Interviewed by Zoomin’ Night
by Zhu Wenbo and Zhu Songjie 2020/5/18
1．Maybe you could introduce yourself first. How old are you? When did you start playing guitar, and when did you start playing this kind of music? I mean, quiet, with blank and some special skills, beautiful improvisation music.
I was born in 1984. I have been living in Tokyo since I was born.I started playing guitar when I was in junior high school. I don’t remember why started.Maybe I wasn’t interested in anything else. Pelktopia that I played with Hironobu Shimazawa is my first carrier to play this kind of music as you say. We had been playing for 2 or 3 years and released some LP, CD-R, and cassettes. This unit played by half composition and half improvisation with Folk, Blues, and Minimalism feeling.We had a common language of music and similar aesthetic sense for sound.So we were able to develop music constructively. I still think the music in this unit was great.Many of my ideas for improvisation were born at this time. After that, I started to play as a solo player. At the beginning of my solo career, I was playing drone music with many pedals. But I think this was a big failure for me. I was just turning the knob and just fun pedal’s effect. It is the best way to fill in time and space. But that’s just it. I got too far away from my roots and physical myself. I felt I had to create the sound more fundamentally in a primitive way. It was around 2015 that I started to have the current style.
2. Before playing this kind of music, what kind of music did you play? What kind of chance made you decide to change at that time?
First. I started playing as an electric guitarist in some bands, I mean something like a Rock'n'Roll guitarist. I guess every guitarist will yearn for it when young. At the same time, I was obsessed with a lot of black music. especially I love Blues like John lee hooker and Son House. I learned what is free for me back then and making space in music from them. I was also absorbed in jazz and copied mainly Wes Montgomery and learn the method by self-taught. But I couldn’t play it properly. Also, I felt cramped in the chordal system. I feel that It was a necessary experience to identify what is important for me. But I eventually stopped playing in band and electric guitar. Because I felt it is difficult to play primitively and genuinely. I felt dishonesty with electric instruments my own. I want to be physically involved in my instrument without any knobs and cables. Fortunately, I don’t get tired of playing acoustic guitar. There are still many discoveries from playing.
3. Maybe you could share some details about guitar. Do you have any special or personal interests on guitar playing? Such as special tuning, microtone, objects on preparing, or some other special playing skill…..
I have been trying many open and irregular tuning. Thereby I can find a new sound and resonance from the guitar. I’m really into my main guitar which is Martin D-28 Authentic 1931. I want to bring out all the possibilities of this guitar. Sometimes, I try a prepared guitar and some objects. For example, I was rubbing a metal bar on the fret to make overtone and drone on 2527’s Track2. But my main focus is playing by fingers of both hands just normally. This is the best way to express subtle elements.
4. Most of your performances are improvisation. What do you think about in improvisation concert? Or maybe the question could be, what do you try to keep the notice on normally in your performance?
I’m thinking about “music” When I play as a solo.I mean like phrase, scale…or Whether I’m doing well what I practiced. especially I am interested in polymodal. I want to combine some scales to connect to song myself or something like a story. Free or not free, something new or already done in the past. these are not big subjects for me. These are meaningless to think about. Because I feel like a dead-end no matter where I go. I think it should be democratic when I play with other players, like our social ideals. We have to construct something good through conversation in music. As many say. a really good situation is not to think anything during performance.
5. What kind of music do you listen when you are driving? Last time I took your car, you played Morton Feldman’s piano box. But don’t you think Feldman is too quiet for traffic?
No. I don’t think so. My car is very quiet. It’s easy to listen to Feldman’s music.
6. So maybe you could share us your music taste. What is all-time favorites? Maybe you could give us a top 10 choice. And what do you listen in these days?
This includes music that I don’t listen to anymore. But I listened to often.
In order I listened
1「Electric Ladyland」Jimi Hendrix
2「Live at Sugarhill」John Lee Hooker
3「Original Delta Blues」Son House
4「The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965」Miles Davis
5「Olatunji Concert 」John Coltrane
6 「Riley: The Harp Of New Albion」Terry Riley
7 「In Bern」Loren Mazzacane Connors + Jim O'rouke
8 「Semi-Impressionism」Tetuzi Akiyama + Toshimaru Nakamura
9「For Bunita Marcus by Stephane Ginsburgh」Morton Feldman
10「Dead Pan Smiles」Riuichi Daijo
My recent favorite is below. Some of them are not recent releases.
「Bending Contumax」Jean-Luc Guionnet
Jean-Luc Guionnet is saxophonist and organist.
