Last February, I met Toko Yasuda in Tokyo. She is undeniably one of the key figures in the American Indie music scene, having (and have) played in bands such as Blonde Redhead, Enon, The Laps, St.Vincent and PLVS VLTRA as a solo artist, so I was very honoured and happy to get to know this lovely human being. Just like I casually did to Neon Bunny, Baths and Gold Panda, I gave her a disposable camera to freely take pictures of Los Angeles – a place where she bases herself in right now. Here’s what she saw.
We are focusing today on Dublin’s synth-pop duo, SHIPS. A musical project of Simon and Sorca as SHIPS started in 2012. Continously releasing a strong suite of singles since 2012, the duo has finally released their debut album last May, titled Precession. We have spoken to Simon and Sorca about the making of this album and how the concept of the album, which was inspired by what was learnt throughout their life, the past and future.
Interview: SHIPS By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, June 2, 2017
Hello! Very nice to meet you. How’s everything?
Hi, lovely to meet you, everything is well here for us in Dublin. Thanks for inviting us to chat.
We always ask artists this question. Please describe Ships in three words.
Sorca: Hmmm three? I’m not sure I have one that would do, Simon?
Simon: I’ll stick to empirical descriptions, Duo, suffix, journey
What’s the creative role between the two?
We write songs together and sometimes separately, and we record them here at our home, in Dublin.We both like to sing and play different instruments and we like to sit together and share production ideas, then try to make them happen, and we take turns making dinner.
We read that most recording is done in house. What’s your set up?
We have a small studio set up in the attic. It’s cosy, with a big sky light. There are some synthsisers, bass guitars, regular guitars and a few other odds and ends.
The music is recorded and mixed onto a computer and the rest is history.
You have been making music since 2012. How did it all start?
When we met we had an instant connection around our musical loves and we just took it from there. We’ve been writing and preforming together ever since. We’ve put out a few of singles over the years, each quite different, mostly just trying ideas out.
And in May, you have released your debut album. What took you so long?
We just followed the natural course of things, we didn’t rush in, and it happened when it was ready.
‘Precession’ is the name of the album and you said that this album draws inspiration from what you’ve learned in the past and what there is still to learn. Can you tell us why and how you reached to this concept?
Much of our experience of life is rooted in cycles. We are all part of our own set of cycles, from experiences, to emotional cycles and of course, intrinsically tied to the cycles of our planet, our galaxy and our universe. One of the beautiful aspects of experiencing something again and again, is that you get a chance to take with you what you learned from before, and add it to the experience, each time it comes around. Making each personal precession uniquely different, with something new to learn at every moment.
And how is it reflected in the songs featured in the album?
Each song speaks of parts of ourselves that have learned something along the way. They are as much a selection of songs about the self as they are about the experience of being human in general. They kind of speak directly from experience, none are abstract or have storylines, you might say they are upfront and transparant in this way.
I believe that by learning something new, you continue to discover more to learn. Do you agree?
Absolutely! Although at times it might seem daunting that behind every door is another door, it’s also very exciting!
What do you believe in music?
Music is a powerful evoker of emotion that cuts across barriers of language or understanding. Music is for everyone.
What’s next for Ships? Touring Japan anytime soon?
We would love to tour Japan, we’re drawn to your culture’s strong connection with the planet and respect for nature. We’d love to visit and play music there along the way!
Japanese record label Flau has been releasing an array of sensitive, beautiful music for nearly a decade, building a loyal following among discerning listeners in Japan and beyond. Their output ranges from folk and pop to experimental techno, but there is always a delicate sensibility that runs through every record, a quality that characterizes the Flau sound. We talked to Flau owner Yasuhiko Fukuzono about 2016 and where the label might be headed in coming years, on this special year-end interview.
Year End Interview: flau By Alisa Yamasaki, December 31, 2016
What were the most memorable releases to you this year?
Serpentwithfeet left a big impression on me, with both his music and visuals.
In terms of Japanese releases, I listened to Little Museum of Bird, Asa-Chang & Junray and Theater 1. For overseas releases, I listened to Lee Lang and Beatrice Dillon a lot.
What about Flau releases?
