Fashion

Walmart managers take home an average of $175,000 a year. How much do their workers make?

Walmart managers take home an average of $175,000 a year. How much do their workers make?

Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, pays its U.S. store managers an average of $175,000 a year, according to a new company report.
The retailer’s inaugural Environmental, Social & Governance Report released Wednesday says all of Walmart’s 1 million-plus U.S. workers earn more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, with the average wage for full-time hourly workers $14.26 per hour.
The report outlines the company’s goals, progress and achievements in key areas, including climate change initiatives, sustainability in supply chains and economic opportunity for employees and communities.
“We believe it’s important to run our business in a way that generates lasting value for our customers, our associates, our shareholders and for society more broadly,” wrote Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon in a letter included with the report.
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Walmart employee Yurdin Velazquez pushes grocery carts at a Walmart store in Miami. The Walmart company is the largest employer of publicly traded businesses in the United States. Joe Raedle, Getty Images Fullscreen Walmart began as a general merchandise brick-and-mortar store, expanding to grocery stores and 24-hour superstores. As online shopping advanced, the company has embraced digital options to service customers. A Walmart representative demonstrates a Scan & Go mobile payment application on a smartphone while at a self checkout register at a Walmart store in San Jose, Calif. Jeff Chiu, AP Fullscreen A shopper walks past a sign encouraging customers to order grocery items online and pick them up at a store is displayed at a Walmart in Bentonville, Ark. Danny Johnston, AP Fullscreen A customer selects food in the produce section of a Walmart store in Alexandria, Va. AP Fullscreen Walmart announced its first official animal welfare policy Friday, calling for less use of antibiotics and outlining living standards for animals. Patrick T. Fallon, Bloomberg Fullscreen Walmart agreed to buy Jet.com for $3 billion in its bid to take on Amazon. An employee restocks a shelf in the grocery section of a Walmart Supercenter, in Troy, Ohio. Walmart, America’s largest retailer and the largest company in the world based on revenue, has evolved into a giant economic force for the U.S. economy. With growth, the company continues to weather criticism of low wages, anti-union policies as well as accusations that it has homogenized America’s retail economy and driven traditional stores and shops out of business. Chris Hondros, Getty Images Fullscreen Customers save big at Walmart’s Black Friday shopping event in Rogers, Ark. Hundreds of customers at Walmart stores across the country took advantage of deals on top items, like televisions, video game consoles, and toys. Easy shopping continues in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com through the holidays. Gunnar Rathbun, Invision for Walmart Fullscreen April Styers, a personal shopper for the Walmart pickup program, selects fresh produce that will be included in customers’ orders. Sarah Halzack, The Washington Post, via Getty Images Fullscreen A long line of people wait in line to buy water at Walmart in Beaumont, Texas, after the city lost its main source of water after Hurricane Harvey. Jay Janner, AP Fullscreen Danny Diaz, 3, rides in a shopping cart with his sister Brianna Diaz, 2, as they arrive with their mother for the Grand Opening of the new Walmart Neighborhood Market in Panorama City, Calif. Smaller than Walmart’s SuperCenter, the Neighborhood Market resembles a traditional supermarket, selling food, health and beauty products and home cleaning supplies. Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty Images Fullscreen Walmart associate Kathleen Holmes-Smith helps Chris and Mary Finley checkout during Walmart’s Black Friday shopping event in Rogers, Ark. Hundreds of customers at Walmart stores across the country took advantage of deals on top items during the retailer’s event. Gunnar Rathbun, Invision for Walmart Fullscreen A customer, center, checks out at a Walmart Neighborhood Market store in Bentonville, Ark. Danny Johnston, AP Fullscreen An employee completing an online customer order uses a scanning device to scan a plastic bag at a Walmart outlet in Shenzhen, China. Walmart sees big potential in China: Its Sam’s Club in Shenzhen, a fast-growing urban center in the southeast, is the chain’s best-performing outlet globally. Qilai Shen, Bloomberg, via Getty Images Fullscreen A Walmart scanning device, held by an employee completing an online customer order, displays numbers and Chinese characters at a Walmart outlet in Shenzhen, China. Bloomberg via Getty Images Fullscreen A Walmart store in Landover, Md. Walmart on Feb. 21, 2017, reported a strong gain in domestic store sales during the key holiday-shopping quarter, although earnings fell on higher expenses. Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images Fullscreen Customers save big at Walmart’s Black Friday shopping event in Rogers, Ark. Gunnar Rathbun, Invision for Walmart Fullscreen Sam Walton’s original five-and-dime store now serves as the Walmart Visitors Center, which traces company and family history. That’s Walton’s pickup parked out front. USA TODAY Fullscreen Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries: Replay 1 of 17 2 of 17 3 of 17 4 of 17 5 of 17 6 of 17 7 of 17 8 of 17 9 of 17 10 of 17 11 of 17 12 of 17 13 of 17 14 of 17 15 of 17 16 of 17 17 of 17 Autoplay Show Thumbnails Show Captions Last Slide Next Slide Tobacco minimum age: Walmart, Sam’s Club raise age to buy tobacco to 21; won’t sell flavored nicotine to minors
Going up: Prices for Mexican tomatoes expected to increase 40% to 85% with new tariff
In February, Walmart introduced paid time off that employees can use when they’re sick or otherwise need to miss work. For having spotless attendance, employees can earn an additional 25% on their quarterly bonuses.
