Yuko Araki is a composer and multi-instrumentalist living in Tokyo, Japan. Her musical journey started with playing piano when she was just a small child. In her teenage years she was fascinated by hardcore and metal music, which changed the way how she perceived music and sound creation.
In 2016 she became a drummer of the dream psych band Kuunatic as well as starting a noise duo project Concierto de la Familia. One year later Yuko created her solo project which combined elements of noise and experimental music.
Her forthcoming release called „IV” changed my opinion about her work completely.
As she says herself „I’m interested in making noise music that is free from unnecessary noise”.
The question is, was she able to achieve that? You will be in a position to judge by yourselves on the 27th of October when her new album will be released by ROOM40. Our review is already in the making, meanwhile we invite you to read our interview, which I had a pleasure to carry out.
Artur Mieczkowski: Hi Yuko. I’m very happy that you agreed to the interview for ANXIOUS Magazine. Your new album ‘IV’ is out on 27th October on Room40 – it’s a bit different from what we could find on your previous releases. What inspired you to do this exploration?
Yuko Araki: Thanks for having me on!
“IV” is the first album that I tried to compose what I want to play live – beaty/industrial/extreme music with high-resonance noise and some voice work. The last album “End Of Trilogy” brought an end to making albums by the result of experiments. I don’t know if I was inspired by something – I keep trying to produce the sounds that I want to play loud in the venues!
A.M.: Although there is a lot of emotion in these sounds, they are quite dehumanized. How do you feel about this as an artist?
Y.A.: Maybe the reason it feels dehumanized is because I try to avoid “emotion” -perhaps because of my dislike of J-pop music.
A.M.: I’ve read about how one of your goals is to create music using AI. This direction is quite controversial, because it’s also like another step towards the aforementioned abandonment of the human factor in Art. On the other hand, we are starting to live in the future. To what extent are you inspired by technology, where is the limit of creation? Following this line, Art has always crossed all boundaries. How do you find yourself in all this?
Y.A.: If you read my interview on “fifteen questions”, I meant that I want to work with an android or artificial life which is completely the same as me. So it was an idea of fantasy that we might be able to realize in the future.
I think that AI technology makes the creations homogenized for now so if it will be more and more developed we might be able to meet unique characters which appear in one of my favorite manga “Pluto” – which is out on Netflix soon!
A.M.: On the aforementioned ‘IV’ – as it says in the promotional material – you want to create Noise without unnecessary loud sound. I admit, as a listener I am captivated by the effect and find the result amazing. The album is almost unreal, with new realities emerging in a space haunted by technology. Is it fair to say that you are a kind of transmitter, a medium or even a tool between these worlds? How does this work in your case?
Y.A.: I think one of the interesting points of making music is – the creation I can not embody enough of images in my mind. We always have some gaps between the image we see in our minds and what we create so that makes imperfect results or errors in a good way. I always enjoy that.
A.M.: Taichi Nagura made a guest appearance on your new album. It’s a very uncompromising and emotional track. How did your collaboration come about?
Y.A.: We are friends and hang out in the music scene in Tokyo for a long time and I am a big fan of his band “Endon”.
I wanted to have some screams in my music so asked him to do it after I saw their rebirth show in 2022 for the first time in a few years. Taichi’s voice is like a not identified but very unique and I thought that it would be sick if that voice come up as the last track in my album.
A.M.: When did you start being interested in making music? What inspired you to start creating yourself?
Y.A.: My hometown is in southwestern Ibaraki, not very countryside but boring enough. Fortunately there is a studio that lots of metal and hardcore punk bands used and I hung out there very often. So I started to play music naturally.
A.M.: You also play in the KUUNATIC project, a rather distant territory from what you create in your solo work. To what extent does being creative in this band allow you to fulfill yourself?
Y.A.: Playing drums and singing in a band is way more physical than when I play my solo project. KUUNATIC is a great team where we inspire each other and I am always happy to have different ideas from my mates.
A.M.: Concierto de la Familia, is another project you are creating with Naoto Araki. You have also collaborated there with Viviankrist, who we have already featured on ANXIOUS. Can you tell us what you are focusing on in this project? What is the theme of this work?
Y.A.: There were 2 things that I wanted to do in a band – replace Yngwie’s playing style by synth and wear corpse paint. Also I thought that it’s interesting to combine neo classical music, acid bass and Minyo (Japanese traditional folk singing). That was the first idea of Concierto de la Familia. Then Naoto added some electronic blast beats and ominous voicing on my idea, which became our music.
A.M.: What are some other important projects you have participated in? What areas of art do you penetrate in them, what is the main message of this work?
Y.A.: I don’t have any other projects now – but if I have an opportunity I want to develop some modules with synth designers.
A.M.: You combine your performances with video. Is the visual side of your concerts as important to you as the sound itself?
Y.A.: It depends on where I play but I love collaboration with visual artists. They expand my musical expression.
A.M.: Nobuyoshi Araki is a great and legendary artist in Japanese photography whose work I hold in high regard. With this name, I refer to the fact that Japanese art was and is unconventional and often uncompromising. Where do you think the origins of this approach to creation can be found?
Y.A.: Hmm I am not sure but… most of the artists should be like that?
A.M.: Your music is very performative, and it doesn’t surprise me that you collaborated with London-based visual artist Daisy Dickinson on a performance. Can you tell us a bit about that? How did you come together, what was the intention, what was the effect and the message?
Y.A.: We met in Brighton in 2016 when her other project “Adrena Adrena” supported Acid Mothers Temple. I was just traveling in the UK with Fumie from KUUNATIC and were hanging out at that time. Then getting to know each other, chatting online. When she had a plan to come to Japan in 2020, we decided to collaborate together, supposed to play an A/V set in Tokyo for just one time. She had to cancel it due to covid situation, however my booking agent suggested we make a European tour. We exchanged our senses on sounds and visuals and I think that we were pretty successful to mix it.
A.M.: We would love you to recommend us artists from the Japanese scene that you like yourself. If there is anyone that you believe should be heard by a wider audience, we are here to help ;).
A.M.: Would you be willing to share with us what equipment you use to make music? Do you have any particular gear in your set that you never part with? Does your music equipment also inspire you at times?
Y.A.: I can say that equipment inspires me a lot. I met a friend who works at “Clockface Modular” in 2021 then I visited their showroom sometimes. They helped me a lot with how I can play the sounds that I want to and I built a new eurorack modular system which I was working toward for the last Europe tour.
Mainly I’m using 4ms Stereo Triggered Sampler which plays samples that I edited by Studio one + some guitar pedals. I want to meet a distortion pedal which will forever be a part of my set!
A.M.: What are your upcoming publication plans?
Y.A.: I have news in November, stay tuned!
A.M.: Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you good luck with all your plans. I also hope that we will be able to see you live in Poland.
Y.A.: Thank you too! I’ve never been to Poland and very curious how it is. I hope I can play there!!