Wednesday, March 6, 2013

#008: Javier Morel

This week's profile is Javier Morel. He is one of the founders of the eurobeat podcast, Super Euro Power Hour (SEPH). You may see him on various forums as Javy or Jayveemon. I have started listening to SEPH since the beginning of the year and really enjoy him and Jorge on such an insightful podcast. Hope you enjoy Javier's Q&A with the EuroViewer!

1. Occupation?
Sales Lead/Part Time Manager for F.Y.E. ( a music/movie/video game chain ) though hopefully getting a promotion soon.

2. Where are you from?
Born and raised in the Riverdale /Kingsbridge area of the Bronx in New York.

3. Tell us about SEPH and how did it come about?
SEPH is my baby, my dreamchild after loving podcasts such as Orange Lounge Radio (on the for years. They are my greatest inspiration for doing this show. It also has to do with the fact that I never shut up. I love to talk (despite the fact I am terrible at formulating thoughts into words) and I love it when people pay attention to me haha. So December of 2006 I asked original cohost Connor would he like to a show with me he said yes and I guess the rest is history. Of course there was that 2 and a half year break starting in 2010. That was due to personal life issues and just not enjoying the show anymore. After a period of life changes and being recharged SEPH is back I hope people enjoy us!

4. What was the most exciting thing that happened on SEPH?
I think the most exciting thing for myself was having dinner with Andrea Leonardi a.k.a. Bratt Sinclaire and in the city with his wife and father and Fausto granted that didn't happen on the air I guess the most exciting thing that happened would be the interviews we have done.

5. What is your favourite euro song?
That is honestly a tough question. It's like asking a mother whose her favorite child haha. I have a few at the moment so I will reply with a list.

In no order:
*Tora - King & Queen (Classic Mix)
*Rich Hard - Take My Life
*Eurodudes - Passport To dance
*Eddy Huntington - Meet My Friend (B4 Za Beat Mix)
*Becky - Theif In The Night

6. Favourite hyper techno song?
Hmmm I would have to say Exdream - Fight Fire With Fire 2007, Gold Tiara - Princess Fairy and Snow Fairy as well as DJ Zorro - Zorro and Violet feat Mr Fang - People Geda Hype.

7. Favourite trance song?
I would have to say a song I find myself always going back to would be Aquagen feat Rozalla - Everybody's Free and Lange feat The Morrighan - Follow Me (Lange vs. DJ Jam X & De Leon Remix).

8. Favourite eurobeat studio? Why?
It's no secret that my favorite label is Sinclairestyle. I think it has to with the fact he unabashedly makes songs he wants to make and doesn't really buck to any trends i.e. making his songs sound more pop or rock or making his tracks sound trance like. I know some people will criticize him for that but I would rather a producer make a track they want to make than make a track that someone else or Avex feels they should be making. For him Eurobeat is a labor of love and I feel it shows. His tracks very from anthem like tracks like Loving Eurobeat and Passport To Dance to sweet and melodic like When I Close Your Eyes and Move On Now Baby.

9. What are your thoughts on the evolution in the sound of Eurobeat over its history?
Over its history it has become from an offshot of disco to italo disco to the hi nrg dance music we love today, I think it will evolve just like any dance genre, some will hate it and some will love it. Though I think there is always a catalyst for when that happens. I think that for eurobeat catalysts would include Live Music Studio who brought the more wacky side of eurobeat, and the original Delta line up who brought the speedy and electric side of euro while Dave brought the rock side. Eurobeat has been pretty similiar the past 12 years so its only a matter of time before someone comes along and switches up the game.

10. What are your thoughts on piracy within the eurobeat community?
When can piracy be helpful and/or harmful to the genre?
That's a touchy subject. I would be a hippocrite if I said I have never pirated an album. It's hard to obtain SEB in the Americas so most feel they have no choice. I personally feel its all about prioritizing and budgeting. I don't make alot but for me Eurobeat has been a priority so I also make sure to put some money away when I can so I can buy it. Hmm I seem to have deviated... Is it helpful or harmful?.... That's definitely a loaded question regardless of how you answer. While it helps promote it here in the States, I would wager less than 10% of those who pirate actually intend on purchasing releases. I am sure most people are aware but the SEB budget is basically nonexistant at this point. I mean the licensing fees for labels are minimal at best and they've went to actually using live models for their covers to cheap stock photos. Without sales, the labels can't afford to pay singers, rent, electricity etc. I know some would argue that they shouldn't be doing it for the money because it's a form of art but I personally think that is a naive ideallistic world view that doesn't reflect the real world. We live in a capitalistic society so people need to get paid.

11. What would like to hear/see from the Eurobeat studios in the next few years?
I would love to hear some more collaborations in the future. Nuage at Sinclairestyle was amazing, Domino at SCP was fun. Maybe something like Franz Tornado teaming up with Dima for some wacky sounding tracks or Farina & Co teaming up with Capaldi. Just some more collabs and artists being true to who they are.

12. What have been some responses to SEPH?
Responses have ranged from OMG You guys are awesome to Oh dear god this show is utter crap. I admit we do have a bit of a tangent issue but I'd like to think its due to my ADD and personality, I rarely think in a linear way so when I talk I am all over the place. I will say that the majority of responses have been positive and rewarding.