The retail giant also has increased education options for employees and trained about 450,000 employees last year through the Walmart Academy program.
“We’re investing in our associates through wages along with better educational opportunities, benefits and training,” McMillon said.
Report highlights Here are some more notes from the report:
Wages have climbed more than 50% over the past three years and the minimum starting wage is now $11. More than 75% of Walmart U.S. store operation management team members started as hourly employees. Promoted more than 215,000 people to jobs of greater responsibility and higher pay in Walmart U.S. stores in fiscal year 2019. 55% of Walmart’s total U.S. workforce is female and 43% of management is female. More than 50% of hourly associates are full time. Walmart’s goal is to use 50% renewable energy by 2025. Currently 28% of Walmart’s electricity needs are supplied by renewable sources. Follow Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
CLOSE The company issued a statement on Tuesday promising to have 100 percent recyclable packaging for all private-label products by 2025. Time

Trump Ghostwriter Charles Leerhsen Says President Was Bad At Business

On Tuesday, The New York Times scooped the world on the news that from 1985 to 1994, Donald Trump incurred the biggest business losses of any single taxpayer in American history.
What was it like for him to lose more than $1 billion in a decade? Was he perpetually ashen-faced with fear? Or smirking at the thought of outwitting the IRS “for sport,” as he said in a Wednesday morning tweet?
I happen to know, because from late 1988 to 1990, I was his ghostwriter, working on a book that would be called “Surviving at the Top.” Right in the middle of this period, I can tell you that the answer is that he was neither. Except for an occasional passing look of queasiness, or anger, when someone came into his Trump Tower office and whispered the daily win/loss numbers at his Atlantic City casinos, he seemed to be bored out of his mind.
I tend to see my time with him — the first part of it, anyway, before things started going bad in a hurry — as his “King Midas” period. I never said this to him; if I had, he probably would have thought I was suggesting he enter the muffler business. But there was a stretch of months when everything he touched turned into a deal. The banks seemed to accept the version of him depicted in his first book, “The Art of the Deal,” which we now know from his previous ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, was entirely invented. They believed it over what they saw on his balance sheets or heard coming out of his mouth, and they never said no to his requests for more money. Often they came up with things he could say yes to before he could think of them himself. As a result, a failing real estate developer who had little idea of what he was doing and less interest in doing it once he’d held the all-important press conference wound up owning three New Jersey hotel-casinos, the Plaza Hotel, the Eastern Airlines Shuttle and a 281-foot yacht.
A real go-getter, right? But Trump’s portfolio did not jibe with what I saw each day — which to a surprisingly large extent was him looking at fabric swatches. Indeed, flipping through fabric swatches seemed at times to be his main occupation. Some days he would do it for hours, then take me in what he always called his “French military helicopter” to Atlantic City — where he looked at more fabric swatches or sometimes small samples of wood paneling. It was true that the carpets and drapes at his properties needed to be refreshed frequently, and the seats on the renamed Trump Shuttle required occasional reupholstering. But the main thing about fabric swatches was that they were within his comfort zone — whereas, for example, the management of hotels and airlines clearly wasn’t. One of his aides once told me that every room at the Plaza could be filled at the “rack rate” (list price) every night, and the revenue still wouldn’t cover the monthly payment of the loan he’d taken out to buy the place. In other words, he’d made a ridiculous deal. Neither he nor the banks had done the math beforehand. Or perhaps Trump knew it because someone had told him, but didn’t want to think about it. The one thing he is above-average at is compartmentalization.
On days when there were no broadlooms or chenilles to ponder, we would sit around his office and shoot the breeze while (as we now know) out there someplace in the real world, his businesses were hemorrhaging cash. He’d talk about the Yankees, show me pictures of Marla Maples (whom he was then romancing while still married to Ivana) and tell me obviously made-up stories, such as how he had just the other day seen a beautiful, completely naked woman on the street. “Put that in the book!” he’d say, and I’d pretend to write it down.
Occasionally famous people like Bob Hope or America’s Cup captain Dennis Conner came by for no obvious purpose, except that they were holding court and it helped Trump pass the time. Once during a lull I told him a story I thought he’d like to hear about how I had just taken the Trump Shuttle to Washington, and as we flew through a storm the plane had been struck by lightning. I commended the pilot for the way he handled the incident; he had gotten on the loudspeaker to tell the passengers what had happened and to reassure them.
