This DJ had the fortunate experience to live and work in Japan during the 1990s. The following cocktail hour playlist is inspired by my time spent in the Far East, reflecting the complex fabric of life in Japan that combines traditional and modern elements. The playlist is deliberately heavy on ambient electronica, but takes on a more pop feel later in the set. While the selections are focused on Japan, the list includes a delightful R&B track from the Thai artist “Groove Rider” – you don’t need to speak Thai to feel the good vibes.
For a signature drink, we’ve selected a glass of Suntory whiskey on the rocks. This is a salute to actor Bill Murray who promoted Suntory in the movie “Lost in Translation” set in Japan.
Following the track list below is a link to a Spotify playlist. Since not all songs were available on Spotify, we’ve included YouTube videos for the missing selections. Finally – enjoy a one hour continuous dance mix inspired by my time in Japan in the early 90s titled “The Osaka Mix Sessions” – it includes many of the songs from the playlist, as well as early 90s R&B.
The Far East Wedding Cocktail Hour – by DJ Gregg Ambient
Sakura, Sakura – Aiko Shimada (traditional song about cherry blossoms)
Elegy – Mio Isayama
Space Maker – Air
Astral Projection – Tom Middleton
Shinkansen – David Arkenstone
Kyoto – Ferry Corsten
Sukiyaki – A Taste of Honey
Laserman – Ryuichi Sakamoto (see YouTube video below)
Stop – Groove Riders (Thai artist) (see YouTube video below)
Beautiful Life – Hikaru Utada (see YouTube video below)
Say That You Love Me (AK Remix) – Francois K. and Eric Kupper (see YouTube video below)
Harajuku Girls – Gwen Stefani
Big in Japan – Alphaville
Turning Japanese – The Vapors
One Night in Bangkok (from “Chess” soundtrack) – Murray Head
China Girl – David Bowie
Mr. Roboto – Styx
Nick and Masa (from “Black Rain” soundtrack) – Hans Zimmer
Sayonara – Ryuichi Sakamoto
Japan Dance Mix – The Osaka Mix Sessions
About Ambient DJ Service
Ambient DJ Service is mobile DJ entertainment company based in Central NJ and specializing in weddings. To learn more about our services or for booking info, visit us at www.ambientdj.com.
For this episode of the wedding cocktail hour series, we’re excited to welcome guest blogger Darrell Gartrell. Darrell is an author, entrepreneur, teacher and music lover. Born in 1958 in Los Angeles, he was raised in a gang-ridden neighborhood. Darrell re-invented himself in Japan where he launched an English language academy named Wisdom21. At its pinnacle, Wisdom21 was a stunning success with over 800 students and multiple locations across Japan. Darrell later owned and operated one of Japan’s only rhythm & blues clubs, “The Savannah Bar & Grill.” You can read all about Darrell’s business and cultural adventures – as well as his musical influences in his 2016 memoir “21 Years of Wisdom – One Man’s Extraordinary Triumph in Osaka Japan“.
As per Darrell, “There are times when top 40 R&B just won’t do. For the true spinmaster with the discerning ear, feast your headphones on this sampling of some of the hottest B-side tracks in rotation over the past several years. Give yourself high marks if you can identify half of these tracks. Your guests will thank you. And your score for being a top performer will elevate just like the unheralded tunes you discover here. “
For an accompanying signature cocktail, Darrell has selected his special recipe for a Black Russian – Kahlua, Milk and Hennessy. Cheers!
The A List B-Side Cocktail Hour – Compiled by Darrell Gartrell
You Got Me Looking for Your Love – Adriana Evans
It’s Your Body – Johnny Gill
Lie About Us – Avant
Tell Me – Bobby Valentino
Love Me Back – Kenny Lattimore
The Best of You – Andrea Martin
Fiend – Jaheim
Let Me Love You – Mario
Lake By the Ocean – Maxwell
Beautiful Girl – Kenny Lattimore
Better Days – Joe
Beautiful Surprise – Tamia
Will He Ever Love Me Back – Nodesha
Imagine Me – Kirk Franklin
I’ll Make Love to You – The Braxton Brothers
The Spotify Set
note: we used a substitution for Adriana Evans as Darrell’s original pick was unavailable.
Enjoy a visit back to Japan with this Osaka Sessions set mixed by DJ Gregg Ambient. Gregg was an exchange student in Osaka during the early 1990s. The Osaka connection was how he and Darrell became acquainted.