13. Physical albums or digitial copies? Why?
Physical albums. I am a hoarder by nature haha I mean I can't get rid of anything either I mean I still have the original audio files for SEPH episode 1 haha. I also just enjoy that tactile nature of having a physical album, thumbing through the linear notes and having it on display. I mean I bought the CDs and 12" vinyls. There is room in the world for both to coexist so it always irks me a bit when people want to do away with physical media just because they don't like it. It seems like a rather selfish sentiment to me.

14. To parapara or not? Why?
Definitely to parapara, I started back in 2000 and while I am not as active with it as I used to be I still find it to be great fun and cardio.

15. Who in the Eurobeat industry would you like to interview next?
Domino, Mark Farina, Evelina, Luigi Stanga, and DJ Boss.

16. What can we expect in the next year from SEPH?
I hope, if I can find a feasible way to easily pull this off, a video episode or a live episode.

17. What's been looping on your media player lately?
I don't really have one thing that has been looping since I always try to keep some variety though I would have to say that SEB 221 has been looped lately for purposes of the show as well as the EuroPanic Series again for purposes related to SEPH.

18. Guilty pleasure?
Ke$ha - Take It Off. I hate that woman with a passion but god damn it when I am drunk and that song plays my ass gets on the dance floor haha.

19. Anything you want to tell the people in the Euro/Techno scene?
Its very easy to let your ideologies seperate you but since we are such a spread out community, now is the time to band together and show Avex that SEB is still a valuable commodity! Whether you enjoy Initial D, MLP, WLTP, j-euro, just show your support. Let them now we want SEB for years to come!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#007: Maurizio DeJorio

Ah yeah! It's a new Wednesday and time for our 7th Q&A. You may not know his real name, but you would definitely know his voice. "Night of Fire", anyone? Yes, I got ahold of Maurizio (a.k.a Niko or King of Eurobeat) last weekend. He was very excited and pleased to do my Q&A. I hope everyone enjoys.

1. Occupation:
I’m a Dj, co-owner of an Italian radio station called Radio Gamma and owner of an accounting company

2. Where are you from? 
I’m from Trento, Italy

3. How did you get into Eurobeat? 
I started Eurobeat at A-Beat-C label in Mantova back in 1991 along with Bratt Sinclaire and Dave Rodgers

4. What studios have you worked with? 
Mainly at Domino studio (A-Beat-C), Sinclaire Studio 1 (Delta in Milan), and Sinclaire Studio 2 (current SinclaireStyle studio).

5. What names have you sung under? 
My main former aliases were:
7th Heaven
Charlie Tango
David Essex
Derreck Simons (now used by Tomas Marin)
Kevin Johnson
Marko Polo
Max Coveri

Current aliases with Sinclaire Style:

6. What song that you have worked on is your favourite?
There are a lot of them which I love very much. My favorite among the soft ones is “Victim of love” by D.Essex. Anyway I think Night of fire has something very special.

7. You are close with Leonardi (Bratt Sinclaire). Can you tell us about your relationship with him? 
Well, he’s a kind of brother-friend for me. He took care of my self and my Eurobeat career since the beginning (early 90’s) and never stopped. I do admire him over the top since I’ve been watching him composing and producing so much smashing hits in the last 22 years. He left me speechless so many times with very different tracks and genres. He’s a genuine international music genius even if no one of his collegues would ever openly admit it.

8. What was it like to film " Fire" as a music video? Who decided to make a music video of the song? That was a great time! We’ve been shooting over 3 days in Lecco surround (where SinclaireStyle is based) and it was the very first time for me in playing myself in a concept video with a real story board and all that… Well, the idea came from SinclaireStyle since the track was just voted as the “King of Eurobeat” for the year 2010 in Japan. I was very proud of it of course..

9. What makes eurobeat so special? 
Well, I’ve been thinking about that so many times and I still don’t know actually.. Anyway, it much depends on what song you’re thinking of….

10. Have you worked in other kinds of music? If so, what kinds?
Oh yes, I do love many different genres of music: pop, rock, pop-dance. I’ve always been playing in more than one band at the same time. About 10 years ago I was the singer of a Robbie Williams tribute-band including female dancers etc.. etc.. We had lots of fun!

11. Who are your musical influences? 
Michael Jackson, Jeorge Michael, The Queen, John Bon Jovi and many others.

12. Let’s talk about “Night of Fire”. This is considered one of the most important eurobeat songs ever made. Why do you think the song is so important to eurobeat history? What makes it special? 
Well, Night of Fire has something built in that no one of all other existing Eurobeat tracks have ever had. My feeling about it is that the more you are into Eurobeat, the less you have the chance to understand its secret key. My kids are not very much into Eurobeat but they do love Night of Fire!

What I know for sure is that Night of fire is the perfect hook for all those who still don’t know about Eurobeat around the globe yet. That’s why it became the global Eurobeat flagship song. In japan it went even much, much beyond Eurobeat though. In the land of the rising sun NOF (as we call it) is one of the most popular song ever, regardless the music genre. It is still used for many and many Tv commercials like CocaCola, Nike, Konami, baseball games etc.. etc.. Of course this makes me very proud.

