Amecon (see our previous feature) saw a gathering of many of the people and DJs involved in the UK J-Pop scene. We thought it would be interesting to run a brief Q&A with a selection of them on their views on J-Pop and also music for conventions generally….


What prompted you to start DJing?

This was more of a thing that just happened I think, this started out with us (Cosplay Clubnight) starting our first event and it started off with auto-play/automix Virtual DJ, when we earned enough money to afford it we bought our first decks and it kind of escalated from there into DJing. I’ve always loved listening to random J-Pop tracks and anything that also had a good beat and you could both dance and listen to over and over.

Which J-Pop artists are you listening to at the moment?

At the moment I’m mainly listening to Uverworld, Abingdon Boys School, T.M. Revolution and Vivid. I have a lot more I tend to listen to like Scandal and Flow, I mainly get into a lot of these artists from obviously listening to anime openings, and it just kind of goes from there, I love a lot of Uverworld’s B-Side stuff from their singles and albums. I also have a guilty pleasure in listening to both AKB48, but then again who doesn’t!

Do you think convention DJing has changed over the years?

Definitely. It wasn’t that long ago when it was kind of just people like chococat setting the standards, and I think that recently especially since 2008/2009 the big shift changed to see a large fluctuation of convention DJs and the best thing is how every DJ has very different styles and ways of DJing. With people from J-Pop Go! and people like Snap, we have a great range of both geeky nerdy things and a lot more J-Pop these days than a few years ago.

What are your thoughts on Western music versus Japanese music at conventions?

I think there should be a good balance, but this would probably depend on the convention you are going to. Most of the time it’s split into say 1 night of western music and all the other nights are Japanese music, I understand that some people will say that they are at an anime convention and should be listening to Japanese/Anime themes, but on the flipside it’s nice to have a little break now and again. It’s a difficult balance I think, but it is always nice to hear a bit of 80’s and 90’s now and again especially when you are in cosplay and just having fun with friends you may only see once or twice a year.

What are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of J-Pop?

This is such a good thing, it means that slowly but surely DJs can play stuff from the Oricon charts as well as lesser known anime theme’s that sound good, and people will still recognise it (hopefully!), especially with it now being so easy to get hold of on places like Spotify and iTunes amongst others. Still it might be a bit longer before we see a huge J-Pop section in places like HMV!

DJ Digi performed at Amecon 2012 and performs regularly at Cosplay Clubnights


Why did you take up DJing?

Myself and my partner live in Cambridge, there is a big geek contingency in Cambridge. There is one alternative club and the geek contingency and the alternative contingency kind of cross over, but there wasn’t anything that catered for geeks in this alternative scene. So my partner and I went “Hang on a minute, if there’s nothing to go to, why don’t we try and make our own?”

So we brought in all the types of music that we love to party to. We love pop and we love rock and we love electro. So with a smattering of internet memery and completely stupid songs and songs from 80s songs like Labrynth, Transformers etc, we threw together what is now known as PsychoCandy. PsychoCandy has being going for a year and a half now. Bi-monthly and we’re very happy to DJ at CamCon earlier this year, which went down a treat.

Which J-Pop artists are you currently listening to?

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Got to love the Kyary! I was lucky enough to see her when I went to Japan Expo to sell. She was really good. I thought it was quite amusing actually. Very, very sweet girl, very into performing and audience interaction through a French translator. It does seem to be that a lot of J-Pop artists – well I say a lot, that’s a terrible assumption! *laughs* – some J-Pop artists sing over their backing tracks and I found that was quite unusual because I wasn’t used to seeing that in a live house. But whether that was singing or karaoke or whatever, the point was that Kyary gave a great show and it was really lovely. Great fashion style. I think that’s the only J-Pop singer I’ve actually seen live. But I’ve got to listen to my old favourites The Pillows, Shone Knife etc.

You like your rock!

I do like my rock, I do! So yeah, regarding recent J-Pop I think Kyary is top of the charts.

Do you think convention DJing has changed over the years?

Mmmm good point! Yes and no. I think ‘Yes’ in the sense that I remember back in the days when we didn’t have parties and I remember when…. I think it was Minamicon that may have done the first one. I attended anyway and I can’t remember who was DJing there but that was great for me because I love music as much as I love anime and manga.

And also I would say ‘No’ because there does seem to be a lot of the same DJs do it which is great and I always love when I see people do something different. And on a personal note as well actually, I don’t know whether this comes into any other questions, I do find sometimes Convention DJing can only cater for a small amount of people and I think personally as a DJ I like to see a greater party mix perhaps, so just a little thought to throw in there.

What are your thoughts on Western music vs Japanese music at conventions.

I love it! If anything makes you get up and go it should be played. From my experience a lot of J-Pop and Rock and just 80s, synth, everything can segue quite well. No one, I think, listens to one type of music anymore and one of the things that Psychocandy does well I think is to be like your mp3 player, to play a lot of things on shuffle but try and help segue it. It’s a bit jarring when like Queen is followed by something like Kyary or something! it’s a bit odd! *laughs* but also amusing!

So yeah I think with the DJ love of all genres I think that can make for a really good party night.

Laura has provided DJ duties for CamCon and performs regularly at Club PsychoCandy


Why did you take up DJing?

Well I started going to the J-Pop Go events just as a normal goer and a few of the DJs picked up on my relatively decent music knowledge and after a bit of pressure convinced me to give the decks a spin. That’s pretty much how it started.

Which J-Pop artists are you currently listening to?

