Maybe it’s not strange to admit that the first thing I generally do when I enter a record store is to scan the place for other record shoppers and, without trying to judge, which I guess is actually what I am doing, size everybody up. It’s not really an exercise in assuming things about people as much as it is a pure curiosity of what fingers are on what pulses for this particular group of people, because when all is said and done, you no matter what your style, or taste, or preferences in music are, you at least know that you have one glaring thing in common with all these individuals, and that is that you all spend your hard-earned cash chasing a deeper connection with the music that gives meaning to your life.

So when I scanned the scene at Face Records in Miyashita Park, my eyes landed on Teo. His blonde hair, tattoo sleeve, his unplugged ears, and his intense focus while digging in the Japanese new arrivals caught my attention. He not only was a colorful character, he looked like a man on a mission, and before I really settled into my own dig, he was checking out at the register with a record.

It’s at this moment, that I have to decide if I’m more interested in crate-digging, and finding my diamond in the rough for myself, an always tempting pursuit, or if I should “bounce and pounce” and turn over another Tokyo Record Style stone. Given the choice, I’d say these days I almost always go for the photo.

So I chased Teo down and pitched him the Tokyo Record Style idea, and he was keen for a photo. We got to talking and it turns out he’s from Sweden, back visiting Japan for an extended stay, after having lived here for a few years, a few years ago. If I recall he’d be spending a month in Tokyo and a month out of the city visiting old friends across Japan.

My good pal and Tokyo Record Style repeater, Michael Warren, is fairly steeped in Swedish music knowledge, some of which, including intel on acts like Eggstone, Håkan Hellström, and The Hives, I’m happy to say has rubbed off on me and prepared me with an ace or two up my sleeve for just being barely able to contribute to conversations like the one Teo and I were having, enough to grease the gears. In this case, it allowed us to make some interesting connections between Swedish pop and Japanese pop, which Teo seemed to know a ton about, far more than me. He was happy to show me this Kingo Hamada record that he had found, which I didn’t know, but was quite curious about.

Teo and I had a great chat, and I invited him to the following week’s 4th edition of “Tokyo Record Style Day” in Kichijoji at Coconut Disk [Spolier Alert: Despite his short stay in Japan, Teo may have managed to infiltrate Tokyo Record Style TWICE – stay tuned to find out.]

The last thing to mention here is this: I always try to go home and listen to these records and artists that photograph but have never heard of. I’m not much of a critical critic, and really give everything a chance, but possibly another Tokyo Record Style first – I really (really) didn’t connect with this record at all. For whatever reason, though I listened to the entire album, and though it was obviously well-produced and well-intentioned, and “high caliber” (for a lack of better words), it was admittedly hard for me to get through. Not my jam at all, and well, what can you say, there is just no accounting for taste, is there? But something in the fact that this IS Teo’s jam, that he has a jam. Despite it not being mine, the notion is so relatable to me, it’s akin to maybe that moment in Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video when the awkward bumble bee girl finds her kindred swarm at the end.

Great to meet you, Teo! You’re a part of my swarm! Safe travels, lots of good music, and stay in touch!

More Tokyo Record Style on the way! 

Kingo Hamada – Manhattan In The Rain
Label: Air Records – AIR-8002
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: Japan
Released: Jan 21, 1980
Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul, Pop
Style: City Pop


I’m remembering a line, that I propose might need updating, from the cult classic High Fidelity. Championship Vinyl record store owner says:

“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films – these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth.” 

Maybe the line should be: 
“What really matters is THAT you like, not what you are like or what you likePassion for (any) Books, records, films – This is what matters. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth.”

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