Towa Tei in 2007
|Birth name||Dong-hwa Chung|
|Also known as||Sweet Robots Against the Machine|
September 7, 1965 (age 52)|
|Genres||Electronica, house, trip hop, shibuya-kei, big beat, drum and bass|
|Occupation(s)||Record producer, DJ|
|Associated acts||Deee-Lite, Metafive|
Towa Tei (テイ・トウワ（鄭 東和） Tei Tōwa, born Dong-hwa Chung; September 7, 1965) is an artist, record producer and DJ born in Yokohama, Japan. Towa debuted as a member of Deee-Lite, from the US 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.
His concept party, "Hotel H", started in 2009 as a social spot for music industry people in Tokyo.
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 U.S. 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 (1997)
- 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)
- Emo (2017)
- Robert Michael Poole (2009-02-19). "Towa Tei wallows in optimism for art's sake". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
- "Oops-music.com". Oops-music.com. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- McClure, Steve (July 5, 2000). "Towa Tei Finds Solo Success as a DJ-Producer : Life After Deee-Lite". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
- Levinson, Hugh (2002-11-14). "Korea's pop diplomacy". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
- Hadfield, James (May 18, 2011). "Towa Tei: The Interview". Time Out Tokyo. Archived from the original on 4 August 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.