DJ Sarasa’s first official label released mix CD Mr. B-Girl dropped in May 2009 on Rainbow Records in Japan. The tracklisting is a whose who of the current underground Hip Hop scene. Sarasa aka Silverboombox answered a few questions for OneTwoOneTwo.com about her background, career and being a female DJ in a male dominated industry.
Tell me a little bit about your background and credentials and all that.
I’m SARASA, known as the kid with the Silverboombox. I was born in Japan, raised in NY, and I started DJing in Canada. Currently reside in Tokyo… Holler!
What got you interested in DJing?
I always loved soul music, but since I started breakdancing more than 10 years ago, I fell in love with the Hip Hop culture and the real people who were involved in it. I knew at a young age how great it was to be myself. I got really into underground Hip Hop, and started digging for more inspiring music.
How did you get started?
I learned most by listening to mixtapes such as the Rawkus Sound Bombing series… But I got a show at my college radio station, I was just playing the music that I wanted to share, but after the radio show and getting street credit, I was chosen to become one of the judges for the eliminations for the Canadian DMC DJ Championships which really got me serious about scratching as well.
How long have you been DJing?
Not long enough!!
You go by the name DJ Sarasa aka Silverboombox? What’s the story behind Silverboombox? What does it mean?
It’s crazy funny because when I had my own radio show in Canada, I went by DJ Silverboombox… and that was who I was. But since I came back to Tokyo, NO ONE could pronounce it right! They’d say it like “Shiru-bar-boomu-boxxu”… so I was like, okay… I’ll just use my real name then. But yeah, the Silverboombox stands for a birthday present that I was given by all my friends in highschool. I was making mixtapes for my friends back then, and they decided to chip in for a really cute little silver boombox. It was small enough that I could just clip it to my belt and walk around with the sound blasting. So I did. Then people recognized me as the kid with the Silverboombox… and that is how I got my name.
You’ve lived both in Japan and New York. What are some of the major differences in the two Hip Hop scenes from your perspective?
I would say that the major difference in the Hip Hop scene is that in general, the Japanese people who has never been out of their country, lack the original Hip Hop experience and thus the mentality, so it is easier for people to misinterpret Hip Hop as a fashion or as a phase. However, I know many people who made an effort to dig and understand the Hip Hop culture, and those people are the ones who can be so hungry that they are even more knowledgeable than the actual people who are just naturally exposed in the scene in NY. Big amount of love remains for different kinds of Hip Hop in Japan so please come visit and feel it for yourself.
What’s the hottest track in Japan right now, Japanese or otherwise, what track do you spin the most of?
Japanese pop music is popular here, as for the Hip Hop scene, I know that Mitsu the Beats is pumping out real hot shit… When I spin complete different things everytime but I spin my own songs, and my friends’? Gotta show the love! But I won’t spin them unless they’re fiyah!
So, Mr. B-Girl is your first official release. Where did the name Mr. B-Girl come from? Why Mr?
Well, ever since I was introduced to the most unpretentious form of art called Hip Hop, I was taught how significant it is to be myself. Despite this idea, Hip Hop revealed itself to be a male-dominated world… and society to this day expects women and men to act a certain way; this ideas is even more so in Japan.
After starting my career as a DJ, I noticed quickly that my Japanese audience was so surprised whenever they discovered that the DJ who was playing the deepÔºå underground music was a female, or when they saw a female DJ scratching the records more than they should. I have also received a lot of feedback saying that they can’t believe a girl was able to make this track, or that I am pretty talented with my craft “although I am a girl”.
For those who said that to me might think that DJ SARASA is perhaps just a “guy-ish B-Girl” or whatever, when they hear the title of this new CD. But I have intentionally combined the contrary Mr. and B-Girl to let everyone know that it really doesn’t matter what gender you are; it’s bigger than that.
Also I personally think that stereotyping makes no sense at all…especially when it comes to DJing. It’s really not about the physical difference that makes a good DJ. It is truly about which DJ’s got the best groove, taste and the ambition for digging more to expose fans to doper music. I would rather be judged by my skills and knowledge as one DJ, and not as a female DJ, similar to what Martin Luther King said how he has a dream of his children to be judged …by the content of their character.
After all, if Hip Hop is about Peace, Love and Unity, the sexual difference shouldn’t even come into play in the first place right?
Tell me about the project.
With the message that I wanted to get across, I wanted to put together a mix that was nothing else but “ME”. These artists who appear on the CD are my surroundings or people who I grew up listening to, or people who I believe will make a hit in the near future.
Is it only available in Japan or in the US as well?
Its available in HMV,Tower Records and record stores throughout Japan, and for US buyers online http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=REP-18 for now.
We’re working to get the CDs on Amazon, but you know the process.
How are things going with the CD? How is it being received?
I have been getting great feedback. Since the release the CD came in 2nd of DMR’s Hip Hop chart. Thanks to yall.
There’s an original track on Mr. B-Girl produced by you featuring Elzhi, Masia One & Cymarshall Law. How did that whole thing come about?
I wanted a song that non-English speaking Japanese people could sing along to… This song is really heavy and I wanted emcees who could REALLY spit on this project. I approached Elzhi thru my DJ friend in Detroit called DJ Babe, and he made the magic happen. Masia One, who is one of the illest Canadian emcees and who I work closely with, and Cymarshall Law from NJ… they also came on with some nasty rhymes. I got a call the other day that they were spinning my song on wefunk radio… I don’t know how they found the track but it made me happy to see how a song which was put together in Japan went across the sea and got to the hands of a radio show that I have been a fan for years.
Are you going to get more into producing in the future?
I sure am!
DJing vs. producing, which is tougher?
Both are tough in such different ways so I can’t compare.
Earlier this year you did a few gigs in Malaysia and Singapore. From the vid clips on YouTube it looked dope. How crazy was that?
It was really nice, I was there for Malasia’s event with my homie Masia One, she hosted my set and did a showcase as well. In Singapore I was fortunate to DJ for Singapore’s biggest street fest for Chinese New Years. I DJed from the roof of a tour bus while people danced all around the closed street.
I always loved ethnic, Asian food, but I had never been to anywhere in Asia besides Japan…. hahaha. I was surprised how hot the weather was, and it was nice that people could sing along to what I was playing? People were really there to have a good time, and I would love to go back again.
Where can people get at you?
Just hit me up at www.djsarasa.com
Is there anyone you want to shout out, laugh at or make fun?
Michael Jackson, I see you.
Any last words?
Put your dineros down on them records and support the artists so we can keep this culture alive! Thanks, and check my website www.djsarasa.com