Caught up with one of my favorite artists tofubeats for my first-ever magazine cover story, for Metropolis Magazine:

Yusuke Kawai grew up just outside of Kobe in a “new town,” the Japanese term for a planned community. Kawai, who records music under the name tofubeats, describes his government-developed hometown: “There’s no city center and no local shopping streets like in other towns. Every station has similarly designed shopping malls, just with different names.” They were ideal residential zones, with big-city vice swapped out for big-box chains and department stores. Kawai recalls the only cultural center of any sort being a music shop, rental store Tsutaya and second-hand shop Hard-Off.

“The new town was made from nothing, and so we didn’t really have any traditional festivals. To me, it was vacant. The new town didn’t really have its own uniqueness in Japan.”

Yet this space helped develop Kawai’s creativity and shaped his approach to music. As a teenager, he spent most of his time absorbing the CDs available at Tsutaya and used any other free time to hunt down new sounds on the internet. “I tried to find anything interesting around me, but there were always only ordinary things. And so I started to think that I have to remix what I had to make something new.” Kawai spliced up mainstream J-pop sounds and YouTube discoveries into a fidgety style, which helped him connect with like-minded people on message boards.

Read the whole story here.