At the end of last year, we released two albums (Ocean and Farewell) from the Taiwanese ensemble Cicada, and did a Japanese tour as well. The first release from Flau this year was by Port St. Willow, a singer-songwriter from New York. We couldn’t do a concert here, but he visited several times and we caught up. He told me all about gentrification, Donald Trump and moving to a suburb up North with friends. I helped with the BRRWD compilation, the project between Repeat Pattern and Ta-ku, as well as Submerse’s zine. We also had releases by Submerse, Fabio Caramuru and Molnbar av John. I really want Caramuru and av John to tour Japan next year. For reissues, we had Robert Lippok from Raum and MOTORO FAAM from Flau.
Were there any standout moments for the label this year? What were some new discoveries as a label owner?
We actually had the fewest releases and tours this year, but there were also a lot of interesting experiences through overseas festival bookings and compilations. There seems to be more of a focus on “Cool Japan” music at festivals overseas, and I had to think of how Flau as a label should be involved in that scene. These days I’m interested in how to support the growth of artists who’ve released on my label.
What are some labels you’ve been checking out recently?
I like to discover new labels through Bandcamp and SoundCloud and immediately download music, but I tend to forget to follow up on the labels. I always check out labels that Flau has a close relationship with. Sweet Dreams Press is a label that continues to inspire me.
There are countless microgenres in Tokyo alone. Are there any trends that have caught your attention in the Japanese music scene?
I’m not sure if it counts as a microgenre but I’m interested in local communities that aren’t visible through the internet. Shifts in styles and attitudes among groups are fascinating to me in general.
Flau has impacted the Japanese music scene not only through its releases, but also through its events. How do you approach event curation? What do you have in mind when showcasing live music?
With our regular event Foundland, I do think about how to create a relaxing environment for music. I want to keep throwing events that have the music front and center, not as background music.
What makes you want to release an artist’s music on Flau? Have there been any changes in the “Flau sound” over the years?
I used to only look at completed projects, but these days I’m moved by unfinished work as long as the artist’s personality shows through. I enjoy the process that begins there, thinking with the artists on how to present the project and how to connect it with the public. The label’s taste has changed since it first started. These days I want to release music by artists from Japan and Asia.
What makes Flau special is not only the style of music, but an entire personality created through the record artwork as well. Do you decide on the artwork? Is looking for good art like looking for good music?
I usually choose the artwork but sometimes the artists have requests too. I try to incorporate artwork that reflects the label’s style. I tend to rely on my instincts but I trust Ryuto Miyake who drew the Flau cat. I ask him to do a lot of artwork for the label. It’s the same for music, but I like art that doesn’t try to be weird or edgy for the sake of it, and has a classy aspect to it. A playful spirit is always great.
Do you think 2016 was a good year for Japanese artists abroad?
There are plenty of Japanese artists who do well in alternative scenes abroad, but these days I feel like major Japanese artists are also breaking through. With the internet it’s become so easy to trace what influenced today’s music scene, so in that sense I think a lot of older Japanese ambient and New Age records are going to be talked about again.
What are your goals for 2017 as a label?
We already have a lot of releases lined up for next year, like records by British harpist Emma Gatrill, a collaboration between Tomo Akikawabaya’s project The Future Eve and Robert Wyatt, as well as new projects by Noah and Henning Schmiedt. As I mentioned earlier, I want to focus more on small, local communities. You’ll be seeing more releases by Japanese artists.
Flau is turning 10 years old next year. How does it feel?
I want to use this upcoming year wisely so there will be a 20 year anniversary to celebrate in the future. I’m constantly looking for new talent, so please send me demos!
The time is ripe. Coule be too late. I don’t care. Here’s my favourite albums and EPs of this year. The above fantastic and dashing logo is made by a very talented designer friend Kana Saechout. Thanks!
