Aritomo is a Japanese singer/songwriter. He released quite a lot of LPs so far. All of the music of Aritomo is recorded analog. He never uses digital. Aritomo’s music hardly resembles any other folk music, but rather is a sort of experimental progressive folk rock.
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
I was not interested in music when I was a child. I disliked song oriented programs on TV. But when I was young teenager, I started enjoying only Chage’s and Aska’s songs. “Chage and Aska” are famous Japanese artists. Their songs are still my favorites and I think Aska still keeps making great songs. Next, when I was late teenager, I listened to early albums by Public Image Limited (PiL). At that time, PiL was already a very old music. But I was shocked because their music is not like popular music I knew at all. That experience is the event that make music special to me. Their albums Metal Box and Flowers of Romance are my favorites.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
When I was in late teens, I wanted to start making something. It is an impulse that does not have concrete. What is “something”? Painting? Sculpture? Movies? Cartoon? Theater? I did not know. I did not know exactly what to do, so I began aiming at arts university first. I like to draw pictures since I was a child. When I entered arts university, I was fascinated with vinyl record. I bought a turntable because I wanted to listen to side B of PiL’s singles. PiL CDs did not include side B songs of singles. When listening to vinyl records, I noticed the difference in sound quality. It is better than CD. Even side A songs began to charm me. I wanted to listen more vinyl records. And I wanted to make LP record by myself. Music is part of the material of vinyl record. And music was already special to me, so I decided to make music.
“Mamitori Ulithi Empress Yonaguni San” is a band you are involved with. How does it differ from your solo projects?
The band name will change to “Mamitri Yulith Empress Yonaguni San” for the next LP (“o” is removed. And “Ulithi” changes to “Yulith”). The band name was simply “Mamitori” first. The band name will continue to change. Well. I play 12 string guitar in the band. I’m not the band leader. I’m not the vocalist. Almost all song-writings are by the band leader. In other words, the band music and my solo project are totally different things. Only my guitar playing may be alike. All the band members except me are genius. So Mamitri Yulith Empress Yonaguni San’s music is really nice. I first met the leader at the university festival. At that time, he was playing alone on the stage. His live performances were extremely amazing, so I spoke to him. It is one of the best encounters in my life.
What’s the songwriting process like?
I will first make a fictitious story in my mind. Those stories will reflect my concerns and my thoughts unconsciously. With those stories as a motif I write lyrics. While I’m jogging, I organize ideas in my mind. While jogging, I produce also melodies. Next, I use the guitar to find chords that fits those melodies. Or I make nice chord progression first. And I add melodies with lyrics. About the method of arrangement, it differs every time...
What are some of your influences?
Regarding lyrics, everything in my life...
Regarding sound, all the music I enjoy and all the music I dislike. My initial encounter with folk music was Mick Stevens. He is a 1970s British SSW. I am already tired of many folk music, but I really still continue enjoying Mick’s music. His music is really great for me. Recently, I want to make music that does not resemble other artists. Music that does not resemble even my favorite artists. Of course, each of the fine parts will resemble some of other music. For example, because I like many 1970s Chilean folk rock, I use 12 string guitar and percussion. But ultimately my music does not resemble their music. I want to make music that is not similar to anything overall. But this may be an opinion on the superficial aspects of music. The spirit itself that wants to create its own work would have been influenced by many other predecessors. For example, PiL, Klaus Dinger... Among recent artists, Syrup16g... And Mamitri Yulith Empress Yonaguni San.
Can you share some further details how your latest album El Ala De Mi Homunculo was recorded and released?
My 5th LP was a failed work. I released it in 2011. But I threw all stock of the LP’s because it was lame. I had to reflect on my own music. In 2011, Mamitori was recording 3rd LP. Their 3rd LP was the turning point of our music. And the LP is really a masterpiece. I learned that artists have to keep changing. I mimicked my past in my 5th LP. I think it is a cause. Next, I released my 6th LP La Flor De Mi Tulpa. It is a masterpiece because I tried to do new things. And, I had to make a masterpiece beyond 6th LP. The result of that effort is this 7th LP El Ala De Mi Homunculo. It may be an evolutionary type of 6th LP, but it is not a degraded type of 6th LP. I tried to do more new things.
