Tōwa Tei in 2007.
|Birth name||Tōwa Tei|
|Born||1965 (age 50–51)
|Genres||Electronica, house, trip hop, shibuya-kei, big beat, drum and bass|
|Occupation(s)||Music producer, disc jockey|
|Associated acts||Deee-Lite, ja:METAFIVE|
Towa Tei (テイ・トウワ（鄭 東和） Tei Tōwa?, born 1965) is a DJ, artist and record producer born in Yokohama, Japan. Towa debuted as a member of Deee-Lite, from the U.S. label Elektra Records in 1990, and shot to fame via their international hit single, "Groove Is In the Heart". He made his solo debut with the album Future Listening! in 1994. He has since relocated back from New York to rural Nagano prefecture in Japan.
Towa began making demo tapes at the age of 16 having bought his first synthesizer, a Korg MS-10. While studying at Musashino Art University Junior College of Art and Design he sent his tape to a radio program of Ryuichi Sakamoto titled "Sound Street".
In 1987, Towa moved to the US to study graphic design and joined house act Deee-Lite, a trio with Supa DJ Dimitry and Lady Miss Kier, enjoying almost instant success after debuting in 1990 with their album World Clique and the single "Groove Is In the Heart".
In 1994, Towa returned to Japan after seven years in New York. He hinted in a 2011 interview that his time with Deee-Lite made him ill, though he didn't expand on the reasons why. Towa debuted as a solo act with Future Listening! that same year, incorporating an array of musical styles, including electronic, bossa nova, house, jazz and pop. It featured collaborations with Joi Cardwell, Bebel Gilberto, MC Kinky, Hiroshi Takano, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono, Toshihiko Mori, Satoshi Tomiie, Yuichi Oki of Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and Pizzicato Five vocalist Maki Nomiya.
Sound Museum followed in 1997, then Last Century Modern in 1999. 2002 brought the album Towa Tei, under the pseudonym Sweet Robots Against the Machine. Flash surfaced in 2005 by which time Towa was DJing regularly in Japan. He has admitted though, that he doesn't enjoy performing and prefers producing and using computers.
Big Fun, featuring Verbal and Mademoiselle Yulia was released in 2009 and was the third album to feature the artwork of San Franciscan painter and graffiti artist Barry McGee. For the album, Towa utilized MySpace to collaborate with artists from around the world even if he didn't know them, such as with German act Taprikk Sweezee. Another collaborator he worked with for Big Fun was Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto, though they also only met on MySpace.
Towa has also established his own creative company, hug inc, which among other things, manufactures his trademark sunglasses.
- Future Listening! (1995)
- Sound Museum (1998)
- Sweet Robots Against the Machine (as Sweet Robots Against the Machine) (1999)
- Last Century Modern (1999)
- Towa Tei (as Sweet Robots Against the Machine) (2002)
- Flash (2005)
- Big Fun (2009)
- Sunny (2011)
- Lucky (2013)
- Cute (2015)
DJ compilation albums
- 2004 Motivation-Songs for Make Up
- 2004 Motivation-Driving Sweets
- 2005 Motivation3
- 2005 Motivation4 -Dusty Dance Halls
- 2007 Motivation Five
- 2008 Motivation 7
Singles and EPs
- 1995 "Technova"
- 1995 "Luv Connection"
- 1997 "Happy" (ハッピー?) feat. Vivian Sessoms
- 1997 "Intro"
- 1998 "GBI: German Bold Italic" feat. Kylie Minogue - UK #63
- 1998 "Butterfly" feat. Ayumi Tanabe and Vivian Sessoms
- 1999 "Funkin' for Jamaica (N.Y.)"
- 1999 "A Ring"
- 1999 "Let Me Know" feat. Chara
- 2000 "Congratulations"
- 2000 "Kasei" (火星 Mars?) feat. Ikuko Harada (Clammbon)
- 2001 "Funkin' for Jamaica (N.Y.)" (re-release)
- 2005 "Sometime Samurai" feat. Kylie Minogue
- 2006 "Koi no Upload" (恋のアップロード "Love Upload"?)
- 2008 "N705i"
- 2008 "A.O.R." feat. Lina Ohta
- 2009 "Mind Wall" feat. Miho Hatori
- 2009 "Taste of You" feat. Taprikk Sweezee
- 2009 "Taste of You" (Zickzack Remix) (BIG FUN Remix)
- 2009 "Lyricist" (ajapai Remix) (BIG FUN Remix)
- 2009 "Taste of You" (Michael Fakesch Remix) (BIG FUN Remix)
- 2009 "Mind Wall" (SO TT Remix) (BIG FUN Remix)
- 2009 "Taste of You" (Atom TM Remix) (BIG FUN Remix)
- 2011 "The Burning Plain"
- 2013 "Licht"
- 2013 "Radio"
- 1994 Future Recall!
- 1995 Future Recall! 2
- 1997 Stupid Fresh
- 2000 Lost Control Mix
- 2000 Lost Control Mix 2
- 2003 Re: Towa Tei (as Sweet Robots Against the Machine)
- 2006 Flasher
- 2007 Future Recall! 3 (released as CD 2 of Future Listening! 2010 reissue)
- 2012 Mach 2012
- 2002 Best
- 2003 Best Korea (Korea only)
- 2014 94-14
- 2014 94-14 COVERS
- 2014 94-14 REMIX
- Robert Michael Poole (2009-02-19). "Towa Tei wallows in optimism for art's sake". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-05-06.[dead link]
- "Oops-music.com". Oops-music.com. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- Hadfield, James (May 18, 2011). "Towa Tei: The Interview". Time Out Tokyo. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 551. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.