Towa Tei

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Towa Tei
Towa Tei in 2007
Towa Tei in 2007
Background information
Birth nameDong-hwa Chung
Also known asSweet Robots Against the Machine
Born (1965-09-07) September 7, 1965 (age 55)
Yokohama, Japan
OriginTokyo, Japan
Associated acts

Towa Tei (テイ・トウワ(鄭 東和), Tei Tōwa, born Dong-hwa Chung (Hangul: 정동화); 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.[1]

His concept party, "Hotel H", started in 2009 as a social spot for music industry people in Tokyo.[2]


Towa is a third-generation Korean Japanese.[3][4]

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 1991, Towa collaborated with his idol Ryuichi Sakamoto on Sakamoto's album Heartbeat. He also appeared on Sakamoto's follow up album Sweet Revenge.

In 1994, Towa returned to Japan after seven years in New York.[1] Towa sustained a back injury falling from a stage during a performance with Deee-Lite in Brazil. While recovering, he began to drift toward other musical styles.[5][6] Towa debuted as a solo act with Future Listening! that same year, incorporating an array of 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[1] 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.[1]

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.[1] 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.[1] Another collaborator he worked with for Big Fun was Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto, though they also only met on MySpace.[1]

Towa has also established his own creative company, hug inc, which, among other things, manufactures his trademark sunglasses.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h 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.
  2. ^ "". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Levinson, Hugh (2002-11-14). "Korea's pop diplomacy". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
  5. ^ Hadfield, James (May 18, 2011). "Towa Tei: The Interview". Time Out Tokyo. Archived from the original on 4 August 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  6. ^ Smith, Dakota (7 May 1998). "Towa Tei's Music On Display In Sound Museum". MTV News. Retrieved 2018-12-10.

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