058 - Michiru Aoyama
One of my most memorable and joyous listening experiences this past year came on a gloriously sunny late summer afternoon as I walked through Berlin’s Hasenheide Park. As my eyes bathed in the flickering light breaking through the canopy above, my ears were treated to the irresistible sounds of Japanese artist Michiru Aoyama’s aptly titled Brilliant Days. This combination of sensory experiences cut straight into the mainline of my happy place to create a moment of deep personal joy that left a lasting impression. It's one that has remained through further listening and what makes Brilliant Days such a special record.
Michiru, who has been been creating music since childhood, was given great encouragement in 2006 when legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto selected his work for a Japanese radio audition. In 2008 he travelled to Berlin to study electronic music production and it was here that he began to develop an identity as an artist. Now back in his homeland and living in the tranquil city of Kyoto, Michiru has found the perfect environment and setting to focus on making the kind of ambient music that he loves.
Will a string of full length releases on labels such as Mirae Arts, Organic Industries and Somehow Recordings, I am delighted to have Michiru Aoyama create a set of exclusive unreleased material for his Métron Mixtape. Through a kaleidoscopic and enchanting 35 minutes, the set leads us on a serene journey through his unique take on modern Japanese ambient. Brimming with deep swells of rich nostalgic drone, tinged with refracting chimes and glistening strings.
I spoke briefly to Michiru about moving to Germany and how he started making music. You can read the full interview beneath the artwork below.
Hey Michiru, what a wonderful collection of tracks - these are all new pieces right? What was the process in making these new works?
Yes. These are new pieces.
First of all, I write the melody as I play it on guitar. I play the melody a few times until I am happy with it. The music I create is based on my memories,
both the good and the not-so-good ones as well. After that, I make some changes and polish it. I often use a software program called Max/MSP.
Later on, I usually add some glitch noise.
When did you start making music?
I started playing the piano when I was 3. In junior high school, I started playing the guitar and dreamed of becoming a rock guitarist. In high school, I joined the school band, and I started creating music for our band. It was kind of like a mix between bossa nova and country music. When I was in university, I bought a laptop and used it to create movie soundtracks. When I was 23, I went to the live concert of the Austrian guitarist Christian Fennesz. I was so moved by his music. It was the starting point of my own music.
In 2008 you moved to Germany to learn more about music, can you tell us a bit about your time here?
In Berlin, the sound resonates differently depending on the structure of the buildings. The sound bounces off them quickly and clearly. In Japan, it is quite different. There were a lot of exciting clubs and the price of things was really reasonable in Berlin. Unfortunately, they do not have the kind of music I like, which is ambient music.
You live in Kyoto at the moment, what about this place, if anything, do you think effects the music that you make?
For me, Kyoto is the best place in Japan. There is harmony between nature and people and history. Shrines and temples are all over the town.
I prefer to work in a quiet and serene place close to nature to create my music.
As you know I absolutely loved Brilliant Days, it’s one of my favourite records of the year - it features two extended tracks, do you prefer writing longer musical pieces?
No. I prefer shorter musical pieces. It just so happens that Brilliant Days is a long piece.
Can you recommend some music for us that we might not have listened to yet?
I highly recommend Marty Hicks. He is an Australian artist. He lives in Tokyo now. I am working on my new music label "Bull Flat 3.8", which will be released next year. His album is wonderful. Please listen to it!
All music by Michiru Aoyama.