Tokyo Record Style

David Sternberg

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There is a certain quality that some people have, I guess you’d call it literally character, that if you have aspirations of ever writing a novel, you, when meeting these specimens, think to yourself, “Oh, here’s a good one to make a memo of. This guy’s whole being is expressive, I’m gonna base a character on this guy, in fact, I’m gonna cook up a little fictional vignette based on this very meeting, I mean after all, you can’t make up somebody or situations better than this.” David from The Little Record Store in North London was and is one […]

Tokyo Record Style

Bemsha, Michael, and Cristopher

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I’ve made the comparison before of expanding one’s musical horizons by keeping friends who know more about music than you to getting better at tennis by playing with partners who are better than you. However the sport golf is on my mind this morning (maybe because of a Michael Jordan story I heard the other day, of him being not only competitive and wager-prone at basketball, but at golf too). It’s also probably because of the fact that after a bigger group of record-loving homies initially met up at Tent Record earlier this day for “Tokyo Record Style Day”, and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Michael Warren

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Making his 5th or maybe 6th appearance on Tokyo Record Style is my dear pal Michael Warren who recently moved from the far east Side of Tokyo to the far west side of Tokyo, nearer to where I live …and do most of my record shopping and TRS scouting. Michael has so many claims to fame, too many for me to rattle off here, and so many that, despite knowing him quite well, I doubt I know the half of them, but here are a few: He grew up with a jukebox, a pool table, and a house and family […]

Tokyo Record Style

Miguel

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Meet Miguel who hails from the Catalonia city of architect Antoni Gaudí (of Sagrada Família fam of course, and who I must say to who Miguel bears a striking resemblance san broken-and-taped eyeglasses), Reus, Spain! I’ve only ever heard of Reus by name but have never met and actual Reusenc, so this was quite a prospect! (Side note, Reus is also a famous for its signature Catalan modernism, also as wine-producing region, a rock-climbing mecca, and boasts a millenia-rich history. I wanna go! ) Miguel was carrying a massive haul form Recofan’s new shop in Shibuya Magnet opposite the station. […]

Tokyo Record Style

Xuan

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I became friends with somebody this year that has really captured my imagination and curiosity, if I’m honest, like nobody quite has in a long while. When I was introduced to her among a circle of brand-savvy fashionistas, in-the-know vanguards, and trendsetting designers themselves, she was wearing something like cheap slacker work dickies, classic checkered vans slip-ons, some chunky self-repaired eye-glasses, fuzzy cardigan, a funky haircut and a kelly-green watch that matched her kelly-green socks. Plus she stood tall, but with a swagger that you could hear in her confident voice. “This is Xuan, from Beijing” I was told. “Xuan, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ksniea

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Did you know that, according to research, the average person meets about 80,000 people in their lifetime? As a rather outgoing person myself, I was guessing I’d fall somewhere on the high end of that curve, that was until I started to crunch the numbers. If you live to be 80, that’s 1000 people a year, every year of your life, which is about 3 people a day on average. You’d think the only way to keep that high average would be by joining occasions like parties, classes, or gatherings where you meet a lot of people at once …but […]

Tokyo Record Style

Lee Kyong Sung

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Hey there Kyong Sung! Thanks for taking the time to say hello! Kyong Sung and his friend had just paid a visit to Tower Records when I caught up with them on the streets of Shibuya. I don’t know if I’d call Kyong Sung’s visit to Tokyo from his native Seoul part of a growing trend per se, as Koreans have statistically far out-visited Japan than any other nationality, averaging a million per year for the last several, compared to just ~300k of it’s next two rivals, Taiwan and USA, BUT I do keep meeting Koreans on the streets of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Amano (and Uchi)

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“Vinyl is the poor man’s art collection.” – Noel Gallagher As I was cruising by Tent Records in Nishi-Ogikubo on my way home from Kichijoji, as I’m wont to do, I spotted Amano’s vibrant green dress as she and her boyfriend, Uchi, were sitting inside at the listening station, both actively listening on headphones to the same record. That dress alone would be reason to stop, which I did do, and as entered the shop I started to peruse the records, I tried not to study them too hard, but thought to myself, “Wow, they’re quite photogenic!” Then I overheard […]

Tokyo Record Style

Bemsha

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DJ bemsha in d’house …of Tokyo Record Style again! Our deal pal bemsha joined up for another edition of Tokyo Record Style Day last weekend when we went to Tohto Records and Disc Union Ochanomizu Eki Mae. Bemsha has about 6 or 7 years on me I guess in terms of age, but about 6 or 7 decades on me in terms of deep musical knowledge. He’ll dismiss that comment as an overstatement cuz he’s that kinda guy, but it’s true. But this was precisely the reason, compounded by the fact that he is a voracious reader, that I was […]

