Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I got up at about 8 o'clock in the morning and start working at my desk at 9 o'clock. My studio is on the top of the mountains so I work while looking at the scenery. It helps me have a peace of mind and think comfortably. I will work on one or two tracks in the morning. For me, my mind is the most calm and positive in the morning.
In the afternoon, I follow the continuation of the morning process. My mind has adjusted and I am able to feel the music better. I usually go running or walking every day in the evenings where I’ll take it as an opportunity to listen to music outside of my work. After dinner, I’ll return to the studio and reassess the music I’ve worked on that day.
The process for Kwaidan was different in a sense that I decided to work on music late into the night as I felt it best suited the sound I wanted to create for the album. I currently live alone, so I feel like I'm always linking everything to music. For example, I hear the melody of water when I run the water for my bath.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
The idea of Meitei at the present moment is based on the feelings and thoughts I experienced living in Kyoto. I was making music as a freelance composer, but I did not know what to express as an artist at first. At that time, I was not creative and was just meeting the needs of my clients. There was no essential emotion there, it was not spiritual. So, I wanted to reach into my soul and understand myself better in order for me to truly make organic music.
Thus, I decided to move to Kyoto to start anew. I knew nobody there and decided to use that to my advantage. I explored Kyoto every day and noticed a unique mood. I lived there for four years. Finally, I found the “Lost Japanese” mood which is the concept of Meitei now.
When I noticed the current situation of Japan I was able to imagine my mission as an artist. Currently I live on the island of Hiroshima. There are oceans and mountains and the lost Japanese mood continues to change. I was able to sense the origin of the mood that I felt in Kyoto from the scenery. I often go out to a mountain and unknown land using a car. These moods that I experience, I try my best to recapture it in my music to share with people around the world. This is my process.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
For me, creativity is supported by the balance between input and output. The input determines the quality of output. I always try to have time to reflect and meditate to keep my creativity flowing.
If you continue with meaningless input, your output will have undesirable results. This is my principle of life. So, I always value this relationship. Always keep a balance, but break it occasionally, because life is not fun if you do not break it once in a while.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
Currently, I have not done any style of live performance, as Meitei is composing music by combining sounds, like a collage. My composition is distinctive, not very musical. Melody and scale etc are not intended. Everything is the result of a chain of choices. Recently I do not use instruments at all. The sound I choose is always sampled from the huge sound library I made in the past. I change the bit rate to feel the expression of the sound, the selection method will result in a track. This method is inspired by the upward and downward action of the rotation speed of the cassette tape. And when it gets a slow rotation speed, it starts giving a sense of linking to Japanese drama. These methods are perfectly adapted to the current Meitei theme.
I am not much influenced by musicians, but more inspired by artists like Hayao Miyazaki, Haruki Murakami etc. My music has many concepts, themes, stories. It sometimes has a comical element like animation and expresses a calm scenery like a novel. In other words, I create entertainment. I am still looking for the best way to translate my music into a live setting without losing the intent. Of course, I would love to perform live in the near future.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
My music production now has a concept – a Lost Japanese mood. For that, I will study what kind of style is required and what kind of sound color is necessary. I will abolish improvisation in favour of track-making akin to sound design, as it’s the best strategy at this stage for the unique Meitei sound. I often go to see the moss on an old temple full of rustic quiet and darkness to research the color of sound.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
I want to answer this question not as Meitei but as Fujita (myself). Three years ago, I realised that I had synaesthesia. I consulted the research team in Kyoto University and they advised me to devote more time to music. When I knew I had this, I became aware of the possibilities as an artist.
When I talk about synaesthesia, I like music that emits the colour blue. I’ve managed to make music that does this as well. To me, sound and music have an inter-sensual connection.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
These days, my approach to art is an expression that cannot be translated into language. For example, there are some emotions you feel when you look at old photos of Japanese landscapes. There is still a lot that is unknown to us that is beyond words and emotion and the role of music is to translate emotions. I try to translate this Japanese mood through my music as Meitei and I want to challenge this theme as an artist.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I am also surprised that the basic concept of music still remains. At the same time it symbolizes the calmness of the speed of growth of the culture of music. I think that the speed of its growth is because there is not much changed in how we listen to music. We listen to music in stereo with two ears. I cannot imagine how this is going to evolve. However, if new ways of creating and consuming music continue to develop, new concepts of music be derived.