Tommy Far East

DJ — Japan

Name, where are you from?
My name is Minoru Tomita, people call me Tommy Far East… from Japan.

What do you do?
I sell records, DJ, press records, organise parties… it’s my life! And is my family, you know… simple life!

Describe your style in three words:
Nice and easy. 

What was the first song you played on repeat?
It would have been a Japanese song, but I really can’t remember.

Which music did you listen to before you got into reggae?
UK punk... punk fashion came to Japan when I was in high school, my favourite punk band was The Clash.

Do you play any musical instrument?
No, people always ask me that... I just play selection!

What has been your all-time favourite gig?
To me, England is the place, I’ve played here many times and England has taught me a lot about reggae music. I love playing in London.

When did you start deejaying?
I started buying records in 1993 then after about two years I was deejaying in Tokyo.

Do you like any other types of music apart from Jamaican?
I have too much Jamaican music in my life, you know... but I like jazz, and slow soul... And sometimes friends give me music to listen to.

How many records in your collection? Is that just singles, or albums too...?
I counted them a few years ago, there was about 15000 singles and 700 albums and 12”... I’ve added to that since then... and I’m always upgrading.
My records are for my family, if I pass then they can get some money from the collection... I’ve got nothing in my bank account!

Why do you think you’re attracted to Jamaican music?
I don’t know why... I liked punk music, then British fashion, we were interested in skinhead and mod culture and we didn’t realise that ska came from Jamaica, we thought it came from England! We liked the Specials and Madness, and I read about the Skatalites and Prince Buster in some liner notes, but when I listened to Prince Buster’s original to 'One Step Beyond’, just that one tune, I realised that it all came from Jamaica, totally different sound!

What records are you reissuing at the moment, and planned in the future?
I’m helping Sonia Pottinger’s family, her daughter Sharon, with some Treasure Isle reissues. She asked me to press some records for her in Japan, so we work together now. We have some singles out at the moment and plan to release two new titles every two months. I’m also planning to release some albums, as well as material from other producers including Sonia Pottinger.

How was your recent trip to JA?
I came back from Jamaica last month, I spent some time in the countryside. I was working in Florida before that, I picked up some records but it was mainly to transfer tapes for the reissues.

[Interview by Chris Lane]

What is your favourite tune?
It’s a hard question, hard to pick just one, everyday my mind feels different. Sometimes I want something sweet, or something hot. If I need a sweet song… ‘Breaking Up’ by Alton Ellis … the Treasure Isle version.

What is the first vinyl record you bought?
'This is Jamaica Ska', with Bongo Tango on it. The re-issue, not the ND original! It was on the Studio 1 label, I didn’t know the difference between original and re-issue then.

What’s the most expensive record you’ve bought?
'One Way Street' by Bobby Aitken and the Caribbeats on a blank DD label.

What records are you still looking for?
I’m still looking for plenty of tunes, it’s never ending. I listen to ska, reggae, roots, dub. I listen to UK dub too, so there’s always something new… but I really need a mint copy of the Blackboard Jungle album!

Any favourite singer, musician, producer or studio?
Alton Ellis!
My favourite musician - Lynn Tait.
Favourite producer, that’s hard - but I would say Duke Reid.
The studio sound I like is Federal, and Treasure Isle as well.

Best tune to play in a DJ set?
This is very difficult, there’s a thousand, what can I say. If I have to pick one tune, I would say ‘Let’s Get Together’ by Johnnie and the Attractions.

...and the worst tune to play in a DJ set?
OK, one tune - ‘Let My People Go’ by The Rulers. I like the tune, but not in a dance.

Name, where are you from?
My name is Minoru Tomita, people call me Tommy Far East… from Japan.

What do you do?
I sell records, DJ, press records, organise parties… it’s my life! And is my family, you know… simple life!

Describe your style in three words:
Nice and easy. 

What was the first song you played on repeat?
It would have been a Japanese song, but I really can’t remember.

Which music did you listen to before you got into reggae?
UK punk... punk fashion came to Japan when I was in high school, my favourite punk band was The Clash.

Do you play any musical instrument?
No, people always ask me that... I just play selection!

What has been your all-time favourite gig?
To me, England is the place, I’ve played here many times and England has taught me a lot about reggae music. I love playing in London.

When did you start deejaying?
I started buying records in 1993 then after about two years I was deejaying in Tokyo.

Do you like any other types of music apart from Jamaican?
I have too much Jamaican music in my life, you know... but I like jazz, and slow soul... And sometimes friends give me music to listen to.

How many records in your collection? Is that just singles, or albums too...?
I counted them a few years ago, there was about 15000 singles and 700 albums and 12”... I’ve added to that since then... and I’m always upgrading.
My records are for my family, if I pass then they can get some money from the collection... I’ve got nothing in my bank account!

Why do you think you’re attracted to Jamaican music?
I don’t know why... I liked punk music, then British fashion, we were interested in skinhead and mod culture and we didn’t realise that ska came from Jamaica, we thought it came from England! We liked the Specials and Madness, and I read about the Skatalites and Prince Buster in some liner notes, but when I listened to Prince Buster’s original to 'One Step Beyond’, just that one tune, I realised that it all came from Jamaica, totally different sound!

What records are you reissuing at the moment, and planned in the future?
I’m helping Sonia Pottinger’s family, her daughter Sharon, with some Treasure Isle reissues. She asked me to press some records for her in Japan, so we work together now. We have some singles out at the moment and plan to release two new titles every two months. I’m also planning to release some albums, as well as material from other producers including Sonia Pottinger.

How was your recent trip to JA?
I came back from Jamaica last month, I spent some time in the countryside. I was working in Florida before that, I picked up some records but it was mainly to transfer tapes for the reissues.

[Interview by Chris Lane]

What is your favourite tune?
It’s a hard question, hard to pick just one, everyday my mind feels different. Sometimes I want something sweet, or something hot. If I need a sweet song… ‘Breaking Up’ by Alton Ellis … the Treasure Isle version.

What is the first vinyl record you bought?
'This is Jamaica Ska', with Bongo Tango on it. The re-issue, not the ND original! It was on the Studio 1 label, I didn’t know the difference between original and re-issue then.

What’s the most expensive record you’ve bought?
'One Way Street' by Bobby Aitken and the Caribbeats on a blank DD label.

What records are you still looking for?
I’m still looking for plenty of tunes, it’s never ending. I listen to ska, reggae, roots, dub. I listen to UK dub too, so there’s always something new… but I really need a mint copy of the Blackboard Jungle album!

Any favourite singer, musician, producer or studio?
Alton Ellis!
My favourite musician - Lynn Tait.
Favourite producer, that’s hard - but I would say Duke Reid.
The studio sound I like is Federal, and Treasure Isle as well.

Best tune to play in a DJ set?
This is very difficult, there’s a thousand, what can I say. If I have to pick one tune, I would say ‘Let’s Get Together’ by Johnnie and the Attractions.

...and the worst tune to play in a DJ set?
OK, one tune - ‘Let My People Go’ by The Rulers. I like the tune, but not in a dance.

"a mystifying mix of rare and expensive vinyl, competitive deejays, underground clubs and fanatical collectors"

Tommy Far East and the Revive Reggae Phenomenon

Tommy plays a Solid Gold session in Japan.

A UK session called Ska-Lavin with London’s Tiny T.

In action with Bristol’s Steve Rice.

Tommy Far East on Mixcloud.

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