City Nomads Radio: Risa Taniguchi, Tokyo

A rising star in Tokyo’s techno underground, Risa Taniguchi has taken giddy crowds across Japan and Europe for a walk on the dark side. This Tokyo-born DJ and producer first burst onto the international scene at SXSW 2017. Ever since, she’s been getting top clubs like Tokyo’s Contact and NYC’s Bossa Nova Civic Club grooving to her dark, eerie, heads-down style of techno. In this edition of City Nomads Radio, she tells us about the influence of classical training on her sound, and shares her favourite beatmakers and clubs.


Hi Risa, what’s special about Tokyo’s underground music scene?

I’d say people in Tokyo’s underground scene are very earnest and passionate about what they are doing. However, to go clubbing has not really ever been something that’s part of the Japanese culture. Engaging in the scene, getting your name out there and maintaining that thus becomes harder for a lot of artists based here.

Which are your favourite clubs in the city to hang out at?

Techno institution Contact, Vision, and Oath. They might all be in Shibuya but these venues each have a different vibe and environment. I believe you can enjoy each one of them for something special.

You also play the piano, trombone, and violin. How did you get into electronic music?

At the time I started university, I had never listened to electronic music actually – although I used to listen to Rock, which at the time was what we called ‘dance-rock’ here.

One day a friend of mine took me to a club, and that was where I was shocked by the music and the way the DJs were playing. That, for me, was the point when everything started. Right after that experience, I saved all my money from my part-time job and bought my first item of gear for my small room (which was basically my ‘studio’), and practiced a lot!

How does your classical training affect the kind of tracks you produce?

I was thinking that my classical training hasn’t affected my producing at all, but recently I noticed that I tend to produce songs in minor keys. I guess it’s because I really liked classical songs with minor keys such as Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique. Another bonus from my classical training is that I don’t need to use a tuner device when producing.

Your favourite non-dance music song?

Claude Debussy’s ‘Pagodes’ from his composition Estampes.

Which other Japanese beat makers and DJs should we check out?

Go Hiyama, Wata Igarashi, and Hoshina Anniversary, to name a few!

What is the first thing you think about when you start work on a new track?

‘Let’s make an amazing 8-bar loop.’

What new projects can we expect from you?

I’ve just done a remix for one of my favorite artists and it’ll come out soon! So stay tuned on my socials for more news.

Describe your mix for us!

Due to the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak, I’ve been staying in my place almost all the time, and I made this mix with Ableton Live to release some of the stress and anxiety I think we’re all feeling. It shows my energy for getting back to the decks and performing in front of crowds. I included some of my latest favorites and newest productions. Hope you enjoy!

Keep up with Risa Taniguchi on Facebook, Instagram, and SoundCloud

All photos courtesy of @tokyoweekender and @allanabani

Jolene Hee

Jolene has a major sweet tooth and would happily eat pastries for all meals. When she’s not dreaming of cheesecake, she can be found in the dance studio, working on craft projects, or curled up with a good book.