Label Focus + Interview: Tomoki Tamura (Holic Trax)

Tomoki Tamura is the man behind Holic Trax, a label that gained a strong following on the underground thanks to the consistent quality of the music he puts out.

From Mr G to Tuccillo, Rick Wade and more, Holic is a go-to label for many DJs within the scene. Tomoki moved here from his hometown, Osaka, and has built his mini empire over the last 11 years. We began by asking him about his label…

“I moved to London for music, really.”

How did you start Holic Trax, was it here in London?
Yeah, I started it around three years ago. First of all, I was putting on a party and, after three or four years, I started Holic. I moved to London in 2004 and, in the beginning, it wasn’t so easy for me being Japanese and not really speaking much English at all [laughs]. I was studying English and I went to a lot of parties to try and meet people, through going out and socialising I managed to get a party going at AKA at The End.

That’s impressive! How and when did you start the party?
It was only about a year after I moved to London, so 2005. Basically, I met a lot of Japanese people; artists, musicians… we had a good crew and everyone was into different things but very supportive of what I was doing, so it was a nice creative circle. I also met some DJs. A lot of my Japanese friends were coming to my party, I mean it wasn’t only Japanese people, but they were a large contingent for sure, which really helped. The party got quite big, we had around 2-300 people and I wanted to find somewhere that could accommodate a crowd of that size, somewhere nice, professional with good management. I used to go to AKA on Thursdays, I thought it was good spot, I’d seen some great DJs there so I contacted Stuart Patterson as he was a good friend and an important person within the London scene. I asked him to introduce to the guys from AKA and I started my party there, it became really successful, even though it was on a weekday. Management were quite surprised! [laughs].

I booked Stuart and Spencer Parker for the first party. We had 300 people every Thursday, once a month!

Why did you move to London in the first place?
I moved to London for music, really.

That’s quite brave considering your English wasn’t so good. Was it quite scary for you?
I guess so! I was young back then, so I just did it, I didn’t think a lot! I was DJing in Osaka already and doing well. I had a party there, we were booking a lot of big guys from the States and I was warming up for them most of the time. So I wasn’t doing too badly, but Osaka is quite small and the scene wasn’t that big. I graduated from uni and I needed to decide whether I was going to go for a normal office job or if I was going to pursue music. Japan is cool, but if you compare it to London there’s not so much opportunity, so I decided to make the move over to the UK.

So when did the idea for the label come about?
I guess it was around four years after the party started. We kept it going at AKA for two years, then it outgrew that space and we moved around a bit. We’d do parties at Café 1001, East Village and a few warehouses around east London. I had the idea to do the label because the party was doing well… it happened quite organically you know, you think, ‘Ok, the party is doing well, what’s the next level up?’. I wanted to transmit my musical tastes further afield and a party can only go so far before you need to go to the next level.

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