Japanese Super Terrific Happy Hour is BTR’s stretch across the Pacific Ocean and into that quirky, subcultural gizmo-techno world of Japan. In the words of two-man collective DJ Hanabi: “Our main focus with the show is to highlight the incredible ability the Japanese possess to copy a particular element of US pop culture, in this case music, so well that they actually become a parody.”
In a cross-country email, Hanabi elaborates on the modus operandi of today’s Japanese rock/pop/punk bands, making clear to his listener, and my reader, just what it is that makes Super Terrific’s playlist so unique, and in their own rite, cool: “Japanese bands tend to become almost obsessive in their desire to emulate the music that speaks to them most, yet they have no real connection to the roots of the music or the scene itself. Most of these bands don’t speak much English and therefore rely on visual and aural cues to form their approach but they often lack the essence of the scene and sound itself. For example some of the Japanese rockabilly bands we’ve played have the Stray Cats ‘look’ and sound down cold, but you get a sense that they have no real understanding of the rockabilly sub-culture or the music itself. Not that we do either.”
This is what makes the show so “awesome to [them].” It is precisely these bands that DJ Hanabi feel best harness their talents and incorporate influences into their own, very original sounds.”
DJ Hanabi is actually made up of two people; John and Matt. They tell me they like it that way, but only because it was “a lot easier than coming up with another separate DJ name” than one they already record under. Their approach to each Super Terrific show is usually centered on a specific “genre of well known music and then finding the best and worst examples of Japanese mimicry.” What makes this formula most interesting is that Hanabi never overtly tells their listeners which tracks they think to be good and which they find sillier than anything else, because “of course, that’s subjective.” The explanation of selection-formula goes on, “Actually, we really do enjoy all the tracks we play in their own way. Sometimes we laugh our asses off when listening to some of these bands. How can that be a bad thing?”
Their attitude and sense of fun in the show is contagious. Before writing this article, I listened to their show while in a library. At times, I found myself snickering out loud to the disapproval of many around me.
“As to our performance on the show, we definitely wanted to stay away from the more typical Disc Jockey banter; and we certainly do not want to come off as pompous bastards who think they are way more cool than others because we happen to be lucky enough to have a radio show.” Personally, I found their mic breaks to be anything but “pompous” or “pretentious.” DJ Hanabi informs without taking themselves too seriously, a refreshing addition to online radio these days. They find a great balance between “snarky quips, sarcasm, and an aloof delivery” and informative DJ’ing.
Finally, DJ Hanabi represents the West Coast of BreakThru’s international DJ squad. Admitting that they are “quite happy to remind people we live in San Francisco” they are just as happy to remind many of their listeners that “they don’t.”
“Basically, we have fun with it and don’t take ourselves too seriously and yet we produce a quality show. We wish we received more fan mail though.”
Send Hanabi an email, will ya? firstname.lastname@example.org
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– Kory French