I didn’t know him until recently. this is amazing enormous work by improvisation from 2008 to 2014.
I feel this is very structural in spite of early intention feeling.
Published by No School Recordings run by Masahiko Okura.
Takumi Akaishi is a Hardy Gurdy player who lives in Tokyo is very unique.
This was made from Hardy Gurdy and field recording with his great poetic sense.
Published by Art Into Life, a Japanese record shop and label in Tochigi prefecture.
「Œuvres Électroniques」 Eliane Radigue
This was bought during my 2019 European Tour in Basel at Plattfon Records.
This is a box of 14CD. You can know her pursuit of sound but need time to listen to everything!!
7. Please tell about Straytone. You told me that you have a long and deep collaborations with him. How many years did you play together? What is the collaboration based on? Compare to other musicians, is there any special meanings of playing with Straytone to you?
We have a different idea about music and playing. Straytone attaches importance to the context in music more than me.I’m gradually becoming less concerned about context. On the other hand. I think He does not attach importance to improvisation more than me. We can complement each other for making music.
8. The cassette remind me of Tetuzi & Toshimaru. Actually at the first time I saw your performance I found out Tetuzi’s influence. And for Straytone’s sound, I have to say, it is very closed to Toshi’s nowadays sound, though they use different instruments. I think in this cassette, Straytone’s sound does not sounds like most modular synthesizer musicians. So how do you think about Tetuzi & Toshimaru? Do you try to reference, borrow or avoid some idea from this classical Japanese duo?
I think that Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura are The most important improviser.「Semi-Impressionism」is the earliest music I’ve ever heard of improvisation music that’s not jazz. This is my opinion on them. In particular, I was directly influenced by Tetuzi Akiyama as guitarist. His greatness is flipped over the concept of all avant-garde. It’s like a dadaist but more based on his intuition and honesty. Toshimaru Nakamura is a very important person culturally of electronics improvisation scene. But he does not hesitate to break the culture himself and constantly update himself. He seems to be challenging himself at every concert without any attention to appearance. They play universal language and techniques in spite of based on very personal interest without systematized academic methods. They paved the way by this attitude especially for players without musical education or career. There have been groups with similar concepts in the past like AMM or Musica Elettronica Viva. But they are based on more western values or academism.
In the past, if we want to play with someone we had to learn the methods and languages that are already. Like Jazz, Classic also Rock music. Maybe It’s also included “Free Improvisation”. But They proved that we could play using each personal interests, techniques, and ideas without systematized academic methods or languages. It doesn’t mean there is no need to learn or practice. We got an environment that we can pursue what we feel really important to us individually. At the same time, we can communicate in music in any country, musical background, and culture. We can express each identity and exchange ideas in the music directly.
9. The cassette title is 2527. What did the name come from?
It is a secret.
10. Please also tell us about Permian, the venue you run. Could you describe it? How is the neighborhood and how does it looks inside? When did you start running this place? Why do you want to run a “only improvisation” venue? Sorry that I have never been to Permian before, next time I will, I promise!
Permian started in 2018. Running by me,Riuichi Daijo and some musicians. We often talked about almost venues have a lot of superfluous things for the concert. like bar counter, records, and BGM. We don’t provide any drink, food, and BGM to concentrate on the concert and playing. An audience can choose admission fees between 1,000 to 3,000yen of every concert. By this, the audience can determine the value of the concert with independence. There are many cafes and bars nearby. But finding an improvisational audience is difficult. Improvisation is primordial practice and starting point of all expressions. It is should be open to more people. I hope that we always try to re-grab music from zero by each concert.
11. If you have to choose 3 favorite improvisation musicians, who will it be?
12. In the description I found about your album “R, R, R”, it was mentioned that some of your guitar playing has the feeling of John Fahey. Do you agree with this statement? Has John Fahey’s music influenced your listening and playing?
Of course, I listened to a lot of albums of John Fahey. But I’ve almost never copied his guitar. I am strongly influenced by what is called American Primitive, just like him. But I think I’m not the same lineage or context as him. I have big respect for traditional music but maybe I’m not interested in inheriting. It’s not my role. As I said, I copied a lot of guitar from the 60’s Rock group, Blues and Jazz music when I played electric guitar. But my acoustic guitar style is Almost self-taught.I’ve almost never copied someone’s play except some Blues. Sometimes, I try to copy Morton Feldman’s piano piece by guitar.
13. Are you more focused or relaxed when you play? Do you think there is a big gap between your performance and recording? In which state(relaxed or focused) do you prefer when making music?
To be honest, I want to relax and play. If I try to concentrate, the feeling runs away.