The Legendary Subcultural Party, DENPA!!!, Returns as DOME After a Decade: Vol. 2 Committing to Being Earnest

From Left to Right

Takumi Kushida
CEO of Kussy. Takumi Kushida founded Kussy in 2022 after working at Space Shower. He works on TV programs about music, online content, music videos, and other visual content.

Ryohei Kaneda
Art director and graphic designer. After working at groovisions, Ryohei Kaneda founded YES, a design studio, in 2019. His multidimensional career includes working on campaigns from top to bottom, branding, books, magazines, products, videos, and spaces.

Toshi Miyashita
The CEO of 8%, a creative studio-cum-agency that collaborates with, produces, and designs for artists, IP, music, art, spaces, and more.
Instagram : @setagayaboy

Ten to Sen
Owner and buyer of SOKKYOU, a secondhand store in Koenji. He also runs a clothing line, Daughter, online. Ten to Sen is the founder of DENPA!!!

“DOME” Presented by DENPA!!!

DENPA!!!, a subcultural party that gained a cult-like following in the 2000s, came back as DOME ‘23. The party has been organized through various means in fashion, art, subcultural circles, and the club scene, such as the GEISAI stage in Taiwan hosted by contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, So Very Show by TAICOCLUB, a collaboration with MTV Japan, and so on. Ten years since their last party, DENPA!!! 2013, the first installation of DOME was held on two floors: Daikanyama UNIT and SALOON. 

In accordance with their statement, “We, the DENPA!!! team, have been working across different cultures and created a new event to manifest our long-awaited childhood dream,” ∈Y∋ opened the night. The braindance genius Bogdan Raczynski, who came to Japan after 20 years, lit up the dancefloor with euphoric breakbeats and four-on-the-floor beats in pitch darkness with no lights or visuals, akin to Autechre.  

Other experimental acts from abroad that performed were experimental glitch techno producer Grischa Lichtenberger and arguably the most crucial figure in China’s contemporary electronic music scene, Howie Lee. Additionally, there were domestic artists like aus, who released an album for the first time in 15 years, world’s end girlfriend, who released an album for the first time in seven years and eight months and performed live for the first time in three years and eight months, Cwondo, the solo project of No Buses’ Taisei Kondo, and BBBBBBB, who released their sophomore album from the American label, Deathbomb Arc.      

The party lasted for around eight hours and was a dreamy experience that didn’t require words; I realized just how amazing it was later on.  

Why did they return as DOME after ten years since their days as DENPA!!!? In the second volume, to understand DOME, we asked the members to share what they discussed before they made a comeback, their hiatus during covid, and how things started moving rapidly this summer. 

Going back to their origins and the change in being earnest due to the times  

–What made you want to make a comeback after ten years?

Ryohei Kaneda: The three of us were drinking in 2019 or so, and we were casually like, “Why don’t we throw a party after all this time?” That was the catalyst. We invited Kushida-kun, and it slowly started coming together. When we were like, “Let’s hit up some venues,” covid happened. 

Ten to Sen: The party ended in 2013 because the escapism I sought in clubs became a part of everyday life. The dreaminess faded away, and it turned into reality. It wasn’t a business, so I felt like something was off and quit at that point. Another reason is that similar events started popping up one after the other. 

I watched where people seeking escapism went next, and outdoor festivals became popular. A few years later, festivals became oversaturated, too. In part a reaction to this development, people started looking for a new space. Then, the Olympics came. There was this intangible frustration, and we were brought together again by a gravitational pull. We wondered if there was anywhere to go to in Tokyo, somewhere that wasn’t a club or festival. We got together knowing we had to do something, even though we only had a vague idea. 

Kaneda: That’s true. We were hungry to create a music event on our own again. My day-to-day job is mainly based on commissions from clients, so I don’t have a lot of opportunities to take the lead and create content from scratch. I started remembering how we were paving a new wave or way of being of culture through DENPA!!! 

Ten to Sen: Before I realized it, music was streaming-based, it became difficult to go outside, and we became physically distant; I was yearning to connect. When we got together, I knew that we wouldn’t do it in the future unless we did it then because I’m from a generation that knows that feeling. We had to do it while the passion and dreams we had in the past were still tangible. I was motivated to see what that looked like once more. 

–It’s like you returned to the fundamental motivation you previously had.

Ten to Sen: Whenever people take action, there’s a demand from society, which was ramped up because of covid. For instance, activists emphasize putting out a statement when they hold a big event. Of course, that’s vital, but I began to question how people would have events as a response to society. Initially, we were driven by our internal drive or, I guess you can call it sincerity, this feeling of “I want to do something like this” or “This is what I want to see.” That feeling boiled inside of me until DOME happened. 

I think “solidarity” is the keyword here. The interpretation of this word differs from person to person, but I questioned how people always clung to it. You hear this word over and over because reality doesn’t reflect it. Meaning it’s a manifestation of the structure of conflict between generations and ideologies.

Ultimately, solidarity, in the narrowest sense of the word, feels similar to cliquey vibes and in-crowd communities that I used to encounter at fashion parties. I held events to get rid of such borders. 

Now, more than ever, you’ll see similar artists, DJs, ages, and ways of thinking at club events. I understand the social situation in which people can’t protect their own spaces otherwise, but it’s different from the festival-like spaces I had carved out. 

