Native to Osaka, Aoki Takamasa is an artist who is nowadays living in Berlin. He is an electronic musician and his works and compositions twist among a very rich and stratified melting-pot of glitch sounds and rhythm, translated in a music genre already known for a decade as IDM, with proper reference to techno and electro style.
It has been talked a lot in the last few years about the so called “laptop music”, i.e. a new way of creating and performing music on a stage, that after a first period of great productivity and innovation (with the most worthy results within the field of acoustic research) is now suffering a period of deep tiredness, both as regards international production and the public taste and appreciation. Unlike other practitians of this genre, Takamasa is able to give to his production the necessary freshness and fantasy, going beyond the limits of the computer, without therefore delaying on the functional convenience of this mean, but impressing a creativity and an expressive force which exeed the simple borders of genre and technique. This is possible above all thanks to the musicality and particular mood he is able to impress in the innovative and engaging rhythm as the main element of his work.
From the beginning of his production and above all in the last decade, Takamasa specialized in the manipulation of softwares and other electronic elements. Starting from a strong interest in sperimentation and the limits of musical expression, his work then opened to every kind of artistic adventure. His cooperation with Tujiko Noriko of the Fat Cat Records is very famous. They created together a disc 28 which brought him in the limelight of Japanese electronic music. However Takamasa is an eclectic musician and has often worked with other internationally famous artists, not only in the musical field but also in the sector of visual arts.
In the last period, as during the creation of his last live set presented at the Brussels Electronic Music Festival (3 days of showcase from the 20th to the 23rd March at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts of Brussels, one of the most interesting and complete meeting in Europe for the fans of electronic music and clubbing, featuring more than 30 musicians, djs and vjs), Takamasa combines music with visual medium, i.e. wonderful photos and slideshows of urban and architectonical scenarios, shot by himself and available on his blog. We met and interviewed him right during the festival in Brussels: an interview to better know one of the most interesting and refined electronic musicians of our time.
Silvia Bertolotti: What is the technical set you usually perform with live? And what kind of instrument did you use in particular at the Brussels Electronic Music Festival?
Aoki Takamasa: For my live sets, I usually use two laptops, some hardware effectors, and an Audio Mixer. This time, for the Brussels show, I also played with my photo slideshow for the first time, so I used one more laptop just to play it.
Silvia Bertolotti: You are a Japanese artist based now in Germany. What do you think about the electronic music scenes both in Europe and in Japan, your country of origin?
Aoki Takamasa: I think Europe is something like the origin of electronic music , because this culture was born right here. Moreover I think it is produced and spread in each European country. However I basically feel almost the same energy nowadays both in Japan and in Europe.
Silvia Bertolotti: How do you see the future of the “laptop music”?
Aoki Takamasa: I think laptop is just one of these tools. It is just a portable. Computers brought huge opportunities to people like me who don’t have any musical knowledge. I don’t think I would make music if computer didn’t exist. I think there will be more more people without any musical knowledge who will start making music and then will share it with everybody and communicate with many people around the world without using so to many languages.
Silvia Bertolotti: We saw that in the last years so many software-based virtual studio environments have emerged and such tools provide cost-effective alternatives to typical hardware-based production studios, making now possible the creation of high quality music using little more than a single laptop computer. This somehow democratized the creation of music, so a lot of home produced electronic music is now available for a wider public. What do you think about it?
Aoki Takamasa: This phenomenon surely helped a lot of people to spread music out through this planet, so that now this planet is filled with various kinds of sounds. And I think it is really wonderful. After all, making art is an essential part of the human nature.
Silvia Bertolotti: You collaborated with very famous Japanese artists like Ryochi Kurokawa, Ryiuchi Sakamoto and Tujiko Noriko and you confront with their different artistic styles. What do you think is the most interesting and stimulating interaction in terms of artistic expression?
Aoki Takamasa: At the moment, above all Rhythm and Photography can better adapt to my expressive style.
Silvia Bertolotti: Howdo you create your music? I mean, does the first inspiration come from the software or the technology set, the experience of the rhythm itself or from a musical idea?
Aoki Takamasa: My first idea comes always suddendly and in form of rhythm. Then I try to focus on making sounds that reflect the same structure I thought of, so that they are put together in the right position and timing, in order to create a good groove. I want to make the right atmosphere using two speakers vibrating in the air to make people feel like dancing. I think this is my source of inspiration now.
Silvia Bertolotti: Laptop music offers infinite possibilities in terms of sounds. How do you select your sound among these wide ranges of choices?
Aoki Takamasa: I simply try to make sounds that make me feel excited and comfortable and can calm me down.
Silvia Bertolotti: Any plans for the future? Are you currently working on something new?
Aoki Takamasa:In this period I’m actually working on a new project. Something much more simple than what I’ve made before. But I don’t wanto to anticipate too much.