Inground Bookings is a management and bookings agency based in Berlin who implement & curate producers and labels in the electronic music industry. Decoded Magazine were interested to get together with the agency to explore the stories of three individual Inground artists: Lamb Ent (formerly DER), Tomoki Tamura, and Koromoto who have relocated to Berlin from very different parts of the world (Italy, Japan and Venezuela). We wanted to hear their insight and advice on relocating to Berlin to further their careers as DJs or producers, look into the process of adapting to Berlin, their differences in influences of artists and where they place themselves in Berlin’s huge, vibrant electronic music scene.
Could you each give a brief description of your involvement in the electronic scene before your move to Berlin: what were some of your earliest experiences of electronic music?
Tomoki Tamura – I started DJing in Osaka, Japan after a lot of influence from old New York Deep House in early 2000 and from there I decided to move to London in order to absorb and improve my knowledge of the latest European dance music. It was there that I started my night HOLIC and had a residency at London’s legend club The END/AKA. I started producing and began releasing my own music from record labels, such as Four:Twenty, SAW and Nite Grooves. Then after a few years, it seemed like the right time to start my record label “HOLIC TRAX”. This was all still while I was in London and only after then did I decide to move to Berlin.
Koromoto – I have always collected music, and in 1999, when my collection of Techno and House records was big enough to put together a couple of DJ-Sets, I started playing in the city of Caracas, Venezuela, thanks to the support of friends, former nightclubs and national radio stations. I then started showing my work not only in Caracas, but also in other cities of my country and other parts of Latin America, and turned my passion into a profession.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – I grew up in Italy, my country. I started enjoying mixing electronic music at home, and so I started playing in some clubs in my town, and also outside. I was in a collective, 12VOLT, with my friends and fellow musicians and running parties and raves in abandoned places. After that I started creating a record label, dtape, which is still running with podcasts and some releases. This is one thing that I want to push to another level this year.
When did you move to Berlin and where were you living before? What were the important factors which aided your decision to relocate?
Tomoki Tamura – I moved to Berlin in the summer of 2013. As I said I was living in London before and Osaka before that. Before I moved out there I had already visited for a few weeks and I just really enjoyed the vibe of the city – great record stores, nice quiet town and a friendly atmosphere between artists. Also it is still pretty easy to travel to London from Berlin anyway. I still love London, so being here is not as big a thing for me as moving from London to Japan was.
Koromoto – I lived in Venezuela until 2004. In January 2005 I moved to London for a few months, to get acclimated for what would be –for now- my final destination; Berlin. I’d come here before for holidays, to buy music and to play gigs, and I’d always found it hard to go on travelling to other pre-programmed destinations after being here. I fell in love with the city at first sight, but I have to admit that she was showing her most attractive side at the time: summer. Anyway, even now, knowing all her different facets, I still consider her the city of my life.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – I moved to Berlin in March 2014. Before that I was living in Bergamo, my hometown, and I spent 4 years in Milan. I decided to move because I needed something new and fresh. I mean, I like my country at this moment but I do not love it. When I left, it was starting to become a little limited for what I want, and hope, to be doing in the nearly future.
What were your first experiences of the Berlin music scene and how did it differ to the musical landscapes you were used to back home?
Tomoki Tamura – I think Berlin is still not a big city like London but the dance music scene is really strong and huge – almost on the same level with London. All the clubs here have got a great underground atmosphere and lots of people enjoying them by themselves there, which is possible because of the constant friendliness and openness of people going to them. There are so many record labels and producers here always trying to make something that has its own style. I guess I just got super creative vibe in this city. Many of the clubs can be open almost 24 hours in Berlin which is not the case in Osaka. You might heard about old Law “ Fuueihou” that says people cannot dance in public after 1am?? People have been fighting with the government for this for years and hopefully things are going to be changed soon. Can you imagine this law in Berlin?? Haha, impossible! You still can find some venue open until morning in Osaka but they need to be very underground to hide away from the police. However, if you find right one, it can be a pretty amazing party there.
