In today’s age of the multi-hyphenate model/blogger/DJ leading the way on social media for us to search last night’s party via Instagram hashtag, many an It-girl’s career have seemed fleeting, some moving from major brand ambassadress to disappearing into internet purgatory, next to MySpace and Bebo.
One to defy these statistics is the modest Japanese-born Eiko Hara, a talented female DJ and musician on the music scene since the pre-social media era, who has grown a steady following since her days in the early noughties playing with then-underground DJs from Ed Banger records, Maison Kitsuné and the legendary Boombox nights.
Hara was born in Tokyo, Japan to traditional “old-school Japanese” parents, who to this day don’t really get what she does for a living. It must be hard to keep up – as a regular on the Tokyo party circuit, Hara and her friends found themselves going out about six nights a week. The friends finally got their heads around the idea of just becoming DJs themselves. After joining forces with four of her best girlfriends, Hara was swept into the Tokyo nightlife she already knew so well, playing nights at La Fabric, Le Baron de Paris Tokyo, Trump Room, and more. It ended with them making a name for themselves and funneling into the fashion party circuits with their funk, disco, and ’90s hip hop sounds, playing for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Puma, G-Star, and Nike, just to name a few. Having leant her looks to NY fashion brands, eComm powerhouse Nasty Gal, as well as providing music for video collaborations with Kirsten Dunst, Hara’s career has been moving onto a more serious, musical note.
After branching out to production, singing and writing her music, Hara soon made her debut in 2010 as a solo act. Only one year later, Hara was chosen as an up and coming DJ for W Hotel’s Music Project with Burn Studio. She found mentors in fellow DJs such as Arthur Baker and DJ Cassius, eventually leading her to move to NYC to further her career. “I wanted some change,” says Hara, so she found herself in quite a serendipitous moment in New York, as she was soon on a World Tour with the W Hotels, touring Asia and South America, working during what “felt like a vacation, in new countries I have never seen.”
Hara now resides in Los Angeles, as it was time for a “relaxed, chilled change,” from her five years in New York. Although she does miss the dancefloors of Tokyo, having played recently after a three-year hiatus, she finds it hard to recreate the atmosphere of her old stomping grounds, “there was such a great dancing vibe there, I discovered new music, and it’s hard to find that at a party nowadays…where people who are friends attend so they can just dance and catch up,” in a lament, she adds, “DJ’s used to be all about the atmosphere, and mixing, and about the type of music, now with this new software, venues book a certain type of DJ to promote a night rather than make it about the people,” she reminisces about the old days before social media. Hara now enjoys a semi-nomadic lifestyle, with like-minded people, getting to know new cities by both their underground and high fashion club nights, keeping her eyes open to discovering the less-documented events.
With influences of Funk, ’70s disco and Jazz, Hara can still be seen spinning an array of genres – from new wave, French electro, and R&B. Later this March, Hara will be seen back in the studio working on her next EP, where she will be singing music she has co-written and hopes it will have “a funky vibe”.
Most globe-trotting multi-hyphenates can be seen at sponsored events or at parties in their spare time, but Hara leads a fairly normal lifestyle. “I write my own songs, and since I’ve been in LA I go to the beach and hike. When I’m not busy, I like cleaning my house and grocery shopping. Cooking is also like meditation to me, something I never did in NY but now I have the space, so I am always trying to cook.” The at-home life the perfect duality for a busy DJ and recording artist, as she aims to instill balance in her day to day.
What’s next for Hara? Going back to her roots, it seems: “Parties used to have people with cool attitudes – you would only see the party through the eye of the party photographer that night. It is fun to use Instagram to discover new things though. I want to check out the underground disco scene in Moscow, see Iceland. I’ve also never been to Berlin and I kind of want to live there next.” A far cry from hiking in LA – let’s hope she has a big enough kitchen.
Words / Estefania Hageman
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