Anri’s story is one of following your dreams and never giving up. Its a story of inspiration to us all, and proves that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve the world. Growing up in Japans second largest city, Yokohama, she fell in love with techno after a fated trip to Tokyo with friends. Fast forward 12 years and she’s toured the world, lived on 3 continents and currently works with Tom Hades as well as having a buoyant recording and gigging career of her own. Decoded met Anri in Amsterdam during ADE, and we were so impressed by her we kept in touch.
Hi Anri, thanks for finding the time to speak with us at Decoded Mag. How have you been since we last met in Amsterdam?
Really well, thanks. I’ve been so busy since we met my feet haven’t touched the ground!
You mention in your biography you have a deep knowledge of the ‘sake’ culture. Can you explain what that is?
I started to learn Japanese Sake (Rice Wine) a long time ago. When I came back to Japan from Australia, I studied hard about Sake and passed some exams to become a sake Sommelier. After that, I actually started to work at a Sake Bar in Tokyo around 2013 to learn more about sake. The following year in May when I organised my own event in Tokyo, I ran a special Sake bar at my party to add a unique edge. Probably not bad sometimes to use being Japanese!
We understand you got into dance music via a trip to Tokyo. Where did you go and who did you see?
When I was a teenager, Tokyo felt like the big city. And although Yokohama is only 30 minutes away, I was totally invested in moving there. The first few clubs I went to, the DJ was playing Techno, but much faster than I listen to now. Then I got to see Underworld and I was hooked!
Eventually you moved to Tokyo, but had gigs all over the country. How was that and what skills did you learn from touring?
I moved to Tokyo when I was 18, but I didn’t start to DJ until I was 20. I started to play for fun at home. but after a few years I got my first proper offer which started my career. Around the same time I started to practice more and more. I actually used to practise playing Soul / Disco Music for a while before I wanted to be a techno DJ. Anyways, my passion became bigger and bigger every time I played music. I played small bars, venues where nobody came and it made me stronger and more passionate. I always take every single gig seriously; always prepare myself then best way possible. Basically, I always gave my best. When I started DJing, there were not many female DJs in Japan. It was hard, and as a female DJ you had to compensate for being a woman, as people tend to think less female DJs. So I am always very appreciative and supportive of the people who book me.
Then you moved to Australia, learned English and got a residency. Must have been tough being away from home, what kept you going?
The two most important reasons were of course the Australian music scene, and I wanted to improve my English, because that is the language of the music industry. Yes, my first year was tough as I couldn’t speak any English, but a new start is not always easy and the end goals made me more motivated. I remember when I started to take English lessons, the school I chose actually went bankrupt before my enrolment! Another time I went to a fast food place called Hungry Jacks. I wanted to order Cola but I got 2 ice creams! haha being a non english speaker made life very hard. But luckily as soon as I started to play in clubs in Melbourne people started to be interested me.
What most influenced me in my time there was becoming part of Chameleon recordings. The Chameleon crew were always with me to play gigs and offer me support. They even had a studio where I could practice my production skills. What I found was they respect each others, play tunes to each other, it was a very good environment for music. In fact I have learnt so many things from them, music and non music, that I felt safe and comfortable there. And it was FUN. I wish I could’ve stayed in Australia longer, but my visa ended and I was sent back to Japan.
It was in Melbourne that you enrolled in the Electronic Music Academy. Can you tell us about your time there?
The electronic music academy was fantastic for me. It is a really boutique school run by Australia’s famous techno producer / Chameleon Recordings Owner Steve Ward. I learnt everything I really wanted to know about production and it was great to connect with a lot of cool people. I used to go there everyday to listen and attend classes. I did Ableton Basic & Complex Course. When I lived in Tokyo I also went to the piano school to learn chords, so I had a pretty good understanding of music already.
You’ve had several releases out now on some pretty high profile labels. Tell us about your music making process. Is it the same every time? Do you always start with drums etc?
