|AUBE is a solo project, begun in 1991, by Akifumi Nakajima. Taking a minimalist approach for his recordings, Nakajima uses simple source sounds which are fed into his system, then heavily processed into a vast, dimensional, landscape of sonic textures. Source sounds can range from the organic sounds of gurgling water, to isolating elements of technology, such as the curious hum of luminous lamps. The result is a mixture of controlled manipulation and beautiful accident. "I don't think of myself as a musician or an artist. I'm a designer. I therefore consider my sound works to be designs as well." Since May of 1992, Nakajima started and continues to operate G.R.O.S.S. -- his own cassette label dedicated to releasing experimental music, and noise, in addition to his own recordings as Aube. He has worked on recordings with artists from Japan, Europe and the United States in various different capacities and has designed packaging for many other releases.|
INTERVIEW WITH AUBE by
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF AUBE?|
Since 1980, I have been recording electronic music by myself. mainly for my own pleasure. I did this using analog synthesizers and some effects - very much like a home taper. In 1990, I met some contemporary artists in Japan who I became friends with. They asked me to come up with a soundtrack to be used for their art installations on exhibition. At that time, their installations involved water. So, I came up with the soundtrack, using water sounds with some sythesizers. I consider this to be my first real recorded work. I made and released a total of four cassettes for them. However, these were not recorded as Aube. In 1991, I came into contact with some Japanese noise artists and what they were doing. The owner of Vanilla Records was interested in my previous works and he asked me to release a cassette on his label. This is when Aube began. The first appearance as Aube was a track titled "Torpedo" which was released on the "Come Again" triple 7" compilation.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TRADITIONAL MUSICAL TRAINING?
No. I don't know how to play actual instruments such as guitar, bass, drums, or keyboards in any sort of formal way. I know enough of computers to use MIDI, and I'm familiar with analog or digital effects, mixing and multi track recordings...
WHAT ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
Since 1975, I have been a great fan and avid collector of '70s German electronics and experimental music such as Amon-Duul I and II, Ash Ra Temple, Can, Faust, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Popol Vuh, Klaus Schultze, Tangerine Dream and others. I still really love it. I am a fanatic collector of anything by Kraftwerk. I discovered industrial, post-industrial, avant garde and noise music somewhere in the mid '80s and enjoy much of that as well.
DO YO ENJOY ANY TRADITIONAL JAPANESE MUSIC?
No. Not really.
WHAT DOES "AUBE" MEAN IN ENGLISH?
Aube is actually a French word. It has several meanings, such as "dawn", "water-turbine", "white cloth", "the river's name" and so on.
AUBE INTERVIEW by Klas Sjogren
This is an interview conducted at Fylkingen, in conjuction with Aube making an absolutely mesmerizing performance at the Nursery Injection festival onboard the m/s Stubnitz on the 4:th of June 1998.
AUBE MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS. WAS IT AN IDEA FROM THE BEGINNING TO CHANGE ALL THE TIME?
Yes, it is natural since I'm always changing the soundsources for my recordings.
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE AUBE?
I've never been in any groups or even made music before Aube. A long time ago, when I was a teenager I was heavily into collecting vinylrecords of electronic music. At that time I only listened to music by myself and I bought some electronic effects records and I liked the idea of just listening to sounds by myself.
IN WHAT WAY DO YOU THINK THAT JAPANESE NOISE OR ELECTRONICS ARTISTS DIFFER FROM EUROPEAN OR AMERICAN ARTISTS?
Nowadays there are no big differences but I think since the mid 80s japanese noise music became popular because of the many appearances by Merzbow or Hijo Kaidan who were already using noise on record. At that time many foreigners were surprised that it was so loud and noisy.
DO YOU THINK THAT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS NOISE WAVE FROM JAPAN HAS A CONNECTION TO JAPAN AS A COUNTRY OR JAPANESE PEOPLE...THAT THE MUSIC HAS BEEN SO HARD AND NOISY?
Japanese culture is very different from European or American culture. As you know Japan is very small but very modern and contemporary. Tokyo is the most crowded and busy city in the world and always noisy. There are the noisy sounds from the street or from between the buildings. In some ways parts of our lives are always noisy.
SO NOISE IS PERHAPS A PART OF DAY TO DAY JAPANESE LIVING?
Yes, it's natural in Japan.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LATEST WORKS.
My latest recording was used for a doublealbum. One disc was made from the sound of ice and the other was made from the sounds of space.
HOW DO YOU RECORD THE SOUNDS OF SPACE?
I had some documentary tapes and documentary cds and vinyl containing the sounds of space, a kind of discussion between astronauts in a spacecenter and there was also transmission noise between earth and space and so I used some of them. Both discs are entitled Comet because comets are made from ice in space. It was an idea from the record label.
YOU RECENTLY RECORDED THE SOUNDS OF YOURSELF RIPPING APART PAGES OF THE BIBLE. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THAT IDEA?
That was also an idea from the label. Some people know that I always use one limited sourcematerial per release and the label asked me whether I could make sounds from any material, so I replied that I can do anything with material that features sound. Then they sent me a biblebook and asked me to make the album from using only that bible.
WAS IT SYMBOLIC THAT IT WAS THE BIBLE AND NOT ANY OTHER BOOK?
I think that half and half they wanted it to be symbolic but on the other hand, as you know, the pages of the bible are very thin and make interesting sounds and so they came up with the idea to send it to me.
