For the last twelve months or so, the Tokyo-based Hamon Radio crew have been hosting events all over Japan. Inviting guest DJs of a “Balearic Bent”, from both inside and outside of their homeland. Carefully choosing venues and surroundings to suit the soundtrack. With audio and visuals broadcast live, providing not just great music, but also a glimpse of the beauty of the land of the rising sun.
This Saturday Hamon Radio will host a party in my home town, Karuizawa, at Brazilian hot spot, Natural Cafeina, so I took the opportunity to ask founding members, Shungo, and Maa, plus DJ Gem (who I heard play a great set warming up for Cedric Woo earlier this year) a few questions. As usual, I also pushed them for a few musical recommendations.
Where is your home town?
Shungo: My home town is Hotachi-Ota, Ibaraki Pref. In the North of Ibaraki.
Maa: My home town is Tochigi City. In the South of Tochigi.
Where are you based?
Basically, we are in Nakameguro, Tokyo.
How did you two meet?
We met five years ago at Cafe Apres-midi, in Shibuya. A venue owned by Toru Hashimoto. Then Shungo moved to Tokyo, and we`d to go surfing together. Then a couple of times a week we`d meet to talk about radio, travel, and so on.
How long have you been DJing?
Shungo: Since I was a university student, so it`s been about ten years.
Maa: I`ve been DJing since I was nineteen years old.
Where were your first gigs?
Shungo: Club Move, in Shiga Pref.
Maa: The Space Lab Yellow, in Nishiazabu
What`s the idea behind Hamon Radio?
We started Hamon Radio to create a space where people from all over the world can share and communicate with each other, via music. “Hamon” means ripple in Japanese. When a drop falls onto water, the ripple expands gently, gradually spreading greater influence. We hope that Hamon Radio can be like this very first drop.
How many people are involved?
There are seven members in Hamon Radio. Each crew member has a different background. Not just DJs, but also a designer, engineer, and video director.
How long has Hamon Radio been broadcasting?
Hamon Radio has been launched last November, so just eleven months now.
How often do you broadcast?
Broadcasting is a bit irregular, but it usually at least once a month.
Where can people listen live?
People can catch the live streaming on our Facebook page.
Is there an archive of recordings?
Audio is archived to Mixcloud, so you can listen for free.
Can you give me three tracks that, for you, define Hamon Radio`s music policy?
Bill Evans / Peace Piece
I found this song when I was a university student. At that time I was very nervous, because things weren’t going well as I had expected. It was a turning point in my life.This song told me that it’s important to relax and be true to myself. A simple but refined melody, swinging in the silence. It`s very beautiful.
Rudy Norman / Back To The Street
Lexx played this song on a Japanese tour. My background was Hip Hop and 70s / 80s Black music. So I didn`t really know anything about Western Rock. I felt that it had a completely different groove. This track marks the start of me getting into to AOR, and Balearic.
Laura Allen – Open up to you
Listening to AOR, I discovered this. The beautiful guitar phrases attracted me. Laura was a singer based on the West Coast of America, which is one of my favourite places. That’s why I selected it as one of my three.
Wilson Tanner / Sun Room
This track creates the image of a ripple, a drop of water, spreading upon a surface. Listening to it led me to visit Andrew Wilson, AKA Andras, in Melbourne. It was this track that made me decide to start a radio station.
Waak Waak Djungi / White Cockatoo
When I visited Andrew in Melbourne, we talked about Australia’s aborigines. It seems that that they were taboo in Australia’s education and history teaching. However, Andy was taken by their wonderful music. Through his research he discovered this track, and introduced it to me. Now, I have it in my hands (Rob – care of the recent Efficient Space reissue). For me, this track is full of memories.
Gigi Masin / Call Me
I was a support DJ on Gigi`s first visit to Japan. I then saw him again in Milan. He and I wandered around the city, just chatting about ordinary stuff. He is a very down to Earth Italian man. However, on stage, the beauty of his music is totally absorbing. Call Me, which he played on that Japanese tour, is a classic.
Seahawks / Soft Galaxies
This was the first piece of music I played at a Hamon Radio event. Inside me, it conjures the image of a ripple. A sensation of waves, and water bubbles, melting into synthesisers, and then Disco. This is how I, a Disco fan, relate to the Hamon crew.
Connie Case / Flowing Inside
I bought this record when I toured L.A. I found it when I was feeling that bright, blue sky, in that typical L.A. climate, touring abroad for the first time. Mellow and part Folk, it makes me feel balanced. I`m heavily rotating this track even now. It`s always in my record bag, like a lucky charm.
Pan Electric / Sweet As Rain
I found this piece recently. Both the rhythm and sound are fantastically gentle. It has an airy, float-y sensation, which feels unbearably good. I`m planning to play it at the next Hamon Radio party. I was so happy and excited when I found it. I asked the rest of the crew, “Have you heard this?”, and of course they already had it (laughs).
What kind of venues have you played?
The Nakameguro Lounge and Balearic Restaurant, are kind of our base. Both owners, and the communities around the venues are very friendly, and always support our activities. In addition, Tennoz Canal, Kurosaki Hidden Beach, Tsuruoka Public Community Center, Kyoto rooftop bar, “In The Moon”.
Who have you had as guests?
From abroad: Phil Mison (Cantoma), Roger Bong (Aloha Got Soul), Lei, and many friends.
From Japan: Toru Hashimoto, Calm, Norio Sato (Rare Groove, Osaka) and Az, you, and many friends.
Are there any guests in particular that you`d like to get?
Shungo: Apiento and Lexx.
Maa: Pol Valls and Andras Fox
Are there any venues in particular that you`d like to play?
All places are good, but if I had to choose one, then it would be the public center in Tsuruoka City. During the event there we learned a lot about how to create and spread a “good good feeling”. The Good Times Crew organised this event, and the hospitality they showed us, was also shared throughout Tsuruoka’s warm and welcoming community. Whenever we do anything, in all of our activities, we always have the Hamon Radio ideology in mind.
Hamon Radio will be at Karuizawa`s Natural Cafeina, this Saturday (October 20th). Proceedings kick off with a sunset selection from yours truly at 18:00. Please swing by if you`re in the vicinity.