New (and simpler) home studio layout

I’ve written before about how I was planning on simplifying and cleaning up my work space at home. Since I got back from Japan I’ve been busy moving stuff around and putting away the gear that I don’t use that often, or couldn’t comfortable and easily get to in the small space I occupy in our apartment.

The result is actually very relieving. It seems like for every kilo of gear that I move out of the way, my inspiration keeps increasing and I find it easier to just sit down and start working on ideas again.

Not saying that I have no use or love for the gear, but seeing it all around me and not being able to make full use of it because it would require moving furniture and re-route cables was actually are real downer for the creativity. Can’t wait for the day when I have enough space to set everything up properly. Until then I will bring the stuff out as needed…

Below is a picture of the new and simpler setup…

Studiospace

Japan, Inspiration, 2015

My time in Japan is drawing to a close for this trip and it’s been a great 4 weeks with plenty of good food, old friends and new inspiration.

This time I didn’t compose or track any new music, but I discovered something far more important. Over the past 12 months or so I’ve been struggling to find the right ‘moment’ to work on actual music and it’s been extremely hard to even get started on new tracks.

I’ve spent a lot of time agonising over the direction of Glitzerstrahl and where I really want to go with the music. How serious am I really about this whole project?

Turns out that within 24h of leaving Sweden and getting on a plan to Tokyo I started feeling the familiar grinding urge in the back of my head. New tunes started slowly, like trickling streams of lost water droplets, meandering their way into my conscious.

That of course begged a different question…

Why couldn’t I muster this excitement while in Stockholm? Was it the darkness? The swedes? The narrow horizons of living in a country the size of a third of Tokyo?

Or was it something else?

Part of my current studio layout

Part of my current studio layout

I knew it wasn’t work. I love my work and I the people I get to share everyday in the office with. In fact, they are some of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to learn and draw professional inspiration from.

I knew it wasn’t the tech. I have amassed a well planned array of instruments and effects and while my studio PC (iMac) was getting sluggish under the weight of new versions of Komplete, Logic and Live, as long as I had the ‘drive’ I would have found a way around that limitation.

Instead, after much examination what I realised was that I was lacking three things:

  1. The right studio layout and creative environment (for me this is extremely important)
  2. A clear musical direction and ‘goal’ (what is the Glitzerstrahl ‘sound’ all about?)
  3. Enough theoretical knowledge and experience to realise no. 2

This was a great revelation. When looking back at the past 12 months through this lens so many struggles started to make sense.

Next I decided to turn these ‘problems’ into actions:

  1. Slim down the amount of tech stuff I have connected and rearrange my studio space to facilitate greater focus and an easier workflow. (I have a plan!)
  2. Create a new alias to explore a modern version of the Shibuya-Kei sound that was one of my first introductions to Japanese pop culture. A sound I love and treasure to this day and that lives on in the works of Nakata Yasutaka and others.
  3. Build a solid foundation in music theory and composition to give some structure and process to the ‘art’ of channeling inspiration into actual tracks.

This is not going to be an easy venture, especially not no. 2. I realise it will take the better part of 2015 to resolve these issues, but I’m determined to give it a try.

I’m super excited and can’t wait to get back and get to work.

Look out for lots of updates in the coming weeks and months!

Miku agrees!

Miku agrees!

僕、何でこんなにカプセルを好きになったのか?

簡単に言うと、僕は中田ヤスタカさんの大ファンです。。。

Capsuleだけじゃなく、きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅとPerfumeも好きだし、他にContemodeでリリースされたアーティストもどれも僕の好みに近いです。

そして、前日北陸新聞を軽く読んだら、最近中田さんが金沢中央駅の駅メロをプロデュースすることになったのが分かった。聞きに行きたいな。。。

(中田さんは金沢出身なので選ばれたのはそれほど不思議な話ではない。。。)

音楽の才能があって、幾つかのサウンドやスタイルにおいて天才と言っても可笑しくないと思うけど。だが、どうして僕がこんなにファンになったのかをちょっと考えてみた。

やはり僕にとってあの「渋谷系」の代表的なアイコンだからかな。。。

初来日前、大学時代から僕はピチカート・ファイヴ、カヒミ・カリィ、Round Table等がとても好きで、Capsuleを初めて聞いたときはとても感動した。それまでの渋谷系の良いところを全部吸い上げて一つのサウンドに纏めたと感じた。

後で調べて分かったけど、Capsuleは1997年、当時17歳で同級生のこしじまとしこと立ち上げたユニット。その後金沢でサウンドを磨いて、2001年上京したそう。確かに渋谷系のブームが終わりかけたころだったけど、もしかしてだからこそあんなに上手く出来上がったのかも。

上京後は多面で音楽活動を続けた。自分のラーベルを立ち上げ、映画のサウンドトラックを制作、他のアーティスト(Perfume等)の音楽をプロデュースし、メジャーのリミックスを世界に送り、そしてCapsuleのアルバムを次々とリリースしてきた。

そのCapsuleの最新アルバムだけど、「Caps Lock」という名前で2013年に出た。

サウンドは今までとちょっと新しい方向を示しながら、更にCapsuleが面白くなった感じです(是非聞いて見て下さい)。

とはいえ、本人は認めるがどうか分からないけど、僕から言うと今でもしっかりと渋谷系の響きが聞こえる。。。

ま、ちょっとバラバラの話になってしまったけど、とにかく中田さんファンです!これからもたくさんのアルバムをリリースし、他の面でも音楽で是非頑張って欲しい。

CDs – still going strong in Japan

Japan, in contrast to the rest of the world, still has a fairly healthy CD sales market (last year 85% of music sales in Japan were CDs). It is definitely shrinking (17% 2014), but still accounts for a significant portion of world wide CD sales (Japan is still the second largest music market world wide).

IMG_0226The reasons are probably multiple, a mixture of the demographic (older people buy more CDs), the collectable fandom culture and finally the lack of streaming options. The last point in particular is interesting since no streaming service, domestic or foreign, have ever really caught on in Japan. In fact, most of the global services have never even been introduced here.

Within this landscape there are several media rental chains that thrive on renting out CDs, DVDs and console games. GEO and Tsutaya are probably the biggest, with stores across Japan.

They are the perfect waterhole to batch sample new music regardless of genre, as they usually carry a very wide selection. Whenever I go to Japan I like to stop buy and rent a bunch of discs from artists or genres that interest me, and then pick out the stuff that’s good enough for keeping.

If you visit Japan, don’t miss out on this opportunity to listen in on what’s currently popular.

新年2015年のお約束

明けましておめでとうございます!!

って今更だけど、年末はお買い物やら美味しいものを食べることで忙しくて、新年のご挨拶が中々。。。

さて、この2015年に向けてどの様な一年になれば良いのかを考えてみたところで、以下の約束を自分することにした

  1. 毎月一曲完成する
  2. 5つの曲のデモを完成する
  3. 週一度このブログを更新
  4. 毎日少しでも運動する
  5. 毎週琳と一緒にピアノの練習する
  6. 日本で買った本を全部読む ;)

これで頑張ります!

皆さんの新年のお約束は如何でしょうか?