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Captain Funk Vital Stats
Captain Funk
Birthyear: 1969
Birthplace: Hiroshima

Hey Boy, Hey Girl song sample

Boogie Electricland live


DISCOGRAPHY

Original Works
Heavy Mellow (2007)
Heavy Metal (2007)
Into the Echo (2006)
Director's Cut (2004)
Physical Fiction (2003)
Here and You (2002)
Tracks of the Siren Pt. 2 (2001)
Tracks of the Siren Pt. 1 (2000)
Losin' My Way (2001)
Songs of the Siren (2000)
Who Got Your Mojo Workin (2000)
Dancing in the Street (1999)
Bustin' Loose (1998)
Encounter With... (1998)
O.Y.M. Remixes (1998)
Roller Coaster (1998)
Tatsuya Oe (1997)


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Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) Interview

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size Say the words "remix" and "Japan" and one name rises to the top. Tatsuya Oe aka "Captain Funk" has been at the cutting edge of Japanese electronic and new wave music since launching his musical career back in the 1990s. A veteran of taking the tracks of literally hundreds of artists to the next level of electronic hipness, Tatsuya Oe has already had a remarkable career in producing, songwriting and DJing. With a new digital download addition to his company, Model Electronic, and a desire to see Japanese music reach an even larger international audience, Oe will no doubt have many new sounds and surprises heading our way.

So break out the mixed tapes and see what the Captain had to say about his long career, the Japanese music industry and the new goings-on in his business enterprise.

On November 20, 2008 Tatsuya Oe aka "Captain Funk" was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World.


Let's start with the big news from your company. Model Electronic Inc. has added a new feature called Club Model Electric. What is it and what does it offer?

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size It's a membership based company/label's "direct shop" to deliver our sounds & exclusive info to listeners, especially in the areas where our products have been hardly purchasable. Also we hope to bring our creative worldview more directly, rapidly and thoroughly to our members. It's bilingual (English & Japanese) at 320Kbps (No DRM).

Actually I had many requests and questions from overseas listeners, "Where can I buy or download Heavy Mellow/Metal?" via MySpace and other websites. I hope this would be one solution from us.

How is it different from other MP3 download shops?

The original goal of Club Model Electronic is not just "sellling our music data" but also "telling our unique story and experience of music " through direct communication.

Just imagine cases of apparel brands/creators like Giorgio Armani and Viktor & Rolf. They are not just distributing their clothes to department stores & megashops but are also building their own "direct shop" or "base" both in real shops and websites, trying to bring their unique brand precisely and deeply to their devout users and evangelists and to communicate with them.

I thought music labels/musicians can take such unique and lasting communications in addition to participating in SNS and distributing to mega mp3 stores though it might take a lot of time and work for preparation. (In the future, I'd like to support labels/companies in one way or another.)

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size Especially, to musicians who live in the Far East (and have difficulty in both distribution and touring) having direct relationship with overseas listeners is essential. Everything is transient as Buddha says--we can't be sure that mega SNS, mp3 stores and their customers will stay there eternally. (Moreover, motivations and goals of all parties involved are not always the same.)

On the other hand, from the listener's viewpoint, we can't buy excitement, atmosphere, particular worldview (background) of the bands via ordinary collective MP3 download shops, in spite of its convenience. And all tracks are displayed in a very flat and arid manner, without any story or persona behind the music (unless you afford to post banner ads or flash there). Of course, it's OK for "long-tail" magastores.

We're involved in "entertainment" and I'm always interested in entertaining and bringing experience or story surrounding/through music. (As I've been trying in the "Songs of the Siren" series of "OE" video works & organizing parties.)

That's why I named this service a "Club" as an "organizer," though it'll need more time till my vision will realize precisely.

How do you become a member?

Please go to club.model-electronic.com and create your account. No hesitation. Basically anybody who has his own Paypal account can join our membership, but before that we hope you to read Help/FAQ to check your PC/network circumstances.

While you are of course most well known for your music and masterful remixing abilities, you actually majored in economics when you attended Tokyo University. What type of career did you imagine you'd have back then?

I was interested in advertising and creative careers.

After college you did some work for an ad agency. Can you remember the ad campaigns you worked on?

From campaigns and events of big sponsors such as NTT, Toshiba and Sony Music to R&D matters of advertising.

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size But being an ad man wasn't in the cards for you. How did you get drawn into the DJing scene back in the 90s?