13. Why have you continued to sing eurobeat for so many years? 
Because it’s fun!

14. Where do you see Sinclaire Style and eurobeat going in the next few years? 
It’s not easy to predict at all. Meantime we’re doing our best to keep Eurobeat quality as high as we can. We’ll see…

15. What have you been listening to, recently?
By running a radio station I’ve been listening any kind of music...

16. Do you have any guilty pleasures (movies, food, music)?
I do love karting lately

17. Is there anything you would like our readers to know? 
Well, we do appreciate the fact that after so many years there are still so many friend of us outhere. That’s absolutely amazing! Thanks!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

#006: Panu Aunola

He is head honcho of the much beloved Eurobeat-Prime. Panu has headed the boards since 2004. We will be coming up on its 9th anniversary this summer. I wanted to ask Panu his feelings on the industry, the music, and his guilty pleasure. Introducing...Panu Aunola

1. Occupation?
Registered nurse (Psychiatry specialization)

2. Where are you from?
Oulu, Finland. The reindeer hood. Never, ever, ever move here.

3. How did you get into Eurobeat?
I initially bumped into random eurobeat songs amongst various Dancemania/DDR albums without really knowing anything about the genre itself. I recall paying a lot of attention to the first few Lolita songs I heard. Eventually I started digging around the net for more releases under the title and ended up figuring out there are these "Super Eurobeat"-albums that held all of the treasures on them. Think the first SEB I listened fully through was SEB138 or such. After that I was instantly hooked.

4. Many people know you as the creature of Eurobeat-Prime, one of the two most well-known Eurobeat forums on the planet! What was your inspirtation for the creating the forum?
I have to admit that the forum initially wasn't something I myself considered a necessity for the site. When I started working on E-P I had a lot of friends around me who also loved the genre and they gave me the spark to put up a forum. Actually I think it wasn't even me who dug up the forum layouts and set it up (Thanks AxU).

5. The other forum, Initial-D World, has been plagued with fights over piracy of Eurobeat music. What are your feeling about the actions of that forum and piracy in general?
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship for the piracy regarding eurobeat. I bet about every single person who browses the forums (E-P or ID) is guilty of some form of piracy. I myself would never have even heard about the genre if not for the mp3s floating around online. And I am really happy that happened. I have an immense amount of respect for the eurobeat producers and artists, which is also why I do try my best to support to genre to the fullest. Yet I do understand the reality, that the genre is humongous with a ton of great content and purchasing everything the legal way is just not an option for everyone. So I understand some form of piracy, yet I would encourage everyone who enjoys the music to support it as much as possible. Especially considering how 2012 ended up being without any new SEBs.

6. How would characterize the Eurobeat fan?

I feel us eurobeat fans are pretty devoted. The genre has an odd way of mesmerizing the listener and make us crave for more. With so many different types of eurobeat styles around it's hard to characterize people though. With a simple adjective I would probably go for the word 'Positive'.

7. Which Eurobeat studio is your favourite?
A few years back I wouldn't have any issues answering this question. Now I do have to say it's not such a simple answer. The studios have balanced a lot and all of them produce great material in their own ways. Though I would probably have to lean towards SCP as my current favorite.

8. Which Eurobeat vocalist is a favourite of yours?
Doubt it comes as a surprise to anyone, but... Elena Gobbi is in a league of her own. I have tried analyzing why she stands out so much, but there's just something inhumanly enchanting about her voice. From the highpitched screams of Jealousy to the low and soothing Fantasy. I could probably go on for ages about her merits within the genre, but I'll just keep it short and say she has the skill to make every song pleasant.

9. Do you have any interest in trance or hyper techno? If so, what songs?
My musictaste is nearly fully covered by various electronic music genres so, yes, trance and hyper techno both work very well for me. From a vocal trance view point I would name some of the older titles like Alice Deejay - The Lonely One or Angelic - It's My Turn. As for hyper techno, Gold Tiara - Princess Fairy and the various DJ Zorro songs are excellent options.

10. Do you feel that the genre has progressed to your liking? By this, I mean are you a fan of the classics or songs that deviate from the normal formula and use tricks from other genres like trance, house, pop, and disco?
I strongly feel that if any genre gets stuck in a stasis, it's not going to live on for long. Music needs to evolve and the genre needs to find new innovation for it to be longlasting. Eurobeat has done a lot of facelifts throughout the years, some for the better, some for the worse (from my perspective). But with the genre being as vast as it is, it's only for the best if there's variety so everyone can find their own gems. I do occasionally get irritated by specific elements, but the next time the same elements are used they can suddenly sound amazing. So I would say it's more about the whole package in the end, not the separate elements.

11. What has been your favourite decade of albums from SEB? Why?
I guess as I have aged and gone from a happy-go-lucky student to a world-hating-gramps my favorites in the eurobeat world have also changed. I used to love the early 2000s (100-120) the most due to the upbeat nature of the genre back then, things were simple. But the later years have given me so much more in the long run. I would consider either the 140s or 180s the best. Both decades had something new which made them standout.

12. Where do you see the genre going in the next few years?
I definitely hope new material will be pushed out. I don't really mind about the release frequency that much, as long as there's something new to look forward to I'm happy. With the depression going in the financial world I wouldn't be surprised if the eurobeat labels also had to do more collaboration work and do some merging.

13. SEB landed on Facebook a few months ago. Do you think they will actually listen to non-Japanese audiences in international relases?
It is definitely a step forward. The gesture of being interested about the "foreign fans" is already a big step from Avex. Being the forever skeptic that I am, I'm still fairly reluctant to believe that anything big will happen anytime soon. But we can hope!

