Current Release: Kwaidan on Evening Chants
Recommendations: Kwaidan by Koizumi Yakumo. This book had a heavily influence in my album of which inspired the title as well. Interestingly, this book retells old folklore passed on from his wife. There are spirits and aesthetics of lost Japan here. Yakumo was actually Greek, with his real name being Lafcadio Hearn, which makes it even more interesting/ John Cage: In a landscape. This album means a lot to me. It brings me back to the scenery I was used to seeing when I was a child. It never fails to touch my soul with its rich and rustic textures.
Website/Contact: If you enjoyed this interview with Meitei, you can stay up to date with his creative expression through his Instagram account and find out more about this release on his Bandcamp page meitei.bandcamp.com/album/kwaidan
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
The beginning of my composition started eight years ago. At that time, I was exploring the recording art by cassette tape. The analogue texture in lo-fi sounds is nostalgic and beautiful. I used YAMAHA's 4track and 8track MTRs and found out the drone sound created by the pitch change of the sound due to the tape speed. Back then, I listened to popular music like techno, house, rock etc, but cassette recording taught me the existence of ambient music. Holger Czukay's Movies and John Fruciante's “Niandra LaDes And Usually Just A T -Shirt” set the light on my recording soul. In addition, I respect producers like Bibio; his work “Phantom Brickworks” is my favorite this year.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. 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?
This question is important to artists. I set my own definite learning period in order to preserve excellent works in the future, I also needed an environment where I could intentionally set my own mind.
The first step was to jump into genres that I’m unfamiliar with. I applied the same thing for human relations. I decided to leave my comfort zone. I moved and became friends with a stranger in a city I do not know. I approached the minority world culture and people there for about 6 years.
Many people thought my decision at the time was crazy, original friends left, I also broke up with partners. By doing so, I got a sense of a new direction. During those years, I started composing as a freelance musician, creating music that was not familiar to me. A few years later, I began to think about the possibilities of music. My relationships with new people gave me a gemstone of hope for the future. Treasures hide in things you do not know or do not notice.
Music then became something bigger than myself and I discovered my path as an artist. Then Meitei started! I think that is creativity. I intend to continue seeking change. Because I believe there is a miracle there.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
When I started composing, I was aiming to complete a music track that was structurally impossible for anyone to accomplish. But year by year, I kept trying and had no interest in pursuing something new or fresh. That was my ego getting in the way. The intention to make music that no one has done resulted in the creation of unlistenable music.
An analogy I like to use is akin to cooking. The process, to me, felt like I was using excessive flavouring to the point that it became inedible. So, what’s the point? I eventually understood when it was necessary to add flavours at the right points.
To tell the truth, I needed to find the purpose behind the music.
Music reflects a lifestyle; a fresh lifestyle brings fresh music. This is the way fresh composition is born. Music created by people must always be based on personal self and emotion. A unique life enables for a unique composition. I noticed that the impression of composition is the impression of life; music comes from the core of the soul and thus, led me to focus more on establishing a well-rounded lifestyle for myself, in hopes that it will translate into my music.
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 a property that I rented in Osaka for 2 years when I was 25 years old. It was a sound-proof property. Equipment-wise, I used Yamaha Cassette MTR, Korg Vacuum Tube Digital MTR, Avalon Design Channel Strip, Manlay Preamp, Blue Microphone, etc. After Osaka, I moved to Kyoto where I also used them for about another two years.
I eventually changed everything and although I do not use a cassette anymore, the experience is reflected in my sound textures. After all my, first physical release was on cassette (Kwaidan on Evening Chants). It was fate.
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 is an important foundation for human creativity. Working with technology as a musician is seen as a collaborative process. Technology compresses time and we humans create future processes. Our creativity finds destinations and technology brings us there. In other words, people think about the future, and technology allows us to pave the way. Even regarding Mars exploration, people have been imagining for decades, and now technology has made it possible. It’s incredible.
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?
I have been producing on Cubase for about 5 years. But I probably only use less than 10% of the performance of this software. It has become quite restrictive. Currently the production process ends with only cutting, pasting, plug-in (compressor, limiter etc) of sound information. For example, painting the details of the objects of the painting, so that the sound is arranged like a piece of a puzzle. Currently Meitei's production has no use of analogue instruments. But I think it will change in the near future as I am now turning my attention towards it. I believe my music is going to change dramatically in a few years and I look forward to that.
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?
I worked with a variety of people, including dancers, picture-book writers, painters, restaurants and cafes. It is a wonderful experience; because it’s the sharing of ideas that results in fresh output. Such experiences will be represented in Meitei from now on. I am loyal to my own mind and potential consciousness. Meitei now has the concept of a “Japanese mood” and has set a theme based on it.
Both of my works, Kwaidan (released on Evening Chants) and Komachi (on Metron) have the same theme, but different stories exist within them and also utilize the Japanese Ukiyo-e aesthetic. They are also linked to expressing the value of Japanese culture. That is exact my purpose. I plan to reach more Japanese moods in the future and expressions outside of music will also be mixed in.
I am always interested in producing things that I can do to reach Japanese culture even outside of music. It will always link to collaboration of talent. Music is a communication tool and collaboration can be used to create new value.