At the moment I’m listening to a lot of capsule. Really into that. Bit of a late starter with that and the works of Perfume but I just can’t stop listening to it now.

Do you think convention DJing has changed over the years?

I think it has in a way. I think a much more big part of conventions these days are the parties and the DJs so there’s several types of styles in their own little way now. Kind of a highlight to see them perform.

What are your thoughts on Western music vs Japanese music at conventions.

I think it’s fine for both really. There’s no reason why just because it’s a convention about Japanese culture that you can’t have a little bit of Western music, especially if it’s maybe a song where it’s both Western and a Japanese artist on the same track for example. Or a Japanese artist taking a Western artist taking a Japanese song. Why make it strictly one kind of music?

What about K-Pop vs J-Pop?

Again, I say there’s room for both. For example last night the very popular Oppa Gangam Style was played and no one went “Oh this isn’t J-Pop! I thought this was meant to be a J-Pop disco?”. I don’t think people are really bothered because at the end of the day I say as long as it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, it doesn’t matter what language it’s in.

What are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of J-Pop?

I can honestly say it’s definitely a good thing! *laughs* It’s nice to see that it’s actually being recognised. I even found on the popular iPhone app SongPop, there’s now playlist options for J-Pop to challenge people against. So it’s just proved it’s popular enough to make it into a mainstream app game on smart phones. So that just says to me that it’s being recognised now and hopefully means it will continue to get more and more known. Which could mean in the future more and more musicians coming to this country to play.

DJ Yamada has performed at Ayacon and also regularly DJs at J-Pop Go events. He runs a J-Pop podcast here:


Why did you take up DJing?

I’ve always liked music but I suppose it was last year at Ayacon I was asked by Choco if I’d do an Idol set. I’d never really DJ’d before. It’s something that I always thought “Ooh, I’d quite like to do it” but yeah that was my first time DJing last year properly. I’ve always loved Japanese music and I’ve always tried to spread Japanese music at conventions from doing events, but that was my first time DJing I suppose and that’s how I got into it.

Which J-Pop artists are you currently listening to?

I’ve always liked Morning Musume, well for the last 5-10 years but at the moment… oh it’s hard… I’m really getting back into Namie Amuro and kind of R’n’B kind of side of J-Pop. Obviously there’s AKB. Their singles are a bit hit and miss but I do kind of like what they do.

Do you think convention DJing has changed over the years?

It seems to be that people at conventions, they’ve become very close-minded in what they want to hear in some respects. I think up until a couple of years ago people would complain a lot on the forums after conventions and I think DJs got really hacked off about it because they were trying to do their best. Obviously a lot of songs you play at conventions you couldn’t play in a normal DJ set, they’re too slow, they’re just not catchy enough, but people want to hear them. I think before that when I first started going to conventions about 2005, the DJ can play anything and everyone will get up and dance to it. Whereas now people are a bit more conservative. I don’t go a lot to the kind of rave-y nights because that’s not my kind of music. I prefer the kind of straight J-Pop. J-R’n’B. I don’t like the kind of remixing and the House and Dubstep kind of things *laughs*

I’m more a fan of – and it’s probably really bad to say this – but the purer kind of J-Pop, the kind of essence of what the music is which other people don’t quite…

Proper J-Pop!

Proper J-Pop! that’s it! *laughs*

What are your thoughts on Western music vs Japanese music at conventions.

I’ve always been one of those people that whines on the forums that there’s not enough Japanese music at conventions. Saying that, last year at Ayacon when they did the TimeTraveller’s Disco I really kind of got into that and I thought that’s quite a good idea. So I think there has to be a balance and it’s getting the balance right and not just saying this is J-Pop, this is Western music. We’re going to have only J-Pop on this night and only Western music on this night. I think it’s good to mix it but we’ve also got to remember that we’re a Japanese convention. We’re having a unique experience where you can go away for a weekend and listen to Japanese music, whereas you can go into a club any night of the week and listen to that music so why would you want to at conventions? To me it’s a bit weird but I can see how it works and how people want a balance.

What about K-Pop vs J-Pop?

J-Pop – it’s always got to be J-Pop! *laughs*. I think K-Pop is very generic. It’s very Westernised in what it is. It’s very catchy. I do enjoy K-Pop it just isn’t J-Pop in the same sense and it’s a fad. One day it’s not going to be around forever, it’s going to die out sooner or later whereas J-Pop has been pretty consistent for the last 20 years. It’s different genres of music which people don’t quite understand sometimes, but that’s just my opinion! *laughs*

What are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of J-Pop?

I think the internet has a lot to do with it. Obviously we’re getting more bandwidth. We can download faster and things like that. You can go and look on the internet and watch the music videos now. I remember when I first got into J-Pop I spent about £60 importing Utada Hikaru’s first 3 CDs. It was insane, whereas now I could go and buy that off iTunes for a fraction of the price. So it’s being made a lot more accessible.

At the same time I think it’s been overshadowed by K-Pop a bit in that K-Pop is more accessible to people in musical terms. But I think J-Pop, if you want it, is there, you can find it a lot easier. For example, Hello! Project put all their singles on iTunes the same day they’re released in Japan. It’s a lot easier than having to import the single which will be about £10 sometimes to paying 99p and getting the single on your PC straight away.

Mary has performed at both Amecon and Ayacon and also DJs at J-Pop Go events.

J-Pop Go extends its warmest thanks to all those that contributed.

Interviews by Paul Browne
19th August 2012