14. Physical albums or digital copies? Why?
Physical all the way. I'm a collector at heart and I just need to have the material within my reach if I suddenly feel like fondling my precious SEBs. Still a long way to get the whole genre covered.

15. One of the landmarks of your website is your review section. How do you go about reviewing albums and songs for the site? Have you ever had songs, that, as time went on, you wished you gave them a completely different grade?
Oh yes, I have multiple times randomly listened to older SEBs and suddenly felt like I was hearing a song for the first time. Then went back on the site to check what I had thought of the song just to be baffled by a 6. It is really true that songs occasionally need _a lot_ of time to really grow on you. This works both ways, a lot of songs I used to enjoy initially have very quickly become boring. As for the reviews themselves I never have felt that I was a professional at expressing myself verbally so it's more of a 'hobby' in some sense. I do feel it's often a good way to market the niche genre to the people. Maybe someone agrees with me and ends up getting an album I loved. That's enough of a reward for working on the reviews if you as me. The eurobeat ambassador, hah...

16. For the current labels on SEB, can you comment on their works in the past few years?

A-Beat C/Sunfire: The label has definitely gone downhill during the past years, though there has been much improvement also within the last decade of SEB. I do feel they have lost a lof of their core key-ingredients which used to make A-Beat C such a legend back in the day. But still, there's a lot of great material surely to bea heard from them in the future.

Asia/Saifam: I know for a fact that I'm not alone with my thoughts on the current status of the label. They have gone from the top of the class to the very bottom in a fairly short amount of time. The spark the label used to have has nearly gone out, but every now and then there are some really refreshing productions. Especially lately the newest Mark Farina song "Last Of Eurobeat" really stood out as something special. I just hope there's still more to be heard from them.

Delta: For whatever reason I never really considered Delta as my favorite label, although they have released some stunningly great material over the years. The past few years have been decent enough on their behalf but I do have to right off the bat admit that I miss hearing Newfield's productions. Think Kevin Johnson's Tonight Tonight was the last song on SEB from him (correct me if I'm wrong) and that song has really stuck with me as one of my favorites from the 190s.

Dima Music: Dima has been a really strong contender ever since they appeared on SEB. While I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the productions I still hold them in high regards. Great material and some excitingly experiemental songs. A fun label with some real talent.

Eurogrooves/Time: Whether the label is entirely out of the eurobeat business or not is still a mystery for me. I was often very vocal about my dislike for the label, but Time was definitely one of the labels that I should have given more credit for. Some of their songs are very high on my all time favorites and while the label had some atrocious material, their best songs are really longlasting and memorable. I do hope they will make some form of comeback eventually

Go Go's Music: This is another question currently, whether to trust the rumors or not. Either way it does sound like Alessandra has taken her crew to the SCP-stable and are collaborating currently. This is definitely not a bad move as there's great potential within this merge (if it really is true). But from their past few years they have really gone on a steep rollercoaster. One moment the songs have been phenomenal, next very hollow. A very strong label and Sandro Oliva alongside Newfield is one of the biggest eurobeat producer Legends for me (notice the capital L).

HI-NRG Attack: HRG, HRG, HRG... I'm often at a loss for words when it comes to them. I'm often puzzled at how they can come up with all of the nonsense they put out. The nonsense ranges from one end to the other, but on average I do feel they have gone a bit downhill from their glory years. They definitely know how to make great music not denying that, but majority of the productions do feel a bit lifeless which is a shame. Especially when the current material is compared to the awesome Eurobeat Flash content.

SCP: While I do consider SCP my favorite label, I still feel there's been some lack of innovation at times within the recent years. Though on average I would say they are by far the most reliable label. SCP is also the label with the most variety within the label and that is one of the reasons why I do consider them the best.

Sinclaire Style: Bratt Sinclaire has done a good job as of late by keeping up with fans in various ways. The SS-site has small n' cute tidbits for the fans and the music videos have been a great addition. Music wise I do feel the label has improved massively within the last years. When the label first appeared on SEB I felt the songs felt totally void of content, but currently the label has been pushing out hit after hit. Definitely going towards the right direction.

17. Probably the most notorious song of the past few years is the Futura track, "I'm Superstar". It was a love it or hate it track. What are your thoughts on it? Did it deserve the criticism is received from the community?
Haha, I had to dig up my library to pick the track up again just to remember how... different it was. The song is definitely quirky and warped a bit too far, but I would not go as far as to call it the worst track of the lot by any means (that award goes to the atrocious Not Gonna Get Us cover).

18. What's been looping on your media player, recently?
I had to double check from my profile whether to see if I had anything specific standing out and alas I do not. Bamboo Bimbo's Kiss has been my most played track, but I guess it'd be easiest just to say that SEB221 has been looping on my media player the most. Which reminds me... I need to get to that review, next week when I finally have some free time. I promise!

19. What is your guilty pleasure (food, music, movies, etc.)?
Got way too many guilty pleasures truthfully. I'm a terrible fastfood junkie. I could probably get different types of fastfood every day and live happily ever after. And well, as sad as it is to admit, World of Warcraft is still a guilty pleasure. It has been for the past 8 years now. And it's also something that often eats up my little free time (blame WoW for the lack of site updates). Also Eurovisiong Song Contest is something I couldn't live without, every year the contest is one of the year's highlights (look forward to our quirky entry this year!).

