Praise You: A Yasuaki Shimizu Tribute Mix by Jabu

Though flying somewhat under the radar in comparison to his musical peers, Japanese composer, producer and saxophonist Yasuaki Shimizu’s name could be said in the same breath as artists like Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Kazumi Watanabe.

Perhaps most well-known for being the band leader of 80s art pop outfit Mariah, who released the acclaimed Utakata No Hibi LP, Shimizu pushed the boundaries of what rock, jazz and pop could be, continuously experimenting with new ideas and approaches.

As a saxophonist, he has created exploratory works both solo and as part of his project The Saxophonettes, most notably his infamous reworks of Bach’s Cello Suites, which he recorded in unique acoustic environments.

Shimizu’s approach to making off-kilter pop has played a role in Bristol-based band Jabu‘s latest offering, Sweet Company. A trio, made up of Amos Childs on production and singers Alex Rendall and Jasmine Butt, the group have drawn influence from Shimizu’s ability to use space and silence within his compositions.

Off the back of their second album, Amos talks about Shimizu’s impact and shares a mix of his favourite compositions.

Sweet Company is out now on do you have peace?

Why does Yasuaki Shimizu mean so much to you?

I think he balances being experimental with more pop-leaning ideas in a really special way that I definitely look up to. Its a weird push pull thing of not wanting to compromise but also wanting to reach people and having genuine love for pop music and more weird stuff – I don’t know if I’m projecting there – but he treads that line in a really artful way.

What makes a Yasuaki Shimizu record so unique?

I don’t know, he’s done all different things stylistically but it always sounds like him. I’ve always thought that’s a sign of someone special when they can pull that off.

When did you first hear Yasuaki Shimizu’s music and what impact did it have on you?

I think I first heard Andy Payback playing the Mariah record in The Bell –
I just couldn’t work it out – it sounded like everything I was interested in at the time condensed into one record and I couldn’t get my head around it for ages.

What’s your most sacred Yasuaki Shimizu record and why?

Either the Mariah record or Music for Commercials – both exist outside of time and space for me and I can go back to them whenever.

Any standout memories from dropping a Yasuaki Shimizu track in a set?

Pretty much all of the Mariah ones go down well and I’ve definitely been asked about them a few times too.

How has Yasuaki Shimizu impacted you as a producer?

Hard to say in a direct way but he is definitely a big influence on me.
I think his use of space and silence is amazing as well – that’s definitely something I always hear in his work and aim to improve in mine.

How did you approach this mix? What did you want it to say about Yasuaki Shimizu and his music?

I wanted it to show a range of the kind of stuff he’s been involved in over the years, and to hopefully join the dots a bit between the more trad jazz stuff and the popper stuff and some of the more experimental stuff he’s done too. There’s so much more I could have included but I wanted to make it all as coherent as I could and I tried to include the stuff thats impacted me the most over the years.

It was an honour to do it and a real pleasure to find some bits and pieces I hadn’t heard before whilst looking through his catalogue.

What would you say is Yasuaki Shimizu’s biggest legacy on electronic music?

I think it’s difficult to say but you could definitely draw lines between his music for commercials (from the 80s) and some of the more Internet-based music scenes that sprung up in the 2000s/2010s – vapourware etc.

I have no idea how he was getting those kinds of sounds back then but I’m sure it must have had some kind of knock on effect.

Sweet Company is out now on do you have peace?

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