*DISCOVER is an article series written for the purpose of introducing underground artists as well as highlighting their talents for the sake of bringing them the attention they deserve but have not received yet.
Music serves many purposes; sometimes we use it to get pumped up and excited; other times, to relax and chill out. For the latter, many people turn to the smooth sounds of jazz: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and so on. But, with the rise of computer-assisted music, new horizons have been created. Genres such as chillhop, which combines aspects of jazz with hip-hop and electronica, are becoming more and more widespread. For creators, this means more freedom to make music how they want to. For listeners, this means greater variety and options.
I discovered DJ Okawari while trawling through my Facebook feed. A friend liked a piano cover of a song called “Flower Dance,” and on a whim, I clicked on it. Expecting a mediocre K-pop song or obscure EDM piece, I did not have high expectations. How surprised I was when my ears were instead soothed by a beautifully played harmony. I knew immediately that I needed more. I looked up the person listed as the original artist, and found a video of his latest album on YouTube. The title of the first song is almost poetically appropriate; “Encounter” was my first encounter with the real DJ Okawari.
Born in Shizuoka, Japan, this artist’s real name has not been made public. As stated in his Soundcloud profile, the name DJ Okawari comes from the Japanese word for seconds (as in second serving), お代わり(okawari), “because he is never satisfied with just one helping. He is always seeking something new to challenge.” His theme is the ‘coexistence of music and life,’ and you can see and feel the setting and emotions he wants to portray in his songs. For example, in Okawari’s song “Afterschool” from his second album Mirror, I visualise a group of friends walking home after classes, talking and fooling around without a care in the world. For a few moments, I’m there with them, laughing at their jokes. Then I blink and find myself back at home.
Like Nujabes, another artist of the chillhop genre, DJ Okawari features an international selection of talent in his songs. From Tekitha of the Wu-Tang Clan, to Korean jazz singer WoongSan, each adds a unique twist to the already-singular instrumentals. The piano, drums, and sound bytes are enhanced by the on-point vocals. All aspects of his music meld together to create something more than just an MP3 file on your computer. Each song is an experience, a story told through sound.
Because of his amazing music, to the message behind the man, and even his beautifully designed album covers, DJ Okawari is definitely someone to follow. His newest album was scheduled to release in 2015, but for unspecified reasons, has been delayed. In the meantime, you can enjoy the rest of his discography, Diorama, Mirror, and Kaleidoscope.
To see and hear more of DJ Okawari, visit his website, http://www.djokawari.com, or look up his music on Soundcloud or YouTube.
*Do you have any underground artists you would like for us to DISCOVER? Comment your suggestions below and we will get to them!