Underground Electronic Musicians: Primula and Masaki Watanabe

Primula and Masaki Watanabe

Although I did not want to leave the high energy and throb of the Club Freebird 2 cave, I just had to get a few minutes with the frantic and wild Japanese artist PRIMULA and his sidekick Masaki WATANABE. Fresh off his second album release Aquarius at the end of July on the Japanese label NEGUSE Group, we rounded up a gorgeous translator to help put the words in the English language,moved to a nearby park bench and began a five-way dialog. Special thanks to the Thai Elephant restaurant (서울시마포구서교동 362-4,) owner Yuni Jin, who sat through a rapid-fire set of Q&A, and hung in there with us while we bonded over the story of this zealous duo.


ER: OK, let’s talk for a few minutes. Thank you for giving us the time and your attention to answer some questions. First of all, how long have you two been performing together?

PRIMULA: 5 or 6 years. We were working in the same nightclub in Roppongi, Tokyo;we both were DJ’s at that time, so WATANABE can do both video and DJ, sure.

ER: OK, so how did you get invited to this show, Festival Morph?

PRIMULA:Andy Weir came to Japan, and at that time we visited with him. How can i say… I just invited him there to drink ,talk and introduce some Japanese artists(Ametsub was there)before and after a radio show for our label, Neguse Group, (ER: which means “messed up morning hair” in Japanese!). But the time was nice.We only had the radio show one time. Actually, Andy went back to Australia and sent us an email and invited us. He invited us to come here [ER: Korea @ Festival Morph].He introduced us to Freebird 2 owner Skyler Jeong, and also to the artists DAMIRAT, Kim and Shin. We coordinated most of it on Facebook and with email. We only met Skyler yesterday for the first time!

ER: Can I ask how old you are?

PRIMULA: I am 33 and Masaki is 32.

ER: Do you play any musical instruments? I don’t ask to criticize you, only to learn if you have any traditional training in instruments prior to the computer.

PRIMULA: No instruments…wait, yes, I did study piano as a child! [ER: laughs a lot here…],but it was very difficult, but by computer, I can do anything; if I have an  idea, I can do, anything I want to do I can play music. We started computer music at age 14 or 15, same time.

ER: Wow, that’s a long time to be using the computer for music. So, in that time, are you creating your own music or are you using samples from other artists or other songs?

PRIMULA: We don’t do sampling; we just use midi files and synthesizer midi files. The music we played tonight was all original music, that’s right.

ER: So, I want to know, does their ability to produce the music come from natural talent or does it come from just plain hard work and learning?

PRIMULA: We try very hard. We are not using such a natural talent.


ER: As we watch the video during your set, is this just something you do easily or did you really work hard to learn how to make these creative videos?

PRIMULA: [WATANABE] Well I did not study to learn how to VJ, but I just wanted to add something different, so I just tried it, that is all. There is a special software I use to make it.

ER: Do you consider yourself a performer, since you do quite a bit of performing on stage?

PRIMULA: I think playing as a DJ on the stage is a show, and I want to make the show more interesting, so I do dancing or performing something, but I don’t think of myself as a performer, I just make it fun. I just do it naturally, from my instinct.

ER: When you play around and jump and show us lots of fun, I can feel it, I am with you. Everybody enjoyed you both. Please come to Korea again.

PRIMULA: Thank you, thank you, yes, we want to come back!


And there you have it. Two Japanese talents that grabbed ahold of the technology surging around them, dove into the club culture of high-profile Tokyo, but still remain authentic and true to their instincts and individual natures. This is the experience of being exposed to the unique talent that hovers below the surface of mega-sized labels and corporate spin mills. The more I can provide this coverage and publicity the more we can all learn to appreciate the differences among us that make us all so unique.

 Dr. Dave