It’s been more than two months since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, bringing unimaginable tragedy to the Japanese people, triggering the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and plunging the fragile Japanese economy back into recession.
You know this, but it’s likely been awhile since you’ve heard about it. Recovery is an ongoing process that will likely take years.
To encourage sustained attention on Japan’s recovery and send the support of the House scene to the country which has welcomed it with open arms (to say nothing of having created many of the original instrument used to create it), Chicago House Music legend Chip E and his wife Liliko have organized the Jack4House Benefit this Thursday May 26th at Zentra (923 W. Weed Street in Chicago, 10pm-4am – see the facebook event page here) in which six DJs (including DJ Uchikawa, who just arrived in town from Japan) will be doing their thing, raising money and raising consciousness for the benefit of the Nihon Univa Counter Crisis Team in Japan.
I had a brief chat with Mr. Chip E and Liliko ahead of the event:
What was your immediate reaction to the earthquake and tsunami when you heard about it?
Liliko: I just couldn’t believe it was real at first, then I started to worry about my family and friends. Fortunately my family lives far from the epicenter and they were alright. My friends in Tokyo, 140 miles away from the epicenter were indirectly effected and continue to suffer from the aftermath.
I wanted to know what was happening there and try to watch news on TV and internet but I couldn’t keep on watching because they were too devastating. When I was turning them off, I told myself, “I can chose to see the pictures or not. But those people have to see the devastating pictures all the time suffering. There must be something I can do for them.” And I talked to my husband and came up with the Jack4House project.
The party was originally scheduled to be held at Green Dolphin last month, but had to be canceled when the venue had to be temporarily closed. Considering that Japan relief is quickly receding from public consciousness, do you consider the delay something of a blessing?
Chip: I think it’s good that we had the extra time to get the word out, but I wish it could’ve happened sooner. It’s going to be a long road to recovery for the people of Japan, so we’re hoping to do more events.
We’ve already received a lot of interest from other great DJs that want to help.
Liliko: Byrd from BoomBoomRoom was very helpful and we wanted to have our party at Green Dolphin but the situation was beyond our control. I saw many parties for Japan benefit around our original date so I think this delay was meant to happen. And this is just a start, one of our action plans is to keep the public’s interest in their long recovery process, especially because the Japanese government hasn’t figured out how to deal with the radiation problems.
How has the response been from the DJs? (Are they donating their services to the cause?)
Chip: It’s been an incredible response. All of the DJs are donating their services. A lot of House Music DJs, especially in Chicago, have a fondness for Japan, and big hearts for people all over the world who are facing tragedy.
Liliko: I can’t thank them enough, really appreciate their participation. Some of my friends in Japan told me that they felt so moved and encouraged to hear about legendary DJs’ contribution.
Can you tell me about the group in Japan which is receiving the funds raised here?
Liliko: Nihon Univa Counter Crisis Team is an NPO based in Tokyo with a huge warehouse and several branches. They took their action immediately after the earthquake and tsunami. They flew over the disaster affected area to find isolated areas where the Japanese government couldn’t reach. They literally have birds eyes. They help people in the area the government or big organization like Red Cross can’t cover. They delivered water, foods, milk for baby, blanket, fuel and such to the areas from their branches. They’ve been doing not only delivery but also many other things. When it comes to the matter of life and death, we need prompt rescue and they’ve been doing great job. Now isolated areas are saved and they are moving onto the next step to help people recover from the disaster.
I understand you just added a DJ from Japan last minute – can you tell me a little about him?
Liliko: DJ Uchikawa is one of the pioneers of Japanese club scene, a great DJ, remixer, producer, huge record collector and an owner of a club “Loft” and record label “Loft Music”. He has been collaborating with a pianist under the name of “Rhythm of Elements” and many other musicians. His music style is quite genre borderless, deep and soulful.
If people cannot make it to the show but would like to benefit (and Househeads should, considering so much of the technology used to make their music from the classics Chip E made to today was “Made in Japan”), is there a way they can do so?
Liliko: Please join our Facebook page and theirs and stay connected. I’m planning several projects including our second Jack4House Japan Benefit Party. We are desperately seeking sponsors, if you know someone who might be interested, please let us know.
Chip: Thank you Terry, Rees, Czarina, and the entire 5 Magazine family. I was really touched by Czarina’s recent blog about the Japan tragedy. To quote her, “Tragedies don’t just disappear.” We’re very glad to have Czarina on decks and 5 Magazine as a participating sponsor. House cares!