20. Is there anything you wish to let the readers of the blog know about you or anything else?
First of all thank you for the interview, I wasn't expecting this at all. And for the readers, wish you all keep enjoying eurobeat and supporting it in your own ways. Maybe Avex will hear our plea and eventually the music will be more easily accessible. Oh and I'm sure nobody actually bothered reading this all. I know I would feel that way with such a wall of text. 

PS: I agree with Panu that Gobbi has one of the best voices in the Eurobeat world!

#005: Luca Torchiani

You know him under many different aliases: Van TK, Luke, Paul Harris, Eurofunk, Mark Astley, Boris, and the 2nd Daniel. Luca has worked over the years in the Eurobeat industry. Back in 2007, he was one of the first artists I was able to get ahold of to communicate with. Today, he gives answers to some burning questions in on 5th EuroViewer Q&A!

1. Occupation?
Music Publisher / singer / songwriter

2. Where are you from?

Italy, Brescia

3. How did you get into singing eurobeat?
Thanks to an audition

4. You have worked with quite a few studios. Which have you worked with? What were your experiences with each studio?

I have worked for about 50 different studios as freelance singer, in Italy and UK. I'm an eurobeat and dance house singer.

5. You did hyper techno with Newfield at Akyr. How was that different than doing Eurobeat?

It was great because I love to try new experiences in order to growing my music experience

6. What other kinds of music do you sing?

Italian pop music , jazz and soul

7. Who are your musical influences?

In general, singer and bands of 70s and 80s

8. You have done some writing and arrangement with Delta. What is the process of writing Eurobeat?

It's depend, sometimes Clara proposes me to sing a new song with her lirycs but in general I prefer to write lirycs and melodies...and also sing my original songs.

9. What is your proudest moment in singing/writing music?

Cherry..and me

10. Have you received personal messages from fans? If so, what have they said?
Yes I love to receive request from fans. I dicovered that I have fans in South America and Japan.

11. Where do you see Eurobeat going in the next few years?

To be honest I don't know, propably eurobeat will become a "cult music"

12. What are your feelings on the illegal downloading of eurobeat music? Is there a place for piracy in eurobeat? Is it helpful or harmful?

I hate illegal downloading and I also hope that the situation of streaming web site will improve in order to protect the rights of authors, artists and producers

13. What are you listening to right now?


14.What is your guilty pleasure?

Music and travels everywhere

15. Anything you would like our readers to know?
Really thank you very much for your enthusiasm and passion, go ahead !!

Friday, February 22, 2013

#004: Michael Loren Marshall

To start off, I appreciate the number of people that have read the blog in just the past 48 hours. I have many more profiles/Q&As to post once I get answers back. Hoping to hear from Alessandra Gatti, Elena Gobbi, Morris Capaldi, Stefano Castagna, Clara Moroni, and more in the near future. So hold on tight!

For our 4th profile, let's meet Michael Loren Marshall. A native of Tennessee, he has worked over many years to grow the parapara community in his home state. As you will read in his profile, he has done some pretty nifty stuff with members of the community.

1. Occupation?
I'm currently unemployed (unfortunately), and still have two more years of college to complete, but have done quite a lot of customer service work. I've actually been lucky enough to hold a few ParaPara-related jobs over the years -- in particular, as a choreographer and dancer for Yoko Ishida during her "Anime Fusion Tour", and more recently, as a choreographer for an upcoming Anamanaguchi music video. I've been reaching out to local dance studios and gyms to try to instruct ParaPara classes as a form of aerobics exercise, but... no luck with that, so far.

2. Where are you from?
I was raised and have spent most of my life in the Middle Tennessee area, particularly in Smyrna, a suburb of Nashville.

3. Tell us how you got into the parapara scene? How did Para2Mahou come about?
It’s all thanks to being an avid fan of music-rhythm video games: particularly Dance Dance Revolution. I became a fan of eurobeat music through DDR and the various BEMANI series games, although I was blissfully unaware of eurobeat's association with ParaPara dancing until I found a ParaPara Paradise machine at a local arcade. I immediately fell in love with it, researched about it on the internet, stumbled across the community, and I guess the rest is history.

I decided to form para²mahou with my best friend, "Gelly", after being inspired by two teams in particular: the ParaPara Allstars, thanks to the ParaPara Paradise video series, and Kikimo-dan (now known as EKS-D ParaPara). We thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to promote eurobeat music and ParaPara dancing in the southeastern United States. Although many of our team members have come and gone, a decade later, we're now celebrating our tenth anniversary as a ParaPara team.

4. Sounds like MTAC has been a popular place for parapara over the years. How did this come to be?
Many of the para²mahou team members have either been associated with the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC) through friends and acquaintances, or have been directly involved, through volunteering or being on staff. At first, we simply thought it would make sense to host ParaPara panels at an anime convention, since most anime fans are also interested in Japanese culture. What we didn't expect is how huge of a hit our events would be with convention-goers.

MTAC began to work with our team in 2006 as a means to cross-promote the convention itself, para²mahou, and ParaPara dancing, by having us travel with them to other conventions and host events, performances, and workshops at those, as well. They have always been incredibly supportive and we owe our much of our longevity and success as a dance team to them.

Many seem to come to MTAC particularly for our ParaPara events, so over the years, we've expanded them to include ones such as an annual ParaPara competition, a ParaPara team showcase, multiple workshop panels, and several years, we have even held a eurobeat and hyper techno rave!

