The scientific community has long agreed - human species would not be able to survive without music. Its presence in our lives - as extreme as it may sound - is as vital as that of air, or water. Sure you may survive longer without hearing any melodies than holding your breath, but the essence remains unshaken - we crave, need and long for music, whenever silence lingers long enough. Something about the very nature of its entity - caught between tangible and intangible, music has the ability to describe our existence in the most accurate form, namely - beyond words. One doesn't need a PhD in philosophy to agree with the following: the verbal descriptions we have attached to the world around us don't nearly define it's rich, beautifully infinite complexity. Music, on the contrary - has a way with telling the true tale.
Today we have the absolute pleasure of interviewing one of Japan's most promising young piano talents - Hideyuki Hashimoto. His music has been following us since the early days of Music Dance When You Sleep, but by now - we must admit - the tables have drastically turned, putting us in the seat of openly avid stalkers of this unique talent. With nearly 700,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and tens of millions of streams, I was thrilled to speak to this beautiful soul, who met my questions with honesty, humility and a charm that only a true artist can carry. Before you continue on, I would like to suggest you scroll back up and press play on that YouTube clip, thus providing the perfect soundtrack to the following...
How did your piano/neoclassical journey begin? Was it always this kind of music that spoke to you best? Have you participated in any other genres?
Hideyuki: I started to improvise, not for anyone, but for myself, with a few notes on the piano, a kind of fragment of a song. That was probably the beginning. Since then, I was musically influenced through sessions and improvisations in various genres such as jazz and pop music, but eventually I started playing myself again. While my sound may be close to neoclassical, I have rarely been conscious of the genre in the way I compose or perform.
Your approach to playing piano is rather unique, it is almost as if you were speaking poems by pressing the keys. Is that an accurate comparison? What are the main sources of your inspiration? Are you a perfectionist like most artists or do you leave some things to chance?
Hideyuki: You're right, maybe it's like having a conversation with the piano, like a poem. I think I leave many things to chance. I don't usually write scores, and the songs are born as an extension of improvisation. Sometimes I'll compose more from there, but I'm fascinated by the moment a song is born, so often the first take is released. Inspiration comes from many things in my day to day life, nature, art, spirit, piano, and sometimes someone gives it to me.
There's a spectacular weightlessness to the sound of your piano, one that's dreamy and illusive, but at the same time full of accuracy and intent. How did you develop your style of playing?
Hideyuki: One day, I tried to record an upright piano on a trip, but the piano was out of tune.
However, I noticed that putting a felt between the hammers and the strings made a nice sound.
That was the moment I came closest to this genre. This recording later became my third album called “home”, that was the moment when I noticed the beautiful and irregular sound of the piano. And the place was open to the outside and got a lot of inspiration from nature. It's been almost ten years since I released my first album, and I've found a new concept for each of albums to develop.
I can't help but to notice that neoclassical/ambient music coming out of Japan has a very distinct sound to it. Would you say that Japan is a tastemaker when it comes to this genre? How popular is neoclassical music in Japan in general? Who are you personal local favorites in the genre?
Hideyuki: I also feel that the Japanese sound is unique, but there are great artists all over the world so Japan is not special that way.
In Japan, this kind of piano sound is popular with some listeners, many of whom listen to this music in the same way they listen to acoustic pop music, and it's not really known as a neoclassical genre. Masakatsu Takagi is one of favorite Japanese artists I would like to introduce to you.
If you could play a concert anywhere and I mean - ANYWHERE - where and when would that be?
Hideyuki: I would be happy to play as many unique pianos as possible. It doesn't have to be anything special, each piano and space is a source of inspiration for me.
What would be your advice to those who are only starting off on piano and have big dreams to make a name for themselves? What should be their focus?
Hideyuki: Try recording your own piano, you may discover something new. If you like it, you can upload it to the internet and you will reach your listeners. A simple improvisation or session would be wonderful.
What are your plans for the nearest future? Will you be touring in Europe/US?
Hideyuki: I would like to continue releasing monthly for a while and make a new album.
I don't have any touring plans yet, someday I hope to play the piano for the whole world.
While we remain certain that Hideyuki's hopes are destined to become reality, we would like to invite you to immerse yourself in one of the finest piano universes this side of heaven (find links below). Our entire team would also like to thank Hideyuki Hashimoto for giving us the opportunity to peek into his artistic aspirations, philosophy and a creative process, which - much to our expectations - roots in improvisation, freedom of expression and the kind of liberty which can only be found in the now.
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