Toshi Miyashita: DENPA!!! was really distinct and stood out. The lineup is essential, but that’s not everything. It played the role of something like a left-field music and culture trade fair that you’d want to be a part of regardless of who was performing.

Ten to Sen: True. We wanted to go back to our roots with DOME. The process started with reevaluating everything, including the fact that I used to like noise music and that everyone used to like WARP RECORDS. 

This is off-topic, but some people make fun of this demographic called “NewJeans Ojisan” (ojisan translates to middle-aged man), which refers to those who only recognize NewJeans and don’t follow preceding Korean artists. But that means some people can be called Aphex Kids. Most people know of Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, or Autechre but don’t know of Bogdan, who we invited to the party. By that logic, those people are the same as NewJeans Ojisan.

I believe each person starts liking artists according to their own timeline, and it doesn’t matter how they’re introduced to them. The impetus for booking artists for DOME was this intense desire to introduce artists who are still unknown. 

Bogdan, Grischa Lichtenberger, and Howie Lee are still not very well-known in Japan, but we invited them because we felt like their experimental spirit and our strong motivation spoke to each other. 

Toshi: Bogdan immediately told us yes. It wasn’t intentional, but a common theme for this party was that most artists don’t have an agent. I’m not saying whether having one is bad or good. We have people who make music independently and uniquely. Regarding booking artists, it was important for us to have a heartfelt approach. The same goes for how we promoted the event; it was an extension of the simple truth that we like what we like. 

Takumi Kushida: It’s the manifestation of sincerity. In a way, I’m the most on the outs, and my background is very different from the rest. DOME was fun in a different way from the first time I encountered the members of DENPA!!! The shape of sincerity is different. With DENPA!!!, I was simply surprised that there was a form of fun that I didn’t know existed, even though I knew they were doing something really alternative. Overlooking the fact that I was involved in booking the artists, DOME was distinct from the previous party in terms of emotion and purity, even if you were a customer.

A festival-like environment that became normalized

Ten to Sen: As for DENPA!!!, although it was hard to see, there was a decent amount of like-minded people—this is coming from someone who felt withdrawn and on the outskirts of society. This festival-like space was born because I tried getting rid of that wall, but because of that, the party became more normalized and neutral. 

DENPA!!! became the standard model to start an event at the time. That dream I had upon founding DENPA!!! materialized, but now it’s too visible; it’s too much. Our fundamental mindset is the same, but our approach to DOME differs from DENPA!!!

Kaneda: Nowadays, you can stream or listen to music on YouTube. You can also watch festivals at home, as they’re livestreamed. Things are more convenient now, but music used to be something you had to seek proactively. Now, we’re on the receiving end; it trickles down, and there’s less substance and weight to people’s stories of discovering music. It’s hard to create memories surrounding that experience. 

You would’ve had to dig through records or go to clubs and events to discover certain music. Today, you can quickly look up and listen to a song someone recommends online. Even if it feels like you’ve learned about that song, that moment is only brief and won’t last in your memory. The fact that discovering music became shallow made me feel apathetic and discontent. 

Ten to Sen: Usually, live shows have a fixed number of fans who know the performing act, and the vibe, including the age group, is usually established. I wanted to go beyond that. For example, BBBBBBB-san, who performed at DOME, messaged me, saying, “It was such a great experience, performing in front of a different age group than usual. I had a lot of fun.” I wanted people in their late 30s to 50s to listen to BBBBBBB because they probably didn’t have a lot of opportunities to do so. Cwondo-kun is in his 20s, and we also had legends like ∈Y∋-san. 

For us, it doesn’t matter what generation you are. We want to open up the space for people to listen to music freely without us having to tell them what category it belongs to. Compared to DENPA!!!, I was more conscious of that this time around. 

Kushida: We’re very earnest about music. Usually, you’d have something like fandoms. But we don’t have that. We put the focus on the music and clearly demonstrated that age doesn’t matter when it comes to the pure act of listening to music. None of us gets bored listening to songs, even if they’re from an artist we don’t know. 

Ten to Sen: Many circles prioritize the universal language of playing songs everyone knows, like people getting hyped up when DJs play hits. I’m more of the type that feels moved when people play songs I don’t know.

Kushida: I mean, we weren’t even informed of what Howie Lee planned to do.

Ten to Sen: Currently, information is increasingly being prioritized. What illustrates this is that it’s become the norm for virtually everyone to take videos for their Instagram at shows or clubs. Recording, posting, and sharing parties online is at the center now. Ill-Bosstino of The Blue Herb said a while back, “We have a professional cameraman here, so don’t worry about taking videos. You’re a professional audience, so please watch us live.” I thought that was cool! 

My generation seeks or feels moved by passion, groove, and witnessing things in the moment rather than documenting them. I’m not saying you can’t take videos, though. I do it at times, too. 

(Continued in Vol. 3)

Photography Masashi Ura
Translation Lena Grace Suda


Jun Ashizawa

Born in 1981. After graduating from college, worked in editorial production, producing cultural content and fashion catalogs for publishing companies. After travelling abroad for several years, he joined INFAS Publications in 2011, where he served as Managing Editor of the culture magazine "Studio Voice," which reissued in 2015, from Vol. 406 "YOUTH OF TODAY" to Vol. 410 "VS. Later, as a senior editor for "WWD Japan" and "WWD," he was mainly in charge of men's collections, covering London and other overseas collections such as Pitti, Milan, Paris. He has been the editorial director of "TOKION" since July 2020.