‘Trilocation’ with Kazuya Oi

Kazuya Oi blends his unique sonic palette in an immersive performance.

A talented drummer for DATS and yahyel and a highly skilled trackmaker, Kazuya Oi has an ability to create songs with a unique atmosphere and groove by adding electro elements to drums. In collaboration with Novation, Oi has created the song entitled ‘Trilocation’. Discover the creative process behind the song that combines the distinct colours of Oi’s sound and Novation technology and brings out the best of both in performance.

Kazuya Oi describes his current music and production style as“trying to find a way to combine the physicality of drums and percussion with electronic music.” He further explains, “I've been listening to many kinds of music, from the dawn of popular music like pre-war jazz, and 60s rock to 90s electro, but I've never really settled on a musical style of my own, which is hard to explain.”

By allowing his senses to guide his search for expression, Oi continues to develop the concept and the image of his music. “It's about the flow of time – from the beginning of time to the end of time, in an uncharted land,” he explains. “I like the new age music that was popular in the 80s and 90s and I wanted to express the sound and image of what is called ‘meditation music’ or ‘healing music’ in a modern way.”

During the creation of ‘Trilocation’ ­– coming from the word ‘bilocation’ – Oi sought inspiration from the ‘healing music’, the three alter egos presented in ‘Trilocation’ and the sound of the music. “I wanted to differentiate myself from organic band performances where the sound design is done entirely in real-time, so we designed the sound with a certain degree of precision on a DAW.”

“However, in order to express this on a video platform, it would be meaningless to film a performance like a music video while listening to the music production data, so we decided to record and launch in real-time on a real time sequence.” Through this, ‘Trilocation’ became an all-encompassing performance piece that incorporated the visual with as much importance as the audio. “The aim was to create a live video work that unites production, playing the instruments and performance on stage. In other words, it is a challenge to maintain a high level of purity in one's own work and one's own performance.”

“In order to create and perform this work, I wanted to produce all the sounds by myself as much as possible, and as a result, I had to divide myself into three parts. The need to maintain musical purity led me to this title. The song is about the longing for the supernatural and the transcendental, so I tried to make it visually manifest that as well.”

Creating music with mindsets

Through Oi’s many experiences as a musician composing in a band and as a solo artist, he recounts the various differences and pleasures of the creative process and the changing mindsets for each. “Creating in a band is an act of enjoying the idea as it leaves your hands and transforms into something completely different from what you had originally envisioned,” he explains. “On the other hand, I think of creating music as a solo artist as a continual refinement of an idea in the rough.”

For Oi, he first started experimenting with Novation gear when he was a university student. “A friend of mine who used Ableton Live had a Launchpad and let me try it out for the first time,” he recalls.

He then talks us through his processes when song writing.“For all the songs I write, I have a set of MIDI notes for the chords and main sequence first, and then I decide on the tone. In this case, most of the tones were created by playing around with Summit and Circuit Tracks.”

He further goes into depth about how he was able to sculpt his unique sound through various Novation devices and synths.

“Launchpad Pro was used as a MIDI pad for giving a human touch to the grid-rhythm and the velocity. It is also used for generating the bass sequence. Circuit Tracks was used for programming loop-based beats, using the built-in voices and effects. Summit is responsible for almost all the synth sounds. There is a wide range of preset tones, and it was also exciting and fun to work on it from scratch. I used Launchkey [MK3] for assigning plug-in effects and modulation to toggles and faders, and for handwriting automation.”

In Oi’s music, he mainly works with soft synths, however in this piece, he invited different methods into the mix. “Apart from Summit and Circuit Tracks, I used u-he's triple cheese plug-in synth and puremagnetik's noise generator.”

Having worked with both soft and hard synths, Oi describes the difference in feel between working with both and the sounds he enjoyed creating. “It's just a feeling, but I find it easier to create a place for a hard synth when I turn the volume down, without being buried and still keeping the loudness,” he explains. “Soft synths are more suited to creating a plain sound with the necessary localization and bandwidth, so I guess I naturally use them in that way. I really like the arpeggiator tone I made with Summit.”

Oi also turns his hand to the newest Novation groovebox, Circuit Rhythm,­ to expand his creative sounds.“It's a lot of fun to play around with the buttons and pads and create sounds, it's very immersive,” he says. “It's a bit different from making music on a computer, and I found it a worthwhile hassle.”

Through Oi’s performance, you’re able to see how he marries the worlds of visual and sonic performance to great effect, and communicates the disparate scenes embodied in the meaning of ‘Trilocation’. Looking to the future, Oi hopes to carry on with this sonic exploration. “I'd like to continue my quest for interesting beats, but maybe a sequel to this movie with more alter egos could be fun to make!”

Video by Risa Nishimura

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