I came in contact with Junji Kubo from noble label through my label, Happy, in Tokyo during the summer of 2004. Happy was the result of my long-time interest in unconventional japanese pop, and was quite a different direction from the minimalist microsounds of my flagship label 12k. Little did I know at the time, but the worlds of Happy and 12k would soon merge.
Upon hearing Eisi’s “Awaawa” CD from Noble I was struck by the beauty, simplicity, and unpretentious experimentalism of their sound. I found their use of traditional instruments and the airy, haunting voice of Mujika Easel to be unique and captivating. Due to my growing interest in acoustic sound sources I approached Kubo-san with a concept of recreating “Awaawa” in its entirety using the band’s original tracks as source material for digital manipulation and building them from the ground up. It was an opportunity for me to explore more pop-based production techniques and to take my own sound in new directions.
“Every Still Day” (a phrase taken from the lyrics of “Soshite Hossuru”) was started in the late summer of 2004 and quickly became one of the most challenging projects I had ever worked on. I had to simultaneously balance the integrity of eisi’s original work with my own fresh interpretation while loosely adhering to the “rules” of pop music. Eisi kindly supplied me not only with every individual track from each song on the original album, but also multiple takes of each track as well as outtakes that never appeared on the album. The source material was daunting, but enormously deep. Added to this was a sense of sadness as I found out that Eisi had recently disbanded, so my work immediately became an elegy of sorts.
My initial concept for “Every Still Day” was to take Eisi’s songs, which are acoustic and freeform in nature, and to stretch them in two opposite directions. On one hand, I wanted to add more structure and a sense of “popness” and on the other blending in my own style of digital experimentalism. Given the immense possibility of source material at hand I often chose to keep much of the main instrumentation intact, keeping a direct reference to the original songs, not getting distracted by too many choices and technological possibilities. To this I would add layers and fragments of digitally processed sounds and build new arrangements. In addition to the original tracks I created 3 interludes sourced from eisi’s live recordings. These short pieces appear on the album as an intro, an interlude, and an outro. I also asked San Francisco guitarist Christopher Willits, a friend, collaborator, and artist on 12k to supply some guitar parts using his signature folded guitar technique. His work appears on “Note 1.”
I want to extend my warmest respects to each of the members of eisi for allowing me complete freedom to manipulate their recordings. As an artist myself I know how difficult it is to let go of work and allow someone to change or recontextualize it. For this opportunity I am deeply grateful. I believe that my work offers a unique interpretation of “Awaawa,” approaching it from my own point of view with my own influences, and in the end it was one of the most exciting and important projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on. It was my wish that eisi would equally enjoy hearing their songs in a new light and perhaps discover elements or sonic relationships that they had not noticed before. It appears that they did indeed like my work: upon hearing some of the early demo versions the band decided to get back together.
Despite all of the challenges, excitement and creative energy I experienced during the writing of “Every Still Day” I still believe that my work is merely a peek inside Eisi, from a stranger’s point of view, and that the beauty of their original songs and performances can never be improved upon.