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Ken Ishii

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Ken Ishii debuted on legendary Belgian techno label R&S Records in 1993. That year he shot to Number One on the UK’s NME magazine techno chart, which catapulted him to worldwide recognition. In 1995, his critically acclaimed first album “JELLY TONES” (R&S/Sony Japan) was released. He followed that a year later with further recognition when the video for the single “EXTRA” from (directed by Koji Morimoto, animator of the worldwide hit cartoon “AKIRA”) won MTV’s “Dance Video of the Year”.

Since then, Ken has been regarded internationally as a top pioneer of Japanese techno and world-class act rocking crowds around the globe with his barnstorming electronic sound. In 1998, he produced the official theme song for the winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan which was played in more than 140 countries around the world. In 2000, Ken made the cover of Newsweek magazine for a major interview, hailing him as the symbol of Japan’s dynamic new culture, which was seen as some achievement for a dance/electronic music artist.

When his techno is not stripping the paint from walls, Ken also produces music for films, such as the theme song and soundtrack for the monster Japanese hit “Whiteout” in 2000, for which he was nominated for a Japan Academy Film Prize. His reach even extends to video games. Rez, the game Ken contributed his exclusive tracks to, has become a cult hit. In 2005, he had the honour of being asked to organise the music and design an exclusive 12.2 surround sound system for the Seto-Nippon Pavilion, for the Japanese Government, at World Expo in Aichi.

Ken still spends a half his time criss-crossing Europe, Asia, North/South America DJing gigs in front of thousands at some of the world’s most iconic venues. In 2004, he won the Best Techno DJ at “Dance Music Awards” in Ibiza, underlining his enduring popularity and his status as one of the world’s hottest DJs. Ken is a regular on the mega dance festival circuit, such as Monegros (Spain), WIRE (Japan) and many, many more.

As a prolific producer, Ken set up his own label, 70 Drums, in 2002, starting with the album “FUTURE IN LIGHT”. This was followed four years later by the “SUNRISER” record in 2006, which again demonstrated his futuristic vision and deep love of his musical roots — namely early Detroit techno. This led to a double remix album entitled “DAYBREAK REPRISE – SUNRISER REMIXED” in 2008.

He celebrated his 15th anniversary in 2008 with a series of dancefloor stompers: “KI15 – THE BEST OF,” “KI15 – THE WORKS+THE UNRELEASED & UNEXPECTED”, and “KI15 – THE EPISODES”. Ken contributed to the media art festival, Cyber Arts Japan at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2010, a collaboration which showcased his close affinity with futuristic art.

Tokyo Midtown Galleria, an uber-trendy fashion & restaurant complex in Roppongi, Tokyo, even appointed Ken to produce their in-house music programs for 2010 and 2011, for which he curated an atmospheric and eclectic blend of jazz, classical and electronic music.

In 2012, Ken was interviewed for a Reuters entertainment article ( as a true, old-school artist getting better and becoming more relevant with each passing year after 19 in the music business. In February of that year, Ken started a brand new project, Ken Ishii Presents Metropolitan Harmonic Formulas, and released its sublime debut album, ‘MUSIC FOR DAYDREAMS.’ It features collaborations with various artists across different styles/genres and has been highly praised worldwide for its sophisticated sound in a dramatic turn from his trademark techno.

Keeping busy in his studio, 2013 began with the elaborate album ‘TAIYO’ on Systematic Recordings, co-produced with label boss Marc Romboy from Germany. Ken revived his pseudonym Flare after 17 years for the freestyle/experimental electro album ‘DOTS’, acclaimed as one of the albums of the year. 2015 saw a string of new releases and remixes, including the album ‘LEAPS’ under the same Flare moniker on 70 Drums, running alongside a feature-length documentary on Pioneer’s youtube channel. Among Ken’s 2017 highlights were a performance during the Nintendo SWITCH Presentation World Premiere, for which he produced the official music, and the workaholic’s first appearance at the world’s biggest dance festival Tomorrowland.

In 2019, he released an original Ken Ishii album, ‘MÖBIUS STRIP,’ for the first time in 13 years. It boasts collaborations with Jeff Mills, Dosem among other notable artists. Now in 2020, Ken has his hands full with various music productions — arguably topped by being asked to produce the official theme track to celebrate the 40th anniversary of PAC-MAN, one of the most iconic video games ever made.

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