Technically I quit not because I got bored in the ad job, but just because I was too busy to continue both. There is big difference between an ad job and a DJ party in who to pay/prepare for the budget, but there are many similarities in thinking of exciting people, i.e. emotional communication.

Actually I had been organizing parties and playing DJ since the end of the '80s, but didn't make dance music by myself at that time, just playing disco funk classics, new wave & early house music.

After that, around '93 and '94, I was inspired by independent techno musicians / labels, especially Japanese ones such as Ken Ishii and Sublime records. They moved and encouraged me with the fact that we can communicate overseas through their "Bedroom productions". So I got engaged in my own music productions with a tiny laptop computer and sampler.

You once said about your music: "I'm here to make people happy. I'm here to make them dance. That's all I desire." Looking back over your long career do those words still hold up?

Whatever music or not, making people happy with excitement (say "Wow!") is the most important thing in my life, even if I become a lawyer or a real captain.

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size You've been rightly called a remix wizard, taking songs of many different musical styles to the next level. What do you see as the keys to remixing a song?

Think musically. Whether remix or ordinary production, making music is an emotional, organic expression. We can't finish it just by "cut & paste" things, playing with software.

Also, "Don't disappoint original fans but let them discover hidden aspects/virtue of the original song" is what I always care about.

Do you have a typical process you go through?

Focus on a few musical elements where the original songs catch me. And treat as if I "re-compose" or "re-arrange" them.

How important has you own background in playing music influenced your remixing techniques?

Both playing instruments and playing DJ are helpful to keep the balance between musical elements and hipness.

What does it feel like to take the music of someone you admire and place you own distinct stamp on a remix?

Simply honored.

Can you tell us a little about your song writing process? What inspires you?

Emotions & humor. Or memories of them.

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size Of the hundreds of artists you've worked with who are some of the most memorable?

Kraftwerk, Holger Czukay and Mr. Hotei. Naturally, they are all genuine professional musicians.

Can you tell us a little about remixing Puffy AmiYumi's song Sign of Love (Ai no Shirushi)?

Originally I loved that original song. Not to mention the melodies, the timpani sound of the intro impressed me. It was a trigger of my remix ideas.

What did you think of the Fantastic Plastic Machine?

He is a keen producer/DJ who can catch audiences immediately. Literally fantastic.

Let's learn a little about some musical terms. When did you first discover the funk sound?

12 or 13 years old, in junior high school. I was listening to many kinds of music, but I felt more impressed and comfortable listening to EW&F, Rick James & Funkadelic than any other.

How do terms like funk, disco and techno relate to the music coming out the last few years in places like Japan and North America?

I don't know much about this, but in Japan these music genres or similar sounds might be possibly related to, or collectively interpreted to one expression "Daft Punk".

All Captains get their title from somewhere? What originally inspired the name "Captain Funk?"

Originally I named this for my party ('96) to symbolize or emphasize its concept.

I noticed the fact that being a "techno producer/DJ influenced by funk music" was a very rare, peculiar and distinguishable point. Though I didn't feel alienated, it was a very rare situation in Japan.

Your early albums "Encounter With..." and "Bustin' Loose" helped to make a name for yourself back in the late 90s. What about those days do you remember most fondly?

No, I won't feel nostalgic even if I sometimes have to look back for business. What and how you remember (your memory and perception) is everything. What and how I remember don't count much.

For your album "Here and You" you decided to use your name Oe instead of "Captain Funk." Why was that and how was its music different from your earlier works?

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size While I was making "Songs of the Siren" ('00) I felt that there would be too many restrictions to produce the next album under the Captain Funk banner and it would make CF listeners confused.

In the independent music scene there is always a time lag till the music and artist's name becomes widespread after actual releases & activities, because of incapability of pushing promotion and efficient exposure. So the penetration is pretty dependent on word of mouth. (In my case, I felt at least 1 or 2 years lag, even inside Japan.)

Actually, when people came to know the Captain Funk name widely, my interests were already shifting to more organic, traditional composition with instruments (I had already stopped using my AKAI sampler in "Songs of the Siren"). That was OE project.

In 2006 you started your own company, Model Electronic Inc. Tell us how it got started and what all it does.

Originally when I started making music in '96 I was supposed to build a label / production organization, because I had been more interested in creating and directing a certain worldview or mind-set with music (as if I were a movie director) than becoming a frontline musician myself.