Over the years, we've had many paralists from across the United States attend MTAC to join in on our ParaPara events. Being able to get together with paralists and share it with others is an experience that is difficult to put into words. "Absolutely amazing" comes pretty close, though.

5.  I know you worked on the ParaPara Max videos. Tell us how you came into that and what the experience was like?
Honestly, it might've been sheer luck! Gelly and I decided to attend A-Kon in Dallas, Texas in 2004, and we decided to randomly set up a boom box and dance ParaPara in one of the convention center hallways. Through this, we ended up befriending another paralist, Randy, who had been tasked with finding ParaPara dancers to help Yoko Ishida promote her Hyper Yocomix album at an upcoming convention. I was asked to create the ParaPara routine for Yoko Ishida's eurobeat mix of "LET ME BE WITH YOU", and was flown to Anime Expo in California to perform at her concert there, along with several other ParaPara dancers, including D~tan of Disco NRG.

A year and a half later, I was contacted by Geneon once again and told that Yoko Ishida was promoting her ParaPara MAX albums in the US, and was on tour, asking me to choreograph and instruct more ParaPara dances that were to be on an upcoming set of DVDs. So, I participated in several Anime Fusion Tour dates and filming production for the videos.

When the director had me give step-by-step instructions during filming, I immediately was thankful for my experiences of teaching ParaPara at conventions -- Geneon provided us with no script or guidelines whatsoever, and all of their ParaPara terminology and knowledge was provided to them by myself and Randy. Although it took plenty of takes due to us being completely on our own, we managed, somehow.

The experience was definitely one that was a dream come true -- none like any other I had ever had, before -- and is definitely one that I will never forget.

6. Who is your favourite Euro artist?
For as long as I've been listening to eurobeat, my favorite eurobeat artist has been Elena Ferretti, most well-known under aliases such as "SOPHIE", "ROSE", "VICTORIA", and "HELENA" under Time Records, "VALENTINA" (and occasionally a vocalist in "GO GO GIRLS" and "KING & QUEEN") under A-Beat C, and a plethora of other aliases across a number of other eurobeat labels. I've always admired how immensely passionate her vocals are, and how her songs range from the smooth and romantic, all of the way to up-beat and energetic ParaPara anthems.

7. What are some of your favourite Euro songs?
That is such a difficult question! It's easier for me to say that I have a penchant for the particularly energetic, danceable songs featured on the Eurobeat Flash and Euromach album series. If I had to choose a single favorite eurobeat song, though, it would have to be between SOLID GOLD / DUSTY, PARAPARA GIRL / BARBIE, and HEY BOY / APPLE.

8. Interested in trance or hyper techno? If so, what songs?
I've always been interested in all forms of electronic dance music, including trance, eurodance, and hyper techno. Although I haven't been into trance as much as I used to be, a few of my favorite "hyper techno" songs include EXPRESS YOUR FREEDOM / ANTICAPELLA, POWER OF DANCIN' / MR. FANG, and EROTIC CHEMISTRY (Hyper Techno Version) / VANDALET.

9. What are your thoughts on piracy within the eurobeat community? When can piracy be help and/or harmful to the genre?
Music piracy is quite the difficult issue, and even more so when it involves eurobeat music. Due to its extreme expense and limited availability outside of Japan, piracy is, for many, a "necessary evil" in order to enjoy eurobeat. With electronic dance music becoming increasingly popular across the world, I think that at least allowing the digital purchase of eurobeat music internationally would substantially cut down on the amount of piracy. It's a matter of having a fine line between making the music available and for a reasonable price.
The expense and difficulty of importing eurobeat that is exclusively released to the Japanese audience seems to force many international fans to pirate the music. If given the choice, fans of eurobeat would surely be interested in supporting eurobeat labels, producers, and artists by buying songs and albums, but when fans are forced to completely clean out their wallets to do so, piracy unfortunately becomes an increasingly more appealing option for many.

At the same time, many might never have become aware of the genre of eurobeat if it weren't through piracy. Searching for dance music in general, "ParaPara music", "Initial D music", or who knows what else, might all cause one to stumble across eurobeat. Even if pirated initially, it can open many doors and expose people who would otherwise have never known of eurobeat to the genre... and once a fan, the more likely it is that someone is to legally purchase eurobeat songs and albums.

10. Physical albums or digitial copies? Why?
Personally, I prefer the physical albums, but that's mainly because I decided when I first fell in love with the genre that I wanted to collect eurobeat albums. While I do enjoy digital versions, having physical copies to add to my collection appeals to me much more, although, admittedly, the expense of importing surely doesn't. I sincerely hope that both physical albums and digital copies continue to both be made available to eurobeat fans, but I also can understand the difficulty and potential financial loss of doing so. As long as there's eurobeat to enjoy and dance ParaPara to, I'll be happy, regardless of the format.

11. Do you see a future parapara boom in Japan? Will parapara keep going strong in the next few years?
It would make sense for another ParaPara "boom" to occur in Japan, as they have occurred regularly over the past several decades. It usually seems as though there's a few years where ParaPara loses popularity, but suddenly explodes, and the process repeats all over again. I think that the recent re-launch of the Super Eurobeat album series is the perfect opportunity for another one of these booms. It's simply a matter of igniting the spark that is necessary to get it going again; in the past, this has often been huge promotional campaigns or spots on variety television shows. Promotion and marketing is key.