Koromoto – I enjoyed getting to know Berlin nightlife. I loved the variety of good parties to choose from any night, (even on a Monday) and not just Techno nights, but a lot of other genres I admire. The selection was enormous compared to the places I knew. I feel that Berlin gave me a great opportunity to listen to the work of a lot of colleagues, and allowed me to show my work, too.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – My first experience of playing here was a DJ set at R19 – I think it was a friday night! Someone just asked me the day before if I wanted to play there, and of course I did it. There was no way I could have said no. I think here the audience is more aware of music, and I love that. It’s a great thing. It’s good to keep improving all the time and that helps, a lot.
What challenges were encountered when dealing with your process of adaptation to Berlin in relation to a) the city itself and b) the lifestyle, language and cultural aspects?
Tomoki Tamura – It was not so hard for me as London was pretty tough city already though Berlin has a more relaxed mood so you can settle down here more naturally. I feel like the quality of life is much higher here, the prices are much less expensive, there’s more space, more freedom. People here are mostly enjoying life and don’t feel the need to compare theirs with others! The most important things I need from the lifestyle and culture of a city is music and Berlin is the perfect city for this. There were just two things I actually struggled with: the language and the cold winter. The winter is still difficult for me!
Komoto – When I got to live my first winter here, I received it in good company. My German friends explained me, that there is no bad weather, just wrong clothing. And even though I don’t completely agree with that theory, I have to admit that the very unsexy, long-sleeve Angora-wool underwear one of them gave me as a present did help a lot. I hated it at first, and then it turned into my favourite piece of clothing… Just for the record, I don’t use that stuff anymore now, 9 years later; I might take them with me though if I happen to travel to Siberia. I definitely prefer opting to go southwards for European Winter though, just like migratory birds do. I’ve always liked the Berlin lifestyle; for now, I want to stay here. That’s why I had no excuse- I had to learn German. I don’t feel bad about having an accent and speaking with errors, it kind of works like a filter to keep intolerant, impatient people out of my life… I do appreciate it though if people correct my mistakes in a nice way.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – For me, it’s a completely other way of living to how it was in Italy. First of all, as an Italian, I quite miss driving but I can survive without it. Also, when I first moved, some months were difficult because there is always some loneliness. But the city is just amazing and I love the people here! In terms of lifestyle it’s one of the best worldwide, in my opinion. A lot of kindness and so few judgements. The language, well, not so simple but not impossible!
How did each of you find your way to Inground booking agency? Did it play any part in your decision to move?
Tomoki Tamura – Yeah I am really happy to be an artist working with them. They have passion of music and put a lot of effort and love into pushing me to the market – things are moving well! I only decided to join them after moving here.
Koromoto – I met Valerio Taiocchi, head of Inground Booking, when I was already living and playing in Berlin, at a gig organized by DaDa Revolution, an art collective I currently belong to. Middle of this year he invited me to form part of his artist roster, and I’m very happy about the professional work team they have to offer.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – I know people inside the agency so it was kind of spontaneous but also natural. Maybe it was part of the decision but not the main reason, although I love working with Inground.
While you are not all stylistically similar, do you feel any philosophical parallels between yourself and the other artists on the Inground roster?
Tomoki Tamura – I feel every artist on the agency, including myself, has a strong mind on what they want to do with their style and does not follow the trend or hype. We know to trust ourselves.
Koromoto – Yes, I think so, I feel an energy we have in common: team spirit, professionalism, familiarity and work ethics.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – As far as philosophical parallels go, I sincerely have no idea! All I know is that some of the other artists for me are a total inspiration. I love their work, even when it is very different to mine. Some of us are very good friends, because we live in the same town. So it’s a roster, but also a kind of family. That’s a better way to describe it.
Do you see the city differently now from when you first arrived and has the landscape changed your attitude or approach to music in any way?
Tomoki Tamura – Now I am much more settled in this city so I can enjoy everything more, like record shopping, DJing, studio & my free time. I feel the vibe of Berlin makes good relationships between artists For me, these relationships have become good friendships, so it is much stronger. Loads of great projects and music is coming from that place.
