Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yuko Imada: Japanoise influenced harsh noise group from Anaheim performing at the festival


Yuko Imada is the product of Garrett Yim’s over-conceptual obsession with harsh static sound, ambient drones, and serial killer Tsutomo Miyazaki. Over the past three years he has released a full-length album on CDR entitled “Ocean” and a follow-up record on tape entitled “Moon” of ambient drones and meditative atmospheres on local underground record label Moribund Tree Records, as well as self-releasing the unrelentingly harsh “Ome” on his own label Zoom Lens. Although solo on recordings, live Yuko Imada can be up to five individuals contributing to produce a sonic barrage of harsh noise and possible injury to the audience.

Could you share a few words about your live approach and what someone could expect at a Yuko Imada gig?

My approach to the live show is complete submission to the music. The live show is something vastly important to me on an emotional and spiritual level and it involves the release of all of the negative feelings that press on my being. A live show is the complete and absolute truth of who I am. Before I start a show a million thoughts run through my head, but when I play it feels like I am nothing but that present moment in time, and in that feeling I feel relief and I have little or no anxiety in what I do on stage. Playing a live show to me is to look inward at yourself with complete honesty, the mind unclouded of any doubtful thoughts. I am not against the use of drugs and alcohol in everyday life, but to play a show under the influences of those substances is something I am strongly against. When I play with a large group we form a sense of unity, I have a feeling that we are all connected at the moment and our musical actions are a demonstration of this. I have a sense of what another will do next, and I believe that they hold the same feeling. I am not sure what one can expect at one of our shows because often we do not know what to expect either. Often, others or myself map out our sound amongst discussion or practice, but that sound usually ends up sounding vastly different given the present moment we engulf ourselves in when we play a show.


What are the origins of the name behind the project and where did your attraction to extreme sound begin?

The name Yuko Imada was the pseudonym of Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, and it was suggested to me by my friend Steven, who also runs Moribund Tree and Absence Tapes. I think it is a fitting name due to his lasting relevance on Japanese culture concerning the perversion of visual media and the blame that was placed upon the forms of visual media that supposedly influenced his actions; exploitation flicks, adult videos, and things of the sort. That sort of perversion intrigues me as well and many of my songs hold reference to that or Miyazaki himself. I initially became attracted to extreme sound, consciously, at least, in High School when I discovered Japanese noise artists such as Hanatarash, Masonna, and Violent Onsen Geisha. Their sort of uncaring, and at times even humorous attitude inspired me. At first it was their image that attracted me more than anything, their interpretation of musical expression in concerns to a live show, how they seemed to be in their own world, completely oblivious to those around them, but soon I developed a liking towards the music as well.


You've experimented with two approaches so far in your Yuko Imada project, could you elaborate on the obviously preferred separation of styles that your albums demonstrate?

Immersing myself in the world of experimental music, I came to realize that there should not be limitations to how one wishes to deal with their sound, even if the result is polarizing to those who listen to it. After all, while it is not necessarily shameful to put your music out there and have people listen, musical expression should be something that instills a sense of fulfillment in its creator as well. When I create noise, usually it pertains to something negative within me, mostly aggressive. It relates to the part of me that I feel isn’t fit for society, so often I dwell on subjects that are taboo and would likely be subject to criticism in everyday life. Although on the surface I am not a violent person, I believe that most of my noise recordings relate to acts of demeaning violence or perversity, and that is not so much me wanting to commit such acts, but my sense of intrigue concerning such acts, as if hearing about them plays out to me like a good story from which I draw inspiration.

My ambient music is much more personal, and in fact, I hardly listen to any ambient music at all. Most of my influence for ambient music derives from film and literature, such as works by Wong Kar Wai and Haruki Murakami, respectively. Those works I believe hold something personal to me, and often I reference them as a sort of insight to what I cannot say in words. Some of my songs were written in regards to some very specific people in my life, and for whatever pain they caused me I wish to thank them for my inspiration. The type of music I do depends on how I feel as a person, so that’s why I claim myself to be an ambient and noise artist just at the time being. I plan to finish several releases within the same genre in the near future, but I wish to switch directions as well. I have some very pop-oriented work that I plan to release under Yuko Imada very soon that I feel some may not enjoy, but others will.


You have a clear affinity towards Japanese pop culture, does this play any part in your creating process?

Yes, aside from Ome making reference to Tsutomu Miyazaki, many other facets of Japanese pop culture seeped into that album as well. “Postcard” was created out of a poem I wrote about cannibal Issei Sagawa, and “The Blue Sky” is in reference to idol Sora Aoi. I am a fan of Japanese music of all kinds, so it goes without saying that it influences me in a very general sense. Most of my creative process I believe is aided in my affinity for not only it’s noise scene, but also it’s current pop scene. I have an immense appreciation for groups such as Perfume and other various groups among the genres of techno-pop, denpa, and electro.


What is this ultimate direction for this project?

As mentioned before, I am venturing into pop music at the moment and I hope to make something of that. Eventually I hope to grasp enough experience on various genres of music and their creative processes and make something fairly unique. I think it is something admirable when musicians try to push themselves and approach various aspects of music with a fresh mind and are open to anything. I hope to do just that and create something I can thoroughly enjoy and be satisfied with. I wish to be able to consolidate everything I love into one entity. Noise music to me is as much of a philosophical concept as it is a musical genre, so I will always employ that mindset with what I do, and I hope that will lead me into the direction that I am looking towards.


Yuko Imada performs at this year’s Second Annual Santa Ana Noise Festival, returning for yet another showcase of violent harsh noise and well-executed sonic assault on your ears. Earplugs are strongly recommended!