But instead of being pleased to hear that, Trump, using the general number, immediately dialed the shuttle to demand to know why he hadn’t been informed about what had happened. Unfortunately it took about 10 rings before it was answered by a woman who said, “Good morning, Trump Shuttle.” By then he was purple with rage. “This … is … Donald … Trump!” he growled. For the poor woman, it must have been like working at Popeye’s and getting a call from the sailor man himself. “Why did it take so long to answer this phone?” Trump demanded. Then, after bawling her out for a minute or two, he hung up abruptly, forgetting why he had called in the first place.
Each day was a string of such nonsensical moments. Once, trying to steer the conversation toward something we could actually use in our book, I asked him about his father. “We haven’t touched on him yet,” I said. “What can you tell me?”
He stared into the middle distance and began to speak. “My father…”
A long pause followed. Then he said, “Charles, put something there. I’ll look at it later.”
Trump’s King Midas period ended in early 1990, when news broke about his looming bankruptcy. At around the same time, Ivana said she was leaving him, and Mike Tyson, who had drawn so many people into Trump’s Atlantic City hotels, got knocked out by Buster Douglas in Japan. Everything was going to hell. Of course, everything had been going to hell for a a couple of years by then, but now his failure, for the first time, was public, and that made it 100 times worse. That made it real.
In the final weeks of working on the book, we attempted to explain away his disasters, such as the forced sale of his yacht. “As much as I’ve enjoyed it until now,” he (I) wrote, “and as impressive as it’s been to my casino customers, I think I’m giving up the game of who’s got the best boat. … I don’t need it anymore, I don’t want it anymore, and, frankly, I can find better things to do with the money.”
Translation: I’m broke.
He seemed unusually subdued during this period, understandably. One day he told me a sobering story about seeing a homeless person on the street and realizing that man was better off than he was because the homeless man had nothing while he, Trump, had less than zero. Because Trump doesn’t ever walk down the street, would never notice a homeless person if he did and the story involved a degree of introspection, I knew it couldn’t be true and that he was probably parroting something he’d heard someone else say. Still, I included it in the revised introduction.
Let’s just say he didn’t like it. The harsh phone call I got began: “This … is … Donald … Trump.” That’s how I knew he’d built a nicely carpeted compartment around his colossal failures, and moved on.
Charles Leerhsen ( @CharlesLeerhsen ) is a biographer and historian whose books include “ Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. ”

Breaking Down the Wild Feud Between YouTube Stars James Charles and Tati Westbrook | E! News

Breaking Down the Wild Feud Between YouTube Stars James Charles and Tati Westbrook By by Cydney Contreras 3:34 PM Share Email Tara Ziemba/WireImage; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
It’s the feud the beauty community never saw coming: James Charles and Tati Westbrook are no longer friends.
After weeks of drama and speculation, Tati released a 43-minute video expressing the hurt and dismay she felt over James Charles’ recent actions. Fans are in shock over the dramatic fallout since the gurus are two prominent members of the beauty community who frequently collaborated on videos and appeared to be close.
For those who are unaware of the ongoing drama, here’s what you need to know: On April 22, James ignited backlash with his Instagram Story promoting Sugar Bear Hair Care vitamins, which is a competitor to Tati’s hair supplement company, Halo Beauty. Tati, who James has heralded as his mentor, then shared on Instagram that she felt “betrayed” and “lost” amidst the controversy. She never specifically mentioned the individual who “used” her, but people were able to put two and two together. Read
Kim Kardashian Gets a “Beauty Battle” Makeover From James Charles and Mario Dedivanovic
James, who has over 16-million followers on YouTube, later apologized to Tati in a tearful Instagram video. “I want to publicly apologize to my close friend, Tati,” the 19-year-old explained, according to Newsweek . “She has been like a mother to me since my first days in this industry and has given me more love, support, resources and advice than I could ever ask for.”
He added, “This weekend I did an Instagram story for sleep vitamins that I’ve been taking because the brand helped me with security when the crowd around me at Coachella became unsafe. I did not accept any money from this post.”
Charles went on to say that he didn’t think of the consequences of his actions. In her video, Tati alleges James Charles is lying about the reasons behind his sponsored post.
James’ tearful apology and Tati’s subsequent silence on the topic was dramatic enough, but fellow YouTuber Gabriel Zamora took it up a notch by calling out Tati for her “fraudulent behavior.” Gabriel said , “All these videos are being made where James is being made out to be this horrible human being and i’m just confused as to what happened.” Zamora explained that he doesn’t see any wrongdoing on James’ behalf and Tati was making it a big deal in the name of self-promotion. John Shearer/Getty Images
This seemed to be Tati’s boiling point, because she is now sharing her side of the story in a video titled, “Bye Sister,” on YouTube. “This is going to be intense, different and this is absolutely not a video I ever thought, in a million years that I would be making,” she starts. “But I feel, after a lot of thought, that it’s necessary for me to have a chat with you guys.”
In summary, Tati explains that she has always supported and promoted James Charles without the expectation of anything in return. “My relationship with James Charles is not transactional. I have not asked him for a penny, I have never been on his Instagram,” she says.
On the other hand, Tati claims to have arranged brand deals, contracts and various other opportunities for him because she wants “to see people grow and step into themselves.” Her efforts were also aided by her husband James Westbrook , who she feels Charles also disrespected.
