Yellow morphs into eleven

Space Lab YELLOW staff premiere a new space in Nishi-Azabu

Yellow morphs into eleven

Eleven, a new event space in Nishi-Azabu is scheduled to open on the Feb 18, in the same location that used to house the incredibly popular dance club Space Lab Yellow, bringing with it 60% of the staff. The similarities between the Yellow and eleven don’t stop there; the DJ lined up for eleven’s opening night is Francois K – the very same DJ who played at Yellow’s closing party almost a year and eight months ago. Could this be a resurrection of Yellow in disguise? Time Out Tokyo spoke to Yuko Ichikawa, eleven’s director in charge of planning and public relations, about the new event space.

Would it be accurate to think of eleven as basically a re-opening of Space Lab Yellow?
YI: About 60 to 70% of our staff used to work at Yellow. We initially disbanded to go our separate ways, however, after some thought we decided to continue searching for a new venue. Then, last summer, at a time when the majority of the former staff members were working different jobs, rumours that Yellow’s former venue had been sold to a new buyer began to fly. We immediately set into action and were fortunate enough to make a deal with the new owner to re-open the venue.

It’s difficult to put exactly what we want to do into words. But essentially we’re aiming to re-create the same kind of atmosphere that Yellow had. We all have a similar idea of what we’re trying to create in our heads, but we’ve never actually sat down together with the goal of putting it all down on paper – probably because there’s no need to. Instead, just like most of our customers, we simply already know what the goal is. We’ve changed the name from Yellow to eleven, so it goes without saying that some things will be new – after all, it doesn’t make sense to be stuck in the past.

In terms of the music, with Yellow gone, the Tokyo music scene moved from deep house to minimal; one of our goals with eleven is to find the right balance between these two genres. However, we aren’t intending to only play what’s popular. Instead, we’ll be diverse and forward- thinking regarding our music policy. Rather than concentrating on one particular genre, we want to focus on creating an atmosphere that clubbers will love.

Is there a particular reasoning behind the name ‘eleven’? Why not just call the club ‘Yellow’?
YI: There are a number of circumstances prohibiting us from using the name Yellow. It’s also the name of a club that’s now gone – if people come expecting the old Yellow again, then they’re bound to think back nostalgically and consider the old place the better of the two venues. Rather than have that happen, I thought it better to start from scratch with a new space, a new name and a new frame of mind. Thinking that we wouldn’t be able to return to the same place, we searched for another venue, however thanks to a strange sequence of events, here we are again.

The name eleven comes from the first part of the venue’s address. Plus, with myself included, it’s also the exact number of full time staff we have. [Laughs] In the process of deciding, I came across the English ‘go to eleven’, which comes from the idea of turning the volume up past a maximum of 10, or more generally, to take something to the extreme. After hearing this idiom I thought it pretty fitting as the name of the new space.

Each of us has our own images of how Yellow used to be and try as we might, we couldn’t agree on an appropriate name for the new space. So I decided to take a more light-hearted approach– suggesting the name eleven partly because it isn’t a word that is imbued with any deep meanings.

How do you plan to differentiate eleven from other Tokyo clubs?
YI: The venue is an event space in which we primarily intend to run club style dance events. Much of the staff is keen to continue things in a more underground fashion, but, at the moment, telling underground from mainstream is really difficult. For example, when we discussed the idea of making flyers and monthlies, the idea arose that it might be more underground not to produce these things. Personally, I think it’s the reverse; in my opinion, media like the World Wide Web and Twitter are mainstream and things like flyers are more underground. Again, opinions seem to differ between people – what means one thing to one person, like the word ‘underground’, means something else to another.

As far as possible we want to run events that play the music we’re interested in. Just thinking business all the time isn’t any fun. Plus, people will come to dance and have fun, not simply to watch a performance. It’s not just about the customers but about the staff as well. We’ll be playing music and serving drinks, but we won’t be setting things in stone; instead, we’ll be both progressive and flexible.

Another thing we’re planning to do is to help raise new talent by taking on some resident DJs; nowadays, if you haven’t already released your own music it can be difficult to get a foot in the door. There are still some very talented young DJs working hard to make it though, and these are the one’s we’ll be working with.

Do you have anyone in particular in mind?
YI: We have some future stars lined up but for the time being things are under wraps. [laughs]

What else have you got planned for the future of eleven?
YI: It’s really great to receive so much attention from everyone, but it makes for high expectations. I’d like people to come and join us in creating another spectacular event atmosphere instead of only coming once and simply thinking Yellow was better. Within about five years, I’d like eleven to have built a new reputation for being an amazing place to party. It will take time but with an understanding crowd I think we can make eleven a success.

Who do you have lined up for the next month?
YI: On Sunday March 3 we’re hosting a Haiti relief party with special guest Jephte Guillame, an artist originally from Haiti who’s flying to Japan especially for the event. We’ve also lined up various Japanese artists for the event including Tatsuo Sunaga and Towa Tei. Admission is ¥2,000 at the door, the profits from which we’ll be donating to charity – so by all means come and join the party.

On Friday March 12 we’ve lined up Anthony Collins and Lauhausu from Europe. Theo Parrish from Detroit is scheduled to play on Saturday March 13. For Friday March 19, Mark E and then for the following night, Saturday March 20, Sammy Dee plays at Fumiya Tanaka’s CHAOS. Rob Smith plays on Sunday March 21; from there, we look forward to events such as Q’HEY&MAYURI’s REBOOT on Friday March 26.

eleven (read more)

Opening event details:

Rhythm of Life eleven opening party
Date: Thu Feb 18
Opens: 10pm
Admission: ¥4,000 (incl. one drink)
DJ: Francois K. (Deep Space/Wave Music)

The Dawn of a New Beginning eleven opening weekend party
Co-presented by Real Grooves and Chaos
Date: Fri Feb 19
Opens: 10pm
Admission: ¥3,500 (incl. one drink)/¥3,000 with flyer (incl. one drink)
Live performance: Guti (Desolat/Argentina)
DJ: Fumiya Tanaka (Sundance/op.disc), MX (blackmaps, Real Grooves, Tripster)
Lounge: Kiccio (threeriver), Ozmzo aka Sammy (Real Grooves), Sisi (Timothy Really, Real Grooves), Ryuji Suganuma (Freebase)

SHELTER eleven opening weekend party
Date: Sat Feb 20
Opens: 10pm
Admission: ¥4,000 (incl. one drink)/¥3,500 with flyer (incl. one drink)
DJ: Timmy Regisford (The Shelter/NY), Tomoyuki Yasuda (Voice of Voice Tokyo/Wave Music)

Related article
DJ Sebo K talks music
 Berlin’s burgeoning star is ready to take centre stage
Park Hyatt Tokyo and NIGO® team up
 Park Hyatt Tokyo releases ‘TOKYO SUITE Selected by NIGO®’
Clubs: overview
 Dance until dawn with Tokyo’s party people

By Akiko Toya
Translated by Brin Wilson
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.



Add your comment

Copyright © 2014 Time Out Tokyo