1. Fantôme – Utada Hikaru
2. Hopelessness – Anohni
3. TheHope Six Demolition Project – PJ Harvey
4. Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
5. Love Streams – Tim Hecker
6. Blisters EP – Serpentwithfeet
7. Boy King – Wild Beats
8. James Blake – The Colour in Anything
9. Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
10. Viet Rose EP – Lanks
11. Sirens – Nicholas Jaar
12. Before the Dawn – Kate Bush
13. A Seat At The Table – Solange
14. You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen
15. Take Her Up To Monto – Roisin Murphy
16. Blackstar – David Bowie
17. Ultimate Lounge – Semi Precious
18. Oh No – Jessy Lanza
19. Advancement – Solar Bears
20. My Woman – Angel Olsen
21. Redemption – Dawn Richard
22. Freetown Sound – Blood Orange
23. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine – Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
24. Puberty 2 – Mitsuki
25. 22, a Million – Bon Iver
26. Big Black Coat – Junior Boys
27. Syncope – Port St. Willow
28. The Bride – Bat For Lashes
29. 1 Of 1 – SHINee
30. One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore – Slow Club
31. Third Law – Roly Porter
32. Heart Like a Levee – Hiss Golden Messenger
33. We Move – James Vincent McMorrow
34. Strangers – Marissa Nadler
35. Good Luck and Do Your Best – Gold Panda
36. You Know What It’s Like – Carla Del Forno
37. Stranger Things Original Soundtrack Vol.1 – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
38. For Those Of You Who Never Have (And Those Who Have) – Huerco. S
LANKS doesn’t need a label to help make rules. Neither did he need lots of money to create art. He collaborates with friends and family. He believes in people who believe in music. His third EP Viet Rose, which he co-produced with Andrei Eremin, is the absolute proof. The lead singles, “Golden Age” and “Holla” are emotional and experimental take on pop music, while hypnotic “Sometimes” takes hints from the likes of Vaporwave. The final song “Kyneton” may remind listeners of Radiohead ballads; bleak, ghostly, and poignant. Viet Rose, which is named after his favourite Laksa restaurant in Melbourne, is a wonderful representation of who LANKS is, and arguably the best.
Lights + Music sent this Melbourne-based artist a bunch of questions to find out who he is, how he challenges himself on creativity, the making of his new EP, and what he would do to a penguin in a fridge.
Interview: LANKS By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, October 16, 2016
So, who is Lanks?
LANKS is me. It is my current artistic journey and persona. Some people don’t even know my real name anymore, and this really does feel more like me now. In real life I try to be balanced and level-headed but with LANKS I try to dive deep into my thoughts and emotions.
What songs best describe your personality?
Of my own songs I think Holla is probably the best showcase of me. Emotional and uplifting and there are lots of layers and sections and ideas that all converge to make one big interesting mess. I think that’s me. If I’m looking at other people’s work, I’m not sure, maybe ‘You And Whose Army?’ off Radiohead’s Amnesiac. I like questioning accepted norms and trying to break them, and I think that carries that message a bit.
Have you always been a musical kid since you were growing up?
My older sister and I learned music together from a pretty young age (she played Trombone/keys and I played flute/guitar) and were always playing music together, and even went on to study jazz at the Victorian College of the Arts. So music has always been in the family, jamming out all together and being introduced to the fun and creative side of music first and foremost. My cousin is also a musician, making music under the name Ry X (also in The Acid and Howling).
How old were you when you put your own song online for the first time? Do you remember what it sounded like?
I was always making things, as soon as I picked up an instrument I like creating. I still remember how to play the first full song I wrote when I was 12. I’m not sure if that was the first song I uploaded or not, but I had a bunch of songs I uploaded to myspace as a teenager, and across a few different random soundcloud accounts I probably have a hundred or so random songs and ideas still live on the internet.
Living in Tokyo, it is difficult to see what is actually happening in Melbourne! What is the music scene/community like in Melbourne?
The music scene here is amazing! It feels like there are lots of supportive people and talented creative people all working hard and growing together. Seriously, check out Kllo, Hayden Calnin, Woodes, Big Scary, Andrei Eremin just to name a few. There are lots of people pushing interesting and creative music here, and they are all starting to really impress on the world stage so it’s an exciting time coming up I feel.
I read that you have a home studio. What is your setup like?
It’s pretty minimal and I would like to invest in a few more pieces soon, but I am also a fan of working with restrictions. I have a piano, a guitar, a flute, a mic and a laptop. I only have one plugin right now. It’s been fun making 3 EPs with this same setup, it forces you to be creative when you don’t have a lot. Working with Andrei Eremin on co-production and mixing/mastering helped me bring the songs out and develop them the extra bit they needed though.
How often do you write songs?