Among the many reasons that she is cutting ties with James is her belief that he is ungrateful for the opportunities he has been given and perceived unwillingness to help others. “How entitled do you have to be to think that you have it rough? You are a 19-year-old millionaire. You do not get to wake up and stress out about how unfair your job is. That is so ridiculous to me,” she vents. “Get off your high horse and have some respect. You don’t have any for the people who are in this industry and that’s the sad fact.”
She also seems to take issue with the fact that she would frequently have him as a guest on her channel, which boasts over six-million followers, but he rarely invited her to his.

What Happens When A Happily Married (Heterosexual) Mom Falls In Love With A Woman? This

Jennifer Vaughn Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn
I believe in true, unconditional love, and I do not put limits on love. Instead I allow love to be expansive. This is my story of how a girl met a boy, they fell in love, then shared their love and traveled off into an unconventional, happy life.
Have you ever met someone and your souls just kind of sigh and say, “Oh there you are?” For me, that moment happened on an otherwise ordinary day in January two years ago. What started out as such a normal errand changed my life forever. I walked into a beauty supply store to buy shampoo and met an amazing woman who I knew instantly would be part of my life. When we spoke, it was like we had known each other for years. I wasn’t sure how, or why this happened, but I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. This unexpected conversation with a beautiful soul flowed as naturally as breathing. I was coming undone before I even had a chance to realize it.
Then just as I was starting to wonder if she was just great at her job, or a generally friendly person, she gave me her number. A million thoughts raced through my mind as I walked back out into the cold, but I honestly didn’t even feel the chill. I was so lost in my thoughts of her, wondering if we were flirting, if she was gay, or if maybe I just made a new best friend. Having just recently celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary with my husband, my life was pretty typical for a thirty something, suburban mom.
That chance meeting, with my now girlfriend, turned my world upside down, and expanded my world, mind, and heart all at the same time. I always had an attraction to women, but other than a couple of secret encounters in my younger days, I never pursued a relationship with a woman. I am also very attracted to men and am so deeply in love with my husband that I never thought to question those past desires. I never really chose to be gay or straight, I just chose to be the kind of happy I was raised to want.
I spent a large portion of my adult life involved in the Pentecostal church. Religion always taught me that love is only acceptable between a man and a woman and that we marry one person forever. As a result, I lived my life in a very small, safe box, making my happiness fit inside those four walls. I spent many years afraid to live too big, or too loud, or to stand out from all the other God-fearing people around me. I wanted to fit in that box so badly that I strived to make my seemingly perfect marriage and family be something to be admired. Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn
I was at a place in my life where I cared more about appearances than I did actual happiness. I was burnt out, my husband was exhausted, and our friend circle was shallow and fake. When I met her I realized I wanted to get to know someone who was unlike anyone else around me. She would not have fit in at church or my PTO meetings. Here’s why: she didn’t care what other people thought. She was not judgmental or impressed by things that don’t really matter like appearances. She wanted to know my secrets and my dreams. She wanted to talk about uncomfortable things, and she made me feel safe to be myself.
I introduced her to my husband pretty quickly. I still had no idea where my relationship with her was going or what we were doing. At the same time, she had ignited a fire within me that glowed so brightly my husband approached me and let me know that he thought we may have deeper feelings for one another than just friends. He was right, and it is impossible to even tell you when it had shifted. It was like a storm after a draught. He told me that he wasn’t upset, and that maybe we could talk about having a different kind of marriage.
It all seemed so outlandish to me at first, and I love him with every fiber of my being, even though I was the one who met someone that sparked new feelings inside me. I was terrified of doing anything that might cause trouble in our marriage. My mind was almost closed off to the idea that I could truly love more than one person. This idea that love is an emotion that can and should only be felt between two people was so engrained in me I couldn’t fathom sharing love with anyone besides my husband. I thought I would be shunned by everyone around me. I worried I would upset my children. Worse yet, I feared being punished by God.
I did a lot of soul searching over those next few months. Even though we were all still in the closet, my girlfriend began spending time with our family and some of our friends. I just told everyone she was my best friend for a long time. We realized that we were all truly happy sharing our lives. I was, in fact irrevocably in love with two people. We all love and respect one another. I didn’t just step outside of the box that religion kept me in for many years, I stripped all the preprogramed ideas out of my head. Once I opened my mind and my heart to both of them, I realized that while my happiness may not look like everyone else’s happiness, it is real! It is priceless, and it is uniquely mine, and I would not trade a second of it for anything else in the world.
As a polyamorous family, we deal with all the same complications people in monogamous relationships deal with. We also have a few challenges that are more specific to nonmonogamy. However, if you strip away all the rest, our relationship is based on consent, family, consideration of each other, open communication, respect, and honesty. We all “came out” as polyamorous in October. While that rocked my quiet, conservative, religious little southern town, I don’t regret it.
