Satoshi Tomiie: "There Is Always a Lot of Amazing Music To Discover" (that can also save your life!)
- Published on Thursday, 19 November 2020 16:21
A pioneer. A legend. A point of reference for the entire world since the late 1980s who has been at the forefront of the global house and techno movement has made himself available for a talk about what matters the most: the music, which, apparently, has never left him (and vice versa) even in such an awful period. Please welcome the one and only Satoshi Tomiie, who also brought us 1 hour of pure dub, elegant, and charming pleasure.
How's New York treating you so far during this period? Have you spent there the entire quarantine/lockdown period?
Yes, I have spent the whole period of the lockdown in New York. Crazy time we all are in, I was grounded at home but music “saved” my life!
I started music as a hobby like everybody else and it had become a profession luckily after the years of doing it. Being a professional DJ/Musician for a few decades - now all of the sudden it had been forced to go back to “hobby” again! (at least for now). Who thought this would come?
You've done lots of streams during this weird period, have you also worked on new music?
Music is my passion, I simply can’t stop doing it. At the beginning of the lockdown, it was tough to get inspired and into it. After a little while (many cooking sessions and episodes of tv series (!)), the muse was back in the studio and led me in the right direction. I have been working on a lot of new material.
At the moment the key to making beats for me is having a lot of fun on the machines. Physical control works the best for me. Knobs, faders, and patch cables. Some musical ideas came from the preparation for a live jam streaming. Some from vinyl digging and some came from the mood in this world. I have started my new ambient / experimental project Sato - I am certain the mood made me do it.
The idea of starting a Bandcamp had been in my mind for a while, recently I have launched to release my own music and collaborations. You can find the recent work of mine and exclusive releases there including A_A and Sato.
As a DJ, since the beginning, I have been a big fan of playing new music. In this lockdown period, this idea came to my mind... How about digging my 90’s record collection as if they were “new” and discovering something I overlooked or forgot? Listening to and looking at them with ears and eyes of 2020? I pulled out about 4000 vinyl and went through one by one. There are some photos on my Instagram doing it. From Chicago and New York house to Dub Techno, I have found a lot of amazing grooves that are still relevant to music today. So I started doing live streaming on Instagram to share what I have re-discovered - then ended up making a YouTube channel.
I had never done streaming before this lockdown and it took me a while to be on the track. Now it’s a lot smoother after many tries and errors. The “Wax” series (the vinyl digging sessions) on YouTube is still going strong.
I'm sure you were used to traveling a lot during your DJ life, what's the place you're missing the most visiting, and what's the club you'd love to be in (playing or not) right now?
What I miss the most is the feeling of sharing the vibe and music with people at parties. It’s really a special thing. Making music is sometimes about digging into the inner self, DJing is kind of the opposite. I love these 2 sides, one influences the other all the time.
Click HERE to buy VL001 - Late Night EP
Tell us more about what's behind the tracks on your latest EP for the mad lads at Vatos Locos and the gear used.
I am very happy to be on VL! They are a great team and very welcoming. We were all DJing together for the first time a few summers ago and the idea of doing a release came up. I love this kind of organic connection :)
The music was written in different periods of time in different ways but mostly done on real machines. Ableton was used as a multitrack “tape” machine and a mixing desk together with an analog mixer to sum the tracks.
“Late Night” was written in entirely the hardware jam style. TR-909, Reon Driftbox (bass) Juno-106, etc. were used. Hit play/record, tweak the knobs and faders and all tracks were recorded separately on Ableton. One-shot recording.
I write some sketches and ideas on the plane sometimes. Many years ago I wrote something basic on the way to a gig. One of them had become “Out Of Nowhere”. On top of the original sketch, I added more synths and stuff, but I realized that it would sound better with fewer elements in the track. Many channels were muted and stripped at the end. "Less is more" philosophy worked I believe in this case.
Something similar to the track I did a few years ago called “Bassline”. Simplicity works better sometimes.
On “Left Over” the mighty Roland House Music Orchestra was featured… band members were TR-909, SH-2, Juno-106, and SH-101 etc. Another rather simple live jam style track.
Last year you've released an album as A_A, tell us more about this project. Why have you had the need for creating a new alias?
A_A is a project Inspired by Electric Jazz, Experimental Noise / Avant-garde, and the stripped-down elements from the music I’ve been loving and creating from the beginning – Electronic and House Music. Current project members are me and New York-based experimental artist Nao Gunji and the name stands for ABSTRACT_ARCHITECTURE, this represents its craft, sound, and texture.
The idea was to make an experimental live project, it deserved a new name to represent. Check it out on my Bandcamp and see what you think.
"Metropolis" EP is your first solo release on Abstract Architecture since 2017. Are we gonna see more stuff on your Bandcamp page in the future?
This release features 2 of my recent studio jams. Aiming to compose stripped-down, hypnotic, trippy and dubby DJ tools. Both tracks were done with Eurorack modular and hardware instruments, live jam style as usual.
“Metropolis” features deep, simple yet driving beats with a kind of moody beat-synced Akai MFC-42 filter driven Juno 106 leading synth part. “Circular” is a jam written during a late-night session with headphones. Dubby vibe, using echo machine and spring reverb as musical instruments. I have tons of material, planning the releases on my Bandcamp page exclusively as soon as they are ready.
What are your plans for 2021?
The world is on hold and we just don’t know how long it lasts. I won’t put my creativity on hold and will keep moving forward tho!
A few releases scheduled on vinyl and Bandcamp - brand new Satoshi Tomiie and Rintaro on Yoyaku is just out now. Besides my solo and A_A project (new A_A vinyl release called “Midori” coming very soon) I have been working on dub/ambient material under Sato moniker. Kind of textile of the sound and tone - capturing the moment of live sculpting of the sound.
I miss being on the road a lot but quite excited about what’s going on in the studio.
There's no better time than this to make people feel better with music. Would you like to tell us the names of three songs that impressed you this year?
I ended up listening to a lot of spiritual jazz this year. Maybe because of the mood in the world. I have been a jazz lover since I was a teen, I was very lucky to get an opportunity to see Sun Ra Arkestra live in a small gallery in New York right before the lockdown. That was the last live show I have been to. Listening back classics by the artists such as Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane, and digging the stuff I haven’t checked out yet. There is a lot of amazing (old and new) music to discover, never enough and the search is never over.
Words by Francesco Quieti