WATT a.k.a Yotterubutteru is an artist of the Japanese hip-hop scene whose productions were able to shake the hearts of the listeners after the release of his first two projects. He has been away for about six years and is back with a new project called MeguruUta, released last December. Also known for having collaborated with big names of Japanese rap, WATT a.k.a Yotterbutteru grants us today his first interview. The opportunity to talk about his career in hip-hop and his latest album.
ATTANGO : Hello WATT a.k.a. Yotterubutteru. Before we start, I wanted to wish you a happy new year 2022 and thank you for this interview with the Real Japanese Hip Hop media. Can you start by introducing yourself to those who don’t know you ?
WATT : Nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. My name is WATT, a.k.a. Yotterubutteru, and I am an MC/Beatmaker currently working in Kanagawa. I was born in Tokyo and grew up in Nagano Prefecture. My alias Yotterubutteru, means “pretending to be drunk. In reality, I am often drunk because I am a small drinker. LOL.
ATTANGO : How did you discover hip-hop culture, and why did you decide to become a beatmaker, producer, rapper ?
WATT : Around 2000, I met my friend Kamuri at Nagano High School, rapping. I was introduced to hip-hop by listening to his demo tapes and the works of Nas, ATCQ, Rhymester, KING GIDDRA, and other rappers he listened to. I think I had heard hip-hop before that, but it was at that time that I became fascinated with the music. I was immediately influenced by Kamuri and started writing lyrics and rapping as an imitator. He and I formed a group called INBU, and we began to self-produce and produce other rappers. In the process, I began to admire the original beats.
In 2003, on the recommendation of an acquaintance, I bought an AKAI MPC2000XL and started making beats. Since then, I’ve been using the same MPC. The hidden track of my first album Shikou Hin is a song with kamuri that I made remembering that time.
ATTANGO : I often see a vast collection of vinyl and CDs behind you in your videos shared on your Instagram account. Is this collection yours ?
WATT : Yes. The room is small so that it might look like a lot. It has many uses, like DJing/sampling or just listening to sounds. So I have a hard time letting it go.
ATTANGO: How long does it take you to create a beat? I always feel like you’re searching for the perfect sound.
WATT : Sometimes, it takes me about 20-30 minutes to make a track, but it takes a long time when I start to elaborate. In that case, I pay attention to the minor sonic gaps, texture, balance …
ATTANGO : I saw that your first albums were released on Norikiyo’s label, YUKICHI RECORDS. You even did a complete remix of his album MELANCHOLIC GENDAI. Are you still in touch with each other? If yes, do you plan a joint project ?
WATT : Norikiyo-san is the person who allowed me to introduce my work to a lot of people. His words have no flattery or condescension, and his opinions and actions always push me. I keep in touch with Norikiyo, and we talk occasionally.
He sent me a congratulatory gift when my child was born, and he has always cared about me in some way. He always listens to my beats and work, so I think there are several possibilities for us to do something together.
ATTANGO : I remember the tracks ATTRACTION (アトラクション) with Cypress Ueno (サイプレス上野), NORIKIYO as well as Muchin Josya (無賃乗者) with Yunde, included in your debut album Shikou Hin. Can you tell me more about these two tracks? Would you have any anecdotes to tell me about the shooting of the video clip for Muchin Josya (無賃乗者) ?
WATT : The original version of ATTRACTION is ATTRACTION feat. A-gaill from my first album Shikou Hin. Initially, I composed this song with A-gaill, and when Norikiyo heard it, he suggested doing a remix. He also suggested that I invite Cypress Ueno, another benefactor of mine. I think the beat is from around 2005.
Muchin Josya (無賃乗者) feat. Yunde is a song about “buying me drinks in a club.” The beat and lyrics were done in one day. I drank a lot of tequila shots (but not cold), so I don’t remember the rest. The camera crew took me home, and I woke up at home. LOL! HI-KING TAKASE and METEOR are on the song Muchin Josya(REMIX), which is also very good, so feel free to listen to it. In Muchin Josya(無賃乗者) with Yunde, the rhythm and rap are moderately relaxed, and I was able to put a perfect balance. The song sounds like it’s saying something good on the first listen, but it’s singing we’re saying stupid things. When I sing this song live, I often get alcohol brought on stage. Laughs.
ATTANGO : What do you think about the current hip-hop scene in Japan ?
WATT : Compared to when I started listening to hip-hop, there is a lot more variety in styles. Since there are so many channels to choose from, I think it is essential to know what you like and identify it.
ATTANGO : Do you think rappers organizing into groups will replace the original 1 MC 1 DJ hip-hop format ?
WATT : I worked in a group myself and listened to many hip-hop groups, so I was never particularly aware of the 1MC/1DJ format.
ATTANGO : MeguruUta was released on December 8, 2021. Why did you wait so long to release this project ?
WATT : The song Meguru Uta is dedicated to my family. After the release of my second album Shiori, my grandparents passed away, someone did something stupid, and suddenly I couldn’t see them, and I also got married and had a baby. These are significant events in my life. I wanted to sublimate them all in this album. So I spent a lot of time worrying about expressing myself, especially the lyrics.
The word Meguru can also mean “cycle” or “samsara.” For example, in the first song Meguru Uta Intro, I used the sound of flowing water (sea, clouds, rain, river, sea) to express the theme of this album. In the last song, Born Again, I adjusted the song’s length to 3’14, like my son’s birthday. It was kind of wishful thinking because I thought that by doing so, I could convey the message of the song to my future son, that “you can always be born again while you’re alive.”
ATTANGO : We enjoyed the interpretation of your productions for this new project MeguraUta. Between HI-KING TAKASE, GAPPER, or HUNGER (TSUMAMI, Dare, Itsukano Futari), we felt like we were witnessing a definite trend in experimental hip-hop.
WATT : Thank you! I am unaware that the song is experimental because it was born from my daily work, but I was mindful not to make the melody too sophisticated. I tried to keep a good balance between the songs on the album.
ATTANGO : How did you experience the Covid19 period ?
WATT : I didn’t go out as much as possible, didn’t meet many people, and wrote the songs at home.
ATTANGO : What are your plans for 2022? Are any releases planned ?
WATT : I don’t know what will happen with the Corona yet, but I’m planning a live tour from February to April and my first solo live show in May. I’m also planning on releasing the vinyl from my three albums so far.
ATTANGO : Thank you very much for this interview. If you have a message for the French and foreign listeners who follow you, it’s the moment.
WATT : Thank you very much for this interview. I want to thank the Real Japanese Hip Hop media for sharing my words with the world. I can only speak Japanese, but I would be happy if my music could make people a little more positive.
Interview by ATTANGO