Japan Beat: The Birth of OE


Tatsuya Oe, a.k.a. Captain Funk
It may sound like a new spelling for a well-known Yiddish exclamation, but in fact it's the last name of well-known Japanese DJ/producer Tatsuya Oe, a.k.a. Captain Funk. For his forthcoming album, Here and You, Oe decided to use his last name, he says from his studio, to emphasize "music as a method of self expression."

Oe burst onto the club scene as the maverick Captain Funk in '99, when his album Bustin' Loose was hailed by UK big beat king Fatboy Slim as "F###ing insane!" Captain Funk quickly became one of Japan's most sought-after DJs, and one of the most unpredictable talents among leading techno label Sublime's roster.

But Oe explains that he never conceived of Captain Funk as the be all and end all of his musical identity. "Captain Funk was a project with a certain concept—to break through barriers in dance music with humor." With Here and You, says the slightly disheveled but intense Oe, "the songs were composed and produced in a totally different way."

Oe played all of the instruments, even singing himself, relying only on sometimes collaborator Brett Boyd from Tokyo-based Beautiful Losers for help with the lyrics, which are in English. "The things I am trying to express are not trifling matters like musical trends, but my feelings and ideas about the situation surrounding me."

Listeners familiar with his last release, Songs of the Siren, will recognize many of the elements that made the album one of the most original and musically innovative to come out of Japan in the last two years. Rather than the beat-centric feel of Oe's Captain Funk releases, both albums depend more on traditional song structures. At the same time, Oe's skills in the studio mean that there's more here than your standard rock song.

Titled to express, says Oe, "cognitive gaps in relationships—human, social, and political," Here and You recalls anything from Daft Punk to John Cage to the Grateful Dead, while remaining entirely unique in its blend of rock and electronica.
Part of Oe's continuing search to burst out of the confines of the dance world, Here and You sometimes feels like a musical journey or quest. "I may be pessimistic," he concludes, "But I think I still have to keep searching for 'contact' with the world surrounding me."

Here and You is available on Music Mine June 26.

Photo courtesy of Music Mine

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