Kento Sasaki started out in the late 90s as DJ Kent, developing his own unique sound and musical style that made him one of the most stimulating and respected DJ's in the Japanese dance music scene. With a love for hip hop, Kent’s background was that of breakbeat and instrumental hip hop and it is that style that has given Kent his edge in his heavily sampled, house based productions as Force of Nature with KZA or his newest solo project “The Backwoods”. DJ Kent’s first solo 12” (4:21 / R.M.N.) in 2001 became a very popular record and shortly after UK label Bear Funk came calling, whereby his “In The Bush” record was released. Theo Parrish liked it so much, he got in touch and remixed it! Kent has also released several widely received mix CDs,including for fashion label Bape.
However, it is his work as “Force of Nature” with long time friend KZA, that has built an awe inspiring reputation. They first met when Kent joined the rap group formed by KZA called “Yotsukaido Nature”. In 1997, under this moniker, they released an instrumental breakbeat album entitled “Urban Combatt 2001”. This saw them rise to the top of Japan’s DJ ranks and a massive amount of remix offers started to flood in. Force of Nature was born.
KZA is a huge vinyl junkie who has acquired an enormous record collection over the years, enabling him to have a wide variety music at his fingertips, who has released several mix CDs in rare disco, boogie and late 80s hip hop. His well known rare vinyl sourcing is evidenced on his work such as “Dig and Edit” and “I’m Starting To Feel Okay”.
Described by I-D Magazine as “making music for cute ladies working at the office, gitls from fashion school and underground music nerds”, together they have produced and remixed work for big artists in and outside of Japan such as Nigo, UNKLE, DJ Shadow, Brennan Green, Halcali, Kenji Takimi, Keiichi Sokabe and J Pop superstar Ayumi Hamasaki; collaborated with top DJs such as Carl Craig, Recloose, Jay Dee, Rub N Tug, James Murphy; held residences at Yellow, Milk, Eleven and produced 3 albums “The Forces of Nature I, II and III” all since their inception. Their first album and much of their production work as FON is nearly all sampled based. A homage to their musical knowledge and huge record collection. Their second album tour took in 18 dates in Japan and the US, citing Club Apt and P.S.1. MOMA in NYC as highlights. “Unstoppable” and “To The Brain”, was a huge DJ Harvey favourite at the Sarcastic parties. The 12” released on Mule was remixed by Prins Thomas. Black Moon, also from their third album, appeared on Fabric 30 Mix by Rub N Tug (12” also on Mule). Paul T and DJ Harvey have had them over several times for their Sarcastic parties and maintain a strong relationship and respect for DJ Kent, who has done music for the Sarcastic clothing label.
They have also produced music with Nujabes, Fat Jon the Ample Soul Physician, Tutchie and Afra for “Samurai Champloo”, a Japanese animation directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, who is the director of “Cowboy Bebop” and “animatrix”.
Despite Kent’s and KZA’s solo work, they continue to play together as FON heavily throughout Asia ( HYPERLINK "http://forceofnature.jp/schedule.php" http://forceofnature.jp/schedule.php) and have a weekly show on Shibuya FM. Listing Afrika Bambaata, Mad Mike Banks, DJ Shadow and DJ Harvey, they refuse to be restricted by genre.
During his time in FON, Kent has gone on to remix and collaborate with the who’s who from the Japanese underground music scene, such as Sly Mongoose and Tokyo No.1 Soulset and together they formed the group Garalude. Having caught the attention of producers in Europe, in 2005, Kent teamed up with Swiss house producers Quarion and Rosario to release the album Water & Dust.
Kent’s most recent project is The Backwoods. In 2010, he released his self titled album on long time school friend’s Chida’s Ene Records. CD sales and promotion were successful throughout many Japanese record stores and Kent’s new work got out across the pond. A Japanese tour of 15 venues ensued and Kent’s name and picture became a familiar image in the press and shops. The album has an outdoors-y feel and draws a wide inspiration from house, techno, Balearic, latin and rock, with tribal percussion and ambient sounds of nature – an influence from his work with KZA. The Japanese Times have described “Cloud Nine” as a cross between Italo-disco and Blade Runner-era Vangelis. End of night tracks online show Weatherall and Harvey playing this and “Breakthrough” (a collaboration from the album with the bassist and keyboardist from Sly Mongoose) to devastating effect. Further support from Francois K, Rub N Tug, TBD and more have propagated The Backwoods as a force of nature to be reckoned with.
Recent and forthcoming work includes his remix of Tiago’s I-Boat Captain on Is It Balaeric?, his remix of Vahagn (picked on Harvey’s new X Mix CD, a remix for Japanese legend Kaoru Inoue, a remix for Ryoma Takemasa and a forthcoming remix for Lauer on Sweeney’s Beats In Space label.
With a tour extending to Europe this summer with Chida taking in over 10 dates, it’s time for DJ Kent to come out of the Backwoods.