Posted On 04 Dec 2018
Originally from Tokyo, and now based in London, Anchorsong is a highly-fêted producer and solo live act whose early champions include Huw Stephens and NYLON magazine.
Renowned for crafting immersive and rhythmic releases, Anchorsong – AKA Masaaki Yoshida released his third full LP ‘Cohesion’ on October 26th via Tru Thoughts. His latest offering takes inspiration from ‘70s and ‘80s Bollywood film soundtracks and traditional Indian percussion, to create a psychedelic, danceable and free-spirited listen that blurs the boundary between rhythm and melody.
This new music adds to a remarkable string of albums from the unabashedly talented producer; the last of which ‘Ceremonial’ (2016), dug deep into the roots of ‘70s African music, and was commended as one of BBC 6Music’s ‘Albums of the Year 2016’ placing at number 5 and featured as their ‘Album of The Day’. It also achieved heavy press coverage from the likes of XLR8R, Clash, DJ Mag and Songlines (who named it a Top of the World album); radio support from Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 ‘It’s Album Time’, and a live session on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM added to official BBC 6Music Playlisting for post-album single “Expo” the following spring (which was also given top feedback on Steve Lamacq’s Round Table), a live session for Tom Ravenscroft (in for Marc Riley) and a ‘60 Second CV’ feature (Steve Lamacq’s BBC 6Music Recommends).
Anchorsong has become globally recognized for his unique live shows, which many people have described as “like watching a painter drawing on a white canvas”, as he creates electronic music completely live using a sampler (MPC2500) and a keyboard, right in front of the audience. While he mainly performs solo, he frequently augments this setup with a string quartet, for a truly spellbinding show.
Having always been swept away by the atmosphere and excitement of live performance, Anchorsong (who played guitar in a rock band before embarking on this solo journey) brings that vibrant energy, warmth and sense of occasion to the world of electronic music with his compelling live act.
Since his relocation to Europe in late 2007, Anchorsong has supported Bonobo, Portico Quartet, DJ Krush, Daedelus, Jaga Jazzist and more, and performed at many prestigious venues including Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Roundhouse in London. He has garnered an international following on YouTube, with videos of his performances having been viewed more than 450,000 times so far.
Connect With Anchorsong Here:
– Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? Is there music playing in the background?
I’m writing this at mine in London while listening to Japanese traditional music. The sound of Shakuhachi and Koto is soothing and enchanting at the same time
– Now that we are on the back end of the year, how do you think 2018 has treated you and your career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it? Or did you already reach it?
The main thing in 2018 for me was the release of the new album Cohesion. I’m pleased that it’s finally shared with the world.
– Growing up, how important was music to you? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
I’m not from a musical family but was aware of my interest in music from a fairly early stage. I wanted to join the choir of my elementary school, but somehow I was accepted as a drummer of their back band. I think I had a good sense of rhythm from then.
– What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
That I could carry on as a solo act. I started playing music in a band and believed that I would always be in one. I was forced to go solo when the band split up, and I wasn’t sure how long I could carry on.
– How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today?
I grew up in a small city called Tokushima in Japan. It’s known for a dance festival that takes place in August called Awa Dance Festival, and I used to be a dancer. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I showed some talent and was one of the key dancers. Even though my music doesn’t reflect it directly, I might have developed my sense of rhythm to some extent from it.
– Last month you released your third full album called “Cohesion.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process this time around? Did you approach the recording of it any differently than your previous collections?
The process of making the new album was similar to the previous one Ceremonial. On that record I spent a significant amount of time familiarising myself with 70’s African music until it became a part of me. On the new album Cohesion, I took the inspiration from vintage Bollywood movie soundtracks. I was hardly familiar with the genre, so I spent lots of time and devoured their vast catalogue to educate myself. I’m a rather studious type, I want to expand my vision by exposing myself to music I’m not familiar with and create something out if it.
– While it’s difficult to pick, can you choose a few of your favorite songs off “Cohesion” and talk about how they were written and came to be on this album? Typically, how do you go about writing your music?
My personal favorites are “Resistance” and “Foreign River”. Both tracks started with the Indian drum pattern, and I weaved the melody around it. I always start with rhythm in a track, and it’ll bring matching melodies out of me almost automatically.
– Since the beginning of music, people have turned to it for support and as an escape from their realities. How do you want your music received and appreciated?
I try not to reflect my personal feeling on my music because I want it to be as open as possible. I’d rather leave space in it so that listeners can put themselves into it. I’ll be most pleased if my music lifts someone’s spirit though.
– What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
I’m not much of a social media person, so updating all of them can be bit tiresome. I prefer peer-to-peer communication, so I try to reply to a comment or message I receive as much as I can. I resisted having an Instagram account for years but just started one, and somehow I’ve found it easier to post content there.
– Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Bjork is one of my heroes as you can imagine from my stage name. My music itself isn’t related to hers almost at all, but I admire her stance of taking inspiration from the outside and putting it out as something original.
– If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
The handmade kalimba made by a Japanese craftsman called Gyoten. It has a melancholy tone and makes even a happy tune sound somewhat sad. It’ll surely fit the mood.
– If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
I dream of having my music on Blade Runner. I usually take inspiration from the music of the past, but I guess I have to look ahead if I want to fulfil that desire.
– Do you have any tour dates you would like to tell our readers about? How will you be spending your winter?
I’m currently touring the UK until mid-December. I intend to tour actively next year and I’m definitely up for doing some dates in the US.
– At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? I’d like to know more about how you want your music to be timeless?
I want to create borderless rather than timeless music. The more I explore music from the place I’m not familiar with, the more complex my vision becomes. I want to make music that all kinds of elements melt into which doesn’t have a specific background. That’s the borderless music I want to materialize one day.
– Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Please visit Tokushima, we need more tourists there. I guarantee you’ll have a good time.