Japanese female collective BAE TOKYO on putting equality 'before anything else'

Japanese female collective BAE TOKYO on putting equality 'before anything else'

We don’t have a choice – we have to take a stand. When the most powerful man in the world threatens rather than protects fundamental human rights, we need to speak out. And earlier this month, women all over the world rallied for the Women’s March to affirm their stand against systemic oppression of any kind. Likewise, Japanese femme-centric collective Bae Tokyo, led and founded by intrepid Tokyo-via-Atlanta DJ and DENTradio host Jayda b. works towards uplifting larger communities by empowering women, regardless of race, ethnicity and sexual identity, through its platform. Giving DJs and artists a home under its banner, the two-year-old creative agency is a beacon not just of hope, but also of decidedly next-level artistic output. Ahead of its first-ever local shows with our own trail-blasters ATTAGIRL!, Jayda b. educates us on the ways of the Bae.

 

 

Hey Jayda! What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming shows in Singapore?

Thank you for your interest! There’s been so much going on behind the scenes in preparation for leaving for Singapore and other cities that we are traveling to, I haven’t even had a chance to think about it. I’m curious to know about the Singaporean audience and how they may react to our sets and vibe. Our director, YonYon, and I have different styles when it comes to DJing, but I’m sure it will be a good vibe. I know we’re in good hands with our baes at ATTAGIRL!.

 

It’s known that Japanese society is still largely patriarchal and conservative. How does Bae Tokyo navigate around such a context?

It probably helps that we are all foreigners. All of the girls on the management team are from somewhere else, so it may be expected that we ‘do something out of the norm’. But the feedback from the Japanese audience has been nothing but positive. I don’t think too much about what should be catered to a Japanese audience per se – that would be too limiting. It’s important to me and all of us that we include everyone, because Bae is for everyone. Of course, all of our performers are women or identify as women, but that’s what makes us stand out in such a conservative place.

 

Atlanta and Tokyo are both incredibly musical cities. How have both influenced the music you like and play?

I don’t consider Tokyo a place that has a strong hip-hop scene. Japan’s idea of hip-hop on a large scale is still pretty old and sometimes based on stereotypes. However, I love hip-hop and I’m a cratedigger. I could spend forever looking for new records – jazz records, especially those that use hip-hop samples. I’ll play trap sometimes because it blends well with the bass and vogue music that I usually play.

 

"It's important to me and all of us that we include everyone, because Bae is for everyone."

 

How does the community element factor into your work?

This is really important to me because one person cannot do everything alone. Yes, I may be ‘the boss’, but there’s no way that I can, or that I do, everything myself. Everyone is so talented in so many ways; I want Bae Tokyo to be that platform that showcases everyone’s talents and story. Everything that we have done up to this point has been a 100 per cent community effort. We have so much support and people willing to volunteer their time to help us make something better. I can’t say enough how grateful I am that everyone involved believes in this idea. We’ve come a really long way and we struggled a lot in the beginning. We’ve gone through some tough times and I had no idea we’d be where we are now.

 

DENTradio is a great example of music cutting across race and culture. How do you select which artists to feature, and are there specific sounds you look out for?

I’ve always based my music selection as a DJ and radio host on how the music makes me feel when I first hear it. I’ve been lucky and been told that I have an ear when it comes to selecting new talent. That may be true as a lot of the artists I’ve interviewed on the show have never been interviewed before DENT – and then later, they blow up. As a radio host or personality, it’s important to me that these people get a chance to be heard and share their story so, in that sense, it’s really the same concept as Bae – but on radio and not limited to only showcasing women.

 

What has been the most rewarding thing about the Bae Tokyo journey so far?

New friendships and bonds. It’s been amazing to be on this journey with these girls and have each other’s backs and wholeheartedly believe in each other. I look back a lot at old photos and see everyone’s progress, and even my own, from just a few months ago. I think it helps us push ourselves to be better and really think about where we want to go individually within our lives. We’ve had many opportunities last year to have Bae Tokyo-affiliated events where it wasn’t all of us, but maybe just a few of us representing. You get to spend more one-on-one time and learn more about each other with events like that. One of my best memories last year from an affiliated event was when Chocoholic and I DJed an end-of-summer party with starRo. We all ended up catching the last train back home and me and Chocoholic never had a chance much before then to chat just one-on-one, which we did as we watched starRo fall asleep on the train, like a salaryman.

 

 

The common consensus is that Chance the Rapper was the best rapper of 2016. Who fills that spot for you? And what tunes are currently stuck in your head?

That’s a tough one. I go through phases where I’m feeling this person more than the next. In 2016, there were a lot of unarmed black men being shot by the police, and Kendrick’s “Alright” made me feel like somehow things would be okay. Being so far away from my country feels crippling at times, especially now, but that's one track that stood out for me – but that came out in 2015.One of my favorite producers right now is LSDXOXO. His vogue tracks, bass tracks and even some of his hip-hop productions have this sexy undertone, no matter the genre. “Angel Dust” is one that’s still stuck in my head.

 

Lastly, what advice do you have for young creatives out there?

Stay consistent. Sometimes it feels like nobody's paying attention to what you are doing. You may have all of these ideas in your mind and no resources to execute them, but staying consistent no matter the situation is important. Create your own platform if no one will help you. There are so many free resources that if you at least have access to the Internet, you can help yourself. Write things down and try setting goals. You have to just trust the timing of your life and do the best you can with what you have.

 

For this weekend only, catch Bae Tokyo at these events:

February 3, 9pm at Blu Jaz Café: Good Times Presents Pushin' On Turns 11 + Attagirl! x Bae Tokyo

February 4, 7pm at kinki: Kinki x ATTAGIRL! feat. Bae Tokyo

February 4, 10pm at Refuge: Umami Beats ft. Bae Tokyo (JP) x ATTAGIRL!

 

Text: Indran P

Images: MissInglewood

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