I try to write as close to everyday as I can. While on tour I have been writing a little bit less but still making things. I hit road blocks all the time but laziness doesn’t solve problems. A thoughtful, open-eyed, and self-questioning approach is best I find.
When there are too many or too little ideas and you are hitting a creative wall, what do you do to break it?
Creativity and songwriting is all about problem solving, and the longer you stand still for the more you get attached to what was there also. I think my creations have become a lot better the more I have learned to open up a song again and continue developing it. If you sit down and are prepared to spend hours on it and it’s not waste if you don’t use any of those ideas you just came up with, then you’ll be ok. It takes a long time to make something that you are really excited about I think, so devote lots of time to exploring.
More specifically, if you do get stuck, you can also try going for a walk, writing with a different instrument, introducing chance (write notes on pieces of paper and draw them out of a hat or roll a dice), forcing yourself to play on only one string on the guitar or only 2 fingers on the piano, etc etc. Essentially what you’re trying to do is break your natural patterns that your brain wants to walk down. Get out of your comfort zone, the possibilities are endless.
Acoustic and electronic instruments are mixed really nicely in your music. Instrumentation wise, how do you approach songwriting?
I just make sounds with whatever I have around me and that shapes the songs and sonic palette. I love playing piano and I have been playing guitar most of my life, as well as flute, so I experiment a lot with those. I like making sounds that sound unusual to me. That’s what I am always hunting for, something that excites my ear. And the process of creating songs with computers is like weaving a tapestry and takes a lot of time. I really enjoy the process of making things.
Your grandmother is providing you some of the artworks for your recent releases. How did this collaboration happen?
My grandma is a fantastic visual artist and after she designed a tattoo for my sister’s 21st I think there was always an idea in the back of my mind to collaborate with her at some point. My best friend and housemate Will Devereux had done all my cover art up until this year and all my design work, so it was nice to get him to work with my grandma and with her illustrations Will manipulated them a bit and brought a little extra to them also, a bit like a mixing engineer actually. I’ve always been a big fan of my grandma’s work and it has been a real joy to share in this experience with her. No matter what happens with my artistic journey, collaboration with my friends and family will always be a huge part of it, and I’m having so much fun making things with such amazing people.
What’s the meaning behind the EP title, Viet Rose? What does the title entail?
Viet Rose is the name of my favourite laksa restaurant in Melbourne. I live very close to it (too close) and it summed up the past year of my life. Their $10 vegetarian laksa kept me alive. I am a 100% independent artist, which has been a challenge with doing lots of support tours and making 3 EPs in 2 years, but ultimately it means I can release the sort of music I want to and I’ve learned so much doing that. If I release music through a label soon I know why and I know the reasons I would be doing that now, and that is a great thing to learn.
What is it like working with Andre Eremin?
It’s incredible. We both love food, which is the first and most important requirement. And he just has such incredible maturity and skill that he brings to music. It took me a while to find someone who really got what I was trying to do, and isn’t afraid to challenge me on ideas. But importantly, someone that I trust when he does that. This latest EP in particular would not have reached the level it got to without him, and the world will know soon how amazing Andrei is. I’m excited to continue exploring with him.
I noticed that you are an active SNS user (on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter). Do they help you interact more with your fans?
Yes. So much! I make friends with my fans. And through social media we can hang and stay in touch and live our lives together. Social media has downsides, I know, but the upsides are incredible. They take away some of those middle-men that used to control your channels to your fans also. Now it just comes down to you and the challenge is can you engage these people and build some connection with them, just like you would with a song. I think that’s really cool, and the internet has empowered us in that way.
Living in the golden age of advanced technology, everything seems so within reach. Do you feel that how people approach music has changed in a good or a bad way?
I am cynical about technology really changing things. I think humans are pretty much the same, emotional beings that they were before all the advanced technology. What that has brought though is that people can make complete songs in their bedroom, and they have a chance to develop those skills in a quiet, non-confronting environment, especially if they are a bit insecure and want to experiment before they are thrust into a spotlight. But ultimately, there were making people music at home before computers made music, but the biggest change is the channels (social media/soundcloud/the internet) giving these people a way to reach music lovers/listeners with their creations. And you can do it from anywhere in the world.
If you compare your life to a movie title what would it be?
