Ken Ishii debuted on a legendary Belgian techno label, R & S Records, in 93, won No.1 on the UK’s NME magazine’s techno chart which was what led him to worldwide recognition. In 95 the highly praised album "Jelly Tones" was released and in the following year, the video for the single "Extra" (directed by Koji Morimoto,) won MTV Europe's "Dance Video of the Year" award. Since then, Ken has been regarded as one of the Japanese pioneers whose creation is on a world standard. In 98, Ken composed and produced the official theme song for the winter Olympics which took place in Nagano, Japan and it was played in more than 70 countries around the world. Then in 2000, Ken was on the cover of "Newsweek" magazine, featured as a symbol of the Japanese new culture. Also in the same year, he composed the theme song and soundtracks for the mega hit Japanese film, "Whiteout", which led him to a nomination for Japanese Academy Awards. These days, Ken spends 2/3 of his time in Europe, Asia, North and South America and Oceania DJing and working. In 2004, he was awarded the best techno DJ at "Dance Music Awards" in Ibiza, Spain and last year was in charge of the music for Japanese Government's Seto-Nippon Pavilion at World Expo, held in Aichi, Japan. In November, 2006, he released an original album "SUNRISER". He has also been continuously releasing on his side project, FLR, focusing on the dance floor. Thanks to the kind people at Richard Maher agency who got us in touch with Ken Ishii to do this interview.
Greatest inspirations or influences?
- Yellow Magic Orchestra was the first major impact for me at only 9 years old.
- Then I was really into German new wave producer Conny Plank's works including D.A.F.
- Minimal classical blew me away too, such as Steve Reich.
- The final influence that made me decide to make my own music was early Detroit techno - Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson.
Favorite tracks of all time?
- Yellow Magic Orchestra / Rydeen
- D.A.F. / Der Mussolini
- Rhythim Is Rhythim / Strings
- Steve Reich and Musicians / Drumming
Plans for 09? Its the 15th anniversary since my record debut in Japan this year so I'm doing many projects for it. The first thing is a mix album to be released in July, titled "WARRIOR ON THE DECKS - PLAY, PAUSE AND PLAY 2 -", then contributing some music for iPhone app called PlayPix, and finally releasing a compilation of my early works from '90's selected from all my releases. There might be a few 12"s with new tracks between those as well.
- hardcore MMA (mixed martial arts like UFC and DREAM) fan and I check mainly sites like Sherdog, MMA Weekly, MMA-Core and other Japanese MMA sites. Nothing artistic.
Barcelona. The weather is nice. The size of the city is just right to hang around. It has a beach, historical monuments and trendy spots altogether in one area in a walking distance. And, the food is fantastic!
Out of all the major accomplishments you have done, what are you most proud of?