The 49th guest for this series is reggae singer Asuka Ando, famous for her mellow voice. Since releasing her debut album “mellowmoood” that could even be described as too mellow in 2015, she has released one hit tune after another, and is a reggae fixture on tour throughout Japan. We went along with Asuka for a bit of vinyl hunting.
Glocal Records is a second-hand vinyl store that can be found down a back alley off cat street. Asuka Ando turns up rocking a pair of jeans with a short-sleeved t-shirt. She heads straight up the stairs and into the store. Opened in 2011, Global Records runs the gamut from dance music to reggae, world and jazz. “I used to always drop in when I came to Harajuku, but I’ve been coming way less since the pandemic. So today is the first time in while”. After a nod to the staff, she starts digging straight away.
Born in Tokyo, Asuka first got turned onto reggae music during her student days, and once classes were over would head straight for Shibuya for record shopping. Reggae was not her first love, apparently. Looking back, she recalls fondly. “I was into hip hop back then. Manhattan Records in Shibuya was always my first port of call. Once I’d been going there a while the staff would spark up conversation with me, and taught me a whole lot”. Spending her youth hunting for vinyl on a daily basis in Udagawacho, the “mecca of vinyl” in the 90s, she soon met like-minded friends. This led to going to events, drawing her inexorably into the reggae world. “Unlike the Internet, when you go to a record shop the staff fill you in on all the latest news. It’s totally different when you can meet people face to face and actually communicate. I feel it more than ever these days, obviously”.
Encountering the charm of reggae through record digging as a teen, Asuka Ando went on to discover the joy of singing and dancing. Despite being well known as a reggae singer in Japan, she likes to keep those early days of discovery close to her heart when she sings. And wearing LEE Flair Denim, she could quite easily pass for a young Carroll Thompson.