By force of circumstance, I started as a musician/DJ (like an actor), though.

Model Electronic Inc. is a creative & business base that realizes my original vision more precisely and positively, after 10 years of my musician's experience (It's nice to have already had 2 music actors/icons, CF & OE.)

Your latest albums are called "Heavy Metal" and "Heavy Mellow." Tell us about the concept and music.

They are my declaration of "2nd stage of Captain Funk" by my artistry and skills of the moment in 2007.

"Heavy Mellow" could be called a new encounter with Captain Funk in focusing on funk & house sides, in contrast to another album "Heavy Metal" which has more emphasis on succession and development from "Songs of the Siren" (i.e. rocky side of CF).

"Heavy Mellow" is elegant, sexy and melodious electro/disco music featuring keyboard/synth sounds, such as Hey Boy, Hey Girl, Call On Me & Get Over You.

Talking of Hey Boy, Hey Girl, this disco-funk tune was highly praised and got the best popularity by over 30,000 plays in CF official MySpace page, additionally becoming a heavy tune at the fashion people's playground "Club Sandwich" in Paris.

On the other hand, "Heavy Metal" turned extremely close to the taste of '80s New Wave and electro rock style featuring guitar sounds, such as Butterfly, Somebody Like You & Knight of Electricity. Some tracks might seem dark and even gothic.

You can buy & download all mp3 tracks (320Kbps, No DRM) from the albums at Club Model Electronic Also you can hear some songs at Captain Funk's official MySpace page.

I'll be shocked if the answer isn't zero, but what's the largest number of days you went without hearing a single song?

I don't know. Sometimes? Basically I rarely listen to music at the office for concentration, because every little element of music, even mis-programmed drum patterns or degree of compression EFX of a song on the radio can interrupt and give me distracting information. I want to listen only when I choose of my own will, which is very difficult in Tokyo, as you might know.

As a veteran of the Japanese and international music scene, what do you think of the changes that have taken place over the last few decades?

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size Recently people say everything is going flat and global. However, if the music scene becomes real flat, it won't be what we have been calling the "music scene" anymore.

In a narrow sense, some parts of Japanese pop music have been gradually becoming familiar to certain international markets, especially in the US after the '90s alternative era. It was largely due to the contribution by US indie labels and media.

But it's not so widespread and familiar as other domains of Japanese culture, such as animation, movies, games and fashions. And it's still considered "kitsch" or novelty. I mean, it's not reaching to a common or universal level. (Perhaps we ourselves might be convinced that we are considered "kitsch" and have been acting convincingly as if they were...)

It might be due to lack of our effort, i.e. communication and production effort. Originally pop music has a difficulty--localization, translation and remake don't work, unlike animation/movies. Mainstream Japanese culture is originally very domestic and passive (not so necessary to export), but certain appreciators/finders has been translating and introducing some musicians/creators to overseas as a bridge, as an intermediary (like you).

Now filmmakers and animation productions are conscious of overseas markets and making efforts to spread their production widely. But originally our culture was "discovered" or appreciated, not promoted positively or aggressively by themselves.

Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - photo courtesy of Model Electronic - click for full size I don't know why Japanese music and software industries were staying so passive and haven't been struggling to become more widely accepted and getting universal, which is totally different from the progression of other Japanese hardware industries like Toyota, Sony or Canon. They have been developing their businesses and products with more universality and sophistication, without losing Japanese virtue, quality and pride. (However, recently Japanese music industries are moving toward other Asian markets.)

Dance/electronic music basically have nonverbal elements, so it might tend to spread more easily than pure J-pop. But still we need verbal communication when we explain and promote positively (normally, unless we can find agents/ translators.)

Anyway, to make cultural relationships more active and step to the next level we need to think of keeping the balance between peculiarity and (modern) universality. How can we stay and change/develop to communicate more mutually and smoothly.

Do you think digital downloading of music has been good or bad for new and established musicians?

We can't swim against the stream. Don't stop, just face the reality, and take actions.

Do you have any predictions about how music and the industry might be changing in the next 5 to 10 years?

I have no idea. I just focus on what I can do at the moment.

What are your plans for 2009?

Activate Club Model Electronic and creating the next album. Maybe tour?

Do you have a final message to all your fans?

I hope you'll drop by Club Model Electronic and my official websites and enjoy present Captain Funk music as well as CF classics. Thanks a lot for your interest & support.


For more info checkout Captain Funk's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments