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15 Questions to Yui Onodera

img  Tobias
Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I'm fine, thank you. I'm now in Tokyo where I live.

What’s on your schedule right now?
I’m busy working on three separate collaborative recordings with three different artists - The Beautiful Schizophonic (Portugal), Celer (USA) and Exit In Grey (Russia). In addition, a new compilation CD is on its way from my label Critical Path. Various sound artists from several countries participate in the album. I’m truly honored working with artists I admire.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I'm optimistic about current music scene. There is no critical problem as far as I can see. What I have doubts about is today's music education.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
No. I’ve never seen myself as part of a particular tradition or movement. However, there are artists and labels I can share something with. I enjoy being in touch with them and I’m keen on working with those like-minded people.

What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What “inspires” you?
They include various things such as music, contemporary art, architecture, philosophy, literature, film, epistemology and so on and so forth. A lot of things in wide-ranging fields are my creative inspirations. What inspires me most is the environment I'm involved in, which includes almost everything surrounding me - not only physical urban environment but also my parental vernacular philosophies, music scene in Tokyo and people such as musicians and organizers around me. I'm now very interested in the relationship between music and the place it comes from.

How would you describe your method of composing?
The working platform for my composition is a computer, on which I process sound materials repeatedly and mix tracks down. When it comes to my composing process, it keeps changing because I don't have one specific way to stick to. I can employ any sound from field recording, physical instruments I play, my voice and so on. Any sound can be my instrument.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Unlike composers of the former ages who took the essential step of scoring, I handle sound directly on a computer checking the result of every manipulation through the whole process of composition. I believe that the development and diversification of equipment keep expanding the notion of composition. In my working process, sound materials from physical instruments or field recording often lead the work in progress to the direction it should take. Sound gives my composition an inspiration and at the same time suggests how it is supposed to be and sometimes even its concept.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Not strictly at all.

What does the term “new” mean to you in connection with music?
It refers to something reflecting our contemporary society as well as characterized by values and concepts that are different from everything so far.

Do you personally enjoy multimedia as an enrichment or do you feel that it is leading away from the essence of what you want to achieve?
I'm not sure if I could understand this question exactly. I've been interested in working with artists who are active outside the field of sound. I actually collaborated as a musician with a contemporary dance company and also contributed my music to a film. However, I don't regard such cross-genre collaborations as something called "multimedia."

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
These are interesting questions. My live performance is basically an opportunity to represent pre-composed pieces but I leave them having some room to improvise. Nevertheless, I don't find any meaning in differentiating composition and improvisation. When it comes to my general perspective on performance, especially in terms of improvisation, I feel there are wider possibilities in collaboration by two or more musicians than in solo performance.

Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a political/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?
No. I would say an artist has no duty towards others. I think a piece of work is a result of a personal exploration. Art is not necessary to be political or social, but I suppose at the same time it's impossible to get rid of those aspects from the field of art.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
It's impossible in my opinion. When it happens it would be inevitable to elicit some unwanted misunderstandings. I think they should choose to remain non-mainstream if they have no choice but to sacrifice their soul to garner wider audiences.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
I'd like to present a lot of works by many artists in line with different contexts such as nature, urban environment, society, etc. It would be quite an interesting challenge for me to collect and observe them closely.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
If I could create it someday in the future, I wish it becomes something that provides each listener with an irreplaceable experience, even if the number of listeners is quite limited, even if it's as small as one person. I prefer that to earning a large number of listeners. Some musicians and their works including ideas behind those have given me huge influences. If my music could be something special like theirs, nothing could give me more pleasure.

Entropy (Critical Path) 2005
Punkt (Critical Path) 2006
Suisei (And/Oar) 2007
Substrate (Mystery Sea) 2007
Rhizome (Gears of Sand) 2007

Yui Onodera at Critical Path
Yui Onodera at MySpace

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