Wrapping 2017 in Bullets

  • I’ve moved back to Japan! It soothes the heart and soul. It’s also been a great boost to creativity. Don’t get me wrong. Sweden has a lot going for it as well, but the darkness and the cold was like a wet blanket on my musical energy level. Tokyo has a ton more venues, stores and events to inspire. Probably also makes a big difference. :)
  • I’m building a new modular. I sold off all my old modules and cases about 2 years ago in a confused and misguided phase where I thought I was through with synths. Not going to happen again. It’s going to take a while to rebuild to the point where I left off, but it’s already great great fun to be back patching.
  • On that note, the world of modular has changed a lot since I bought my first LC9 case back in 2013. It’s amazing to see the breadth and width of modules and tools available these days, not least the forays into digital modules that where so frowned upon back then. :)
  • The Elektron Digitakt is awesome. I don’t care that the detractors and forum commenters say. I haven’t had this much fun with a box since I built a cardboard house in the basement 35 years ago! (And no, I haven’t experienced a single crash or bug yet.)
  • Don’t buy a lot of tiny synths. Spend the money on modules instead. They will make you happier and more creative. If you have to spend outside of modular, go for the big and powerful stuff, or boxes that completely complement the modular domain (e.g. the Digitakt).
  • I actually did perform a tiny live this year. We had friends over for dinner and I set up the instruments in the living room for an improvised techno session. Good fun and goofing around!
  • I have found a fantastic teacher who will start teaching me melody and song composition at the start of 2018. Look forward to more and hopefully better releases!
  • Linn is getting frighteningly good at the piano. Go Linn!!
  • My goal for 2018 is to release a follow up to Cumulus. Stretch is to perform it live… Scary to think it’s already been 4 years since I recorded it almost by accident in the bedroom in San Francisco…

The one thing I will take with me into 2018 is stop making excuses and just get down to making more music! I might not update the blog more frequently, but I WILL make more music in 2018.

What is the one bullet YOU will take with you into the next year?

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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.

冬の。。。読書?

日本に帰ると一つの嬉しいところはやはり出版されている面白い本の数。。。

私から見れば特に音楽に関して海外より多く出ている気がする。

そして、数だけでなく、書き方も優しいし、分かりやすく色々細かいことを解説してくれる本が盛りだくさん。

昔から(アメリカに住んでいたころも)我が家のインターネットショッピンの大黒柱とも言えるアマゾンからついつい注文してしまう。

そのもう一つの理由とは:スウェーデンと比べて(またアマゾンのない国。。。)配達は安く、早く、丁寧に家まで運んでくれるのでとても便利。。。

今回は特に音楽理論に関連する本を多く買っています。私はDTMとこのブログを始めたのは2012年。それから曲をたくさん頑張って作ってみたけど、やはり最近強く感じるのは理論的な基礎知識が足りていないこと。

耳でなんとなくごまかせるところは多いかもしれないけど、やっぱり作曲とかトラックを作るところで(何故?どうして?どうやって?)という様な質問に納得出来る答えが出ないと壁感じる。

やっぱり、音楽に基礎、基本となっている理論をもっと把握したい!

と、そんな気持ちを含め今回(ここまで)購入したのは以下:

まだまだスウェーデンに戻るまで一週間以上あるので、おそらくリストが増えると思うけど。。。 :)