SAWAKO

INTERVIEW: SAWAKO: BLOW UP (2007)

Sawako: Blow Up (2007)
This interview is published by Leandro Pisano, Blow Up Magazine (Italy) in the article about “Japanese Electronic Wave” featured Four Color, Tujiko Noriko, Piana, Midori Hirano, Takagi Masakatsu, Cokiyu and more. Sawako’s photo is used the cover article as the 2 pages feature.

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1) In which way do you think your music/work is changed if you look back to five years ago?


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5 years ago, I was making the sound for tens or hundreds of people who I know directly. Now, I am making the sound for several thousands of people who I know or don';t know directly. Although every time when I create a new work, I am trying to put at least one new challenge for me, in my feeling, the most important thing, which is the core part of my works, is same. Talking about the technology of the realtime visual work, comparing with the late 90s (the era before NATO and Jitter), CPU is dramatically increased, and the environment is dramatically easy to use.


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2) What is the concept behind “Madoromi”? 3) Do your works reflect your philosophy? Could you give any specific examples?


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“Madoromi” is a Japanese word which loosely translates to the state of being between sleep and waking. I wanted to make the album like going and coming between the dream and the real. Like traveling inside of your deeper subconscious memory in your dream. Or like the Chinese old tale, “The Butterfly Dream,” where the main character isn’t sure whether he is in the dream as a butterfly or in the real world as a human being, at last.


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My work is like a personal and intimate diary, both nonfictional and fictional. My creations usually start with capturing and collecting sound moments rather than creating melodies myself. Deep thinking about field recordings gives me an interest in sound cognition and background listening. Your ears are focusing one part of the sound environment. I’m interested in the shift in modes of hearing from the “music” mode to the “sound event” mode - and the conscious mode and the subconscious mode. I want to make the sound environment, which is completed with your actual everyday sound environment. I want to make the sounding pool where your ears focus on different sounds every time you listen, where you realize and experience the different sounding existence every time you listen. With the drone or “non-musical” sound, I feel it is easier to create such types of sound environment. There are more space for various interpretations about the experience of sound. As my recent challenge, I am trying to use more and more “melody”, “words” or “beat” which has more strict mood, meaning or linear structure.


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4) What does it mean to work using different media/tools like sound, images and software code?


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In my working process, I myself don’t feel big differences between sound, images and software code. Although the output is different, the basic concept or system or process is very close. For example, you can create the networked installation, the audio work, the visual motion, the static image, the abstract poem and the bank system software with Max/MSP/Jitter. If you are a person who are familiar with C or Java, it is easy to understand that sometime the very last of 1-2 line of program changes the result as sound or visual or some other things (poem, with words. software, with GUI.) Inside of computer, all data - audio, visual, natural language, computer language, your memory, your secret, computer’s history etc etc - is just number.


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However, I am not a technologist who believes that all things can be translated to 0 and 1. I am just a craft man whose main device is a computer which character is something like that. I strongly feel that, because there are many thing which we can’t grasp with only 0 and 1, I am curious to try the boundary of the 0-1 limit.


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5) What do you think about minimal electronic scene in Japan?


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Comparing with NYC, in Japan, young people are more active, on the other hand, I hope there are more active artists after their sixty or seventy years old.


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Also, I’d like to point out the gap about the popularity between in and outside of Japan. For example, Tarou Nijikama, who is the owner of 360′ records, is one of the biggest influence of Japanese under ground electronic music scene for more than 10 years. I hope, in future, more spot light will go to these less-known-outside-of-Japan Japanese great people in the scene.


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6) When I listen to your music, I find a connection to traditional Japanese culture and music in the spaces and silences found in your sound. What do you think?


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Although I can easily give you the logically perfect explanation about the relationship between my art and my traditional Japanese cultural experience (Nohgaku, for example), I’d like to doubt about the issue. I am not the specialist about the Japanese Traditional Culture, and I don’t want to talk about the tradition on the context where there is the possibility of interpretation with the easy exoticism. I take the question seriously, and I think the answer will be the mix of the cultural matter about both I am aware and not. So, I can’t find the answer yet - even with several years thinking.


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I often encounter these questions (relationship with “Zen”, for example) in the article about Japanese music. Among of many answers, the answer of Jason Cahn for p*dis’s interview is the most reasonable one for me. Unfortunately it is only available in Japanese. ( Question No.9 of http://www.inpartmaint.com/pdis/feature/cut.html )


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One clear fact is that I grew up as an musician in the international online community around 2000 (especially Microsound list), not in Japan. Then, Japanese people was starting to know about me through non-Japanese musicians. I was a reimported artist in Japan at that time.


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7) How does improvisation play a role in your work?


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If you are using the word “Improvisation” on the music history context especially Jazz, I don’t think there are not so much relationship with my work. If you are calling the work which is made by the realtime generation without a score as “Improvisation,” I could say most of my works are made by the improvisation.


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I have the strong feeling of living with sound, living inside of sound - like sinking in the deep sea. While I am creating sound work, I have a feeling of sculpting the sound - like puddling clay. My works are the result of realtime grapple with both predictable and unpredictable things.


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8) Natural, organic and synthetic sounds are mixed in your music. I think they are soundscapes of an everyday life in a city. Do you agreed that sound itself is music?


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“Sound” becomes “Music” only after people realize, feel or define the auditory stimulus as “Music,” What people feel as “Music” depends on their grow-up environment and education (both in and outside of school). For example, the idea of “sound itself is music” hitting in your brain is nothing but the result of your experience and knowledge about “Music”.


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I am really interested in how people feel with my works in the 1800s or the 2100s.


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9) How different is your personality inside your computer vs outside of your computer?


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I don’t want to answer this . . . because the answer may sound I am a mean person . . . ! In the computing world, my speak and act is more direct and sometime harsh way. Additionally, it is not so difficult to make the public image of artist in online - using blog or mySpace or whatever. On the other hand, in the real world, I am more modest shy person who has the Japanese typical in-betweenness in the relationship. Well, I am not consciously strategical about the differences between 2 worlds. I just act according to my intuition.


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10) What are the most liberating, and conversely the most limiting aspects of creating music on a mac book pro?


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First of all, I’d like to say that every tool has their own limitation and uniqueness, and I don’t like to talk things on the context of “Computer VS Traditional Instrument” very much. As many people already mentioned, the biggest differences between a laptop and an acoustic instrument are: (1) lack of physicality (2) Sound generation environment separated from the influence of sound environment in the real world.





November 13th, 2007 by sawako
Sawako