Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Halloween with DJ Towa Tei

DJ Towa Tei a.k.a. Jungle DJ Towa Towa emailed me about a week ago asking about cool places to visit in San Francisco. He is a world famous DJ and music producer who has worked with Bjork, Kylie Minogue, Jungle Brothers, Biz Markie and Mos Def, among others and had a dance hit with Deee-lite. I kinda know him because he is also a customer of my art website's shop. He also has bought stuff from my friend Erik too who lives in San Francisco. Towa agreed to have us show him around when we offered. He was strictly in the city to check out art mostly Barry McGee. Since music is his profession and he was sorta on vacation, he wasn't interested in going to clubs or record shops like Erik and I thought. In a way, I can understand that. We picked him up downtown, he was smoking underneath the overhang at the side entrance of his hotel. Erik parked the car on the street and we got out and introduced ourselves. He was a short, thin man. He had short, thin (not thinning) hair and wore thin, clearish eyeglass frames. He was not sporting the thick, bob haircut and black, thick eyeglasses that I was expecting. No one would know who he was even if he went in a record store. He was very softspoken, but spoke English very well and was pretty talkative. He researched a lot about San Francisco and had a lot of questions. We talked a lot about art and Erik and I occasionally asked him about music. From what I remember, Towa has a new album coming out around March and he will also have a book of photos released about the same time. The front and back cover will be Barry McGee artwork. No t-shirts or anything else will be reprinting the art, as requested by Barry. Since Towa has sort of a business / friend relationship with Barry, he planned to visit him sometime though he has never met him. He planned on showing us a picture of the album cover from his laptop (at the hotel) because he didn't want it leaked on to the public on the web yet. Because of the busy day, we didn't have time to see it. We first went to Southern Exchange gallery and looked at the artist box sets. Barry McGee had some photos in a stitched envelope printed with one of his characters. Then we drove to Alemany Flea Market. Towa was hoping to find some art. We then looked at the graffiti walls of Pyscho City with the tribute to Mike Dream. Dream was a gifted graffiti artist who was shot a while ago. Erik and I met him and Vogue at the train tracks near Fruitvale in Oakland many years ago. He and his crew (TDK?) dominated the area at that time. And he was a nice guy to us being toy writers, at least I was one. Towa, Erik and I then went to West Portal where Towa took pictures through the driveall the way there. Then we went to the Super7 store in Japan town. I bought a zine by Josh Cochran. His art looks like David Choe - from of his drawing style, I guess Josh went to CCAC too. We then went to Kinokuniya (large bookstore) across the street. Yeah, Towa was not recognized even in Japan town community where I think he is even more popular or recognized in Japan. We then went to Erik's house and talked and looked at Erik's art collection. I joked with Towa that I had a demo CD to give him. He said yeah, he'd like to hear it. I said I was only kidding. I thought he'd get tired of getting CDs from people all the time. He doesn't mind. He said he didn't like when people try to sound like him or someone else and appreciates people who are original. I guess some people probably make demo cds based on what they think Towa wants to hear. We took Towa back to his hotel. He didn't even officially check in to his room yet and he wanted to rest. We left Towa and I had dinner with Erik and his wife at Tai Chi on Polk Street. On the BART train home that evening it was a funny site to see all the Halloween costumes of the people in San Francisco. I saw trains and stations full of revelers on their way to the city. Yep, Halloween came to a close quickly for me as I arrived to home in time to catch my kids going to bed for the evening.

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