Since opening its doors to the public for the first time in 2007, Woei has left its mark on the international sneaker and streetwear community with several collaborations including Asics, Patta, and Stüssy along the way.
But the interests and passions of the Woei crew reach far beyond just shoes and apparel. Besides providing the streets with the latest from Nike, Adidas, and Co., music has always been at the heart of the store. Considering the highly curated playlists and mixes that can be heard in the store and hosting some of Rotterdam's most notorious parties, the belief that music unites is deeply ingrained in the Woei DNA.
Based on this deep connection, we want to shine a spotlight on some of our favorite local musicians to talk about what sparked their passion for music and hear their take on common dilemmas in the music industry.
For WOEI FM episode #26, we caught up with Keito (恵杜) to talk about the start of her very fresh DJ career, moving to Rotterdam, and her early love of World music.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Kate, I was born and raised in Tokyo, and moved to Rotterdam in August 2020. I moved here after being accepted by Erasmus University to study Communication and Media, without actually knowing anything about Rotterdam, or even Europe!
Next to that, I started Ito Collective with 4 friends of mine, where we write about Asian cultures on Instagram and focus on other Asian artists. I really enjoy doing stuff on the side of studying.
When it comes to being a DJ, I'm still pretty much at the start of my career. I've been spinning for about a year now.
How did you come up with your DJ name?
My artist name is simply my own name spelled in Kanji, 恵杜, which is pronounced as Keito. The way Kate and Keito are spelled in Japanese is the same, it’s actually kind of funny because my parents deliberately named me Kate so it would be easy to pronounce for people abroad.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I typically go to school, although I wouldn’t call myself the perfect student… In the mornings I like to listen to The NTS Breakfast Show, I think it’s nice that there are actual conversations that take place together with the music, as opposed to only music being played.
We're currently at the Nieuwe Hoop in Kralingen, what does this spot mean to you?
After moving here, I started getting into thrifting. I nearly always find a great piece for a very good price here, and it’s a plus that it’s on the route home from uni!
What does Rotterdam, as a city, mean to you?
Initially, I didn’t know anything about Rotterdam and moved here with zero expectations. I was pretty scared that I wouldn’t end up liking it here but that worry disappeared quickly once I settled in. Rotterdam is very international too, which made me feel more at ease. I also feel enough freedom here to express myself and do whatever I want, the people are very helpful here and I would never be standing here without the help of a lot of people I’ve met here. I really appreciate the people I have in Rotterdam.
"The people are very helpful here and I would never be standing here without the help of a lot of people I've met here. I really appreciate the people I have in Rotterdam."
What are your favorite spots in Rotterdam?
On Saturdays, I usually start out my day on the market at Blaak. It’s another great place to find secondhand clothing aside from the standard thrift shops. It’s nice to just wander and look around the market, with all different kinds of people around you. Bun in Rotterdam-West is a great place to eat, as well.
When did you realize music was going to be a big part of your life, and how did you become a DJ?
I was introduced to Djing by my friends over at Bound45, who really showed me the ropes and gave me the space to experiment with my skills.
I never would’ve thought that I would become a DJ, to be honest. I’ve always been around music growing up, with a wide range of music being exposed to me from a young age. My dad in particular had a great interest in the UK & US '70s and '80s music. When I was five years old, I did professional Hula dancing up until the point that I moved here, so traditional Hawaiian music was also a big part of my musical interest.
I would always try and find music that was obscure enough to show my dad and feel proud if he didn’t already know it.
The moment that I realized that I want to continue doing this was around October this year, at my second gig. It was the first time playing for a bigger crowd, with my set lasting from 10 PM 'till midnight. I was enjoying the feeling that the music and people gave me and having a feeling of control over the dancefloor.
What do you spin, exactly?
When I started DJing, I was more into Soul and Disco, but it kind of transitioned into more electric danceable tunes, such as Italo and synth and many sounds from the ’80s!!
What was your first performance? And how was it?
That was back in June, in MONO. I was doing a warmup session for Bound45 with another girl that also just started spinning, so we split the set into two. I was extremely nervous and really felt confronted by my lack of skill at the time. It was definitely a tough moment, but nevertheless, it was very fun.
Digital or Vinyl?
Digital, but I would love to learn and play with vinyl, that's my goal!
Is there something weird that happened while you were spinning once?
I was playing at PERRON on New Year's Eve, when I noticed that this random guy held up this sign towards me with the text ‘You are perfect”… That was something else.
Where do you get your inspiration from / what inspires you?
I get a lot of my musical inspiration from NTS, there are a lot of nice DJs playing there. Sasha's crush is an NYC-based DJ and she is my favorite! The Bound45 DJs have also always been my big music inspiration, they always amaze me whenever I go to one of their gigs.
Do you have certain routines you follow before spinning that you’ve taught yourself?
Funny enough, for my second gig I was practicing for so many hours, that I forgot to eat and never even changed out of my pajamas!
Club nights or Festivals?
Which city would you like to play in?
Definitely in Tokyo! It’s the place where I grew up, but I never got to experience the party scene and nightlife there. I’m going back in September for a little while, so who knows!
Do you currently have a favorite song you’d like to share with the audience?
Lowdown - Boz Scaggs
This song is my go-to for dancing music. It reminds me of my home and childhood because my dad would always play this song first whenever we went on a road trip.
"I was practicing for so many hours, that I forgot to eat and never even changed out of my pajamas!"
Opening or Closing set?
Opening set for now, as I haven’t gotten the chance to play a closing set yet, but I do enjoy playing for warm-ups and seeing the dance floor getting heated up! But yeah, closing, hopefully in the future.
Is there something on your planning you want/can share?
I’m joining my boyfriend’s show next month and I’m very much looking forward to sharing some excellent music there. I'll also have my first festival experience at the Oranjebitter on King’s Day!
What can we expect from your set at Operator?
I'll start with a more downtempo, leftfield pop and let it gradually transition into a danceable electric sound.
Any last words?
Thank you so much for having me! I was super surprised and happy when you guys contacted me!
I'm always surrounded by people who are supportive and very inspiring and I’m so grateful for the environment I’m in. Big Arigato (thanks in Japanese) to my Rotterdam people and Woei!!