Interview with Anchorsong Thu, 2017-10-05 18:26

Masaaki Yoshida aka Anchorsong is no stranger to SOAS Radio, having made a guest appearance on Furniture Music. We caught up with him at WOMAD to talk about his live setup, how he views his musicianship and where he has been drawing his influences from lately.

Anchorsong

I saw you play earlier this year at the Mondomix festival where you played with your string quartet, you are playing your set at WOMAD solo. How often do you play with your quartet and how much does your live show vary when you play with them?

It depends, 70-80% of the time I play on my own. With the quartet we play a similar set list, but the arrangement is slightly different, it is a bit more playful. When I play on my own, it is quite minimal because I am working with loops. So even if I’m using a similar string sample, it will sound more minimal. When I play with the quartet, obviously I don’t have worry about the restrictions in sound, so the arrangement is a bit more flexible and I would say it adds a bit of drama.

Would you be interested in performing with a full string orchestra?

No, to be honest, it’s not something i’m interested in. A quartet is big enough and I prefer to keep it intimate, sometimes less is more. I like the balance of the quartet, with two violins, a cello and viola. I find keeping it minimal works better for me.

You are often billed as a Japanese producer, although you are based in London. Would you say you see yourself as a “Japanese producer” or “London based Japanese producer”? How do you think your background has affected your music in relation to where you are based now?

I don’t feel like a belong to a scene in London, but even in Japan I didn’t really belong to a scene, so I guess I have always been an outsider, and that hasn’t changed! I think it might have something to do with me being Japanese, I feel like even if I tried being a part of a scene within the UK I wouldn’t be able to do it because I have a different frame of reference coming from Japan. So for example, When I try to write a melody, it is perhaps informed by Japanese pop, which is what I grew up listening to until I was about 13. In a way, I guess it is “in my bones”.  I don’t think my music sounds “western”, nor would I say it sounds “oriental”. I try to stay away from writing very “Japanese” melodies and make a point to stay away from traditional Japanese instruments such as the koto or shamisen. Basically, I don’t want to be exotified or considered “oriental”.

So, you would prefer that people don’t label what you make as “world” music.

Definitely not, no!

So how would you describe your own music?

I would describe myself as a “live” electronic musician, if there is one thing that I can use to differentiate myself from other electronic producers, I think it would be that I’m very heavily focused on live performance. Which is something I don’t find to be common amongst other electronic music producers. I try to keep my live shows as interactive and playful as possible, which is why I don’t use a laptop, which is something I cherish. I think it gives my performance character.

What does your setup look like?

At the moment, an AKAI MPC-1000!

So even though you don’t consider the music you make “world music”, your last album, “Ceremonial” drew influences from African rhythms and percussion. Where have you been drawing influences from lately?

Lately I have been listening to loads of Bollywood music soundtracks, mostly from the 70s and early 80s. There are a few legendary producers I have been listening to and my favourite is probably R.D. Burman.

R.D. Burman

There is a lot of material to listen to, Bollywood producers were prolific back in the day!

Yea! R.D. Burman is probably one of the most, if not the most prolific musician I have encountered. I have been listening to at least one of his albums every day for the last 6 months and I don’t even think I’ve listen through half of his discography! His catalogue is so vast! I’m not getting tired of it though, I always find some interesting break, arrangement and sound. It’s very refreshing because the arrangements are so different from western music. So, I’m getting inspired by his music a lot!

You recently released an EP, Mother on TruThoughts. What can we expect next from you?

I’ll be releasing my next album on TruThoughts. It’s not finished and there is no release date, but you can expect influences from Bollywood scores!