Since dropping his debut EP “Balance” in 2016 through Jalapeno Records, Asta Hiroki focused on quality over quantity and recently released “Hiding Place” feat Lylli. In order to make the track shine, he decided to find a unique vocalist. In details, he tells us how that happened, “I had the track production more or less finished and was searching for a very specific type of vocalist. I knew I wanted nuanced, delicate, and sensual vocals that would suit the instrumentation and sit above it comfortably”. Besides producing extended plays he also released tracks in compilations such as Jalapeno Soul Sisters Vol 1, Sunfall and made a remix of “Mbali” from Tristan de Liege.
It’s not uncommon nowadays for collaborations to take place completely remotely, as technology bridged how musicians connect and relationships are fostered. He found her online as he explains “After trawling through Spotify and SoundCloud for potential candidates I found Lylli’s back catalog and from listening to her I knew she’d be perfect for it. So I reached out to her, and we had a couple of conversations about it before she sent over some lyrics and tracks which I then mixed remotely”. When making music solo, collaborating is always a good way to validate ideas and get input from other creative minds, in “Her Image In Focus” he joined forces with Australian singer Kathrin deBoer.
Blending organic recordings, live instruments and fragmented ambiances, Hiroki’s music has a refined touch rarely found nowadays. As someone who’s been playing music since a young age, he understands the nuances and efforts required to make great art.
“I learnt several instruments when I was younger and then got turned on to music production at Britannia Row Studio in Islington, London. It was Pink Floyd’s old studios where they recorded ‘Animals’ and some of ‘The Wall’. I’d travel there once a week and was producing music and visual art almost every day as a hobby”. He cultivated his love for arts through his mother who is an artist: a painter, sculptor and ceramicist.
To add a more human feel to his compositions, he uses several methods and tools, and is not afraid to experiment in order to find a good idea that can be turned into a tune. “Once I have the direction down it’s then a case of finding that idea or motif that fits the bill and gets things rolling. I have some go-to gear (Fender Rhodes, Dave Smith Instruments Rev2 synth, MPC1000, TASCAM portable recorder, a beat up fleamarket-bought classical guitar) but it really varies from piece to piece. I’ll mostly use Logic X as my workflow is quicker in there, but also I’ll also use Ableton and Pro Tools on occasion or for specific projects”.
To keep things fresh and interesting he likes to expand his sound ambit by collaborating with live players and often blends Foley recordings into his productions. “I’ll often take field recordings with a TASCAM recorder or use just the tail of sound waves for interesting organic elements and ambiance. There’s usually always live instruments in my work in the shape of guitars, bass, piano, Fender Rhodes, and I’ve recently been working with some wonderful instrumentalists (harp, clarinet, saxophone, drums and strings) who are adding even more to my mixing palette and playing the things that I can’t”.
The hardest thing about any creative endeavor is to start, so having an idea even if it’s just a thought is beneficial to an artist’s creative workflow. “It all begins with an inkling of what I want to do… I like to conceptualise what I want a piece to be or what I want to convey, and I find that though it may well change by the end of the process, doing this at the start really helps with a sense of direction and also avoids the trap of making beats ‘just because” he says. It’s clear that besides musical elements, Hiroki’s music is also influenced by visuals such as video and photographs, and he often finds himself filming his daily life.
Very few people can express themselves in more than one artistic medium, as making art is usually a lifelong pursuit. Besides composing and mixing his own work, he also creates art for people to see and not just hear in his live performances. He accomplishes that by using several tools and techniques, blending different kinds of software as he explains, “The visual work for my live performances is a blend of previously produced material and live effects. This is layered up using both regular self-filmed, glitch and generative footage produced by my performance tools and additional found footage which is then all edited together on Final Cut”. It is apparent, that creating independent of the medium is on his DNA, as few producers nowadays seem so committed to his craft as he is.
The key to be constantly creating, revolves around being consistent. Most creators wait for inspiration to strike but the ones with an outstanding output create their own inspiration. To avoid writer’s block, Hiroki knows that a consistent creative schedule, is paramount for making an impact with your art as he explains “I try to work on something creative every day if I can, whether it be music, photography, visuals, or something else”.
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