JaME loves m-flo

interview - 24.06.2008 13:00

After the recent shock announcement of their sudden hiatus, JaME met m-flo to bring some light into this sadness asking DJ Taku some questions about m-flo, their past, their future and hip-hop in general.

m-flo rule Japan's urban scene, and their recipe for success is simple: classical hip hop mixed with a wide variety of music styles, wicked beats by DJ Taku, crazy raps by Verbal and a pinch of spice - a unique combination that makes this special duo stand out. They released their second Best of album in February and JaME used this opportunity to have a chat with Taku Takahashi.

Please introduce yourself to our readers!

Taku: My name is Taku Takahashi. I am a member of m-flo. Verbal raps and I make the beats.

How would you describe your music and m-flo as a whole?

Taku: I think our sound is club/dance music oriented, but at the same time it is very difficult for us to categorize our music. The reason for that is because we are very diverse and we listen to all sorts of genres. Verbal's forte is hip-hop and my forte is house/electro... I guess.
Verbal named our group that way because we wanted to give an impact to the Japanese music scene. The Japanese music scene back then was not as versatile and we wanted to give some spice to it. I'm hoping we gave some influence or contribution.

You released your second Best Of album Award SuperNova -Loves Best- in February. This album features an all-round collection of your m-flo loves.... series, for example older songs like let go and miss you, in addition to more recent tunes like Luvotomy and Love Song. How well do you think Award SuperNova -Loves Best- presents a good review about m-flo's works?

Taku: To be frank, it was very hard to choose the songs, because most of the stuff we made during the "loves series" was very single oriented. Overall I believe that this album is a good sneak preview for getting to know the artist. If you like it, please listen to the albums we made back then!

How did you come up with the m-flo loves...-concept in the first place and why did you decide to do so many collaborations under this theme?

Taku: I can't really say how we came up with this idea. One thing I can say is we always want to do something unique, or something that no one has done before. I think the "loves series" became an extreme collaboration project. We released three albums and collaborated with 42 artists. I think that was crazy and we had to put a lot of effort into it. Many artists were from different labels, and I never could imagine that we would be working with so many talented artists.

Award SuperNova -Loves Best- gives a small résumé of your career so far, but what do you think the future holds for m-flo? Is there a future for the m-flo loves series and where will m-flo be in 10 years?

Taku: Future? Hmmm, I don't know what I can say, but we would like to continue to do something unique. Right now, we are taking a break from m-flo. We're doing our solo projects and producing other artists. I am definitely sure that this experience will give great feedback to the m-flo project. I don't know when we are going to re-start m-flo, but if we are doing it, I'm sure it's going to be spectacular and crazy.

Your music on the whole is very diverse; in addition to hip-hop you also use elements of R&B, dance, trance, pop, pop-rock and sometimes even jazz. Do you prefer any one of these genres? And is there any music style you never used in your works, but would like to?

Taku: I play electro and tech-house when I'm DJing. I prefer listening to acoustic soul and bossa nova when I'm at home. Talking about music genres is important, I understand, but in terms of creating music, I think that it is not our main issue. I always want to make something personal for both listeners and myself. Good question, though.

The number of your collaborations for m-flo loves' is almost record-breaking. Is there anyone though who you would have liked to work with but never got the chance to do so?

Taku: I would love to work with Utada. I think she's a great artist. Also, I believe we can make something totally unique.

As you worked with so many different artists in your m-flo loves... series could you please tell us how the recording worked for these singles? For example, the lyrics and the music; is that entirely your work or do the respective artists participate, such as writing lyrics or creating melodies?

Taku: That depends on the song and the artists. For example, Verbal and I wrote everything for BoA's Love Bug. On the other hand, Ryohei and melody participated in the writing for Miss You. We usually have a discussion with the "loves" artists as to whether they want to participate in writing.

Award SuperNova -Loves Best- also features the song HEY featuring Akiko Wada from your album Beat Space Nine. This was somehow a surprise because probably the idea of m-flo and Akiko Wada performing together never came to your fan's minds. How was it working with her?

Taku: Akiko Wada is like James Brown in the US. It was our great honor to work with a living legend.

To ask a little more about your lyrics: they are often very creative. What's your inspiration for such varied writing? Do you have any guiding themes or special topics you prefer writing about?

Taku: Please ask Verbal. I don't know how he does it, but he always comes up with crazy lyrics. (laughs)

In addition to writing creative lyrics, your concerts and PVs also look highly inventive. Where do you get the inspiration for these from?

Taku: We are very fortunate to work with highly creative art directors. We shoot ideas to them, but I think they are the ones who should get the props.

Most of your songs are very atmospheric and contain a positive mood. Therefore, how do you feel about the gangster rap scene with its vulgar lyrics and hard beats that is famous in the US. Is there some kind of gangster rap scene in Japan, and what do you think about this genre in general? Your song LOVE ME, HATE THE GAME (from COSMICOLOR) features this kind of music style with it's rather explicit lyrics. Can we expect more songs like this in future?

Taku: Who doesn't listen to gangster rap? We all grew up listening to it, so there is nothing much to say apart from that we all like hip-hop music. The reason why our style is not that way is because we are not a gangster; it is not real if we talk about hustling in the streets.

I didn't write the lyrics for LOVE ME, HATE THE GAME, so I should not be talking much, but I think that song was an anti-thesis of gangster rap. In terms of sound making it was very natural for us to do that style because we all grew up listening to hip-hop. On the other hand, I personally think the beats for that song are influenced by electro music from Europe.

In the song, gET on, you rapped for the first time. Was this a one-off or will we be able to hear your raps again in the future?

Taku: Actually, that song was not my first time to rap. I rapped in a song called the Rhyme Brokers, which was m-flo's first original song ever. It is fun to rap once in a while, but I prefer creating beats more.

At Yokohama Arena you performed rather old songs with your former band mate Lisa, for example been so long. It was surprising and great to see a song like that at a show in 2007. What was it like performing with her again?

Taku: The collaboration with Lisa was a big surprise to a lot of the listeners. After she left, nobody believed that we would be performing together again. At the same time it was very natural to collaborate together, because Lisa and us believe that there is no boundary in music. Standing on the same stage with her again was very special. We hope we can do it again.

Verbal is half Korean and rapped in Korean on I'M DA 1. m-flo has also worked with Korean artists such as BoA, Whee Sung and Clazziquai Project. Do you feel that you have a good overlook about the Korean music scene? Are m-flo popular in Korea?

Taku: Sorry, Verbal isn't here (laughs). Korean fans are CRAZYYYY!! I think we should be collaborating more with Korean artists.

Verbal raps in Japanese, English and sometimes Korean. In which of these three languages can he transfer his thoughts and feelings the best way?

Taku: He thinks both in English and Japanese. I personally think English is his forte though...

Verbal created the label "espionage records," but the website isn't up-to-date anymore. Is the label still active and if so what are your plans with it?

Taku: Tachytelic's website isn't up-to-date either. We both should do something about it.

You often release remix albums, for example Dope Space Nine, where all the Beat Space Nine songs can be found in remixed versions. Taku, as a professional DJ, were you surprised when you listened to your songs that other people remixed for the first time?

Taku: I always love to listen to different artists' remixes. It gives me different perspectives. Also, all the remixes that we offer are from our favorite artists.

Do you have any messages for our readers?

Taku: Thank you very much for reading this article. It is really fun to keep in touch with people overseas. I hope we can keep in touch, and check out our works.

Thank you very much for the interview!

JaME would like to thank m-flo and Avex Entertainment Inc for making this interview possible.
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