Koromoto – Yes, of course, my love for Berlin is not as blind now as it used to be, its more real; the city has shown me her defects, but I still love her and find her attractive. Regarding my taste in music: luckily it has always changed and evolved, new things add to what I already have. But I’ve always been like that; this is not something I owe to Berlin.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – Yes, totally. What I love here is that there are no timings at all. If I want to dance or listen to music somewhere, I can do it at any time. I don’t need clocks. Maybe on Monday but music is so powerful here! A nice soundtrack to life.
Do you think you’ve maintained your early roots in music or have the expectations/demands of the Berlin scene in any way shaped your music?
Tomoki Tamura – You might think it is always Techno in Berlin but it is actually not. I feel the House music scene is just as big here so my style fits this city really well. There is a lot of great industrial Techno and Electronica as well so it’s always opening new experiences for me. All that kind of music fits with the atmosphere of the city well.
Koromoto – My roots work like any tree’s: if you cut them, I stop growing!!! I try not to let any music scene put me under pressure. When it comes to music, I am what I am; and I like it, that the city to appreciates me for that.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – I’m changed. Of course, I’ve got my roots but here is so inspirational. From house, I went a little bit more into techno and now I’m developing into something more trippy. I’m also more aware about playing around with different genres inside house. Before, perhaps I was more straight with one genre.
Where do you place yourself as a musician within the huge electronic Berlin scene which is both vastly diverse and heavily saturated?
Tomoki Tamura – I do not know where I place myself or where I would want to. I think, for me, it’s not something I need to know about. Me & Holic Trax do music that we love and trust. I think that artists who have the same vibe and soul are coming together organically these days…so our place is there.
Koromoto – I have never thought of placing myself as a musician within a scene. If we are talking about genre, I feel at home in different currents of Techno and Dub. I’m not competitive, I don’t mind where I’m placed, I have nothing against the underground or the known and commercial. Everything has its value, as long as it has a heart and a brain!!! First of all I try to be sincere with myself in order to achieve what’s most important for me: To feel satisfied, proud and happy with my work.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – I don’t know! I have so much work ahead of me! If I have to place myself somewhere in a single party for playing, well… at the sunrise. It’s a magic moment that’s full of life.
Where is your favourite place to see or play music in Berlin?
Tomoki Tamura – Listening to good house music behind the bar in the Berghain Panorama Bar on a Sunday evening!
Koromoto – It’s really difficult to have a favourite place to party in Berlin, there’s millions of options, so it basically depends on the line-up, the sound and the people who work there. In summer I really like the open-air events at Berlin’s lakes; when it comes to clubs, Suicide Circus and Griessmühle are between my favourites for playing at the moment.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – I’m really in love with Griessmuehle, and I’m so grateful that I can play there at least once monthly. I would say Panorama Bar is my favourite place for dancing and feel the music I’ve heard there has got a place in my heart. It’s hard to pick as there are so many places – Farbfernseher is super.
Which have been your biggest lessons learned, both personally and as an artist, since moving to Berlin and what advice would you give to someone planning the same journey?
Tomoki Tamura – So many great and friendly artists here are open to do studio sessions. It is a great idea to learn about and create a new experience for your music. Also there are some great Synth shops which you can go to and just try as much you want, you can chat to the staff and they’re always really helpful.
Koromoto – I hope you won’t think of me as a lazy woman, but I feel like I’ve answered this question with my last reply.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – We are not supposed to live where we are born. We are citizens of the world, so go wherever you want. If that’s here, maybe we’ll become friends!
What do you miss or crave from the electronic music scene that you don’t get in Berlin?
Tomoki Tamura – I do not miss or crave anything here. I am happy.
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – Seriously? There is everything. I love metal music, so maybe that!
Would you move from Berlin? If so, where and why?
Tomoki Tamura – Difficult question, somewhere with good sunshine and a beach. I have lived in London and then Berlin so maybe it’s time for me to get some good weather!
Koromoto – No
Lamb Ent (Formerly DER) – I will move for sure one day. I think to South America. I want to live near the ocean but for the moment this is the place.
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