop DJs and House DJs often played together. So I absorbed various types of music. That exposure in my youth led me to my current style of playing a wide range of music. I take special care in selecting music for warming-up and the soft mood before sunrise.

Do you currently have any residencies or regular gigs?

Diesel Disco Club in Shinjuku Isotope Lounge. Every 3rd Tuesday from 8 PM. This is a gay club. Women are welcome, too. Main music is Disco and House. I was originally inspired by Horse Meat Disco and started this weekday party 5 years ago.

Trump Tokyo in Shibuya. Every 3rd Friday from 8pm. Residents are Max Essa and me. We mainly play Disco and House here, too, but in the morning back to back with Max Essa we also play softer sounds such as Soul, Folk, Ambient, soundtracks, etc. They have great sound system and make cocktails with a lot of care.


Marunouchi House at Shinmarunouchi Building 7F. Nearly every month from 8 PM. This place is walking distance from my home. For chilling out, I play a wide variety like Reggae, Soul, Jazz, Ambient etc.

Can you give me a current Top 5 that we might expect to hear you play?

Sleep Walk / Santo And Johnny (1959)

I play this often at closing. It is classic Easy-Listening with feel good slide guitar.

Love Is… / Thoty (1985)

A classic from The Saint, NYC. I used to collect these records. A sleazy rock record made in Italy.

Con La Soga En Los Pies / Guaco (1987)

A Pop Reggae track with plenty “holiday resort” from a Venezuelan Salsa band. There`s a happy Latin song with late 80s electronics on the album, too.

I should Have Lied / Brother Beyond (1986)

A double-sider. Pop with crying guitar that reminds you of Chris Rea. Act For Love on the B-side is also good.

One Of These Days I’ll Get An Early Night / Camel(1977)

From the 5th album by Camel. Essentially a Progressive Rock album but this is a piece of Jazz Fusion.

Where are your current favourite places to play and party?

The three parties I mentioned already of course. In addition, I liked Bonobo at which I recently played. It feels like a House Party. Also Bridge. I`ve never played there but both drinks and sounds are good. I like it there.


Days Gone By (Egyptology) – Moe Koffman – GRT

Nascente – Le Trio Camara – Riviera

Frontin’ (Live Lounge Unreleased Extended Version) – Jamie Cullum – Not On Label

Endlessly – Randy Crawford – Warner Bros. Records

I’ll Be Around – Otis Gayle – Studio One

Sweet Sensation – The Melodians – Harry J Records

Pays Beni – Guy, Christian & Fred Fanfant – Disques Debs International

A New Thing – Yambu – Montuno Records

Baby Baby – Gilberto Cruz – Tico Records

It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference – Todd Rundgren – Bearsville

Let’s Go Away For A While – The Beach Boys – Capitol Records

I Don’t Want The Night To End – Phoebe Snow – Shelter Records

But Beautiful – Nancy Wilson – Capitol Records

Sleep Walk – Santo & Johnny – Canadian-American Records

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