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DJ Taku (M-Flo) & Kan Sano Interview, CHECK-HOOK: Remixes – Wave 2

Charlie Lim released his CHECK-HOOK: Remixes – Wave 1 on 5 December 2019 via Universal Music Group. The second part of this collection, CHECK-HOOK: Remixes – Wave 2 is scheduled for a January 2020 release.

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For the second compilation, Charlie has enlisted DJ Taku from Japanese hip-hop group M-Flo to remix his track Unconditional. While Kan Solo (Origami Productions) contributes a remix to Charlie’s Least of You. We caught up with both of them to learn more about the collaboration and also about their own musical journeys.

Check out both interviews below.

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Vinyl of the Day x DJ Taku (M-Flo)

☆Taku Takahashi also known as DJ Taku launched his career in 1998 as the DJ/Producer of the J-pop music group “m-flo”. The group quickly rose to prominence, and over the last decade have sold over 2 million copies of their 30 singles and 10 albums. Taku Takahashi is also well known for his solo work as a producer/ songwriter, remixing music for prominent artists such as Calvin Harris, The Ting Tings, Passion Pit,Morgan Page, and Hikaru Utada. He is also the founder of Japan’s first and only Dance Music Radio Station “block.fm

What projects have you been up to lately?

I have been putting a lot of time into working on m-flo’s project, which we released on 6 November. The album is called “KYO”. We haven’t released an album for 5 years. During this time, Lisa Narita rejoined the group and we have her on vocals. KYO also marks m-flo’s 20th anniversary as a band. Our live show went extremely well too.

Here is the documentary for our live show.

What kind of musical projects draw you in to get involved?

I love working on something experimental, swaying in the taste of pop and catchy-ness. Also, I love listening to Japanese pop and also underground electronic music. I like to get the best from both worlds.

How did the collaboration with Charlie Lim come about?

We met in 2018 when he was in Japan to perform at Summersonic Music Festival. He came by our studio for a BlockFM session. We also met up in 2019 when I was in Singapore for a gig, and he asked if I was interested to do the remix. It was great doing the remix. I’ve always loved his work and love his live performance too. His voice is sexy and melancholic.

How did the original track “Unconditional” make you feel?

It was simply my favorite song in the album. At the time when Charlie told me to pick a song, I wasn’t really thinking and chose my favorite tune. I totally forgot how challenging it would be to do a remix of a song that is already “complete”. LOL

Could you share a little insight into your process for remixing “Unconditional” ?

My approach was to give people different impressions by using different chords. Tried to bring the direction to make Charlie’s melancholic side stand out.

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Vinyl of the Day x Kan Sano (Origami Productions)

Kan Sano is a keyboardist, trackmaker, producer who studied Jazz at Berkley College of Music. While in school, he performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival with his band.
His music ranges from Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul, R&B, and Electro. Whether throwing down new tracks for the beat music scene or playing improv piano, he fuses jazz and classical into a original sound that can fill both expensive concert halls and underground night clubs. As a keyboardist, he has performed and recorded with a multitude of artists including
Madlib, Shing02, Eric Lau, Monday Michiru, Chara, Ohashi Trio, Twigy, RHYMESTER, and more.

How did you first get into music?

I listened The Beatles when I was 12 years old, and I became interested in music. I wanted to sing and play the guitar and piano, just like them, so I started to try to record my original song to my boombox. In elementary school, I wrote in my graduation year book “My dream is to be a musician”.

Are there any plans for new music following your “Ghost Notes” album?

I want to make new music in a different way every time. I was particular, and wanted to use raw instrumentals like the trumpet and Fender Rhodes for Ghost Notes. At this time, I am interested in minimal, fat beats with electric sounds.

How did you meet Charlie Lim?

My friend Chara, a famous Japanese singer posted Charlie Lim on her Instagram when he was in Japan in September 2019 for a showcase with TENDRE. I was attracted to his beautiful voice. His sound reminds me of UK broken beats.

Tell us about your process when working on a remix.

The original track has very deep emotional sounds, so I tried going in the direction to make a different sound while containing the original track. The listener should feel free when listening to this track, which is why I kept a certain rhythm to it. The sound production was inspired from bitter (Meshell Ndegeocello) It was natural for me, as if guided by Charlie’s voice. I had a lot of fun doing this remix.

What kind of environment do you envision listeners in when they listen to your “Least of You” remix?

I kept fat low sounds for large speakers which would be suitable for if the song is played in a club. Most listeners often listen to music on their mobile phones, so I tried to do a remix that would also sound natural, even if they listen to it with small speakers.