One of the most interesting labels right now is Highball, a London entity releasing some of Japan's most exciting dance music. Though fledgeling, the label has already put out some choices 12"s by the likes of juke/footwork king Foodman and synth-house duo Ohnesty.
Please don't click off just yet if this all sounds ultra-obscure as Highball has also released a cracking promo video by the bright and goofy Kyle Platts. The Sheffield-born, London-based illustrator and animator created the music video for Pump, Kyoto producer Stones Taro's debut banger for the label.
The four-minute retro-futuristic animation is inspired by the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) car scene and the visual cultures that revolve around it; think manga and anime like Wangan Midnight and Initial D. It's also Kyle's first-ever music promo, believe it or not, giving him a chance to blend together his love for techno and classic cars.
While Kyle is well known for being a cartoonish type, he was actually more inspired by the Japanese street racing culture of the 1990s and early 2000s than any actual animation. As we learn from talking to the creative, Kyle is a real gearhead and a half.
"The Pump video took lots of inspiration from car culture anime, but what drew me to those sources in the first place was my fandom of JDM cars. From a young age I loved to learn makes and models of cars, then when I was a bit older the game Gran Tourismo came out and blew my little pea brain. I loved how nerdy and realistic it was. I didn't realise it at the time, but this impressive collection of about 10 pixels was entering my brain and resonating deeply."
"Decades later, I have an obsession with '90's Japanese cars such as the Mazda MX5, Nissan Skyline and the Subaru Impreza. It's some combination of nostalgia and the fact that tuner culture really formed around these vehicles in the '90s. Because street racing was already a popular and dangerous activity in Japan during the late '80s, the government stepped in and put a limit on the number of power cars could produce from the factory-level. The cars would be limited to a maximum of 276 horsepower, which meant that people started to modify them in order to unlock their true potential."
The car that Kyle honed in on for the Pump video is the 1995 Nissan 300zx Twin Turbo, which he loves for the way it looks from every angle. "Drawing all of those perspectives was super fun. The interior is like the cockpit of a fighter jet so I relished in the detail of re-creating that in the animation. It's great to work with subject matter that you find so interesting, and the video was the perfect opportunity to do this."
Pump EP by Stones Taro is out now on Highball Records.