Good Will Hunting – My real name is Will and I am always hunting for more information and knowledge. I really love new experiences and new things are what excite me the most. I don’t see myself as a genius or anything (in case anyone reads into this one too much), I believe in hard work, exploration and patience.
Lastly, if you found a penguin in a fridge, what would you do?
Cuddle it forever.
Irish electronic duo Solar Bears amazed us with their last album, Supermigration with Sci-Fi infused psychedelic electronica. Once again the band is about to wow the listeners with their new album Advancement which will be out March 18 from Sunday Best, a home to their hero David Lynch. Absorbing a various musical elements such as Krautrock, Library music and cinema soundtrack, John Kowalski and Rian Trench build up their unique wall of sound by exploring lights, abstract imageries and textures, as if to take us on a journey to an epic experimental film.
In advance of the album’s release, Lights + Music was given an opportunity to present Solar Bear’s original mixtape Endings are Beginning Mix. Mixing the sounds of lost cinema soundtracks and psychedelic electronica, the band gives hints of what’s to come with this mesmerizing 30 min mix.
Check out the Bears latest single “Man Plus” here. Also read the interview with the band we did in 2012, here.
Dave Sarky – Canadian Colours Theme 4
Aleph – Love Memories
Luis De Pablo – El Espiritu De Colmena
Hudson Mohawke – Kettles
Polish Radio Orchestra – Why Do You Say Goodbye
Eugen Thomass – Regenbogen (Rainbow)
Piero Piccioni – Magic Carillon
Ravi Shankar – Prahjubee
Munju – Moon You II
Hype Williams – Break4love
Francois De Roubauix – Chamonix (Reversed)
Marie Laforet – Pour Celui Qui Viendra
Beaver and Krause – Sanctuary
Mahavishnu Orchestra – Hope
A multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Principe’s solo project Port St. Willow is following up Brian Eno approved masterpiece Holiday from Tokyo’s flau (cuushe, Noah) and People Teeth this month. Inspired by the idea to capture the moments just after an idea is found, his new LP Syncope is build heavily on improvisation. By leaving everything unedited from the recording sessions, it enabled him to capture the unique tension and pure existence of sounds. Closer and closer you listen, you will be sure to discover little things breathing quietly from far away.
Lights and Music spoke to Principe to find out more about the album’s concept, reasons why he was drawn to improvisation and thoughts behind the album title. Make sure to check out the soundcloud widget that contains standout tracks from Syncope.
Interview: Port St. Willow By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, January 29, 2016
How would you describe your style of music in three words?
Melodic, rhythmic, drone.
When did you first decide to pursue in creating music?
I don’t think I ever really decided…it just seems to be the part of my life I keep coming back to no matter how things change. I’ve been playing in some form since I was a child.
What was your first song like?
A saxophone and trumpet duet. It was not very good.
How do you approach music now?
Around the time that I began Port St. Willow, music and noise became very visual for me. I was still interested in writing songs, but I also started to consider the environment in which the songs lived, how to create a path to feel connected to that space.
What was the thought process for the making of Syncope?
I wanted to capture the feeling of opening your eyes and finding that you’ve been severed from yourself, surrounded by the most indifferent and true black you’ve ever seen, and then, after you’ve learned to face that blankness, jumping into the coldest water you’ve ever known.
Syncope was built heavily on improvisation. What is it that attracts you about improvisation?
There is something about the exploring involved…a newness to everything and you have to be present. You become aware of what you’re doing because there’s some sort of danger in that moment…that it might fall apart. When I was working on Syncope I was really drawn to this headspace. There were many things in my life that were taking me away from being present, and working on this record was a way to reset that focus.
One of the focuses on the record is to capture the moments just after an idea is found. What have you learnt from making a record based on this concept?
It’s a very intensive process to work that way. Whether it’s with a band or alone, and I remember feeling completely empty after finishing those sessions.
I feel very connected to these recordings…little things. A drone or a small bell sound, they feel worn in and made in a way that I really love. The slight imperfections that you let stay there unedited because it makes it real to you. I think there’s more of that when you’re capturing the inspiration rather than the best take. It’s quite a hard thing to pin down, but I believe that’s what drew me towards it in the first place.
I am also a big fan of the later Talk Talk records (Spirit of Eden / Laughing Stock) and I drew inspiration from those sessions where they were chasing something very basic and pure, and collecting those sounds.