Thank you! Yes, this year I finally started to release my tracks. I am very appreciative of all that is happening. How I start to write a track writing is always different. Sometimes I start with a kick, sometimes from loops etc etc. It just depends on how I feel that day, but when I get inspiration I create as much as I can.
Anything new out in 2015?
My Vektrum EP will be out from Stripped Recordings (UK). Also a collaboration track will be out on Chameleon Recordings.
Having been in the scene now for 12 years, and DJing at festivals, clubs and on radio, what do you like best?
As you already know I love to DJ basically, it makes me feel free. It is the most enjoyable thing for me. If I didn`t have a music career then I would be a different ANRI today. Whether its a club, festival or radio doesn’t matter to me because if there are people who will hear ANRI even only one person, I am very happy. To be honest, radio is strange for me, but I always imagine in my head there are many people dancing to my set.
You recently moved to Berlin, which was one of your dream places to live. How was the move and whats Berlin like?
I`ve always wanted to move to Berlin, I just love this city and wanted to challenge my music career here. The first time I came here I knew this was the city I wanted to live in. I feel strongly that Berlin gives me the best opportunities. There are so many other DJs, Producers and music industry people that it is a great place to develop myself. As soon as I moved here old friends who live in Berlin and the new friends I have met here helped me out settling down here.
We met you at ADE with Joost Toast and Tom Hades. How do you know them and how did you begin to work together?
First time I ever went to Holland we joined Gem Records at a beach party, and I stayed at one of the Gem guys’ house. When I woke up the next day Joost was sleeping in the next room. After then we became friends. In 2013 I came back to Amsterdam for ADE and Joost showed me the ‘real Amsterdam’. He took me to the Heineken Museum and his lovely girl friend cooked a typical dutch dinner for us. In 2014, he & Tom (Hades) asked me if I want to work with them. I was really glad to have this opportunity, and have been the Asia booker for Tom ever since. Through this job, I met so many great people. And I truly believe that through the music anything is possible.
You had 2 gigs at ADE as well. How did they go?
Yes, I played at Cue Bar with Tom Hades, Jewel-Kid and Enrico Sangiuliano for Tom`s Rhythm Convert(ed) Label Party. I also played as part of a Chameleon Recordings & Donker Showcase event at Club Up.
Both were great fun to play. Toms party was a networking event and connected people to people from all over the world. I organised the party at Club Up. I`ve organised my own parties in Tokyo before, but it was my first time to organise one outside of Japan. It would`t have happened without the Donker brothers and Chameleon Recordings. Organising parties is also what I put most of my energy and passion into. I just want people to enjoy the night; simply when I run an awesome night then I feel more than awesome!
You also filmed a short documentary with Amber Long at ADE. Were you nervous in front of the camera?
Yes absolutely!! Basically I am not good at speaking in front of people, I hardly speak on my radio shows!! I am kinda shy and my voice is really quiet. Actually, I`ve never ever left my voice on someone`s voice message either haha! The whole time through the shoot I was worried about speaking in English because I still find it really hard to do but Amber and Mason, in fact everyone who were involved in the filming were so nice to me. it made me was relaxed and I had best time with them in Amsterdam.
Your story is a heart felt one of following your dreams and never giving up. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry wanting to make it big?
In my life, I have never been good at anything because I haven`t had confidence in myself. Being a DJ has made me the most confident when I realised the music is always with me. Music gave me a direction on whom I’m meant to be. Life is sometimes hard, sometimes challenging, and I have thought of quitting DJing, but if I did then what would I do? So my advice would be Believe in Yourself!!! Never stop learning and never stop practicing. But most of all ENJOY !
Anri, its been a genuine pleasure to chat with you again, thanks so much and we all wish you the best of luck. Other than releases, what else is in store for you in 2015?
Oh the pleasure was mine Simon! This year I plan to develop myself more in the producing field, and I am really looking to create my own sound. And of course grow as a professional DJ. I want to do many things with music here in Berlin.