Japan-born Kay Suzuki arrived in the music scene in London in 2004. Since his debut release as a producer on the BBC’s award-winning party/label CO-OP in 2007, his sound has been expanding into many styles and genres including disco, house, techno, African, jazz, funk, soul and everything in between.
His productions have acquired critical acclaim and support from some of the most respected DJs and producers, including David Mancuso, Gilles Peterson, Francois Kevorkian, Theo Parrish, Laurent Garnier, Bradley Zero and John Gomez to name a few. Kay set up his first label ‘Round In Motion’ in 2010, releasing 12″s from local London artists as well as his own album, ‘Consciousness’. Kay is also one of the founding members of East London’s audiophile restaurant Brilliant Corners as a head chef, graphic designer and audio technician. Kay played a major role in establishing the venue’s character & sound until 2016 when he decided to come back for the music. Since 2018, Kay has been focusing on running a reissue record label Time Capsule which has been praised by record collectors and tastemakers alike. Both of his labels were given the prestigious privilege of being archived in The British Library.
As a DJ, Kay has hosted and appeared on many radio stations including NTS and Worldwide FM and has been invited to numerous cities in Europe and Asia for the past decade. His sets carry the impression of an atomic collision of funk/jazz-infused energy with an electronic severity that you just can’t quite locate – a combination that has proven irresistible for dance floors repeatedly.
Hi Kay, great to have you on board for our Off The Record Mix Series, can you tell us about where the inspiration for the mix came from?
Thanks for having me. I wanted to introduce some of the Time Capsule releases and basically fill the gap with some of my recent discoveries that connect those dots. It’s not as diverse as our full-range label catalogue, but basically I partied by myself on a Saturday night making this so I hope everyone enjoys it too.
Can you tell us a bit about your Time Capsule label and what its all about?
I always believe that great music is usually a pure reflection of people’s consciousness from specific time and space. Whatever the genre or style, that kind of pure music has got a clear function and captures the feeling and emotion in the sound itself. When you discover a record like that, it feels like you open a time capsule from those different time and space and you’d be instantly taken to their universe they were living in. What really matters for me is why the music was created and how they conveyed the emotion with what they had at that time. I think so called pioneers of each genre of music were all like that and I just love those authentic expressions of the sound and that’s the definition of my favourite type of music. I wanted to define the preference of the music outside of the conventional genre or style. I deliberately pick the music from different places from different times so no one could pigeon hole us being a specialist for one type of music.
Another thing is that this is also the reflection of my own environment where I’m surrounded by so many amazing record diggers, music historians and academics – thanks to the community of Lucky Cloud Sound System, Beauty & The Beat, brilliant corners and beyond. I was introduced to so much undiscovered music by these communities and a lot of them were so hard to come by so I collaborated with each curator to uncover those music with the story behind them. All of our releases have liner notes so you’d understand where the music comes from and why they chose a particular sound. A lot of us are longtime record collectors of all sorts and we know what has been discovered and talked about over the last few decades among the record collectors so we are always trying to bring something fresh and something that we could all learn from and get inspired by.
And what about your own background – where you grew up and what it was that first got you into DJing?
I grew up mainly in the suburbs of Tokyo in Japan, and a part in Singapore as a child. I’m the youngest in the family so I grew up listening to everyone’s music from my dad’s jazz to my sister’s city pop. I started playing instruments & making music from 13 and I was really into my own band and making music by myself all of my teenage era. When I went to highschool, I discovered the joy of digging (old secondhand) records at the local Disk Union (still one of the best record shops in Japan) and educated myself in a lot of music then. I’ve been collecting records ever since and I DJed here and there while I was in Japan, but I’d say I really got into DJing after I moved to East London in 2004 and when I decided to focus on producing music rather than performing. Luckily, I had a lot of bar gigs and a few club nights back then and I learnt really quickly how to connect the people with the music I knew all my life.
What was it that initially made you want to start a label of your own?
I started my own label called round in motion in 2010 as a way of releasing my own album. I released a few records from different labels and distributors prior to that and basically I learnt the basics from them so decided to DIY. I released a few more records with Soundspecies, Leonidas and Koichi Sakai (as our duo Afrobuddha), but as time went by, I eventually started brilliant corners in 2013 with the Patel brothers so I was more surrounded by record collectors than musicians and that was leading up to started a reissue label Time Capsule in 2018.
We have noticed a huge rise in the popularity in reissues and represses over the past few years. Why do you think this is?
I think one of the reasons is the rise in the popularity in audiophile culture and vinyl record culture in general. I’m sure brilliant corners was one of turning points for a lot of people’s minds when it comes to audiophile culture especially outside of London, but we were mainly inspired by Lucky Cloud Sound System and Beauty & The Beat so I can actually see the chain reactions that led to this popularity from way back. When it comes to popularity of reissues, obviously Web 2.0 made it easier for everyone to discover previously undiscovered music, especially outside of usual old school record collectors’ radar and It’s also easier to discover and connect with original artists or labels via online more than ever.
Are any of the records in this mix recent discoveries? If so, where did you stumble across them and what drew you to them?
Yes, there are a fair amount of Japanese records I discovered recently. I’ve been working with a Tokyo based online record shop called VDS for the last year or so and we’ve been selling the largest stock of Japanese secondhand records in the UK on Columbia road under the roof of Idle Moments – which is a wine & vintage audio shop run by the team of brilliant corners. It’s crazy how many undiscovered amazing records we get from Japan constantly! I also added my new remix which will be coming out on Beauty & The Beat label in a few months time.
What else do you and the label have in store for us in 2022?
We’ve just released a compilation “Léspri Ka: New Directions In Gwoka Music From Guadeloupe 1981-2010” which is a collection of modern gwoka music from this French Caribbean island. Original gwoka music is a traditional folk music mainly just drums and call-and-response chants, but from the early 80s, musicians on the island experimented with influences from funk, jazz and electronics and that’s what became Gwoka modern. Nobody really discussed this new form of Gwoka music and its scene before so I think this is a historically important collection for the musicology. The next one will be an Anime & Manga soundtrack compilation from Japan. All instrumental synth-pop tracks from the bubble-era of the 80s Japan.