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Spotlight: Keita Sano

Spotlight: Keita Sano
Jack Smith

Keita Sano‘s stock has been ascending rather rapidly of late: appearances on Keep Up! and the effervescent Mister Saturday Night have made the Okayama-based producer one of the scene’s hottest new talents.

Berlin-founded, now Dalston-based Holic Trax has been building similar momentum with a slew of high-profile releases over the last year, including a couple of joints from two of the most talented artists from across the pond – Mr G and Rick Wade – holding down a classy deep-house sound without resorting to the cheese or over-production that has been all too present in the greater pantheon of ‘house music’ of recent times.

Joining forces this summer with an EP entitled Flowers From Your Grave, Keita draws from both pools of his creative depth with considerable aplomb – blistering acid-techno a la ‘People Are Changing’ back-to-back with restrained, early Chicago-influenced house.

We spoke with Keita ahead of the release to talk Jazz and Dub, his relationship with Tomoki Holic Trax and the meaning behind Flowers…

Greetings Keita. So, first things first… What was your earliest musical experience?

I remember I was listening to Jazz with my dad’s JBL speaker.  Apparently the track that I was listening to was “Pithecanthropus Erectus” by Charles Mingus.

Talk us through the process of creation of the first track you ever produced. Does it resonate with your production style now? Is it something you look back on with pride or shame?

When I was in secondary school, I was making tracks I couldn’t express well enough, then in high school I started to make Dub. I used to record the music onto cassette tapes and I was too embarrassed to ever keep them. So I overwrote them and now I’m regretting it. After starting university, I began producing tracks with real earnest but I couldn’t afford equipment so I was producing only with samples which was a rather ascetic practice.

Talk us through your relationship with Holic Trax: how did the connect initially happen?

I got to know them at record shop while I was digging for vinyl, then I made a contact with Tomoki [Tamura] and started to send my demos to him. Skype conversations with Tomoki led to this release on the label.

Tell us a little about your new EP on Holic Trax, Flowers From Your Grave: does the title have any specific meaning? How do you feel this EP differs from your previous work?

I made a pun on a word of Rise From Your Grave by Phuture, that’s all. Producing tracks is like writing a diary to me, so I don’t feel like this differs from my other work.

Your sound here and in previous work exhibits obvious analog influences. Can you talk us through your production setup for Flowers From Your Grave? The title track and ‘Exit’ specifically seem to expand on the throwback Acid sound – would you say hardware-led electronic music has had an influence on your approach to music production?

I mainly use MPC. Sampling various sounds and creating sequences on MPC to produce tracks…. There was a period of time when I was only using hardware. I was shocked and fascinated with its depth.  Now I’m not deeply attached to hardware as much as I used to.

Does your music fit in well with the scene in general in Okayama? And if so which key DJs, promoters or sounds should we keep an eye out for? I could imagine punchy Techno having its place within the region..

Inspiration from parties is very important to me. I can’t define the “The music of Okayama” as I haven’t been to exposed parties in NY, Berlin, London or even Tokyo, so I’m not in a position to say anything. Although, I believe that people around me can sympathise with the music scene I’m in. All you need to do is to come to Okayama to feel the real vibes.

And finally, what’s the one Urban Essential you couldn’t live without?

Music, my bed and food.


Keita Sano – Flowers From Your Grave is out 1st June on Holic Trax. Grab your test press via the label’s official store. Also make sure to check Keita’s Soundcloud page for a fresh batch of new unsigned material. Awesome stuff.