With the recent  resurgence in interest in dance music, or as it’s now referred to in the US Electronic Dance Music, you’d think that record companies worldwide would be releasing innovative music to quench what seems like America’s relentless thirst for dance music. Sadly, with a few exceptions, this isn’t the case. Instead, much of the dance music being released is mainstream, bland and derivative. Artists and producer’s move towards the mainstream is with one eye on the dollar, pound or Euro. Not all fans of dance music seem happy with the shift towards commerciality. Neither will some of the pioneers of early electronic music. However, there are still some innovative, pioneering labels left. Two of these labels are from Japan, Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd. Recently, I’ve reviewed three of their latest releases, Shin Nishimura’s Mash, TEMMA-Teje’s Midget Lamps In the Dark and Satoshi Fumi’s Colours. These albums restored my faith in dance music, showed that their were labels looking for genuinely talented artists and releasing their music. After writing these reviews, I was inundated with people of the same opinion, who were pleased to hear some imaginative, inventive and innovative music. Since then, I’ve set out to finding more about Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd, from their President Shinji Tokida. He told me about their music, vision and their hopes for the future.

Although it’s been just four years since Shinji Tokida founded Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd in June 2008, both labels have come a long way. This wasn’t Shinji’s first foray into music, having founded his first label Water Cable when he was still a teenager. He’d been inspired to launch Water Cable after becoming a fan of the music released by Kompact and Mule Musiq. When Water Cable wasn’t the success Shiji hoped for, he was crestfallen. It had been his dream and his life. Then when Shinji was twenty-four he dusted himself down, started saving towards launching a new label. Three years later, he’d saved the money to launch Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd. 

Having founded Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd in June 2008, Shinji hasn’t looked back. Fountain Music’s first year in business proved a busy and productive one. This included a variety of singles and E.P.s plus the release of Fountain Music’s first CD album Synethesys’ From A Distance. Digital albums that included Yousaka Kaga’s Alive and Shinji Tokida’s A Man Will Transform Himself Into A Heaven. For a new record company, Fountain Music had established themselves in just the final six months of 2008.

2009 would prove even busier for Fountain Music, with Plaza In Crowd now releasing a number of E.P.s, including Dave Angel’s Ghost Train and DJ Yellows’ Alienation 11 and 12. Fountain Music released singles from Popnoname and French DJ and producer Life Recorder. Now Shinji Tokida had established two record companies, he wasn’t content to stand still. He admits to being “ambitious and driven.” Each year, he wants to release more music. However, this must be intelligent music, music he “believes in, music for the heart, soul and mind.” More of this music would follow in 2010.

A new year would see both Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd releasing much more new, innovate music. In 2010, TEMMA-Teje released his groundbreaking E.P. Run on Fountain Music. Among the albums Fountain Music released were Sans Soleil and Genevieve’s Simple Machine and the Beautia compilation. At Plaza In Crowd they were busy releasing albums. Dublee released Monologue and Popnoname released Surrounded By Mars.

By 2011, both Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd had established them as successful labels, their music crossing continents. Although Shinji Tokida says: “electronic music isn’t a major musical genre, in Japan both labels are attracting an ever-growing following of fans at home and abroad”. A number of singles, E.P.s and albums released by both labels during 2011. One of the albums Plaza In Crowd released was Dave Angel and Ken Ishii’s album Frame To Frame Remixes. Over at Fountain Music, they marked 2011 by releasing E.P.s from Ney Faustini, Martin Schulte, Rob Belleville, Low Orbit Satellite and Hiroshi Watanabe and Popnoname. It had been a hectic few years for Shinji Tokida but both Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd were growing in size and stature.

This year has been just as busy for Shinji. Among Fountain Music’s releases are Shin Nishimura’s Mash, TEMMA-Teje’s Midget Lamps In the Dark and Satoshi Fumi’s Colours. Earlier this year, Plaza In Crowd released Dave Angel’s Frame By Frame. In total Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd have released over twenty CD albums and over one-hundred digital releases. That’s not enough for Shinji Tokida. Further albums will be released later this year, with Synethesys’ Nostalgies Fountain Music’s release. However, what are Shinji Tokida’s plans for Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd in 2013?

When I asked Shinji Tokida about future releases for 2013 from Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd, he was excited about three artists. One of these is “French hip hop DJ and producer DJ Cam, who’ll be releasing an album next year.” “Claude Young, is a Detroit producer who is in Japan producing music for his new album for Fountain Music. He’s another artist who Shinji has high hopes for. “Mijk Van Dijk is recording an album for release in 2013.” This is something of a coup, as Mijk is experienced German producer, having spent thirty years in the music business. These are just three albums which will be released in 2013, but I was interested to hear how many albums both labels would release? Shinji said: “we are planning to release between thirty and fifty albums next year.” This is an ambitious undertaking, given how fraught with difficulties even releasing just one album is. However, Shinji Tojida is a determined and driven to do so, taking inspiration from the growth of Apple, especially Eddie Cue, who was responsible for building the iTunes store. 

Long term, Shinji Tokida says he’s “constantly looking for new music and new artists.” He’s “constantly striving to discover and release music he believes in, music for the heart, soul and mind.” Shinji, has to feel: “connected with the music.” He wants people to remember “music is art, something beautiful and sacred.” Music he believes: “should help unite people.” Fountain Music’s philosophy is: “everyone is the most beautiful in the world,” an admirable perspective. Plaza In Crowd’s philosophy is : “all mankind is one party.” Through this philosophy of inclusiveness and togetherness, both Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd “want music to transcend continents, barriers and cultures.” 

Helping Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd to spread their philosophy will be the use of new media and technology. With the arrival of the digital age and  Soundcloud, Mix Cloud and Band Camp a much wider audience can hear the music Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd are releasing. Through Facebook and Twitter people worldwide are able to stay up-to-date with their new releases. Similarly, the advent of the download, means Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd in Japan can release their music digitally and instantly, listeners worldwide can hear this music. Developments like this means being based in Japan shouldn’t hamper the rise of Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd. This new and exciting digital age should play a big part in the development of all record companies, and Shinji Tokida is determined  to use this to his advantage. Eventually, Shinji Tokida hopes that Fountain Music and Plaza In Crowd “will be able to release one-hundred albums annually, with one of these albums “selling one million copies, turning his records labels into major players in the Japanese music industry.” If he succeeds in doing so, then Shinji Tokida will have fulfilled his dream, the dream he nearly gave up, but thankfully never did.





    1. Shinji Tokida interview English | News
    2. Fountain Music Review and Listen (English) | News

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