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Interview with Okamotonoriaki

img  Tobias Fischer

What was the creative process at the heart of Telescope like?
Just like I was taking notes of the stories I came up with, I used to make fragments of music every night. I was hoping to put those fragments together and create something when mü-nest contacted me. However, I'd just graduated from university at the time and was pretty busy getting accustomed to my new working environment. As it turned out, it was only after I became a freelancer, which was over a year later, that I told them I was ready to make an album. Then I finally started to finish those fragments. Including this "fragment-making" period, it took me about two years to complete it.
The tough part was judging which pieces were decent and which were not. My musical taste changes daily and so what sounded like the greatest song one day could sound like the worst the next morning. Arriving at trustworthy conclusions was the hardest aspect.
One particular thing is that I always have some images in mind when I' making music. I actually wanted to make videos for all the tracks on the album, which would take two more years though. My work is influenced by a variety of things, not to mention the music I listen to.


What were some of these stories which you would set to music for Telescope?
The stories are fragmentary. They come to me as a scene. One of them, for example, goes like this: A lonely yeti, who wants to get along with people, is wandering about in a snowy mountain …
Each story has a main character. Thinking of their feelings, I try to see the world through their eyes and make music, which could be described as a sort of personal theme song ringing in their head. The core theme are the emotions of the characters in various worlds and situations. From my small room, I will look into these worlds through a telescope.


What is „recorder“ about?
Recorder has a specific story, because I needed a detailed narrative to turn it into an audio-visual work. The story goes like this: There is this scientist doing research on some planet . He left his family behind on earth and one of his routines is to send them messages. One day, the replies from his family just stop and he assumes the earth is doomed. He, however, keeps sending messages to them. He keeps caring about his family every day. Soon, he realizes that the planet he is living on is doomed, too. The voice on "recorder" is the voice of the scientist on a recorder. The video is based on the idea of the scientist experiencing flashbacks of his life before his death.


If you take your video to that track, how does the music relate to the images?
Directing and composing are complementary. So what I made in this case is something like the soundtrack for the stories in my head. I can't leave one of the two out of the equation. The first idea was to express a sad and intense emotion in musical form. Then came the idea of putting a voice on top of it. Making the backbone of the song, I added more specific details to the story. The next thing I knew, all the visual images that came to me were like flashbacks. I just made those images into the video.

How do you achieve something like color in sound?
Sound represents emotion. Colors are naturally obtained in the process of making the sound with the perspective of each character of every story.

Are images and sounds both ways to speak directly from and to the subconscious for you?
Exactly. I'm glad that you thought that way. I meant to make emotional and instinctive visuals this time. In this sense, the videos are rather direct expressions of what is inside each character's head.

In how far do themes of nature play a role on Telescope?

Growing up and living in cities, everything about nature seems mystical and virtual to me. This "virtualness" creates a space for the stories to unfold in. For me, nature is like a stage.

And music is a vehicle for escaping into another, better world?
Exactly. Again, I'm so glad that you got something that deep from what I made. The music on Telescope is like some kind of Xanadu to me.
Spiritual ideas, too, constantly influence my work. Emotion and spirit directly influence my work. A spiritual state itself can often be made into a story.

One of the striking features of the album are the drums, which sound almost as though they were recorded live.
Everything on the album is computer generated, yet I wanted it to sound like a band. I originally wanted to record the album with a six piece band or something comparable. But unfortunately, I didn't have such skillful friends or enough space to do that in my room. Hence, I wanted it to at least sound like a live recording and the drums were the key to that. There are two tricks: one is to set them slightly out of rhythm on purpose, because computer generated percussion tends to sound too precise. And the other is to think carefully about the space in which drums make sound. You need to pay attention to where in the space it is hit and set the sound accordingly.

What's up next in terms of your musical ambitions?
There's a lot of things I would like to do. First of all, I'd like to express what is inside my head space wise through live performances. It would be something like letting the audience step inside my head. And I also would like to write a quite long song and make it into a film. More specifically, I have already been working on my next solo album, which will directly represent my "dark side" in contrast to bright Xanadu-like Telescope. The next one will be in a whole different vein. And I have also been working on a new project called "IIKO", which is going to be closer to Pop.

By Tobias Fischer

okamotonoriaki Discography:
Telescope (Mü-Nest) 2010


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