Part 1

Name: Ai Yamamoto
Nationality: Japanese/Australian
Occupation: Composer

Current release: Pan De Sonic – Iso on Room 40
Recommendations: Yoshiyuki Kakedo was a Japanese painter living in Germany. His works are abstract and related to spirituality. Many Kakedo works have dots and dimensions and they are truly amazing. Cover art for Pan De Sonic – ISO is by Kakedo. His wife Isolde who is also an amazing painter in Germany kindly let me use his work / @petitemorto does very fine line of drawing. Very distinguish and unique drawing.

You can keep up to date with Ai's work via Instagram (@ai_yamamoto_mel) and Bandcamp

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started writing music in the early 2000s with FruityLoops and Cool Edit software. Back then I used to listen to Aphex Twin, Oval (diskonkt), Eno, Takagi Masakatsu(pia), Susumu Yokota (Sakura, Grinningcats), ISAN, basically, lots of instrumental electronic music full of interesting loops.

For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity? 

My old housemate Julian kindly showed me how to use Cool Edit and FruityLoops and I started making music from there. I wanted to make music like ISAN or Susumu Yokota but I had never been able to. I just put random sounds together at the time to experiment with different outcomes.

After I did a career development program at Electric Dream Studio and I closely watched professional composers produce music, my sound works improved and I gained a bit more control when I composed. Still, I am learning and growing to be a better composer. I found copying is much harder to do because you actually need more pallets, techniques and understanding of sounds and compositions.

What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

My productions are about the flow of loops and chemistry of each texture and melodies to create certain emotions. My compositions were so free and did not have much structure but over time my composition and productions have become much more controlled rather than accidental. Sometimes early works are much more interesting and adventurous.

What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you? 

My first studio was just a computer and keyboard. Then I got a mixer, microphone, soundcard, midi synth, recording microphone, a recorder. Things are coming and going. My set up is still minimal. My Komplete Kontrol Keyboard becomes my main piece of gear over the last few years.

How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?

Technology makes the music world limitless. Any little sounds can become percussion, rhythm, melodies, and textures. My latest works Pan De Sonic ISO tells you all about that. All sounds are sourced from my surrounding sonic environment. Some of them are straightforward but I put them through sound effects like echoing, delaying, changing pitches, etc to transform them to different sounds. Technology brought alchemy, but music has to come from the composers' sensibility. 

Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

Tools can be sooo complex and it can be a geeky world when you start pursuing that quality. Some people master those territories and I am still learning to get better over the years with help from my friends. 

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?

When I collaborate with video artists, they will explain the details of the concept and direction and I will work around it to make it fit after I receive movie files from file sharing. I love the relationship between music and video, especially when they flourish together and take you to other worlds.

When I collaborate with other musicians, file sharing can work if they are far away. If they are not far away, having a session will give us the direction but file sharing would be crucial.

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