With one foot firmly in his nation’s rich cultural history, Japanese artist HAIOKA possesses a strong reverence for his roots. Yet with the other foot striding boldly towards the future, that reverence has found a unique expression in his art. Combining traditional instruments with technological tweaking, HAOIKA has managed to take a snapshot of Japan that somehow captures centuries of musical development in one frame.
The title of his latest album, Riwaindo, is Japanese-English (Jenglish) slang for ‘Rewind’, which neatly sums up his past-conscious approach. Full of evocative field recordings and featuring the talents of wa-daiko drummer Atsuhiro Cho, HAIOKA also peppers the album with electronic beats, gracefully blending the elements into a considered whole. Check out the video for opening track ‘Ten’ below, which visually reflects HAIOKA’s temporal splicing, and read our interview with the artist below…
Tell us about your artist name…
HAIOKA is my real name. My name is Shintaro Haioka.
What sort of music were you exposed to when you were growing up?
I liked musical films in childhood and I grew up with J-pop and J-Rock music. When I was 17 years old, I was addicted to techno tracks and big-beat artists like Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Underworld and more.
When did you start making your own music and what was it like?
When I was 21 years old, I started making music with a Roland MC-303 and JX-305. I was making techno tracks. While I was trying to play as a DJ, I became interested in making dance tracks.
Can you explain how you incorporate traditional Japanese instruments and techniques into the music on Riwaindo?
I started by studying the histories of Japanese classic music and traditional culture. I learned the spiritual legacy of my country’s ancestors. And I put the spirits into my music. I am describing the evolution of the traditional legacies. The theme is ‘heritage and beyond’.
More specifically regards the technique, Atsuhiro Cho played the Japanese percussion called Wa-Daiko for my music.
The wa-daiko sounds are unique sounds. So, I started by trying to mix the wa-daiko sounds with electronic drums using a Roland TR-8.
Where would be the perfect place to listen to Riwaindo?
Where the place has good speakers with loud sound. However, everywhere you like.
What fuels your creativity?
Now, in Japan, people are so confused by political problems, economic problems and natural disasters. On social networks, we have to watch so much information and opinion every day. I cannot judge whether all the information is right or rumour. Maybe people too.
So, now, I think Japanese people should remember the pride of Japan from the past. The pride and the belief put us on the right path to the future. I would like to show the Japanese spirits to my country’s people and the people of the world.
What do you think the future of music is going to be like?
I think the roots will be more important factor than ever. Internet and more modern technologies shorten the world’s distances everyday. So many races will interact in the real and the virtual. For this reason, we need to know ‘where we from’. After we know it, the variety of the roots will show us the variety of the music.
Can you send us a photo of the view from your window?
How has your local area (and local history) influenced the music you make?
In Tokyo, I can touch so many kinds of world culture. Musical influences too. Maybe I am influenced by so many kinds of music.
However, Now I am living in a calm place for Tokyo. So, I can focus to the artistic voice of my mind.
Who’s your biggest Japanese musical influence, past and/or present?
MONO and BOOM BOOM SATELLITES.
What are the top things you’d suggest visitors to Tokyo should go and see/do?
Mmm… Please watch the guide. Sorry, Just kidding. Probably you like The Ghibli Museum, and if you have time, ride the shinkansen and visit Kanazawa. Kanazawa is my favourite place. The city has a very beautiful park called ‘Kenroku-En’.
What’s the biggest challenge facing Japanese musicians right now?
In Japan, the flood of commercial music. The spending of music is made faster every day. Also, the value of music is made lower. It is too hard to make money from artistic music.
What are the best music venues and record shops in Tokyo?
TECHNIQUE and Tower Records SHIBUYA. And if you are interested in synthesizers, G5 in Harajuku.
Where in the world would you most like to perform?
I like every place I’ve visited to perform. Germany, Italy, USA, Singapore… Especially, I like Germany. I love the people of Germany.