A Quiet Time
by Juan Cruz Molas y Molas
There is a recurring theme for me: which is to talk about a sensation, or rather, a breeze that surrounds us all. Ambient music for me is like that breeze, or that deep liquid where you can immerse yourself and let yourself fall, and let yourself go; there are no borders, no barriers there, it is easy to be you, there are no prejudices, the mind feels good, the body feels good, connected and traveling in that warm and dark liquid. A place where there is no interference from anyone else, everything is frequency, texture and vibrations; a state of pure consciousness, a quiet time.
“Black has depth... you can go into it... And you start seeing what you're afraid of. You start seeing what you love, and it becomes like a dream.”
- David Lynch.
I have this idea of Tokyo and Japan from movies, photography and music, what do you do in a common or normal day when you are not touring with your music? How is a day in the life of Asuna?
I lived in Tokyo for 11 years, then I moved to Kanazawa city, which is located about 300 km northwest from Tokyo. Kanazawa is an old city famous for its castles and gardens. I worked there as a member of a gallery called Kapo. My studio is there also. Sometimes I work in a small movie theater. Everything in Tokyo was too busy for me, but quiet time is flowing in Kanazawa.
Why do you make ambient music?
To tell you the truth, when I was a teenager I played in a noise, hardcore and junk band. Then, in the late 90’s, when I started making my solo music, the combination of computer-based electronic music with acoustic instruments and field recordings was very exciting for me. From there I became interested in textures and sound phenomena. I started making ambient-drone music based on reed organ and computer electronics. In 2003, I released my solo debut album through a European label called Lucky Kitchen.
I was very influenced by Alejandra Salinas and Aeron Bergman from Lucky Kitchen, the label that released my first album. That’s how I started interacting with technology in a critic and idyllic way, and how I got other narrative points of view about folk. Rather than music, the idea and thought was the “ambient” itself.
What do you think ambient music is?
I’m interested in it as a musical element (texture / consciousness / phenomena) for as a composer. The, on a personal side, it might be the natural music inside me.
How is the scene of this type of music over there?
Do you mean the Japanese ambient scene? With the recent worldwide revival of New Age music, the ambient scene of the 80’s has also gain attention in Japan. So, a lot of young musicians are making ambient music now.
Where did the idea of 100 keyboards came from?
Around the end of the 90’s I was making music with a computer. Those techniques made it possible to treat sound and frequency visually like seeing through a microscope. A new methodology of thinking and a new viewpoint came with technological evolution.
I was also playing at the same time in a lo-fi, experimental toy music band. These extremely different interests gave me a distinct point of view on the conceptual and physical effects of the phenomenon of sound. I think these various experiences from when I was a teenager are reflected in my performance of 100 Keyboards. It could be said that a listening experience can be like a visual ‘fluctuation’ like those seen in Bridget Riley’s paintings.
I see you use lots of toys in your music, why do you choose to use them?
When I was in my mid-teens I used to listen to a lot of lo-fi home recordings; like Dragibus, Puzzle Punks, Caroliner Rainbow, Sentrido, Dump and Pascal Comelade, etc. Many of them used toy keyboards. I spontaneously began collecting them. However, because I had no money, I could only buy cheap things, sometimes rescued from the dumpster.
What do you think about the “timeless” as a concept? That perfect moment…
The first thing that comes to my mind is “Dream House” in La Monte Young. Personally, I empathize with Tony Conrad’s attitude.
Where did you grow up and how was that time?
I grew up in a town called Matto about 40 minutes away from Kanazawa. The village where I grew up was very rural, with only rice fields as far as the eye could see. When I was little, I lived in a story inside myself.
The landscape I saw when I came back to my village was my music. From there I was able to start again.
- Asuna Arashi.
Nowadays, each day that passes I feel like a mixture of feelings or sensations, like more connected to me, and also distant from where I started, I don’t know exactly how to describe it… Do you have feelings like this? How do you cope with them? Do you apply them to your music?
When I was living in Tokyo, I was very confused and had a nervous breakdown. I got caught up in surviving life and lost the way from when I first started playing music. However, music was waiting. The landscape I saw when I came back to my village was my music. From there I was able to start again.
There is something about ambient music that I don’t find in other genres, I mean, we are talking now and you are from Kanazawa, Japan and I am from Córdoba, Argentina, and we both make ambient music, and, you know, that time-travel thing, that womb, that lost-frontier, what do you think about that and why?
The transition of consciousness through time and space by ambient sound is interesting. And, it's great to be able to talk about our music across countries.
What is it like to be a human for you? Talking about the ‘human’ as a concept? Being human, you know.
This is a very idealistic and too broad question for me. If I would say something, I would like to make works that go beyond individuals, not grand projects. Works that aren’t from a special or specific human being, but created from the most personal and tiny point of view, like ours.
Interview by Juan Cruz Molas y Molas.
(Photographs courtesy of Asuna Arashi).
To listen or know more about Asuna Arashi go to:
Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Facebook / Instagram / Tide Ripples / Spotify