My children are happy, and they are loved. Not only by the traditional mother and father figure, but they have an extra parent to love them now too. My oldest son, who is 19 said “Mom, my generation is very different from yours. We are all really openminded, and if you’re happy and you’re all good, then I’m happy and I’m good!” That gave me so much hope that the world really is a better place for my children than it was for me growing up. Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn
Our love, and our joy, was just too beautiful to be hidden in a closet any more. When we came out , we did it very publicly. I blogged about it and I shared that blog post on social media. Yes, that is as scary as it sounds. I bare my soul for the world, but I wouldn’t go back and do it any other way. I have been overwhelmed by the love and support that we all received. I have found out who my true friends are, and I’ve made so many new ones! We have all gained much more than we lost. Dozens of people reached out to me through social media about their polyamorous relationships . I have become a secret keeper for friends and strangers alike. Most of these people are desperately looking for examples of healthy non-monogamous relationships, because there aren’t many public examples.
Often people in relationships like ours keep them private out of fear for their reputations, careers, and children, of all parties involved. I want to stand in my truth though, not only for myself, but also for everyone living in fear. I want to be an example of a healthy, happy, unconventional family filled with love. I hope to help normalize polyamory and demystify it, especially in areas like where I live.
Through this experience we have begun to embrace all different types of love, religion, and lifestyles. We are unconventional and we love in a way that pushes boundaries and extends beyond our family, Nonmonogamy is not dangerous, it’s just different. Everyone has the capacity to love limitlessly, the only limits to the heart is the mind. My husband is still my best friend. I’m just lucky enough to have more than one best friend, and I choose to fall in love over and over again every day.

RA: The Japanese reissue phenomenon: a view from the inside

Features The Japanese reissue phenomenon: a view from the inside Outside interest in decades-old Japanese music has skyrocketed in recent years. What do music heads inside Japan think about this trend? Daisuke Ito investigates. Vintage Japanese music has its own term in Japan: wamono . Labels from across the US and Europe have reissued dozens of wamono records in the past five or so years, with a particular focus on 1980s ambient, new age and experimental music from artists like Midori Takada, Yasuaki Shimizu and Hiroshi Yoshimura. While ambient has been the focus, recent interest in Japanese electronic music from decades past has also stretched to boogie (Minako Yoshida), house (Soichi Terada) and techno (Shinichi Atobe). Labels continue to reissue Japanese gems, many of which fetch high prices on Discogs. The trend seems likely to continue. Most of this hype, though, is from the perspective of outsiders looking in. Here in Japan, the re-evaluation of this music has been happening for a while now. In the early ’80s, comic artist Takashi Nemoto and music critic Manabu Yuasa started reissuing a slew of obscure, out-of-print kayo kyoku (old Japanese pop) records as part of the influential Maboroshi No Meiban Kaihou Doumei (which roughly translates to “The Forgotten Classics Liberation Alliance”) project. This, along with the UK’s rare groove movement, which arrived in Japan in the ’90s, sparked an appreciation for domestic rarities among Japanese listeners that continues today. In order to see the bigger picture of the current wamono movement, we need to take a look at what led to it. For that reason, I decided to talk to four key figures in the scene—Chintam, Chee Shimizu, Toshiya Kawasaki and Ken Hidaka—to shed light on what led to this wamono explosion, explore what this worldwide fascination means for Japan, and find out how it’s affecting music scenes here. The word wamono has been in use among record collectors and enthusiasts in Japan for a while now. But the word didn’t become common vernacular among club music fans until 2015, when the widely popular book, Wamono A To Z Japanese Groove Disc Guide , was published. The co-author of the book, Chintam, has worked as a record buyer for many record shops, and is currently the owner of Blow Up, a record store in Shibuya that specializes in genres like soul, funk, jazz—and wamono . He’s also a regular DJ at GroovyWamonoSummit, a party that focuses on Japanese music, and has been involved with reissue projects under the Wamono A To Z banner (such as the reissue series, Wamono A To Z Presents Groovy Wamono Summit With Victor And Columbia ). In the book and in his sets, Chintam delves into a variety of Japanese records, with a focus on groovy, danceable rhythms. As someone who’s been involved in Tokyo’s record digging scene for over two decades now, he’s the perfect person to ask about wamono ‘s evolution. “Up until the mid-’90s, there was no such concept of wamono ,” he said. “Being a DJ, I did own some Japanese records, but playing Japanese music in DJ sets was almost taboo. The rare groove scene that started gaining popularity in the late ’80s and early ’90s made it somewhat OK. Compilations from countries like the UK included Japanese music with American soul music influences―like stuff by Kimiko Kasai and Minako Yoshida―and we got reacquainted with domestic music in that way. “Back then, when I would go overseas to buy records, I’d bring Japanese records with crazy drum breaks in them to give to, or trade records with, the buyers in the shop, in exchange for info. But personally, I wasn’t into wamono stuff very much at that point. But around 1999, I got bored of listening to foreign music, and started wanting something different. I started looking for funky Japanese records in the context of the rare groove movement. Those records were cheap back then so I was able to buy a lot of records just to check them out. I would find stuff that made me go, ‘Wow, this is like that one song, and it’s crazy! Wow this is a cover of that song!’ I discovered great stuff. It was refreshing for me, and I started collecting them for the purpose of listening more than playing in sets.” Since wamono simply means “old Japanese music,” the word can encompass a wide variety of genres and styles. There are many DJs and collectors that became fascinated with wamono from the funk, disco and soul perspective like Chintam did. Before that, there were enthusiasts collecting expensive ’50s and ’60s “group sounds” (British-Invasion-era Japanese rock) and swing jazz records. Chintam tells me that a “major turning point for the wamono scene” came around 2000, when many record diggers and DJs in Japan started digging for domestic funk and jazz funk records. Producer Yuji Ohno’s work, like Hatsumi Shibata’s album Singer Lady (reissued in 2008) and Lupin The Third soundtracks, were among the favorites. Besides digging for used vinyl, fans enjoyed wamono -related releases like Samurai-Era , the 1999 Japanese jazz compilation compiled by Kaoru Inoue (which is what got Mule Musiq’s head Toshiya Kawasaki into wamono ), and the Nippon Breaks & Beats mix series by DJ Muro’s alter ego DJ XXXL, which collected drum breaks from Japanese records. “I started noticing people overseas collecting wamono records around 2008 or so,” recalled Chintam. “I was selling records from an online shop back then and there were people from other countries that would send me record titles in kanji. Dimitri From Paris was looking for Japanese boogie and DJ Spinna asked for Japanese fusion for sampling. First, it was the artists and DJs that showed interest, and then the general music fans started getting into it, I think because Japanese sellers started selling records on Discogs, and Japanese records started popping up on popular DJs’ mixes.” It’s now common to find house and disco DJs regularly dropping groovy Japanese cuts in their sets. Many producers see Japanese music as opportunity for finding untapped sampling sources. “For those outside of Japan, wamono is rare groove,” Chintam said. Paradoxically, the UK’s rare groove culture ignited interest among Japanese listeners to rediscover their home country’s musical past. “For us Japanese people, if there’s one thing that was difficult with wamono it’s that, because we understand the lyrics, it felt kind of weird to hear it on the dance floor at first,” said Chintam. “DJs hesitated to play it at first. I’m sure that’s why it used to be taboo. The music is straight-up boogie, but because the lyrics are in Japanese, people were like, ‘Wait, is it OK to dance to this?'” These days in the wamono scene, Japanese boogie and disco fever has cooled down, the revival of city pop (a loose term for Japanese soft rock from the late ’70s) is past its peak, and ’80s fusion and New Jack Swing is becoming the next hot thing. Because everybody looked for Japanese disco, boogie and funk records, stores ran out of stock and prices skyrocketed. Fusion records, on the other hand, are still relatively cheap, and have a different feel to them musically. Jay Worthy & The Alchemist’s Fantasy Island is an example of a project that made liberal use of city pop and Japanese fusion samples. “The album uses the kind of refined, sparkly sounds used in Junko Ohashi and Toshiyuki Honda’s music,” said Chintam. “That sort of music has a distinct Japanese feel in the melody and choice of sounds. I think that’s what intrigues people in other countries. Japanese boogie records are all just expensive and city pop is a little overhyped by now. I feel like in the past decade, wamono ‘s most accessible parts have been dug out. What I focus on now is Japanese fusion and Minyo (traditional Japanese folk music). I used to buy that kind of music for sampling reasons but recently I’ve realized the music is just as fun to listen to and dance to. There’s something about the melody that sounds good to the Japanese ear. It’s still cheap, and there are still so many out there, so it’s worth exploring.” The rediscovery of groovy Japanese classics sparked by UK rare groove, as Chintam described, is the main wave of the current wamono movement inside Japan. On the outside, international labels have reissued a variety of Japanese records including disco, new age and ambient in recent years. Ken Hidaka works as a coordinator that handles deals between Japanese and overseas labels. He also curates projects and manages Midori Takada, one of the artists enjoying a newfound success thanks to wamono ‘s popularity. He said he discovered international demand for wamono six years ago, and was taken aback by it. “In Midori’s case, her album Through The Looking Glass was on YouTube and had close to one million views. I met her before the reissue, and after the reissue came out in 2017 it had almost double the views. There’s a number of unofficial uploads of rare music on YouTube that sometimes garner incredible view counts. Scenery by Ryo Fukui that We Release Jazz reissued has eight million views.” When licensing reissues, Hidaka sometimes hires Japanese writers to write liner notes to make sure the information is accurate. “When we did Through The Looking Glass with Palto Flats and We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want, we asked the writer Masaaki Hara, and when we did Colored Music’s Colored Music we got Chee Shimizu to write liner notes in Japanese, which then got translated in English. The liner notes I see in reissues written by foreign writers sometimes read like it was based more on fantasy than research. I wanted to make sure we provided real information.” Hidaka said there is a “massive” list of records labels they want to reissue, but the process is slow and labor-intensive. It often takes a long time