The Electronics of Japan’s Dugo
Come the new year Takahiro Izutani, aka Dugo, was preparing for the release of his latest album, Lingua Franca. With the end of January came the drop and with it, an album chalked full of nine tracks that further cultivate his life’s work. Electronic music that falls well on the ears of video game fanatics who not only appreciate their games’ graphics and the play, but also the soundtracks as well. We talked to Dugo about the album, Western culture overseas and much more!
Kendra: Is the electronic scene in Japan heavily influenced by Western culture?
Dugo: Not really, in my opinion. The whole Japanese music industry has become not too strongly influenced by Western culture through the past 20 years. The Japanese people aren’t interested in the music or movies from Western countries so much right now. It is obvious in young generations, especially. The Japanese electronic music scene is also in the same situation. Some of the quite influential electronic musicians in Japan are closely connected to the idol pop scene, establishing their status as an idol pop producer. On the other hand, there are other musicians who try to get into the video game industry (like me). If you want to succeed and make a living only with musical activity in Japan, you must be involved in idol pop, video game, or anime culture in some form to some degree. Pure electronic music is struggling to survive only in a very underground scene in Japan sadly. But some challenging artists are trying to penetrate the Western electronic music scene.
“Boat on The River”
Kendra: When Lingua Franca was all said and done, how did you feel as an artist when listening back? Were you 100% satisfied, or are you the type of artist who always feels there is something to tweak?
Dugo: I’m quite satisfied with the quality of Lingua Franca at the moment. But of course, there are a few things that I want to tweak a little even now. Nowadays, musicians should manage to finish their working at appropriate points, since you can tweak almost everything about your song in the process, continuing the process endlessly. But now I have a different point of view that song will be able to continue to change its aspect like a creature. Lingua Franca was completed, but each song still might be in the middle of growing. When I would come up with some idea to tweak the songs, you could listen to them in a different form in my future album.
Kendra: Japan being an island, and you having a song entitled “Boat on the River,” I have to ask…where is your favorite place where you’re from to see the water?
Dugo: As you may know from the song titles, some of the songs of Lingua Franca are expressing a specific landscape. I think I was able to express my feeling very well on Boat on the River. Be that as it may, as you said, Japan is the nation blessed with water. There are many beautiful islands in Japan. Above all, I love Sesoko Island in Okinawa prefecture especially. When I experienced the beautiful sunset on Sesoko Island, the idea of the song Sunburst came to my mind.
Kendra: Back to the music, you also compose music for video games. If you could go back and redo the score from any video game which would it be, and how would you make it different?
Dugo: Actually, I’m still making many songs for video games even now. It was quite tough for me to switch my mind frequently from job composition to artistic composition. In my mind, those two types of working are completely different, but now I can control them by scheduling my working time appropriately. At the same time, different skills are needed for both workings. I can make both of them contribute to each other now.
Kendra: Lastly, you’ve already dropped a new album this year – so what’s next for 2017?
Dugo: Currently, I’m working with the Italian musicians who collaborated with me on the Lingua Franca album. This is a sort of composition by using a way of remixing. I’m making new songs, remixing the materials that Italian musicians recorded in studio sessions. Those new songs will be published by RAI. RAI is Italy’s national public broadcasting company. Some executive producer of RAI is supporting this collaboration project. So you might be able to listen to those songs also in the movie or TV drama from RAI in the future. On the other hand, I haven’t decided on anything with my next album yet. But I intend to release my new songs as an EP (a few songs with remix). It is quite tough to release albums in a short interval. I think it is better to release an EP continuously to keep my activity. The next album should be the selection from them.