Can you elaborate on the album title, Syncope? Did this title come from a specific personal experience?
“Syncope” means to faint or suddenly lose consciousness. It both relates to the literal in that someone close to me collapsed and as a result began a very unexpected and difficult period of time, and in the metaphorical in how these things that come out of nowhere can drastically change our sense of reality, and the beauty that you can find in looking into that darkness and laughing.
How do you see the current Brooklyn music scene?
It’s a very hard place to sum up as one scene because there are so many of them. While living there, I’ve met musicians that I admire and believe in, but the lack of affordable space and time keeps many of them from being able to produce the art that I think they could. Some make it work, but others, like myself, only seem to end up writing when they are away from the city.
Lastly what is it that you are most excited about this year?
After many years of moving around, I will have my first home studio since I lived in Oregon back in 2011. Few things can make me as happy.
We, Lights + Music will have a booth at the biggest art book fair in Asia, Tokyo Art Book Fairon September 19. With unique contributors, including Vice-approved designer Ryoma Furutani, up-and-coming artist Cozue and Australia’s Genevieve Harnett, we will be presenting original items such as Beardy T-shirt, uncanny totes, Zines, Mix-CDs, etc… We hope to see you there!
Dates: September 19th (Sat) through 21st (Mon, Holiday), 2015
Venue: Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design GAIEN CAMPUS
1-7-15 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Semi Precious is a musical solo project by a South East London producer Guy Baron. Following the acclaimed self-titled debut EP by such publications as The Guardian, DIY and The Line Of Best Fit, his new Herbert-produced When We Talk EP was released from NX Records in association with Squareglass, in which he is a founding member. His minimalist approach in songwriting succeeds to emphasise beautiful melodies and gorgeous soundscape, helping him to directly address messages that deal with “false honesty and ambiguity in intimacy” to listeners. Through an email interview we asked Baron about minimalism, working with Matthe Herbert and about his own forward-thinking music label, Squareglass.
Focus: Semi Precious
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, August 30, 2015
Please describe yourself in three words.
Experimental bedroom pop.
How did you get about starting to write music?
I’ve been singing for quite a while but only started writing my own tunes a few years ago. I can play basic keyboard and try to do some “traditional” songwriting once every while, but I get bored of it quite easily. In a way I feel that I’ve only started making music once I’ve started experimenting with sampling. When I first started working with samples there was something very intuitive and exciting about the process, which very much triggered my creative flow.
Minimalism is committed to limitations. Your songwriting is evolved around limitations but what attracts you to minimalism?
I struggle when I have too many options to choose from. I think about my compositions as being rather concise and condensed and like it when things evolve in a somewhat “organic” way. It’s kind of like every piece has its own distinct and intrinsic identity. My music also often deals with notions of solitude and alienation and I feel that these sensations are somewhat linked to sparseness and reflectiveness. There’s also something about the fact that I’m composing and recording in my own small bedroom with a very minimal setup – I feel that the music should reflect that in a way, rather than being “big” and in-your-face.
“When We Talk EP” deals with “false honesty”. Can you elaborate on that, and why were you interested in exploring this kind of intimacy?
I feel that passion and intimacy can be quite ambiguous and elusive sensations and I wanted to convey some of the complexities they hold. The EP deals with several kinds of “unfulfilled intimacies” that cannot be realised for all kinds of reasons, such as lack of communication. I personally find inspiration within the unfulfilled, remote and somewhat broken.
What was it like working with Matthew Herbert for the production of this EP?
I’ve been listening to Matthew’s stuff since I was 14 or so. He is a true inspiration for me and I find myself going back to his works over and over again, discovering new layers with every listen. So I felt incredibly privileged and excited to work with him on this release and to see how he approaches mixing and production.
You are also a founder of Squareglass. With so many forward-thinking artists in the roster, what do you think makes Squareglass different from other labels?
To begin with, we’re all very close friends so I feel that this isn’t just a commercial label in the traditional sense of the word. There’s a strong element of mutual trust and we perceive the collective kind of like a “safety-net” – a place that allows us to experiment, stay bold and empower one another (creatively and practically). I think that collectives are particularly relevant for nowadays bedroom producers who work in relatively isolated environments.
Who would you like to collaborate with the most, and why?