12. What's been looping on your media player lately?
Recently, I've been listening to a lot of the songs that are to be featured in our team's upcoming performances, but those will have to be kept as a secret until we perform! Other than that, Super Eurobeat 221, of course!

13. Guilty pleasure?
Italo disco music. I have a huge collection of the true predecessor to eurobeat, and can not seem to ever get enough of it. Even more exciting is when I recognize eurobeat vocalists singing on Italo disco tracks from the early and mid 80s.

14.  Anything you want to tell the people in the parapara community?
ParaPara is a dance of high-energy and unity, and is so much more fun to do when with a large group. See past potential conflicts and differences, and dance ParaPara with one another. Don't be afraid to go out of your way to befriend and meet up with other paralists and use it as a means to bond. It's amazing what a bit of waving your hands around in the air together can do to establish a long-lasting friendship!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

#003: Jorge Veguilla

Today's EuroViewer profile is the hilarious co-host of the Super Euro Power Hour podcast, Jorge Veguilla. The fun podcast covers all things EDM (including eurobeat, of course!). Enjoy the Q&A from this cool guy!

1. Occupation?
I work for a mortgage company

2. Where are you from? 
Born in Puerto Rico, lived all over the world, currently live by Philadelphia.

3. Tell us about SEPH and how did it come about? 
Well this was a brain child of Javi and Connor. I came into the whole thing later on but ended up being one of the longer serving hosts.

4. What was the most exciting thing that happened on SEPH? 
The interview with Sinclaire, interview with Fausto Guio, and the lunch with Fausto Guio were my favorite moments. Those are moments, memories and stories that will never leave my mind. Fausto Guio is by far one of the funniest people you could ever meet.

5. What is your favorite euro song?
It changes all the time but the one song I can play every time and absolutely love it is Fly to Me to the Moon & Back by The Spiders from Mars, and Go Beat Crazy by Fastway

6. Favorite hyper techno song? 
Techno Rise by Dalindah & Vicious Angel by Cypher hands down are my favorite. They are so energetic and dark feeling!

7. Favorite trance song? 
I’m going to include Hands Up and Cyber Trance into this category; it would probably be The Colour of My Dreams (Jens O. Re-Edit) by Sequenza Meets Megastylez. Just a fun song!

8. Favorite eurobeat studio? Why?
SCP Music. They are very friendly and interactive with their fans and the production value of the label is always very high. Their music is also very infectious and energetic. The variety this label has shown over the years is also a big reason why I love their music.

9. What are your thoughts on the evolution in the sound of Eurobeat over its history?
It’s been a massive change over the years. From disco dance, to 90’s style techno fusion, to the “parapara” style of the 90’s and early 00’s, the “trancebeat” style, the disco house style from the SEB 160-180s, the experimental period from the 190s-220s, to the Eurobeat rebirth of now. It’s pretty incredible if you think about it. I just wish the labels were freer to do their craft but await every new SEB with eager, open arms.

10. What are your thoughts on piracy within the eurobeat community? 
When can piracy be helpful and/or harmful to the genre? Piracy, for better or for worse, built the American Eurobeat community. It’s very rare the person that came into the community not from piracy or heard about the music from someone who didn’t pirate the music. I myself was fortunate enough to live in Okinawa for 4 years and was exposed to Eurobeat from Para Para Paradise but downloaded my first Eurobeat tracks from Napster. I was able to get CDs and was more fortunate in my money situation than others so I kept buying the albums.

The problem now is how fragile the commercial side is to Eurobeat. In some ways, I wish the Eurobeat indy community had more people in it. Outside the releases from Travis and random Toho albums, there isn’t much. I do find the indy community to be the future of Eurobeat and wish the other labels would join with some within the community to release music and such.

11. What would you like to hear/see from the Eurobeat studios in the next few years?
More independent releases outside of Avex; joint projects with each other and with the independent labels.

12. What have been some responses to SEPH?
“This show is hilarious!”, “You guys are a bunch of foul mouthed fanboys”, “Why is Jorge so gross?”, “You guys are awesome!” a mish mosh combination of the above.

13. Physical albums or digital copies? Why?
Digital for me. I hate having clutter around my house and room.

14. To parapara or not? Why?
No. It’s never been my favorite thing about the scene. I’d rather just dance to the music my way and not to some set way.

15. Who in the Eurobeat industry would you like to interview next?
Stefano & Evelina, Ace, Dave Rodgers, Mauro Farina, Morris Capaldi, DJ Command… the list is large definitely.

16. What can we expect in the next year from SEPH?
More Jorge obnoxiousness and Javi attempting to feign interest in Jorge’s responses.

17. What's been looping on your media player lately?
Turbulence by Steve Aoki & Laidback Luke feat. Lil Jon. Simple, aggressive, fun stuff even if it’s from 2011.

18. Guilty pleasure?
Music wise probably 90s bubblegum and Eurodance. Food-wise, pickles. I could eat a jar in one setting. I think I’m going to go buy some too.

19. Anything you want to tell the people in the Euro/Techno scene? 
Let’s get more indy music going! I know there are a lot of you who want to make Eurobeat!

