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Sawako Vital Stats
Birthplace: Nagano, Japan

Uta Tane

Boulder Planetarium 2007 CMKY


bitter sweet (2008)
hi bi no ne - split CD /w. Daisuke Miyatani (2008)
Summer Tour (2007)
madoromi (2007)
hum (2005)
omnibus (2005/2)
yours gray... (2004)
fishwish (2004)
cotor: (2003)
nin... (2003)
nana... (2002)

Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link:
Interview Comments

Sawako Interview

Sawako - Photo by Buzz Andersen - click for full size At the border between the sounds of life and the traditions of music is the place you'll find a new style of artist. "Not functional... but miracle!" is the apt motto of Sawako. Her sound creations can be described by many terms, but "traditional" is certainly not one of them. Born in Nagano, Japan and now living in New York, Sawako has traveled quite a distance in her never ending quest to expand the borders of music. So do whatever you do to expand your own mind and take a trip into the world of soundscapes.

On November 21, 2008 Sawako was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. Photos by Taylor Deupree, Scott Gordon Bleicher, Ellie, Erin and Buzz Andersen.

You have been described as a sculpture of sound. How do you think your approach to recording differs from more traditional musical groups?

Sawako - Photo by Taylor Deupree - click for full size It is because I am using the FFT and other processing technique to sculpt the sound (audio waves). The process is like clay. I am changing the shape of actual sound (wave) rather than thinking about combinations and variations of musical notes and musical gestures. It's like watching sound waves with a microscope in the lab!

What types of things inspire you when you are creating your works?

Shining ephemeral moments and miracles of everyday life.

When you record songs like Uta Tane or looped labyrinth do you try to create a certain mood or feeling? Or do you put the sounds together and let the mood naturally take shape?

Let the sound wave naturally take shape. I become a vessel of sound flow. Mood might be changed in the process of creation by the computer, but the signature of the original wave shape remains somewhere.

Sawako - Photo by Erin - click for full size Let's learn a little about your background. You were born in Nagoya, Japan. As a child what types of activities did you most enjoy?

Reading many books. Singing. Going to see many cinemas. I was not a sports person at all.

What kind of student were you? Did you have a favorite class?

I was the typical "All A+ (except sports)" and class representative type student. I thought the school works were too easy and boring, so was reading advanced physics, philosophy and math books. Also I liked to go to the contemporary art galleries and exhibits. On Kawara has been one of my favorite artists since I was 10 years old.

Sawako - Photo by Scott Gordon Bleicher - click for full size What inspired you to come to New York?

I had no interest about New York or USA before moving here. But I fell in love with the mission and attitude of the Interactive Telecommunication Program in New York University.

Tell us a little about your experience attending the school.

ITP (I don't know about other departments in NYU and am sure the atmospheres are diverse depending on departments) is the super nice fun community! You can read more about what I think about the department in this interview.

How different did life seem living so far from Japan?

I guess there are many similarities between Tokyo and NYC, and especially because I live in the geek community and the online world--the life is not so much different everywhere in the world. (My friends' musicians are traveling, so I often meet the same people in different cities in the world.)

In NYC there are many various "real" Japanese restaurants, Japanese super markets, free daily or weekly newspapers, Kinokuniya, Muji etc. That's the big difference between Berlin and NYC.

There is no "convenient stores" in NYC. That's bad thing of NYC.

Sawako - Photo by Ellie - click for full size Has living for many years in another country changed your view of life and the world?

It gives me more diverse choices of viewpoint, rather than changes my view. I talk in Japanese with Japanese people with Japanese way of thinking and in English with those who can't speak Japanese. So, I feel I have slightly different 2 or more identities inside of mine.

In 2006 you were the recipient for a grant from the Jerome Foundation on behalf of the Roulette Intermedium. Tell us what you created.

I created the sound art performance using a crystal radio. You can find more info in this web page.

At what point did you decide you wanted to record your own albums?

At the time of my early handmade cassette tapes and CDRs I wanted to make the package and present it somewhere -- then I realized that I needed the contents, the music. I liked to buy the cute papers and stickers more than make music. So, to record my own albums was not so strong a desire at that time. At that time, I wanted to connect to people all over the world, rather than becoming an artist or musician. The packaged media named CD as well as online music communities really suited for the purpose.

Then, the label owner approached me about the release of my first CD album. So it was born.

What type of projects do you plan to work on for the rest of the year and 2009?

Sawako - Photo by Scott Gordon Bleicher - click for full size I just finished 5.1 surround sound piece using the field recording in Tokyo and NYC. As to upcoming projects. . . several collaborations with musicians and dancers, some tracks with the piano or violins or glasses, start to create my 5th album, musical or non-musical iPhone apps, digging more about audio/visual performance and insteration, a performance in Limo at Armory show, music for fashion etc etc...

And I want to play with dolphins in Hawaii to make an audio photo book!

Do you have a final message to all the people who have enjoyed your creations?

Smile and dream * * *

For more info checkout Sawako's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments