“Wanting to feel freedom”: Why Mars89 is creating ‘rebel music’ – Mixmag

You also pull from much more disparate, perhaps unlikely genres: Jamaican dub and reggae, gqom, grime and industrial new wave. It’s not something that can be easily imagined, but it makes sense when it comes through the speakers. What appeals to you about these grassroot forms of underground music?

“I was a DJ before I started making tracks, and as digging for new music was a daily routine for me, creating tracks from these global influences came quite naturally. I really respect UK music culture, and UK music culture has always imported many styles of music from across the world to create something different. In Japan, we don’t have traditional ‘street music’ like dancehall or gqom. We need to have more of that energy here, and making music is one of the ways I can do that.”

Are there others in Tokyo who share this ethos with you?

“There aren’t many people who share in my type of music specifically, but I see my music as being similar to punk or reggae in terms of attitude. Today, we have many political problems in Japan, so people want to feel some freedom in dance music.”

So, in a way, it’s protest music?

“Growing up, I was always listening to hip hop, punk, jazz and dub. Within dance music, Paradise Garage and Berlin’s Love Parade were born as shelters for minorities and the underprivileged. These are the stories of rebels, so dance music is political to me. If there are no human rights there is no freedom, so I feel like I’m protesting against fascism, totalitarianism, racism, sexism, homophobia and many other things. I want to give people the energy to fight with my music, so I don’t see myself as simply a DJ or a record producer. I’m creating rebel music.”

Jack Needham is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Mixmag, follow him on Twitter

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