Week 4, Final Week of Studio Kura

Blink and you’ll miss it... That’s how it felt like the past month went at Studio Kura. The final week of my stay at the artist residency was spent exploring Fukuoka prefecture and all (as much as I could get to by train) to offer. Fellow artists and I went walking through the wilderness, exploring the history of Kyushu in museums and castles, searching through second-hand stores, taking quick Shamisen lessons, and even relaxing in an onsen (it’s weird). We’ve met up for dinner, eaten amazing food and discussed plans for the future. It’s an amazing experience to be able to travel to a foreign country to live and work but having like-minded, talented and kind people working around you at the same time makes it unforgettable.

All the work displayed over the two weekends of the festival was world class quality and deserves all the praise and recognition it received. And that goes double for all the staff who worked to organise and facilitate all that went into the festival. Having a space to work on a single project and then display it in a festival setting is something that can be hard to find and everyone at Studio Kura work so hard to provide a great work and living space for their artists.

I didn’t change anything in my work between the two weekends of showing but I did start planning the album form the work will take. Right now, it seems like a 12-track album of both individual field recordings and the combination of recordings and music will be what I put together for a low-key online release (unless someone wants to split the cost of producing a physical version). Hopefully we can set up a performance of the work back home so the work can continue to live on in a spatialised capacity. That will be a complete outcome of a great month of working and recording the sounds of Fukuoka and Itoshima.

At the moment I’m on a Shinkansen train going between Fukuoka and Okayama looking back at pictures I’ve taken over the month and already reminiscing about all the fun we have had. I’ll be making my way around some of the big cities of Japan for the next two weeks. Maybe there will be blog posts but who knows? Tomorrow my plan is to head out to the island of art museums on Naoshima and see all that I can see and then Osaka and on and on.

And I guess all that is left is to dump a few photos up here on the blog…

Third Week and showing!

I missed posting last week so here is the make up…

Last week was the lead up to the opening of the Itoshima Arts Farm festival that was being held here with the assistance of Studio Kura. I spent the entire week working to finalise the piece of music and get it ready for presentation. I always had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted to present the piece in a physical space so it was really a matter of finding the best way to implement that idea. There are always restrictions when doing any kind of work and things like getting power to the speakers, being able to synchronise the outputs, and positioning the speakers so that the spatialisation was a effective were some of these restrictions.

In the end it all worked out and the presentation actually ended up looking very nice (if I do say so myself).

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Then opening day came! On the saturday we had a big crowd come through on a tour through the festival. We each spoke about our work for a few minutes to give people an idea of what they were seeing, or in my case hearing. I always find it a little weird to talk about my work as I don’t often work with conceptual ideas in mind. I explained the influences on the piece, why it is displayed through spatialised 8 speakers, how the piece is structured and why it is important to capture field recordings and compare them.

On the sunday of the festival I ran a workshop that we developed through the Sounding Canberra program. It was a great experience to get to teach people, young and old, about the history and techniques that can be used in field recordings. Showing examples and explaining the technology I think helped people understand how and why people do field recordings.

 Pictures courtesy of Studio Kura SNS

Pictures courtesy of Studio Kura SNS

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This week I’ve been making the most of the areas around me and going for long day trips to see sights and take lessons from locals. Maybe next week will be a travel blog post…

Second week!

Second week of the residency down! This week has been full of bike riding and soundscaping. I began the week by completing the structures for the two tapes (sounds from Itoshima and Fukuoka) that will make the base of the installation. I then moved onto working through the hour of sound planning out the appropriate compositions to go with sections of time. I also planned the work to have a macro structure of a kind of ternary form, going through modal changes that would resolve in the key the piece begins in. (We’ll see how effective this is…)

I also began planning the workshop that I’ll be running during the festival weekend. The workshop will be an adaptation of the workshop Sounding Canberra ran back in September and will show participants a few approaches the field recording that they can take with them and develop. We will discuss the history of the medium and also it’s implications.

But it hasn’t been all-work-no-play, we’ve also had a few great trips around the area. On tuesday we were taken to the Saga prefecture to see the way washi paper is made and I’ll just say that it is an incredible process that has amazing results. The variations in the paper show the level of skill the craftsmen are working with and you could often mistake the paper for fabrics.

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There also seems to be a few things I’ve failed to mention in any kind of blog post recently. First off, I recently launched a Twitch channel called Limited Live. The idea of LimitedLive is to have a space where people can come and perform and an audience can view those performances through the Twitch platform. I’m a big fan of Twitch and I think it has the potential for a good deal of music streaming. Secondly, I also launched (on the twitch channel) a new record I put together under the act name of Soft Hollow. The record is titled ‘S’ and is the first of what will be many records.

Please go and check out the record and give it a download on Bandcamp or stream on all the streaming services.

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First week in Japan! 1st week of Studio Kura Residency!

Well, I guess it’s as good a time as any to post on the blog… Today is Friday, 5/10/18 and the last weekday of the first week of my one month residency with Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan. It has been a jam-packed start to the month! We began by checking in and meeting all the other residents for the month (check them all out on the guests page on the Kura website). Getting settled into the space and meeting the artists has been incredibly easy and comfortable.

I was then off into the wilderness with my handy H2N Zoom mic. Setting out to capture the sounds of the Itoshima area and all that brings with it.

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From the hidden mountain shrines to the open rice fields, there is no shortage of interesting sounds to capture. All together, I’d say I’ve taken over an hour of recordings in the immediate area.

As my project is to take recordings of both Itoshima and Fukuoka city and compose music to the compiled recordings I have also taken a trip into the city with just that intention. Setting the mic up on street corners, outside parks and across from construction sites I’ve come to learn the soundscape of areas of Fukuoka.

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It hasn’t all been walking around outside with a Zoom mic and listening back in the studio (actually not much studio time so far). We’ve also had some indescribable experiences. On Tuesday two other residents and myself went for lunch in a small community centre with some locals and then our guide took us into the mountains to a Buddhist temple. We took part in a prayer service which was a surreal experience to say the least. I’m looking forward to more adventures with the entire group!

Now that I’ve put the field recordings together for their respective sections, (bar one night recording I’d like to make) I am beginning to work on structuring the piece and formulating ideas for displaying the work. Those aspects will most likely be worked out during next week.

I am taking inspiration from the natural world as well as the man made, and I’ve been reading up on some very basic Japanese compositional techniques that may find their way into the work. Mostly taking scales, modes and maybe some melodic material… But it is still very much a work in progress and there will be even more updates to come!

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WWise Show-reel!

Another blog post?! So soon after the last?! Weird... But this is a quick post so that the video is in as many places as possible so the internet can find it.

I have uploaded my Wwise show-reel!! Now let's make some games!!