Almost three decades ago, Japanese producer Sochi Terada moved in circles with DJ greats Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles. After a triumphant return to the circuit as a result of his unmissable comeback compilation on Rush Hour records, Sochi has dusted off the cobwebs on the original machines which built his name and continues to experiment and make music just like the old days. However a lot has changed, including Sochi who now blows away crowds with his winning smile and enthusiasm all over the world.
Before he headlines our Far East Infusion at Dance Tunnel this Friday we spoke to Soichi about his influences, approach to writing music and his studio set up. Thanks to Soichi for struggling through the language barrier to answer these!
Head to Facebook for more info on the Infusions series. Soichi will also be playing at Dimensions Festival this summer. Soichi Terada & Shinichiro Yokota – The Far East Transcripts Part III is out soon on Hhatri.
You discovered your love for house and hip-hop in the late 80s. What was it about those sounds (and even the culture associated with it) that drew you in?
They were sounding fresh for me. This music made by cutting up or sampling bits from music itself to create something new, it just fascinated me.
What was the main appeal in sampling that drew you in to this method of creation? Did you prefer this over using synthetic sounds?
Synthetic sounds usually sounded like regular musical notes, but sampling pieces with weird key and bpm was and wicked material for making music.
Samplers developed quite a bit over the years. How long was the recording time on your first sampler? Did you find using it labour intensive?
It was 0.8 seconds with my first sampler without MIDI control, so it was particularly short. However it was fun to use it with a multi-track tape recorder.
Your own sound has moved away from hip-hop, but is there anything about the music that still influences what you do now?
In the 90s my friends taught me a lot about break beat and even showed me how to sample their tracks. I was fascinated with rehashing them in house beats with samplers like the S1000.
What was your first studio setup like and is there anything you’ve kept, even just for sentimental reasons?
My studio was an AKAI S3200 sampler , Roland D-70 synth ,JV1080 digital sythersiser, XV2080, Roland JD-800 synth explorer and a Korg Triton workstation syth and Korg TR-racks. I still like to use them all even now, to make music not for sentimental reasons.
Do you remember what additions you made to your studio setup over the years and how these helped you develop your sound?
Accurate audio interface like AVID brought me more tighter beats I think.
What does your studio set-up look like now? Could you talk us through the various elements?
I admit, it looks pretty much the same as it did in the 90s lol!
What is your most used bit of hardware and why?
That would have to be my AKAI S3200 because of my own sound library.
If you could add anything to your set-up what would it be?
A DSI Tempest drum machine I guess.
What is your software of choice for making music now?
It would be Logic to make music and Ableton to have live performance.
Do you have a routine when you first start marking a track? Melody first, or rhythm?
I have no particular routine for it, tracks form in all sorts of ways.
If you have writer’s block, is there anywhere you go to seek fresh inspiration?
I don’t go anywhere in particular no, I find however that it helps to remove yourself from making music and forget it completely. But only temporarily of course!
When it comes to mixing and post-production, are there any routines you go through?
A little like the approach to overcoming a writers block, when I finish mixing I try to forget the song and sound for some days. Then when listen back I will suddenly find something to be fixed.
You’re due to play a live set at Dance Tunnel for us next month. Could you talk us through your live set up and how it varies from your studio?
My live set is modelled on a bunch of my ancient MIDI files from the 90s. It seemed it would be ideal to play them on 100% hardware, so I recorded those hardware sounds into audio files. I will play my S3000 hardware sampler, which allows me to become part of the music.
How much improvisation is there in your live show? We were at Corsica Studios for your last live set and the crowd were going crazy! Does that have much influence on how you execute your set?
I am pleased to hear you’ve already seen a performance of mine! So usually most parts I play on my keyboard aren’t improvised. But at Corsica Studios I think because the crowd were so excited, I found myself improvising more and more in the set.
We can see from the photos that you’ve been enjoying all the touring after the release of Sounds From The Far East came out. What’s it been like seeing the reaction to your music from new fans (many who weren’t even alive when you made many of these tracks!)
I have been so happy to have many younger listeners and also audiences in my live tour, even though I am probably as old as their fathers!
Are there any young Japanese producers we should look out for?
There must be someone who I just do not know! But you may want to discover Shinichiro Yokota, Takecha and Hiroshi Matsui who are friends of mine.
We’ve been enjoying a steady stream of reissues, but we’ve got to ask, do you have any plans for new material this year?
I have just new one named ‘Hyamikao’ from Wasabeat in Japan.
Beyond your date in London with us, what else have you got in store in terms of touring and releases?
There might be some more Transcript releases from Hhatri in England, including. The third volume is coming this month.
Thanks again for speaking to us.
Thank you for this opportunity!!