Big Sounds In Small Spaces

Big Sounds In Small Spaces

A couple of weeks ago we highlighted the rise of listening bars in Brooklyn in this newsletter so it was fresh on my mind when I was walking around the streets of Tokyo last week and spotting record bars on what seemed like every corner. Being a vinyl nerd myself, walking into these bars sent me into a sonic overload. From the audiophile soundsystems to the meticulously hand-picked record collection to the immaculate interior design, it was almost too much for my mind to handle.

There is so much about record bar culture that we here at Studio TBD appreciate so we wanted to dive into the history of Japanese listening bars so we can appreciate them more in New York. Known in their native country as jazz kissa, these cafes and bars have existed in Japan since the 1920s and reached their peak in the 1970s. In post World War II Japan, Western music became more popular and American jazz was a sign of sophistication. However, the records were expensive to import and in a city as densely packed as Tokyo, apartment walls were thin. The jazz kissa gave music lovers a place to sit and listen to the latest Thelonious Monk or John Coltrane LP on a HiFi stereo they might never afford, all for the price of a cup of coffee.

As music has become more widely available thanks to the internet, the number of kissas have declined in Japan but we’ll take listening to a record on an impeccable soundsystem over spotify in your airpods any day. If you’re ever in Tokyo we recommend checking out Studio Mule for their leftfield selections and organic wine, Oleo to meet DJ Shigeki who DJs, bartends and makes tacos all at the same time, and Record Bar Analog where you can pick out records to hear on their Altec Lansing system designed for movie theaters.

2.23 - FIXED with Paula Tape at Good Room

If Italian rarities, odd rhythms, and leftfield sounds are your thing then Good Room is where you want to be this Friday. Chilean-born, Milan-based DJ and producer Paula Tape will be making bodies move in ways we didn’t know were possible with her underground floor fillers at the FIXED party. Over the past couple of years Tape caught the attention of diggers around the world with her monthly show on Worldwide FM, Astral Jam, and more recently with a residency on BBC Radio 1. We have no doubt her set will be a trip as she makes her NYC debut.

2.24 - Stretch Armstrong b2b Eli Escobar at Gabriela

Imagine walking around the streets of Manhattan as a kid in the 80s hearing the sounds of hip-hop, freestyle, disco, and reggae. Stretch Armstrong and Eli Escobar don’t have to imagine it because they lived it. The native New Yorkers caught the groove early and by the time they were teenagers, were both DJing around the city. Over the years, they’ve grown into nightlife legends whose musical influence can be felt around the world; Stretch was one half of the pioneering hip hop radio program, The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, while Eli has dropped countless bombs on labels like Nervous and Strictly Rhythm. The longtime friends are coming together this Saturday night to show how real New Yorkers go back to back at Gabriela.

2.25 - MANEATER with Chairman Mao at Public Records

Chairman Mao is a man who wears many hats. He is an author, music journalist, historian, documentary film producer, DJ, and curator. He is also one of New York's leading hip hop, soul, and funk collectors who rarely makes appearances behind the decks these days. So, when we tell you you should see him play in the Atrium at Public Records this Sunday, we mean it. He’ll be joining fellow diggers, DJ Tara and Kels at the MANEATER party for an afternoon of musical delights.


Follow the links for mixes and playlists from the DJs and Musical Hosts who will be playing at these venues.

Stay Mellow and High friends - don't forget to have fun.

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