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Interview: A Real Time Collage – Performance by Makoto Oshiro and Jay Tse

On the last week of 2018, sound artist Makoto Oshiro and local musician Jay Tse filled White Noise Records with droning and rhythmic sounds.

The performance was a part of “Intersection in Midair”, a series of workshops and shows curated by local artist Fiona Lee.

Behind them sat one of the shop’s cats – it was none too amazed by the two men, who busied themselves tweaking knobs and listening to the infinitesimal changes in sound. On a coffee table, Makoto laid out his arsenal of self-made instruments, including a herd of modified speakers, metal rings, a block of L-shaped wood and devices he called “kachi-kachis”.

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Makoto Oshiro performing at White Noise Records with his self-made instruments.

The kachi-kachis, he explained, are metal and plastic tubes stuffed with relays.
With a knob placed at the top of the device, Makoto controls the speed at which a relay is switched on and off.
The result is a clicking sound – kachi-kachi – repeating indefinitely.
Using multiple kachi-kahics running at different speeds, Makoto creates rhythmic sounds that phase in and out, sometimes resonating with the coffee table.

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Makoto Oshiro’s instruments spread on a coffee table.

Jay, on the other hand, was more broad stroke in his approach.
Running his guitar through modulation pedals and a looper, Jay samples noises created on the instrument and run it into a portable speaker.

The performance had began with Jay’s guitar noise, soon joined by the sound of kachi-kachis and pitched tones coming from modified speakers.
The performance quickly became overwhelming, after so many speakers and devices were deployed.
Layers of sound appeared to be filtering through each other and my head started to spin.
Yet the cat kept on glaring as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
I cannot say it was a pleasant experience – but it was surely an experience.

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Cat wasn’t too fuzzed about the performance.

After the performance, I had a chat with Makoto at the neighbourhood bar Bound.
Makoto, who is also a recording engineer, answered most of the questions with a beer in hand.
It was a good night.

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Makoto Oshiro, Jay Tse and KEITO having a good time at BOUND.

Q: What is your usual process in a sound performance?
A: It depends on the situation. Today I was playing with Jay and he started with some noisy loops. I tried to mix some drone into that and developed the sound further… I originally studied electronic music and my idea was to make acoustic sounds, but with the approach of electronic music… Using common sounds to make a real time collage.

Q: What is a good sound performance?
A: Uniqueness. It can be in ideas, sometimes skills.

Q: How would you convince people to go to a sound performance?
A: I don’t really convince people… I try to explain what’s going on and I understand only a few people are going to truly click with it. I trying to explain it honestly in a way that doesn’t push people away.

Q: Where is the line between sound art and music?
A: The line is drawn depending on the context. If I’m recording bands there are sounds you don’t want. But the same sound might be useful in other context… When you grow up you listen to certain types of music and your ego can be built around that. A lot of experimental musicians have the punk attitude of doing what they want.

Q: You said your label Basic function only release records that otherwise would not have been released?
A: Something that is going to sell will be released by other people… I have been influenced by a lot of labels, which released lesser-known music. After decades, when you look back, that kind of stuff can be really influential.

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