Tokyo Record Style

Yusya

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The Indonesian Force is strong in this photo. Yusya, pictured here, though from rural Illinois, USA, Jakarta, Indonesia, and now Tokyo, Japan, and despite being a lover of Jazz, Rock, Pop, Ska, Reggae, Psych (see previous Tokyo Records Style post in which Yusya is showing off a monster record by Patto), and apparently an expert on Ween (my brother in Boognish), went full roots Indonesian for this photo, scoring not one, but TWO classic “Dangdut” albums, one by Elvy Sukaesih and another by Hetty Koes Endang, two legends of the Dangdut genre, I’m told.  Yusya explained to me that Dangdut […]

Tokyo Record Style

Izzie (and Abbas)

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I primarily make photos of people. This includes lots of portraiture, editorial, events and parties, studio time, and just hanging out with a camera around my neck. The art of making a good portrait really lies in making the subjects comfortable. The faster you can do that, the more natural the photo will generally be. The way I do this is to diffuse the tension with humor, a light heart, taking interest and having curiosity, carrying the moment with an effortlessness to put the subject at ease, making them feel comfortable and confident. This is my natural state of flow […]

Tokyo Record Style

Miori, Ayaka, and Uta

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Tokyo Record Style started as a confluence of several things. The first and foremost is an amalgamation of the past several decades of working as a writer and a photographer, primarily portraiture, and all the experiences that have come along with that. The 2nd inspiration, which can’t be understated, is my dear and talented friend John Sypal’s brilliant project, Tokyo Camera Style, where he essentially documents (read: celebrates) the state of photography in Tokyo (and really around the world considering how Tokyo is a sorta Mecca for photography lovers) by way of photographing the cameras of people he meets on […]

Tokyo Record Style

Makoto

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Despite having lived here for 19 years, Tokyo is just too vast of a city to know very well. People are constantly saying to me “You don’t know ? How can you not know ?” Well, the answer simply is “There’s just too damn much to know.” Upstairs Records, run by the infamous Makato, previously of Broolyn’s similarly infamous “Weekend Records” opened around 2017, fairly long after my many years of Shimokita nighthawk life, and it was one of those places everyone seemed to know except for me. Those ~6 years go when it opened, my kids were kindergartners, and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mack

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Say hello to Mack! He was the person that Massimo from the previous post who was searching for Japanese Promos w/ obi’s, trusted to help him find and identify them. And without trying to judge a book by its cover, it’s not hard to look at Mack, with his effortlessly cool rock-and-roller bed-head and understated goatee, his rusty dog-tags and thought-provoking leather-covered guitar pick pendant, his concert festival style bracelet, his funky colored, but sensibly comfortable city-style Asics, and finally his mustard-brown Credence Clearwater Revival Raglan T-shirt, and know that he was the right man for the job. But there […]

Tokyo Record Style

Nana

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I met friendly Nana (and Tanno who will be featured in the next post) on the streets of Shibuya last week. Both carrying records, I presumed they were a couple, but turns out they’re colleagues in a small creative company making 3-D Computer Graphics, working in commercials, advertising, events, concerts, and more. When I commented on Nana’s cool Lunar Lander T-shirt, she informed me it was, in fact, her own design and shared her online store @neko_kayo where I could get one! Cool! Not immediately recognizing the pink vinyl record bag that Nana carried, I assumed it was from a […]

Tokyo Record Style

Nobuhiko

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In this project, as you’d expect, you often catch people off guard. Well, technically I guess nobody is ever really expecting such an interaction like this after a recent purchase, to be approached by a random foreigner and to be asked to pose for a portrait. As I’ve often described in these posts, the overwhelming majority of people are initially slightly suspicious but willing to hear my pitch. Once they grasp the nature of the project, they essentially come around in this gradual way: “Ok, Ok… I get it… I see what you’re doing. It’s actually kinda cool. Yeah, I’ll […]

Tokyo Record Style

Nolan

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I’m not sure how comfortable I am comparing Nolan, pictured here, to… a… well, a french fry, but… the comedian Jim Gaffigan has a bit about how good McDonald’s fries are, and how there are never quite enough of them, and that moment you realize that you’ve nearly eaten them all, followed by the sad reality they’re all gone. He says in that moment that sometimes the universe smiles upon you, and that gods in heaven recognize your accumulated good deeds, and graciously grant you, at the bottom of the paper sack, one more bonus fry. Simply the best. And […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tatsuo Fukutomi (bemsha)

