They may not be from Japan, or have anything to do with spoken language, but Tokyo Prose are absolutely killing it at the moment. With a debut EP on Samurai and dj support from Presha, Calibre and Marcus Intalex, we thought it was time to get to know New Zealand's finest...
Tokyo Prose is a name that may be unfamiliar to many at the moment but all of that is set to change with the release of your debut EP on Samurai Red Seal. With both of you hailing from Auckland NZ the link up with Samurai seems a logical one but you can you explain to us how it all came about and what the writing experience was like? Is there a track that you are particularly proud of?
We had been writing tunes individually for a short while when we decided to combine forces. It was a very natural move as we were both interested in the same sounds and were wanting to head in the same direction with our music.
It was around this time that we became friends with another Auckland producer Luca, and began sending him tunes. Luca had recently been signed to Samurai Music and passed a couple of our tunes onto Geoff Presha from Samurai Music. Only a week or so later, two of the tracks were featured on one of Presha’s radio show on Bassdrive. This was all very surreal at the time and provided us with the inspiration to give writing music a real crack.
As time went on, our tracks continued to get featured on Presha’s shows and we began working towards an EP for Samurai Music.
This EP is basically the best 4 tracks we feel we have written. Throughout the writing of the EP, new tracks kept replacing old tracks, even up until the very last minute. Eventually we arrived with the EP in its current state. Some of the tracks that had been replaced will be included in a digital only package to make sure that they dont just sit on our harddrives gathering dust. We’re very proud of what we have ended up with as the final tracks for the Introducing Tokyo Prose EP.
Hearing that Calibre had been playing saving grace nearly every set, then hearing him play it when he was here in Auckland was one a particularly special and proud moment.
How does the dynamic between the two of you work in the studio? Are two heads really better than one?
Although some tunes have come about from the two of us sitting down and starting out a song together, most of the time we find that we end up working seperately. Working individually allows us to take our music in any direction. You have the freedom to always be trying something different and to develop the sounds and grooves you’re going for exactly the way you want.
What usually ends up happening is that once we’ve got a bit of an idea or sketch we’ll exchange ideas on whats working and work together to piece together the parts.
Two sets of ears definitely come in handy when it comes to mixing down. If you listen to anything for long enough it begins to sound good so its very handy to be able to have someone like minded assess it with fresh ears.
We spoke to Presha (Samurai) last year and asked him if being based in NZ left him feeling detached from the rest of the world scene and how his location affects relationships within drum & bass. It would be interesting to get your take on this. Has it affected you when trying to craft your sound? Do you think the ability to isolate yourselves is a help or a hindrance?
I think being in NZ is a really good thing. Obviously with the internet its hard to feel detached at all these days, nothing is ever more than a few clicks away. Although it is sometimes a bit weird forming relationships with people you talk to a lot on Aim but have never actually met in person.
I don't think it affects our sound really though these days, you can't really hide in your own small local niche anymore, the world is too small.
There's a lot of hype these days about deep 'forward thinking' drum & bass which is great for the scene and a healthy indication of the music in general. However all too often the music can become a bit like drum & bass by numbers with only a few artists / labels really standing out as being genuinely innovative with what they do. It must be a difficult decision to make when writing music, to either keep the status quo or take a risk on something different. Whats your attitude towards this? What do you try and do to stand out from the crowd?
We feel we write our best tunes when we’re just being true to ourselves. Most of the time when I set out to write a certain style of tune, it ends up being the complete opposite anyway. It’s best just to write what come naturally. Obviously its hard when everyone is writing a certain style, you can’t help but be influenced by it.
We try to focus more on music that will work well when played in clubs. We have written some quite abstract tunes but haven’t written anything like that for a while.
These days we’re just trying to add another dimension to our music. Take it to the next level musically and also incorporating elements of the music we love to listen to outside of drum and bass.
What can we expect from Tokyo Prose in the next twelve months? What have you got coming up release wise?
We have a lot of colabs on the go with some extremely exciting producers and vocalists. We are hoping to follow up the EP with some further material on Samurai Music. We won’t say exactly whats coming up but there is definitely some stuff to look forward to!