I’m really inspired by Burial’s music and would be thrilled to collaborate with him. I think that his latest release Rival Dealer is a true and inspiring masterpiece that in many ways redefines the boundaries of electronic music production.
Finally, what is next for Semi Precious?
Doing more gigs with my band in the next couple months and putting out another, slightly more conceptual and extensive release sometime next year.
It was last April when Tehran born, London based musical producer Ash Koosha mailed us his first mix tape GUUD. Once you hit the play button, it takes you to the dazzing and mezmerlizing unknown world not only to your ears but deep inside your mind. Often drawn comparison to Flying Lotus, his music is genre-bending, playful and unpredictable. Right after the release YouTube’s favourite music critic The Needle Drop gave it a very positive review, as well as America’s experimental music label Olde Spelling English Bee spotted his talent, resulting in the re-release of the mixtape with Name Your Price value. Furthermore Ash Koosha was honourably given a Best New Track by Pitchfork, proving he is most definitely one of the most interesting, exciting new talents to emerge. We have re-approached Ash Koosha again to ask him about his original composition style, Nano-Composition, as well as his working environment and dream collaboration. Feel free to stream the entire GUUD at the end of this interview.
Focus: Ash Koosha
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, July 28, 2015
Please describe your music in your own three words. immersive, supramolecular, blobitecture
You had a classical music training before, but how did you get into making a music with computer? I was fascinated by the form and structure in classical composition as well as its versatile narrative my entire life, but as i grew up listening to more electronic music i felt a need to discover more of the noise and sound design world, so i began playing around with frequencies, trying to compose classically structured pieces using my rather unknown sound discoveries.
What’s your inspiration? The Future. I really like to experience living my ten-years-from-now self in the present.
You are currently based in London. How is the life different from living in Tehran? Environment has a big impact on choices of sound and taste in general, however in my opinion we shape the cities they don’t shape us. So i would say London is another big city with less limits and it’s own characteristics.
It feels like “GUUD” is an album that should be listened as a whole. Also with playful song titles on the album, like Bo Bo Bones and JamJamJam, SlamSlamSlam, is there a certain concept behind this album? Most of the titles are very accidental or just instant images in my head. JamJamJam and SlamSlamSlam are both three-act compositions, the first i was picturing a band from the future jamming in my head and the other i recorded while watching a 3d modelled slam dunk video on loop hence the name SlamSlamSlam.
One thing that I realised going through the album is that there’s a lot of deformation with genres, styles and song structures happening on this record, and you introduced the idea of “Nano-composition” on this album. Can you explain this further? This idea came to me from my obsession with scales of waveforms. I read a lot about nanotechnology and the quantum realm, one day i thought it would be interesting to treat music as matter, creating a space where you can put sounds together as objects. i rigged deep into the grains of samples i recorded and found a lot of random sonic behaviour within the fractal patterns of each waveform taken from the samples. I tried to control the random chaos in the sonic events i created and the result was a long 42 minutes journey i experienced in an unknown world of random sound. As for the genre, i didn’t know what i’m about to experience so i couldn’t think of any forms or structure that existed as a genre of music.
I think there’s a lot of ‘goodness’ in randomness, chance and error, so music shouldn’t be about being good or bad but letting imperfections have an emotional impact.
How did this idea come about?
I always listen to classical music, from Chopin to Wagner, but sometimes i think the frequencies are limited to the instruments that we have known for years. I tried to change that for myself while i was studying in Tehran Conservatory of Music, by sampling sound, putting them on classical form and composition. As i grew older i realised i’m visualising music in my head and i thought it would be fun to discover sound objects that can fit into classical music and have theatrical motion as well as sonic and compositional value. recently learning about Nano technology opened another pathway for me to seek solutions for my futurist problems.
The title of the album “GUUD” means ‘good’, but for you, what is good music? Guud is the imperfect good. I think there’s a lot of ‘goodness’ in randomness, chance and error, so music shouldn’t be about being good or bad but letting imperfections have an emotional impact. If in a moment in time, a sound intensifies an emotion and have an impact then that’s pretty ‘good’.
Who is your dream collaboration? Lars Von Trier
What’s next for Ash Koosha? I’ll be finishing new material through which I want to further develop the idea of nano-composition and phenomenology of musical experience.