It’s always interesting to rediscover foreign artists who put distinctive signature in their productions. For this interview we had the occasion to have a chat with the Japanese techno and industrial producer Yuji Kondo, focussing on his musical background and his release “Radiate The Ocean From My Back” recently published on Perc Trax.
– Hi Yuji, hope everything is fine! How are you doing?
Hi Matteo, everything is good in general thanks.
– First of all I’d focus on your musical background. How did you discover electronic music and how your interest in techno gained up?
When I was a teenager, I was listening to only Rock orientated music. I was actually in a few Rock bands with friends from the age of 15 to 19 years old.
The very first record I bought was a soundtrack called “Down Town No Gottsu Ee Kanji Music Complete Works” (1997) – soundtracks from Japanese comedy program. Sometimes I was listening to Jazz / Classical records from my father’s collection.
At that time, I wasn’t interested in electronic music at all. I didn’t like it. My friend invited me to come to an electronic music festival when I was 18. There, I saw the Chris Cunningham’s Audio Visual live set and I was totally blown away. I remember I then rushed to grab the “Warp Vision 1989-2004” at the venue.
From that time on, I started spending the days searching for records at Bleep. Autechre, Chris Clark, Aphex Twin… That time really was good adventure for me. Afterwards I got to know Basement Jaxx’s “Rooty”, The Prodigy’s “The Fat Of The Land”, Daft Punk’s “Homework”, Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine” and Portishead’s “Dummy” as well as Mark Stewart & The Maffia’s “Learning To Cope With Cowardice”, Iannis Xenakis’ “Ed. RZ 1015-16”, Dumbtype’s “Memorandum”, Aidan Girt’s “Droopy Butt Begone!” / “Exhaust” / “Sings Reign Rebuilder”. There are too many to mention. The very first equipment I bought when I was 20 is a second-hand Korg Electribe EM-1. Soon after I also bought the Ableton Live 5 and was mostly making ambient for about 4 years. The two main reasons I started making Techno were 1. Katsunori Sawa’s words 2. A release offer from Genesa Records.
– Some of your tracks reminds me the Xhin’s IDM style contaminations, did you ever get in touch with him or with that kind of sound?
I was listening to so called IDM everyday at some point. So I think that it’s not strange to hear some of its elements in my music. Xhin’s music has a strong aesthetic sense and an acute-angled impression.
– Did your approach to music production come across with your interest for electronic music?
I don’t know… But I can be sure that I’m pursuing that feelings… the one that made me have goose bumps… emotions and excitements that I have experienced as one of the audiences at some live venues when I was teenager.
– What are the main sources of inspiration that influeced and attracted you more?
I believe that it’s in a daily life. This answer might sound a bit dull but it really is. Even if I spent so much time on creating music, it is just a part of me.
– When your collaboration with Katsunori Sawa started? What are your strengths?
We’ve done a remix of Jimmy Edgar’s “Sleight of Mouth” on Semantica Records in 2010. This was actually second collaborative work and turned out to be our first official release as Steven Porter. I remember that we were having a chat like “Let’s make it electro this time”.
We were good friends got to know each other through music. After having many conversations, we have built a good relationship. We started the collaborative project, Steven Porter and also the record label 10 Label. It all happened spontaneously. Since we have very opposite personalities, it’s easy to balance us. There is never certain roles between us.
– Have you had the occasion to travel outside Japan, also for non musical purposes?
No. I’ve never travelled to outside Japan. It’s a shame for me.
I’d like to go if there is a chance coming. I need to get a passport first though.
There are lots of Japanese prefectures I never travelled to. I’m often around between Kyoto and Osaka.
– “Radiate The Ocean From My Back” is out soon on Perc Trax. What can you say about the creating process and how do you feel about this result?
I got an offer from Ali to release the solo EP on his Perc Trax soon after my remix of Sawf’s “Menete”. I wanted to make it very powerful. It took quite a time for me to have a concrete image for the EP. The EP title came to my mind first. It’s very rare for me.
I have written a melody using a synthesiser for the production this time and that is quite unusual too. For an instance, riffs on a track A1 “Radiate The Ocean From My Back” is the one. I’ve also used recordings of an electric guitar in all tracks. Sounds are often processed through a Boss’ effector, GT-6B which I bought when I was 18 (it’s designed for bass guitar though). I especially like the pre-amp and overdrive on it. A sound of a finger flicking a hair comb is used in a track B1 “Something For Those Who Wait”. All those sounds were recorded in last 8 years. I edit / process same sound material so many times. It’s like until a recording of a bird’s singing change into a real heavy kick.
Plug-ins such as Waves, IK Multimedia, Sonalksis, Melda Production and Sonic Birth are used. I didn’t use MIDI this time. It’s all done by audio clip cut-and-paste.
– What does the title mean? Maybe I’m wrong but it seems like there’s something connected with your past…
Please feel free to imagine anything about it. My intention of the title doesn’t need to be read in one way. I cannot deny that the title is totally unrelated to that incident though.
– It’s not the first time you publish a different kind of sound under your real name, should this be considered part of the musical evolution process in your career?
There are no deep thoughts behind it.
– Have you got any upcoming projects for yourself?
Currently confirming a release date for our 10 Label’s next release and also I have a collaborative project coming up. Hopefully both of them will be revealed soon.
– Thank you so much for the interview and good luck!
Thank you and good luck to you too.
Interview by Matteo Pitton
Translation by Yu Miyashita