SonarSound, the internationally renowned, multi-city, electronic music and art festival, will take place in Tokyo on April 21-22 at the Ageha venue after a successful reintroduction to the city last year. Organizers Beatink predict 5,000 attendees and Billboard calculates admission revenue should reach 45.25 million yen ($557,000).
This year in Tokyo Squarepusher, Vincent Gallo and Cinematic Orchestra will headline SonarSound.
An incarnation of SonarSound 2012 has already been held in Cape Town, South Africa and the fest will head to Sao Paolo and its home city of Barcelona after Tokyo. The Japanese capital remains a unique and important feather in the cap of this globetrotting event. Says SonarSound founder Enric Palau, "The Japanese audience knows Sonar and what it stands for, plus has a very natural and organic relationship with technology, always present in the work and creations of the Japanese artists participating at Sonar."
Started in Barcelona in 1994, the original Japanese edition for SonarSound was organized by the Tokyo-based promoter Third Ear. They held it in 2002, 2004 and 2006, with the latter edition taking place over three days and hosting 7,000 people. But the company found it difficult to continue financially. Director of Third Ear at that time, Masa Hiroishi, told Billboard in 2010: "In Europe the arts are supported by public money and the like. In Japan we have no such luxury. This fest, because it was so art-based, was extremely expensive to produce and that was another reason it was hard to continue."
Powerhouse Tokyo-based promoter, label and management agency Beatink picked up the baton in 2011 and produced a successful SonarSound event that year. Taking place just three weeks after the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident devastated the country, it was the first major cultural event to take place in the Japanese capital after the tragic events of March 11, 2011.
The success is no coincidence. Beatink is a pioneer in bringing international electronic and dance music to Japan and promoting large live events, like its own Electraglide. It represents labels like Ninja Tune, Warp in Japan and was the first to work with game-changers like Fatboy Slim and Underworld. In addition, Beatink produced the second stage of the industry-leading Fuji Rock Festival for the first five years of the fest.
Ray Hearn, founder of Beatink, points out SonarSound plays a big role in helping musical and exchange between Japan and the world: "The breadth of the event appeals to me as it encompasses so much more than just music but also, unlike most music festivals that simply move into new markets for commercial reasons, it has always made a genuine attempt to create cultural bridges with the talent of countries that it works with. Each year it includes a number of Japanese artists in the line-up and has come to be one of the most important showcases for Japanese creative output in Europe."
The fest puts the emphasis on live performance and all indications are that Squarepusher's set will be genre-pushing, incorporating both music and visuals. Hearn relates, "Last year we took on management of Squarepusher from our London office, so we have been heavily involved with the development of his new album and live show. SonarSound Tokyo will be my first chance to see the new show before a live audience and am really excited about that."