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One can never really have enough of our good pal TRS and TRSD repeater, Top 5 Co-Host, resident PK toaster, photographyphile, devourer of books, “Delinquent” (a person who displays anti-social behavior or challenges authority as a result of listening to Bob Dylan) and DJ extraordinaire, Tatsuo Fukutomi AKA “bemsha” in our lives. Bemsha makes his 3rd or 4th (or 5th?) appearance on the stream, but always a welcomed guest (…truth be told, I started Tokyo Record Style Day just to hang out more with him.) What more can I write about the ol’ bemshmeister that I haven’t written already? I’ve […]

Tokyo Record Style

Morgan Fisher

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The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tina Turner lived her days in Switzerland. The Queen of Queen, Freddie Mercury, lived his early days in Zanzibar. The Dude of All the Young Dudes, Morgan Fisher, lives in Japan and has since 1984! Keyboard wizard and maestro composer, Morgan is a bit of a Tokyo institution, and an actual living urban legend, having a long-lasting music career that has spanned the decades. He started with The Soul Survivors, who became Love Affair for their 1968 number-one hit single “Everlasting Love”. Soon thereafter he founded his own prog-rock outfit Morgan with members of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Johnny and Bora

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I just keep meeting the absolutely coolest and nicest people in the world on this project. What a brilliant little way to interact with the world that I seem to have just stumbled into. Though every person I meet is unique with totally different taste in music, it kinda feels like I keep meeting members of a sorta Secret Society, “The Illuminadio”, “Knights of the Turntable”, “Order of the Black Circle”, “The Fellowship of the Ringwear”, the “Fraternal Order of Record Collectors” and these two knew the secret handshake. As soon as I started speaking Japanese, I could sense that […]

Tokyo Record Style

Nana

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The more people I photograph for Tokyo Record Style, the more I realize how worthwhile this project is, maybe not necessarily for you, the viewer (but I hope so too), but certainly for me, the conduit for which all this information is flowing. With each person that I photograph with their records, whether I know the person or the music, I ask myself, “What is about this music that compelled this person to seek it out, find it amongst so many others, and take it home?” This question almost always leads me to the same answer which comes after listening […]

Tokyo Record Style

Akira and Noa

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A Tokyo Record Style FIRST! The album photographed here, Argentinian in origin, Las Grandes Creacions de Antonio Tormo, scored by this cute couple that I met outside Tower Records in Shibuya, has no Discogs listing and is nowhere to be streamed – a record that is officially off the grid, proving yet again, that if you want access (and knowledge of existence) to the full breadth of music available, record stores are still your best bet. And the fact that I can’t listen to this album, except directly from Akira and Noa’s copy pictured here, makes me want to listen […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kelsey and Joseph

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I was born in 1976. Not long after I bought my very first few LPs to play on the family turntable, I probably got the dream birthday or Christmas present of every MTV-watching pre-teen adolescent in ‘86 or ‘87 suburbia America, a Ghetto Blaster Boom Box, replete with double tape-deck for dubbing, am/fm radio and antennae, and probably a button for “Turbo Bass”. The Boom Box did several things for me. It gave me the ability to listen to music by myself, to tune into and to record to cassette Casey Kasem’s Top 40 every Sunday morning, listening to which […]

Tokyo Record Style

Takeshi Shimizu

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The artists that compel me the most are the ones who, themselves, are compelled to create. It’s often the compulsion that is more interesting and admirable to me than whatever art they create. My favorite artist John Baldessari said great art cannot be willed into creation, the artist must be possessed to make it. All the time, I so badly WISH that I was possessed to create, that I couldn’t help but make art, a need to create like a need to breathe, like my photographer friend John Sypal, whose project Tokyo Camera Style inspired this one, seems to be […]

Tokyo Record Style

James Banbury

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Little did I know when I met James Banbury that I was speaking to a renowned music arranger, writer, and musician. We met at an exhibition opening through mutual friends a couple weeks back and I found out then that he had only recently moved to Tokyo after a decade+ in Hong Kong. Our mutual friend had mentioned he was a musician, and we talked about tons of music, shared interest in artists, rapped about club music and DJ days, beloved but now defunct record labels, and about how he was making a spontaneous trip back to Hong Kong for […]

Tokyo Record Style

Yuto

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I met 22-year-old Yuto outside Coconuts as I was rolling up on the motorcycle and he was heading out, holding in his hand a recent score. I killed the engine and grabbed his attention before he could dash away. As I began to explain to him that I was a photographer and wanted to make his portrait, rather than initial suspicion, he was nothing but good vibes and warm smiles. A can badge on his jean jacket caught my eye – “Have you hugged a mutant today?” Then I noticed one untied Chuck Taylor, then a flannel layer, a sorta […]