What do you think about analog technology compered to digital?
Digital is very useful. For example, I think the Internet and virtual currency are very wonderful. Digital is also very useful in music. But the sound quality of the digital is limited. Some digital believers insist on the theory that digital sound quality is excellent. However, perhaps they have never heard of analog sounds in first place. For example, sound of glockenspiel is understandable easily for difference. Digital can never reproduce sound of glockenspiel of analog recording. It is a plump sound. I think, mankind will continue living with digital without throwing away some analog technology.
What kind of process do you have at mastering material for the release?
I never use digital machines for recording. Many people misunderstand when I talk about it. I never use even PC. I use 8 track MTR of reel-to-reel tape deck for recording. My electric guitars use only analog effects. Tape-echo, spring reverb, analog tube Leslie machine, etc. And I use analog mixer and 2 track reel-to-reel tape deck for master tapes. And cutting engineer use the analog master tape for LP directly. There is no digital involvement in my solo music. It seems like recording before 1970s. I have been doing it since about my 1st LP. Why? I have trouble studying digital machine usage. And of course, I love analog sound. I do recordings to make vinyl record that I want.
You released a wide selections of recordings. Would you like to discuss your previous work as a solo artist?
My 1st to 5th LP are imitation of other artists. But I am clumsy so some songs are unique, because I could not mimic well. I like some parts of my 3rd LP. And 6th LP La Flor De Mi Tulpa is really nice.
Most of your releases have a very personal touch to it. Albums are created in DIY spirit.
I did all the song-writings, all the playing of instruments, all the singing, all the engineering of recording, all the design of each sleeve, ... except for 7 inch single from 2008. Some people misunderstand and think I use a female vocalist for chorus. All voices are by me. The range of my voice is wide. To do all of the making process for the LP only by myself is natural for me. But I recently noticed that it is very special. Most other artists don’t do it. Until a few years ago I did not even know the word “DIY”. There is no special intention to these processes, but perhaps my work will change if others are involved. Only on 7 inch from 2008, another musician participated. She is a violinist. I can not play the violin and she accepted to record. I think it was a good exception.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands?
I continue to see Syrup16g frequently over the few years. They are the most wonderful Japanese rock band. The lyrics written by the vocalist/guitarist Takashi Igarashi are extremely unique and pierce my heart. His chord progression and guitar sound are abnormal for goodness.
And I listen to CDs of Haisuinonasa recently. They are also a Japanese rock band. I didn’t get to their concert yet. Because their music is really unique, I want to see them live.
I released omnibus LPs Esperanza De OTO 1 & 2 on my label Hakanairo Records. Both LPs include nice modern artists. Please listen to the sample sound clips of each LP. Bicho Pablo is a really nice Chilean SSW. Anton Senchi is a musician that I admire. Also I released his new solo LP in 2015 etc.
And I released Ariomi Morimoto’s LP on my label last year. He released cassette album Timeline. Because it is really nice SSW album, I asked about releasing LP edition to him. And we released it soon after. Because we made only a few copies of the LP, the LP is already sold out. But he has some stock of cassette edition. Please listen to it.
What are some future plans?
I’d like to make more new music and should create more new music. Many artists continue to imitate past masterpieces. They are already just like traditional arts. And they are so wonderful. It is nice that goodness of past masterpieces will be succeeded to the next generation. Traditional arts are needed for the world. But because I am clumsy, I can not imitate masterpieces well. Anyway, even if I do not do traditional arts, many other artists will continue to make music like traditional arts. I will leave that mission to them. So I would like to try other things, something new in music.
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
All albums of Syrup16g are really nice. The album Coup d’Etat is the best. But the goodness of their music may be hard to understand...
But I hope many listeners will continue to challenge to listen to newer music.