Name: Ueda Takayasu
Occupation: Musician / mastering engineer
Current release: Every Clouds Call Our Name on Phantom Limb
Recommendations: A Dream from the World by Rei Naito/ Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
You can learn more about Uedo Takayasu on his website singingfrogstudio.info/ and buy music on his Bandcamp page.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I think I was 13 years old. I was prepared to compose music very strongly. My inspiration was a biographical film about Mozart.
My early passions included Koji Tamaki (a Japanese singer-songwriter, especially his album On The Karinto Factory); Jim O'rourke (the album Disengage); Phonophobia, - not the punk band, the German noise band (the albums Denshi Zatsuon 5 and 1979-1983), and Akemi Ishijima, a London-based electronic artist (the album Time Drops). I heard all of them when I was a teenager. Whatever it was, I was attracted by the bizarre texture of their sound.
Even now, I only want bizarre sounds. I started producing when I was 16. I was a live engineer until I was 29, and I started mastering at age 30. I liked Takise Masayo as a mastering engineer.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
Systematically "music and non-music". Especially if you've been in Japan for a long time, it's hard to avoid the perception of "songs or instrumentals without songs”. I've been focusing on breaking down the boundaries between the two: "doesn't this song have a song? Or "no beat?” Or "doesn't it have a beat?”
In my case, I was the first to do improvisation, noise sessions, and singing at the same time. It's still very difficult to describe that history in one piece. I've degenerated a lot for a while, but I haven't grown. I'm glad I stayed the way I am. But after experiencing 10 years of not being able to create anything, I know the fear of creation better than others. I don't want to be refined in my creation anymore.
In terms of instrumental development, my guitar playing is influenced by Baden-Powell (gut guitar), John Fahey (folk guitar), Lauren Connors (electric guitar). I just listen to them and play along with their records. For piano, I just listened to records by Dinu Lipatti and Clara Haskill. I couldn't play any classical music, though. My singing was improved by singing karaoke in Japanese snack bars.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
By creating life, I am only concerned about what is created in front of me. If anything, I don't want to move too much. I don't want to be too busy, I just want to be still sometimes.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I guess the challenge has not changed since the beginning. It seems like there are many things going on, but I feel that the end result is that I am creating a single song. There have been times when my energy has decreased, but I think it's just diversity and not change.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
I've been learning to compose music since junior high school, using a cheap Japanese composition software (Singer Song Writer Lite). I didn't pick up an instrument until much later. At first, I wanted to play the piano, but due to budget constraints, I ended up with an acoustic guitar. I didn't tune it properly, though.
I've been using a Thinkpad PC since the IBM days, and it's running Windows. The tools haven't changed except that I've trained Pro Tools for my mastering work.Macintosh was not a good match anyway.
My favorite software was Acid Pro (Since was Sonic Foundry), Saw Cutter (Made by Larry Zitnick),
Pure Data (took me 5 years to get it to work).
From the beginning until now, I've been using only Thinkpad and a cheap interface. There was a time when I bought a lot of hardware, but I couldn't use it and sold or threw it all away. Most of my instruments were borrowed, as anything I could touch could be sold. Most of my instruments were borrowed. It is hard to sell something that is borrowed. Software is especially difficult to resell.
For some reason, where I've lived, there is always a store that will lend you a lot of instruments.
So I'm not particular about instruments and tools at all. If it makes a sound, I use it. If it's too sophisticated, I won't be able to create something that surprises me. In the case of sophisticated things, I feel like the instruments and software make me make music.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
It was the Pultec Type Equalizer plug-in that made the production process smooth. One thing I've wondered about is that most screens in what is called a DAW flow from left to right. That is a particularly big question. There should be some tools that make music from the front to the back.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I've responded to offers when they've been made. However, in many cases, it was either one-sided or I had to work very hard. In the case of arrangements, I have done well. In many cases, I use the music as the performer intended, and make almost no changes to it. It's like Steely Dan without the orders. For file sharing, I'm grateful for GigaFile-Bin and wetransfer.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I'm usually awake from daytime to morning. I'm often asked when I'm asleep. It's not that I can't sleep, but it's hard to sleep. I'm busy and my room is dirty.
I go out to rest and take a lot of landscape photos. I go to a café, go to a bar, have a drink, sing a song, and come back home. When I get home, I communicate with my fiancé for a long time. I keep stroking my black cat, which I've had for a long time. Occasionally I work part-time as a social worker. I listen to very little music outside of my music work now. The sound sources I bought are piling up. I always have a short time to make music. On those days, I live in the music all day long.