I'm fairly obsessed with Keiichi Sugimoto's music. Keiichi is a Japanese laptop composer/guitarist with a highly refined sense of taste and style.
He records under various project names such as Fourcolor, Fonica, and Filfla, collaborates with singer Moskitoo, and is part of the band Minamo. Except for his last release, Frolicfon, which presented live, exuberant drums upfront in the mix, his music sounds pretty much the same: delicate electronic textures interweaved with layers of simple and attractive guitar parts.
Keiichi is also a graphic designer and runs the Cubic Music label. He writes music for TV advertisements in Japan for McDonald's, Ritz crackers, and Häagen-Dazs, and has released music on such uber-chic labels as 12k , Tomlab, and apestaartje. His music epitomizes what I would identify as one particular slice of contemporary Japanese aesthetics: cool, intimate, delicate, sensitive, pretty, undemonstrative, detailed, and minimal. I appreciate work that can at once sound random and tightly controlled. That's a tough dichotomy to straddle, yet Keiichi makes it seem unforced and natural.
FilFla live at [F]luister:
FourColor/Filfla - Berklee College of Music - 10/20/08:
There is little available information out there about Keiichi, except for some reviews of his records, and his own blog. Motivated by curiosity and admiration, I contacted him for an interview. He very quickly agreed and sent back his responses. Although he expressed an insecurity about his grasp of English, I felt his answers were clear and precise. (I did a slight amount of editing just to clarify tense in some cases, or for singular and plural agreement.)
When you compose, do you have a sound in your head, or do you improvise until you find something interesting?
yes, mostly i have imagined sounds in my head when i compose.
some times, i do make sounds by improvisation.
Do you have a goal in composing music? To quiet the mind? To create a fictional space?
maybe i don't have the goal.
because, i have to develop all the time.
How do you know when a new song is finished and doesn't need any more development?
mostly i have a plan for making tracks.
it's like, compose --> recording --> mixing --> mastering.
i just make along like that.
What influenced you to create music in the beginning?
it happens suddenly.
for example, when i saw an interesting building or when i heard
interesting sounds in town...
What record are you most proud of?
very difficult question.
every work is special for me.
so i can't choose anything.
Your last cd was a Filfla release. Will you release any new music on cd soon?
yes, i will.
maybe next is me and other members of the project "minamo" for release.
also, i have some idea for new works.
What kind of guitar do you play?
electric guitar: fender jaguar
electric acoustic guitar: morris
and 12 string gibson guitar, no brand classical guitar
What software do you use when you perform live? Do you use loops, or linear arrangements? What kind of digital processing do you use? Max/msp, Pluggo?
i use ableton Live when i perform.
i use both loops and linear arrangements.
i have used pluggo before. but recently i just use default
plug-ins of ableton live.
What guitar effect pedals do you like?
Are you busier with music or graphic design?
How did you get involved in doing music for television advertisements?
mostly, from music production.
some other advertisements are directly from clients of companies.
Will you come back to the United States for any performances?
no ideas or offers right now.
but, i really want to perform in us as soon as possible!
That's great! Thank you Keiichi!
You can listen to some of Fourcolor's here.