The second instalment of our ‘The Maker’ series shines the spotlight on Michiru Aoyama. Based in Kyoto, Japan, Michiru is an artist who has been on RTR’s radar for quite some time. His warm and fuzzy approach to guitar-based ambient music is unique and consistent in quality, and can be found not only through his own outlets on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, but across multiple labels including Shimmering Moods, Organic Industries, Tedio Recs, and Taalem.
In this interview, Michiru discusses his wide-ranging influences, his motivations for creating new music, and his favourite releases from the last twelve months.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
I started playing the piano when I was 3. In junior high school, I started playing the guitar and dreamed of becoming a rock guitarist. In high school, I joined the school band, and I started creating music for our band. It was kind of like a mix between bossa nova and country music. When I was in university, I bought a laptop and used it to create movie soundtracks. When I was 23, I went to the live concert of the Austrian guitarist Christian Fennesz. I was so moved by his music. It was the starting point of my own music.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
Zen 禅 is a Japanese Spirit. I go to a temple in the early morning of the weekend. Then, I practice the meditation in Zen Buddhism for about three hours. The heart becomes quiet, gradually like the water surface which is not choppy, but still. All environmental sound and non-sound, begin to have a meaning to me . Soon the sound begins to shine.
How do you approach working on a new release?
First of all, I write the melody as I play it on guitar. I play the melody a few times until I am happy with it. The music I create is based on my memories,both the good and the not-so-good ones as well. After that, I make some changes and polish it. I often use a software program called Max/MSP.Later on, I usually add some glitch noise.
Can you tell us about your favourite release from the last 12 months?
First of all, recent work of your label. [Gallery Six & Oblivia] – These Cyan Fantasies (RTR012). Mastering is wonderful!! What I have heard recently is Aphex Twin, Haruomi Hosono, Tom Misch, Corinne Bailey Rae.
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: what attracts you to the cassette medium?
When I was a high school student, I was listening to music on cassette tape everyday in my car on my way to school.The unique tape noise、The unique soft sound of the tape directly stimulates my memory. It is like a nostalgia.