Published on February 6, 2014 | by Hannah Lockley0
Profile: Last JapanALN’s Hannah Lockley caught up with London producer and internationally acclaimed DJ Last Japan to tell us about his new EP and his collaboration with producer Zomby.
After ordering some coffees at the Old Shoreditch Station in East London, I greet a chirpy Marco Giuliani – aka Last Japan – and we grab a seat in the corner of the particularly busy bar.
The music is loud jazz, but the coffee is good. We have a brief introduction and then he fills me in about his musical journey, from beginnings in a rock band to being contacted by one of his favourite producers.
The 24-year-old South London boy has released a series of EPs over the last few years that demonstrate a finely tuned knowledge of everything from drum’n’bass and dubstep to 2step and grime, with further allusions to house and Detroit techno.
With a plethora of sounds under his belt, he has certainly been turning a few heads, but for Guiliani, his music started somewhere on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
The DJ made his first track at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Surrey, where his love of music took flight: “I used to be into making rock music with the band I was in. Seems like such a long time ago now. We downloaded this programme to record our music on, mostly recording our guitars.”
To look at him now, you wouldn’t imagine Guiliani was ever in a rock band, and he agrees with our disbelief: “I don’t think I fitted in with it. I enjoyed it, but I always felt like I had to dress in a certain way; conform to the stereotype as such. I was into skateboarding but that’s as far as it got.”
Not one to be placed in a certain category, Marco very much believes in trying out new sounds. After his brief stint in rock, university opened his eyes to a whole new playing field of genres.
“My taste grew at university, and seeing what others were making with dubstep, I progressed over to that way. My sound has moved, the genres have progressed and evolved. I don’t jump onto the bandwagon though with my music,” he told me.
“At the beginning I was making different styles of electronic and house tracks, even though I don’t really like house. That’s what I wanted to be known for, I didn’t want to just place myself into one category or genre of music.”
He has certainly lived up to his word; Marco’s sets are always unpredictable, interweaving classic with cutting-edge, you can always expect a dynamic performance from a DJ who takes the crowd on a unique journey of sensory delights.
“I didn’t want to just place myself into one category or genre of music.” Marco Giuliani
Of course, his musical ambidexterity has not gone unnoticed; his highly sought-after mixes have earned him slots on a bi-monthly NTS radio show called Circadian Rhythms, as well as SBTV, Rinse FM, Mixmag and BBC Radio 1.
In his NTS Radio show, he explores the latest tracks and up-and-coming artists as well as giving exclusives of his own boundary-breaking tracks: “I got in contact with NTS, as it’s a good platform to have something that’s regular. It’s good to have a place where you can showcase music that you wouldn’t normally play out. I just contacted them and they said yes. I’ve been doing shows for almost three years now.”
At the time he started the show, Marco was living at the opposite end of London, so going home in the early hours of the morning was a problem. “I stopped for a while as I was living in south London. I was doing shows until three or four in the morning which meant I was having to get a night bus there and then I’d have to wait for the early train home. It was a nightmare.”
Today, the musician has no worries with travelling as he’s since moved to Bow, East London. With his radio show being in Dalston, what once felt like a trek is now a doddle.
We get onto the subject of his recent work after another round of espressos. His latest production, with dark, contrasting sounds and elements, caught the eye of the infamous producer, Zomby, with Last Japan featuring as the sole collaborator on his recent album, With Love:
“Zomby got in touch with me completely out of the blue, which was so cool as I’ve liked his stuff for ages. He’s an amazing producer. I was a bit star struck at first when I got the message. Especially as he’s only ever collaborated with two maybe three people ever. To me it was the best validation of my own music.”
“Zomby is an amazing producer. I was a bit star struck at first when I got the message. Especially as he’s only ever collaborated with two maybe three people ever. To me it was the best validation of my own music.” Marco Giuliani
The track with Zomby, Pyrex Nights, reflects Marco’s capability to fuse the most current of underground sounds into something vanguard. So what’s his secret? Does he have a set process to making these impressive and innovative sounds?
“I have the same creative process in terms of using the software,” he explains, coming over slightly serious.“I do try and change it up – it helps keep things going, keeps the momentum. I like to try and create a different workflow. I find it keeps you active in music, especially with electronics.”
You could never tell this with Last Japan’s mixes though, as each piece sounds so meticulously placed, reflecting his unwavering need for perfection.
SuccessHis success has not come as any surprise as he has a strong musical background, playing four instruments since childhood and going on to study a degree in music production.
With added support from the likes of B. Traits, Toddla T and Benji B, the young producer’s future is definitely looking bright. Talking about the future, we are dying to ask what’s in store for the new year ahead, to which Marco is equally as excited to let us in on:
“I’ve got my second EP in the making with Sony. It’s great because again my music is changing, this time it’s more vocal orientated. I’m collaborating with some great artists too, like Trim and Roses Gabor.”
This does sound good, and if it’s anything like his previous collaboration with the vocals of MC Trim – who is signed to Rinse – then we’re all in for treat.
It doesn’t stop there though, as Marco tells us he’s in the midst of writing a track for his upcoming EP especially for American rapper, Space Ghost Purp, who has produced a mix tape by Whiz Kalifa and two tracks for A$AP Rocky.
You get an instant feel of determination from Marco, which is contagious and encouraging.
His laid-back attitude is refreshing, but he knows when and how things should be done, concluding: “I would love to be gigging at the moment, but right now I’m writing loads and getting the material done so when something comes out, I can follow it up quickly. I’m super organised this year, it’s all happening.”