Turning Japanese

David Pollock talks to the organisers behind Tokyoblu as the live house sessions make a move to Cabaret Voltaire

Although they’ve been pounding the Edinburgh scene for the best part of half a decade, gaining a large and faithful following in the process, it’s only now that Tokyoblu are starting to gain some of the respect and attention they deserve. Their similarly-named live band offshoot – an integral part of the club itself – was chosen to play the T-Break stage at T in the Park last year, while this date establishes a new permanent residency in Edinburgh’s most adventurous club of the moment.

‘Cab’s a really hot venue just now,’ says Tokyoblu DJ and promoter John Hutchison. ‘It has a great spread of nights in a similar vein to our own, all of them aimed at the same crowd, and a high-spec set-up. It’s the kind of place we’d go clubbing ourselves, and I do when I get a night off.

‘What really swung it was the new room [Cab’s Speakeasy VIP area], which brings its capacity close to our old venue Ego. Cabaret Voltaire was actually somewhere we considered when we had to leave the Venue, before we went to Ego, but at the time we didn’t think it would be big enough for all our regulars.’

It should be noted that this isn’t actually the first Tokyoblu proper of the club’s Cabaret Voltaire era (their first monthly date is a Valentine’s special on Friday 15 February) but rather a Cab Allstars New Year benefit for Edinburgh Sick Kids. With DJs from Soul Biscuits, Sugarbeat and more playing in the back room, however, Tokyoblu will have the main room all to themselves, where they’ll be able to introduce their frantic sound to the club’s regulars.

‘Everything about Tokyoblu is aimed at getting people dancing,’ says Hutchison. ‘We’re not standing up there trying to educate them. We play a broad-minded house set, though there’ll be a couple of classics in there, as well as disco and electro influences. You name it, everything from the inception of house, right through to Latin, Chicago and what’s currently taking the roof off.’

Speaking from experience, The List can report that Hutchison and his DJing partner Iain Gibson have no concept of the filler track; each song is an anthem and it’s a wrench to leave the dancefloor at 3am. Yet, the centrepiece of the night is the Tokyoblu band, a seven-piece part-live, part-electronic outfit who have been compared to a ‘Scottish Groove Armada’.

‘The band really came into its own in 2007 with a fully settled line-up,’ says Hutchison. ‘We were apparently the first act to play two stages on two different days at T in the Park. Our DJ set actually drew bigger crowds to the Bacardi tent than people like Fedde Le Grande and Electrons, which speaks volumes for our support in Central Scotland. We’re working on releasing a debut single called ‘Groove Tonight’ in March, as well.’

He adds: ‘I just think that when we look back on how well everything came together in 2007, it’s hard not to think that things will really start to take off this year.’ With this date, as you’ll see and hear, Tokyoblu’s only gear is full speed ahead.

Tokyoblu play a fundraiser for Edinburgh Sick Kids at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Fri 4 Jan.


John Hutchison and Iain Gibson dish out the best in Chicago house, funky electro and disco. Fri 23 Sep: A massive 9th birthday party with the Tokyoblu DJs, Gabriel Kemp (Animal Hospital), Niall & Dennis McKervey, Little Grooves (We Play House), Sounds of Soul (Ladies on Rotation), Soul Jam Hot, Brian & Lee…

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