SEPH Youtube Channel

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#002: Dominique Dinh

My 2nd profile is a name in the parapara community you have probably heard of. Dominique (a.k.a Dom on the forums) has worked over the past decade to build interest in parapara in North America with her parapara groups, TWO★HEARTS and Disco NRG. Now it is my honour to profile Dominqiue in a new post of the The EuroViewer!

1. Occupation?
About to graduate with a degree in Marketing. I'm about to leave for a month to work in Hong Kong!
2.  Where are you from?
Born and raised in Orange County, CA

3. Tell us how you got into the euro/parapara scene?
I got my first exposure to DDR/Eurobeat/ParaPara when my dad was working in Tokyo. During the times I stayed with him I was exposed to DDR at game centers and liked the music. I saw ganguro doing ParaPara in Shibuya and Harajuku at the time as well. I didn't get into ParaPara though until I went to visit my cousins in Toronto, Canada, in 2001. Pacific Mall had an arcade with a PPP 1st mix machine and it was love at first sight! 

4. Can you tell us the history behind Two Hearts and Disco NRG?
Jim and I met and became friends through the Bemaniac forums back in 2001 when we realized we lived close by and were almost the same age. We kept in contact since then, but TWOHEARTS was started in Spring 2005 because we wanted to create videos within a unit. Disco NRG was created in Winter 2005 with the same idea of releasing videos, but with more members we could release more videos and eventually add more members to the group.

5. I know you have traveled to Japan. What clubs did you go to?
If we were talking about club events, the list would be a mile long! If we're talking about physical clubs though: Roppongi velfarre (first club I went to), Roppongi Maharaja, Shinjuku CODE, Shibuya Camelot, Osaka NEO, Nagoya OZON, Iwaki Club Freeze, Chiba STARNITE, Chiba Revolution... the list goes on! Most of the ParaPara events actually take place inside restaurants or banquet halls (like STARFIRE).
6.  You have mentioned a rocky past with Avex especially when it came to the night of Velfarre. What led up the incident? What was your reaction then and now?
I wanted to help people overseas learn ParaPara, so I had YouTube accounts featuring videos and refilms. My major exposure to avex was when I was featured in a Gazen ParaPara!! shoot, which was filmed for karaoke videos. They must've recognized me from the shoot when they were going through YouTube because they specifically picked on me. I had informed DJ Boss that I was going to attend the event (we had become friends over that summer), but avex found out and velfarre staff e-mailed me and told me not to come. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I still tried to go and was denied upon entrance. They used my age as a technicality for not being able to get in; if you were in the scene back then you'd know they didn't care about ages. Most of the main avex dancers were around my age and were definitely underaged, but were still allowed in. 

Of course I wasn't too shocked when they took me out, but them actually admitting that the real reason they didn't let me in was because of my YouTube account infuriated me the most. I loved sharing ParaPara so much that I went to lows of actually posting videos WITHOUT audio to try to remedy the problem, but that obviously didn't work. Now I think avex is okay with allowing refilms to stay up since they don't make official videos anymore. It sucked that it had to happen the way it did, but I don't regret it because I just wanted to give access to ParaPara routines to everyone.

7. What are some of your favourite euro songs?
Too many to list, but some of my favorites: Fire On The Moon/Aleph, Gorky Park/Chester, You Are The One/Lou Lou Marina, Kingo King'O Beat/Fastway, Kelly/Powerful T.

8. What are some of your favourite hyper techno songs?
Again there's a lot to list, but some favorites: Countdown/Nuvo Riche, So What/Independence Days, Spaceman/Water Queen, Take Me Up/Encryptor, Wild Boy/DJ Zorro, Techno Rise/Dalinda

9. What are some of your favourite trance songs?
I never danced TraPara, but due to fond memories from 9LoveJ my favorites would be Zuma/Hypersonic, La Bomba/Eddy Wata, and Ass Up/Baracuda.

Concerning SEB coming onto Facebook, do you feel them asking fans about international release will come to fruition?

They started releasing SEB on iTunes again, so I think that it is entirely possible. Avex offers some of their more popular artists on iTunes worldwide, so why not SEB in the future? I just wish it happened earlier while ParaPara/Eurobeat was still popular.

How do you feel about the ongoing piracy conversation in the euro community? Thoughts?

I think there are valid points coming from all sides, those who support it and those who download it. Eurobeat in general is very expensive since it has a niche audience and for the most part only available in Japan. I think if avex allowed the labels to release their music more widely online it would cut down on the piracy, or just release it overseas through sites like Amazon or iTunes.

12. Physical albums or digital copies? Why? 
I am personally a fan of physical albums because I like seeing it on a shelf! However I know it's not practical for most people, so I would definitely pay a premium to own them.

13. How big is your musical collection?
I'm not exactly sure, but I would say at least around 400-600 CDs? I own almost all of the SEB between 40-200 with less than 20 of them missing, so that's almost 160 albums alone!

14. How many parapara routines do you know?
Last time I counted it was over 1000, but that was awhile ago. I have no idea at this point since I've forgotten old routines and learned newer ones.

15. What has been looping on your media player, recently?
SEB 221!

16. What is your guilty pleasure?
I'm a teenybopper! I love the Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, etc. You'll also find me breaking out into the Footloose soundtrack with my boyfriend very often.

Anything you want the readers to know about yourself or the community at large?

I hope for a new generation of people who are equally as passionate as those in the past. Without the support of new people, the community won't continue on!