Chris Douridas: Finding Music Gems in Japan Chris Douridas, a music supervisor for feature films and host of the music show New Ground at member station KCRW, recently went to Japan and brought back some real gems — he shares his musical finds.
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Chris Douridas: Finding Music Gems in Japan

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Chris Douridas: Finding Music Gems in Japan

Review

Music

Chris Douridas: Finding Music Gems in Japan

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

When you travel, you always want to bring back that perfect memento, and often nothing captures your trip better than music. But how to find great music in foreign countries--where do you look? For that we turn to music expert Chris Douridas. He's a deejay here in LA and a music supervisor for feature films. Chris told me about a recent trip to Japan where he found himself stuck in a city with no indie music store in sight, so he went to plan B.

CHRIS DOURIDAS (Deejay, KCRW): I find a Tower Records and I was bouncing around the listening stations and sort of randomly picking up covers that looked interesting to me. And I landed on this one.

BRAND: And this one has a picture of a little girl, and it looks like she's about to drum on a cake.

DOURIDAS: Yeah.

BRAND: Yeah.

DOURIDAS: Yeah, it looked sort of like an offbeat kind of artsy little project, and it seemed to be a compilation, so I thought, well, maybe I could stand here for a minute and listen to--What?--10, 12 different bands in one standing here.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Girl: Clap your hands, everybody!

DOURIDAS: The CD's called "Reaching Series." It said it was number two, so I figured there was a second in the volume somewhere that I needed to find. But this track was by Cubismo Grafico, a guy named Matsuda Gakuji, a deejay and remixer from Tokyo.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Girl: Clap your hands, everybody!

DOURIDAS: What I found out later was that a record company and a book publisher had come together and approached artists to write songs for children based on the idea of learning clapping songs. The idea that reaching is one of sort of the basic learning systems around the world. You reach out to learn--kids, babies reach out and touch things; they reach out and grab things. And that's how they start to learn, and it continues throughout our lives where we're reaching out for things.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Girl: Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your...

DOURIDAS: So in the neighboring bin, I found volume one, grabbed both of those. I was still listening to these tracks, and I hit this song.

(Soundbite of song)

DOURIDAS: I was spellbound by this one. And as I'm looking at the artist's name on the back, it says Moose Hill and something in Japanese, but I realized that that Japanese character was the same name of the artist that was in the bin next to me, so I picked up that record and I found this woman by the name of Harada Ikuko, and there was a whole album of her solo work sitting there waiting for me to grab.

(Soundbite of music)

DOURIDAS: Immediately it has a Western and familiar feel to it, almost like a Rickie Lee Jones...

BRAND: Yeah.

DOURIDAS: ...or something.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. HARADA IKUKO: (Singing in Japanese)

BRAND: Do you know what she's saying?

DOURIDAS: Have no idea. But as a deejay, you know, I'm only as good as the music I put together for my show, for my projects. And finding this stuff was like finding a little buried treasure.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. HARADA: (Singing in Japanese)

DOURIDAS: I find out later that she's the leader singer of a band called Clammbon from Japan, and they've made five albums together as a band, and I've since listened to that music. It's nothing like this. This is a solo project of hers that came out about seven months ago in Japan. It's called "Piano," which is her instrument.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. HARADA: (Singing in Japanese)

BRAND: But what about the average person? What should they do when they go to a country that's completely foreign and they want to find something like this, they want to hit a gold mine like you did?

DOURIDAS: I've always found that when I walk into a record store, certainly an independent record store in some faraway place, when they find out that I'm from Los Angeles and the United States and I'm excited about their native music, they're more than happy to turn me on to the local bands, the local artists, and most times they'll let you listen to the disc before you buy it. If all else fails, walk over to the rack, pull out a record that you know you love, one of your core favorite artists, and show them that and say, `Something like this, this is what I like.' And more often than not, they'll lead you to something that's in the same ballpark.

BRAND: And failing that, would you recommend going for compilations?

DOURIDAS: If you can find a compilation of bands from that region, I'd say grab it. What's the worst that can happen? You find out about 12 bands in that area and you become really educated about that music scene.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Man: (Japanese spoken)

Unidentified Girl: Clap your hands, everybody.

BRAND: Well, that's a great track to go out on, Chris.

DOURIDAS: I am glad you like it.

BRAND: I love it.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Man: (Japanese spoken)

Unidentified Girl: Clap your hands, everybody.

BRAND: Chris Douridas is a deejay from member station KCRW in Santa Monica. He's also a music supervisor for feature films.

And, thanks, Chris, for coming in and sharing some music with us.

DOURIDAS: It was my pleasure.

BRAND: And if you want to hear more of this music, go to our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Girl: Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap your hands, everybody. Clap...

BRAND: More to come on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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