to get permission from the Japanese major labels that originally released many of the most sought-after titles, and requests are often rejected. “When you’re talking about digging up rare records, I feel like it’s hard finding anything new anymore,” said Hidaka, “but when you’re talking about re-releasing important works to be consumed by a bigger audience, there are still many titles that need to be out there. Kimiko Kasai’s Butterfly is owned by Sony Music, which is notorious for being difficult with reissue licensing, but Be With Records were able to put it out after a few years of negotiation. There’s a good chance we’ll be seeing a lot more reissues in the future. ” While a lot of the reissues are led by international labels, Mule Musiq is one Japanese label that’s stepped up to the task. Owner Toshiya Kawasaki launched wamono -focused sub-label Studio Mule in 2017 and released a roundup of domestic disco and boogie called Midnight In Tokyo Vol. 1 . He’s since taken on interesting projects like jazz pianist Fumio Itabashi’s 1982 masterpiece Watarase and a cover album full of classic Japanese material. “The reason I started the sub-label is simply because I didn’t want foreign labels to take all the great music,” Kawasaki said. “Right now, Tower Records, HMV and Japanese record labels are all doing reissue projects but often the distribution is limited to the domestic market. And I feel it’s not promoted properly. I felt that with Mule Musiq I could introduce the music to a global audience. Also, any label can get licensing and just reissue an album, but I wanted to figure out what the next step for the wamono scene should be. In order to overcome the time-consuming licensing process and the potential risk, I realized that we could just do covers instead. That’s how Studio Mule’s cover project started.” This project enlists people like producer Kuniyuki Takahashi and Dip In The Pool’s vocalist Miyako Koda among others, covering tracks like “Carnaval” by Taeko Ohnuki and Mariah’s “Shinzo No Tobira.” Following a few singles, they’ve released an album of covers entitled BGM . Kawasaki’s also released re-recorded versions of albums from the jazz bassist Motohiko Hamase called Intaglio and Reminiscence . “Musicians generally like to see their music re-released and accessible to the world,” Kawasaki said. “I’m disappointed when labels are reluctant to make that happen. Music is supposed to be listened to and a lot of listeners want to be able to hear music they otherwise can’t get. And the best thing for us diggers to do is to introduce the records out there that are still cheap but are not very well-known to a wider audience. I feel like reissues of wamono should focus on that as well. Studio Mule’s compilations do feature some rare tracks, but we also highlight cheaper records that anyone can buy for 1000 yen.” Like Chintam, Kawasaki rediscovered Japanese music through UK rare groove. But Mule Musiq’s wamono releases tend to have a distinct edginess that’s carving out a niche in the wamono landscape. Kawasaki said he sees a difference in the kind of wamono that’s popular overseas and inside the country. “The new age and ambient kind of wamono is something that’s bigger in Europe, while in Japan light, mellow city pop is more popular. Music From Memory was on it pretty early [with Kuniyuki Takahashi and Dip In The Pool] and then other people started getting into it and discovered there’s some great stuff. So, in that sense I feel like the wamono scene abroad is not necessary about looking at it from a dance music perspective. Also, right now 12-inches are getting more expensive, and the kind of records that sell are more like LPs for home listening. With that in mind, the kind that we focus on in Japan is not too wamono -esque, not too new age, but something that can be a part of a dance music context.” Kawasaki’s releases feel different than the wamono reissues international labels tend to do, but also stand apart from the popular sounds of the Japanese wamono scene. Another person I talked to was Chee Shimizu, DJ, noted digger and owner of online record shop Organic Music. In 2013 he published a book titled Obscure Sound , which highlighted masterpieces and rarities like Gigi Masin’s work, which Music From Memory later reissued, and Tadanori Yokoo and Haruomi Hosono’s Cochin Moon . The knowledge he shared with friends in Amsterdam at Music From Memory and Red Light Records was particularly important to the wamono movement. “I met them through DJing, but we all started listening to non-dance music,” Shimizu explained. “We’d listen to anything, regardless of genre. It wasn’t chill, it wasn’t dance but we’d play it in our sets. We’d call it ‘listening music’ and we’d share stuff we found in that vein with each other. Back then when I DJ’d I wasn’t playing Japanese stuff, but they told me, ‘I’m sure there’s stuff like this in Japan too. Could you bring it next time you come here?’ So I started looking for this kind of stuff in Japan. That was like eight years ago. I’d hit up record stores in the Kanto region with [fellow digger] Dubby and pick up Japanese ambient and new age records that were being sold at a few hundred yen at the time. I hadn’t really been paying attention to much Japanese music until then so it was refreshing. I found some stuff that could be played as part of that ‘listening’ sound so I’d take them to Amsterdam and trade them for other records. I think those records that Dubby and I brought were one of the reasons why European labels became fascinated with Japanese ambient and new age. Of course, it didn’t happen right away and it took a while for that sound to catch on, but I wasn’t really trying to make it a trend or anything. I was just sharing music with friends.” Chee Shimizu played an important role in bringing vintage Japanese electronic music to the attention of European labels. Along with ambient and new age records, Shimizu also brought city pop to Amsterdam, but the record they latched