HAS THERE BEEN STRONG REACTIONS FROM RELIGIOUS PEOPLE?
I don't know. I'm afraid of it (laughs).
DO YOU THINK IT'S A CHALLENGE TO MAKE SOUNDS OUT OF ANYTHING?
I look at it as practise or training. I don't consider myself as a musician. My real job is industrial designer so for me, I regard soundrecordings as design. I also make the design for most of my packages.
DO YOU USE THE SAME METHODS THAT YOU USE IN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN?
I think it's all the same. The exception is graphic design. Industrial design always has a customer and there's always a double-client role. There's the company that wants you to make the product and there's the customer who buys the product. I feel it's the same with this kind of underground music scene. The client as a company is the label and people who buy the product are customerclients.
SO COMPARED TO A NORMAL ROCKMUSICIAN WORKING WITH INNER EMOTIONS AND SO ON, YOU LOOK AT YOUR MUSIC AS DESIGN?
Yes. Some noiseartists still continue with the rockmusic image. Kind of an expression of their imagination or mind itself and sometimes I include my imagination in my recordings but mostly I don't use my emotions in my work.
HAS COMPUTERDESIGN DEVELOPED THIS WAY OF THINKING?
Yes of course. It's all becoming very easy. I think it's up to the creator's mind. To use the computer or digital equipment makes making sounds easy but sometimes I feel there's too much technological output. If someone knows just a little about computers they can use graphics design software and when I see a poster or some graphic design I can see that it's made from, say Photoshop or some other program.
DO YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO USE MORE IMAGINATION THEN?
Yes, I think it's better to use the computer as a special tool and some people who don't have that much creativity always depend on the computer's function and that's lack of creativity. Too much use of computers is lack of character over creativity as a human. Computers should be used as tools and not a substitute for character.
ARE THERE ANY COLLABORATIONS WITH OTHER ARTISTS THAT HAVE TURNED OUT REALLY WELL?
I did some collaborations by mail. I sent some recorded material to a collaborator and he would send back the manipulation to me and I would manipulate his sounds and so we manipulate each other. I feel most of the collaborations I did before, except for a few, were not so satisfying for me because since I'm japanese I had to explain how I'm thinking about collaborations in a different language. If someone sent me their sounds I would like to change something but it's hard to inform the collaborator about this in english. This is always frustrating for me. Record companies and listeners have often thought that the collaborations have worked well, but I'd still like to do collaborations with better results.
YOU SEEM TO HAVE STARTED DOING MORE "AMBIENT" WORKS RECENTLY. HAVE YOU GIVEN UP HARSH NOISE?
(Laughs) No, not given up. Lately too many hard noise artists have appeared. and so I've changed to a more quiet ambient style and many labels have asked me to do more quiet recordings. I think perhaps that it's a trend nowadays because there are too many harsh noise releases out there.
WHAT WERE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES FROM THE BEGINNING?
I first started listening to 70s german experimental electronic music and after that in the 80s, after new wave, I was influenced by industrial music such as Throbbing Gristle or SPK and others, and in the late 80s I began listening to noise music.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER JAPANESE ARTISTS THAT YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A LOT IN COMMON WITH?
The ones I listen to I know personally and have regular contact with.
I'VE NEVER EXPERIENCED AUBE LIVE, BUT IT SEEMS THAT YOU WORK WITH RITUALS.
Yes. I played the Kabe underground temple. It was made specially for a kind of Buddhist prayer. I set up candles to make a good image. The temple knew about my works with water. The temple has water dripping from inside the cave so I felt that I should perform using water. I used real water sounds together with sampled water.
WHEN I FIRST HEARD YOUR MUSIC IT FELT LIKE A FIERCE BLOW TO THE STOMACH. HAVE PEOPLE EVER BEEN PHYSICALLY SICK
WHILE YOU WERE PERFORMING HARSH NOISE? Yes maybe...probably me too (laughs). I got the same feelings when I first listened to noise music. I was fascinated by the noise because I never had had such an experience before and so I think that's one of the most interesting points of noise.
THE PHYSICAL PAIN?
Yes. It also has pain or fear, but after listening to a very harsh sound you get a very comfortable silence. After listening to noise any small sound gets interesting.
SO PAIN IS GOOD?
(laughs) Yes, pain is good afterwards.
IT MUST BE HARD FOR AN AUBE FAN TO KEEP UP WITH YOUR RATHER LARGE OUTPUT OF CDS AND CASSETTES. IS THERE AN IDEA
BEHIND THIS LARGE OUTPUT? No, I've never asked labels to put out my recordings. I'm waiting for any offers from labels and fortunately many labels are asking me about doing works for them and so I can only reply that I'll try to do my best for them. So it's not my idea to release that many.
DO YOU GET IDEAS LIKE RECORDING DIFFERENT SOURCEMATERIALS ALL THE TIME OR ARE THERE TIMES WHEN YOU CAN'T COME UP WITH ANYTHING?
It's case by case. As I told you before labels are asking me about doing recordings together with sourcematerial that they want me to work with, so this is very convenient for me (laughs). Most labels think that anything is OK.
WHEN YOU REGARD LABELS AS CLIENTS DON'T YOU THINK THAT IT'S HARD TO KEEP UP YOUR OWN ARTISTIC INTEGRITY?
This is my designer kind of thinking. It's a kind of creativity to make many different products in industrial design. I feel it's the same image to make sounds.