What impressed me the most during the listening of her album “Qoosui” (recently out on the Room 40 sub-label Someone Good) is the way in which her voice renders the symbiosis with nature that she translated into sound…something flowing into a range between pure ecstasy and gentle touches! I obviously invite you to check out what Haco extensively explains in this interesting interview.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Haco! How are you?
Haco: I’m doing pretty good. Thanks.
Chain D.L.K.: Even if you’re new to the scene, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Haco: I’m a singer, lyricist, composer, sound artist, studio producer, and have given performances throughout Japan and internationally. I formed my first band, called After Dinner, in 1981, and the band started to tour abroad in 1987. I released my first solo album in 1995, and my first solo tour of Europe was in 1996. Around 1997, I formed an all-female trio, Hoahio, and two of our records were released on John Zorn’s label, Tzadik. My forthcoming 7th solo album, “Qoosui” will be released on September 1st via Room 40’s sibling label Someone Good, and I am really excited about it.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you continue to give workshops on sound-related topics? Can you share something about the last one you gave?
Haco: Yes, I do. Last November, I was invited to give a lecture as a public master class, entitled “Parallel Audio Journeys – Between Sound Art and Avant Pop” at Wintec (School of Media Arts Waikato Institute of Technology) in Hamilton, New Zealand, and also collaborated with the composers, sound artists, and multimedia artists who teach at Wintec. We worked together on the recording and performance for creating the video. It was a part of the workshop on improvisation as a research project. And they will release those around this December.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the most difficult aspect of translating sound into words or lessons?
Haco: It’s almost impossible to translate sound itself into words for me. I talk about the concept of the sound projects and usually show some audio examples, or some sounds performing by myself as a demo.
Chain D.L.K.: The first record by yourself that reached my desk and my headphones came years ago, Happiness Proof. It featured an impressive quality of sound, but it was completely different from a stylistic viewpoint to Qoosui, your last one…the quality of sound could be a point of intersections…do you see other possible connections between your first releases and Qoosui?
Haco: There is a song called “Feather Time” on the album Happiness Proof, where I tried making a kind of sound-wall by using electric guitars and sample loops, and one Shoegazing song, “Anesthesia Love” on the “Qoosui” record could be heard as one of the intersections, I guess.
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s focus on Qoosui…what’s the meaning of the title?
Haco: “Qoosui” is a coined word from me. Originally, it’s from one of the titles of this album’s songs, “Kusui”, which is written words in Japanese (with two ‘kanji’ characters) by Hidekazu Imashige. I just changed the spelling “ku” to “qoo”, which sounds the same. “Qoo” means ‘air’ or ’emptiness’, and “sui” means ‘clearness’ or ‘water’.
Chain D.L.K.: There are tracks like Tidal where the voice seems one with the surrounding sounds…but is there anything in the human voice that sound-machines can never or can hardly render?
Haco: Of course, yeah. I feel the voice is totally organic, like a fresh fruit or vegetable, when it comes to recording, and I definitely need that taste for my songs. Even if they look similar, you absolutely can recognize the difference between real fruits and fake fruits made from wax.
Chain D.L.K.: You used many contact mics to grab natural sounds…can you tell us something about the places where you grabbed sounds? Why did you choose these places?
Haco: I sometimes use a contact microphone, which is a piezo-ceramic sender for capturing solid vibrations, like on a bridge or so. For natural sounds like ripple waves, birds singing, and so on, I mostly use a pair of sensitive ear-plugged microphones. And I’ve used the inductive microphones (analogue telephone pickups) for picking up the electromagnetic waves inside of the tram in Osaka and Melbourne, Australia.
Chain D.L.K.: There are some songs in English. Can you provide some explanation of the ones in Japanese?
Haco: The “Kusui” song is about the mountains, and “Seiren” is about the sea; this Japanese word is similar to Siren by chance.
Chain D.L.K.: Japanese culture is mostly known for the constant balance between tradition, nature and progress. Would you say that Qoosui mirrors such a balance in a way?
Haco: Most of the lyrics of the songs on Qoosui are something related to nature and the universe. Japanese people have a tradition of feeling nature is mystic and sometimes symbolic and admiring it, yet all kinds of people around the world can have such feelings, I believe. And the sound in Qoosui is made from layered ambient electronics, field-recorded materials, and sampled guitars and kora (African string instrument). I could say that Qoosui has a more borderless world itself.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the meaning of White Letter from Heaven? Something related to the above-mentioned Japanese culture?
Haco: “White Letter from Heaven” expressed the snow. And it’s a story I made up about someone getting healed and purifying on the snowy path. It’s gently superimposed on imaginary scenes from nature.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there any track where you experienced a total and almost mystical symbiosis with the sound you forged? If so, what did you have in mind while forging sounds?
Haco: At the beginning, I don’t have really clear images of the sound, but after making the words and melody line, I mostly have some kind of blueprint of the recording that I’m doing, and sometimes it would turn over to something like you described above, a “mystical symbiosis with the sound.” It’s a pleasant moment as a producer.
Chain D.L.K.: Any recommendation on how a listener can better appreciate Qoosui?
Haco: Feel free to imagine everything that you like on this planet and in the universe.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you record Qoosui in your studio in Kobe?
Haco: I collaborated with Stabilo (Speaker Gain Teardrop) and Gallery Six, masters of the Hiroshima ambient scene, and Tarnovski (Gurun Gurun), a key figure in Czech experimental-electro music. They sent me their separate tracks and some sound materials, and I recorded all my vocal parts, playing sampler, and electronics in my studio in Kobe. At the end, I mixed all of the tracks by myself.
Chain D.L.K.: Any other work in progress?
Haco: Two collaborative recording projects with the German electronic artist, Stefan Schneider, and with the Czech electro-acoustic quartet, Gurun Gurun, are in progress.
visit Haco on the web at: www.hacohaco.net