onto was Mariah’s Utakata No Hibi . Shimizu has since worked with Nippon Columbia’s subsidiary Better Days to write the liner notes to the reissue of the Mariah album, and has worked on a related compilation . He also launched a reissue label called Japanism with HMV Record Shop and has explored Balearic sounds in Japanese music by putting out releases like a re-edit of a 7-inch by Colored Music , their unreleased second album Individual Beauty , and reissues of solo albums by Mariah’s Yasuaki Shimizu. This strain of wamono is stylistically different from the kind Chintam and Kawasaki have introduced to the world, and holds significant influence in the global movement. Shimizu is supportive of overseas labels embracing wamono . “In [Mental Groove owner] Olivier Ducret’s case, he is a music fanatic and he’s done reissues of jazz and a lot of different records, so I think it was just that Japanese music happened to be one of his many interests,” he said. “It’s not that they did it because it’s trendy right now, but because the music resonated with them. Olivier and Music From Memory are great because they introduce old forgotten music alongside new music. Younger listeners can see the connection between the old and the new, regardless of genres. I don’t think that ever happened before.” The kind of labels he’s talking about have a reputation for digging up forgotten records and presenting them in a new context. You can connect the musical dots of the releases Music From Memory puts out, from the standout Brazilian electronic music compilation Outro Tempo to Dip In The Pool to Kuniyuki Takahashi. The releases Shimizu puts out through Japanism and Better Days are geared for the domestic market, which is “a dilemma,” Shimizu said. “The labels I work with distribute within Japan only, so if I take the records abroad the prices have to go up. I’d rather see labels overseas do their own licensing deal and get these records distributed properly so that people outside of Japan can listen to them. It might be weird coming from somebody that sells used records, but it’s not right if reissues get a premium price tag in such a short period of time instead of the original. I think it’s up to the people making these records to consider the average consumers and do what’s right.” Shimizu said he “never thought that wamono ‘s popularity would continue this long.” He’s helped make Balearic/cosmic wamono popular but said he’s not too excited about that particular style anymore. Right now he’s enjoying kayo kyoku (old pop) and traditional Japanese music because he “can buy these for reasonable prices at records shops.” New age and ambient records have gone up in price and for record diggers who are always in search of music they’ve never heard of, the sound may have lost its appeal. But for Shimizu, it was befriending musicians like Yasuaki Shimizu and Colored Music when he was working with them for the reissue projects that opened him up to kayo kyoku and traditional music. “When I listen to Yasuaki Shimizu, I notice there is a distinctly Japanese feel in his music. He told me that a lot of Japanese music has traditionally employed a unique pentatonic scale and that’s where the Japanese feel comes from. After knowing that, I started hearing Mariah’s music differently. They sound like edgy new wave, but I noticed that in the melody and the scale there is a definite Japanese-esque nuance. I started hearing Okinawan music and traditional folk music differently and I realized that’s why I liked the music. And that’s why I got into traditional Japanese music. I’m not looking for nostalgia, I’m listening to this music as something new and fresh.” What Shimizu was describing reminded me of Howard Williams, who DJs under the name Japan Blues and runs his own NTS Radio show . In the show, he introduces the audience to a wide selection of Japan’s music history, from Western-influenced pop, jazz, and dance music to more traditional music. “Howard has been doing that for a long time now and I respect that,” said Shimizu. Whether it’s digging up groovy music inspired by the rare groove movement, or looking at new age and ambient through a Balearic or cosmic lens, or the leftfield way Studio Mule approaches the music, the wamono movement was born out of the desire to discover something fresh. Chintam and Kawasaki both shared the sentiment that ” wamono is the world’s rare groove.” Shimizu said they all feel a similar attachment to the music. “When we listen to wamono , we’re hearing it through years of experience of listening to foreign music, and that has an effect on how we hear it,” said Chintam. “Even though we’re Japanese, we’re listening to it as this special music called wamono , which in itself is interesting.” And there is still so much music to discover. During the economic bubble of the ’80s and ’90s, the music industry in Japan was spending large sums of money on albums and releasing countless records. There is also music that was only distributed in Okinawa, Japanese artists releasing records in the Korean market, and so on. If you know where to look, there’s more treasure to uncover. And as long as record lovers continue their quest to find new wamono from their own distinct perspective, the movement will carry on. “I’m happy that Japanese music is being recognized in the way it is,” Chintam said. ” But I think it’s important that we try and keep it an ongoing movement instead of a passing fad. If we only reissued expensive, rare albums, then the oversupply will drive the prices down and weaken the market and the collectors will lose motivation. I believe that labels and compilation curators need to carefully select what titles to release and record shops need to think hard about what to stock and what sort of price range is the best. We need balance. Records should be fairly priced, and allow the buyer to discover something new. That’s the beauty of record digging.” Words /

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