Having started producing her own music at an astonishingly early age (in grade five or grade six, by her recollection) 4s4ki released her first full album in 2020, and makes her Fuji Rock debut this year. I caught up with her via Zoom, to get a feel for where she is headed.
Tiernan: At what age did you first get interested in producing music?
4s4ki: It was in the fifth or sixth grade that I first made music by myself. When I was very young I played the Electone, but I couldn’t read sheet music, so I tried to learn songs by ear. Gradually, through that, I developed the ability to compose musical arrangements by ear. And, that’s how I started producing my own music, towards the end of elementary school.
Tiernan: Of course, since you are Japanese – and might write most of your lyrics in Japanese – I’d like to know which Japanese artists influenced your music. However, since I am introducing you to a western audience, I’d also like to know if there were any western influences on your musical debut.
4s4ki: I’d say I wanted to be a (music) producer from the get go, so people like Nakata Yasutaka and Porter Robinson were my greatest influences. Of course, they are primarily track makers, and they also perform in front of people.
Tiernan: I listened to some of your earliest tracks, and some of your most recent work. And, it seems to me that when you started out, your music was more gentle, but it seems to have gotten darker and harder as you went along. Is that correct, or how do you feel about this?
4s4ki: In the early stages, (I think) my skills were not good enough to express what I wanted to do. So, I was doing what I liked and what I could do at the time. However, over time, my skills developed – and I also liked Japanese anime songs – so, over time, those became an influence as my skills got better. And, you know, what you pointed out (about how I started off gentle and then became more agressive) is something I agree with.
Tiernan: I am a bit of a gear nerd, and I know there are many of us around the world. So, on behalf of all people like me, I’d like to ask you about your signal chain; from your choice of instruments, and microphones, to processors, etc. In short, could you please tell us about your favorite pieces of gear, as well as your signal chains, and processors that you like to use; from your sources to your software choices?
4s4ki: I use Logic, in terms of a DAW. I tried a few other DAW’s, but they never felt comfortable to me. I’m also a big fan of piano sounds, so I like using a MIDI piano which can get me a good piano sound. I’m not one to pay too much attention to the model names of my gear but, in terms of brands, I’m using an M-Audio keyboard with 61 keys, mostly, as well as a Blue mic. The mic was a gift, so I don’t really remember the model name. I am not much of a gear nerd. I’ll use whatever is in front of me – if it feels good – and do whatever I can with it.
Tiernan: I hear that Björk has a similar approach….
4s4ki: Yeah, and I hear that Grimes makes her own sounds as well, so that’s what I aspire to do.
Tiernan: Could you please tell me some of your favorite songs that you’d like to present – particularly – to western audiences?
4s4ki: This July (2021) I released an album called “Castle in Madness” on which you can find a track called “Obon,”; about the Japanese festival of the same name, to honor one’s departed loved ones. And, I don’t know if any western countries have this type of custom, but that is part of Japanese culture in the summertime. And, I hope that people in western countries can enjoy this sample of Japanese culture.
Tiernan: Have you ever performed overseas and, if you have not, where are some places that you’d like to perform?
4s4ki: In terms of performing overseas, I performed at a festival in Taiwan in 2019. And, from now on, I’d like to perform all around the world.
Tiernan: What were your favorite performances of your career so far?
4s4ki: On my birthday, on March 11th of this year, I had a solo show that I really liked. And, before, I didn’t really rehearse much for shows. But, for that one, I put in a lot of preparation time, so I feel that it was my best performance so far.
Tiernan: What can fans expect from you at Fuji Rock this year? Will it be something different to what you’ve done before?
4s4ki: I am going to use a new instrument at Fuji Rock this year, and I have a new song to perform. So, I hope that people will enjoy it. Also, like the show I did for my birthday, I put my soul into the lighting; so I hope people will enjoy that as well. I will also play piano by myself at Fuji Rock 2021, which is something that people cannot hear on my albums.
Tiernan: I heard a rumor that – despite the fact that you released a new album in July of 2021 – that you actually have a new recording in the works. Is that true? If so, what can we expect, and when might it be coming out?
4s4ki: I am planning to release something new by the end of this year. It’s a collaboration with another artist, but the person’s name isn’t being publicly revealed yet.
Tiernan: Do you have a message for your potential foreign fans who might come to see you, or might want to check out your music?
4s4ki: I’ve never been to the Fuji Rock festival before, so I find it quite amazing to be going there for the first time as an artist. And, during my set, I am going to give you the coolest, most attractive performance I can, while bringing you the best music I have. So, I hope everyone can come and watch my set. Also, for those who cannot attend the festival, please be ready for my new releases which will be coming out in the future.
Tiernan: Thank you very much for that, and thank you very much for doing this interview, 4s4ki!
4s4ki: Thank you very much!
4s4ki makes her Fuji Rock debut on August 22 (Sun) from 21:00 to 21:45 on the RED MARQUEE stage.