Empire of Signs: Revisitar el fabuloso (e inagotable) mundo de Hiroshi Yoshimura

Dos cosas importantes me pasaron el día antes del concierto que Maxwell August Croy diera hace ya algún tiempo en Barcelona. La primera fue redescubrir la noche anterior a su visita uno de mis discos favoritos de Hiroshi Yoshimura y la segunda pasarnos horas con el hablando del músico Japonés. Por eso no tardé mucho en ponerme en contacto con Maxwell para que me cuente algunos detalles de la próxima reedición de Music For Nine Postcards, una de las obras claves de Hiroshi que Empire Of Signs -el nuevo sello que co-pilota Croy con Spencer Doran de Visible Cloaks- pondrá en la calle el 17 de Noviembre.

What's the last song or record that you listened just before answering this email ?

Blowing Up The Workshop 81 - Ivan Zoloto (Russian Mix) and an older unreleased Celer record Will Long sent me.

Tell us about your new adventure with Spencer, Empire of Signs. ¿ Did you create the label just for this release or you already have future plans ?

I've been considering starting a new label for a long time now but the form it would take didn't really become clear to me until about two years ago. With Root Strata going over a decade and Jefre (Cantu-Ledesma, Root Strata co-head) and I consciously slowing the output, the timing felt right. I approached Spencer (whose guest mixes for Root Blog I'd always enjoyed immensely) to assist and here we are.

There are definitely other releases / projects planned.

¿ When / How was your first encounter with Yoshimuras music ?

Almost certainly Spencer's Music Interiors mix for Root Blog

I know that you've been in touch with Yoko Yoshimura (Hiroshis widow) for a while, can you let us know a little bit about the process and how the re-issue finally happened ?

Contacting Yoko Yoshimura was something of a circuitous process and took a number of individuals to make the connection. Ultimately I would thank Dean Suzuki and Aki Onda for their assistance... and Light In The Attic Records for their role - Empire of Signs wouldn't exist without their involvement.

Did you learn any particular detail about Yoshimuras life during the "negotiations" for this release ? Any story that you wanna share with us ?

I visited Yoko Yoshimura in Japan recently. She still lives in the same apartment her and Hiroshi shared when he was alive. She was very gracious and showed me just how incredibly prolific Hiroshi was. Beyond all the music he wrote and recorded, he conceptualized scores for himself and others (many of which are works of art in themselves), wrote at least 3 books about the role of sound in public spaces, architecture and environmental sound art, built homemade sound makers out of simple materials, kept numerous journals of drawings and poetry (often as instructions or intellectual games), took countless photographs, ad infinitum... It was amazing to see so much of this work firsthand.

Do you guys already have plans to reissue another Hiroshi record ? ¿ Green maybe ? ¿ Please ?.

Can't say much about future plans unfortunately, everything is quite sensitive.

WRWTFWW have just released their second Midori Takadas reissue these days, Palto Falts just reissued Yasuaki Shimizu amazing Kakashi, not so long ago Crammed put out Music for Commercials, another Shimizu gem. Is it me or we have decided as a group that Japanesse ambient music from the 80's was great ?...also..ambient music in general....who would tell uh ?...i refuse to think that the youtube algorithm is part of the deal.....please shed me some light here Maxwell.

I don't think it's news the music from this era in Japan is exceptional and worth discovery. Regarding the recent popularity, I hesitate to attribute the interest exclusively to a technological quirk (see recent Dazed article). Word of mouth has always played an irreplaceable role in how we discover music and in that way, this was no different. What's discouraging to Spencer (Visible Cloaks / Empire of Signs co-founder) and I about the YouTube argument is that it undervalues the artist and moves the conversation away from the music, and towards the consumptive, money generating focus inherent in services like YouTube, etc. Of course the algorithm suggests other ambient works you might enjoy, it's in YouTube's interest to hold your attention - more videos viewed means more ad revenue. What's most important is the quality of the work and how it resonates with the listener. This also deeply informs why Empire of Signs exists, to make originally limited works available again and to introduce unknown or underappreciated artists to the world.

I know that you have plans to move to Berlin soon, i have heard that the taco market is pretty decent there so good choice, congrats. Any plans to tour Europe soon, any plans for a new record ?

I've already moved to Berlin! Working on the follow-up to Kaniza. Once it's finished I will definitely look to touring Europe to support it.