INTELLIGENTSIA, maintained by MIRAI and ION, are a network of artists pursuing the electronic arts, in the name of FUTURISM. We had an interview with its founder, MIRAI about its characteristic activities.
First of all, let's talk about your musical background...
"Originally, I was a video games programmer from 15 years old onwards. In those days, I did everything myself; the graphics design, script writing and music. I sold 13 games in total. At that time, my first step into music consisted of creating a sequencer program for the Commodore 64. I had no great interest in music before then and I especially disliked vocal music. Although I did like some instrumental themes on TV. However, when I first heard Jean-Michel Jarre's OXYGENE everything changed for me. That was the first music I ever bought. In my early days of music composition I used a Casio home keyboard, a Commodore 64 and a Korg MS-10."
When did you come to Japan for the first time?
"After listening to YMO's 'RYDEEN' in a SEGA video game, I thought Hey, this wonderful but no one knew of YMO in England. But after finding out that this track was by them I immediately bought all of their import-albums. TECHNODELIC became one of my first impressions of technological Japan. I then came to Japan in 1991. One of the first things I did was to go to ALFA Records. YMO had gone by then but I discovered a band called SOFT BALLET. They were the only group I liked then. After SOFT BALLETs break-up, I lost interest in most Japanese music. At the same time Industrial music in the U.K. was coming to an end. All I had in Japan was a YAMAHA QY-10 and so I felt frustrated musically and eventually returned to the U.K."
Later you came back to Japan, didn't you?
"In England I had even more frustration due to the huge competition in the music business, also I felt there was no vision in the music field, for what we were doing. So I decided to move to Tokyo- three years have past now, and a lot has happened."
Tell us about your present project.
"My main project has always been "INTELLIGENTSIA" & "MIRAI-HA-YAROU" (Futurist Fellow) is very close to our main concept which follows the original ideas of the early futurists. I have always been attracted to "futuristic" things thus a Japanese guy named me 'MIRAI'. I formed this global group by linking up with other like-minded artists around the world. For example, we have made a track and album in co-operation with fans of Jean-Michel Jarre, as a tribute to his works. Our other activities involve music for the club scene and soundtracks for video games."
There are a lot of musical instruments in your studio! Which have the most importance for you?
"One of them has to be the ROLAND JV-1080. You can easily select sounds in all categories; for rock, techno, game music, jingles etc. I think it is very important to reach the sounds you need, quickly, especially in the work we do here."
You create very unique sounds from your sampler, don't you!
"Well I have sampled a lot of sounds, since 1989, using my AKAI range of samplers. I am addicted to sound sampling. I have a good collection of analogue samples and I always listening for strange or peculiar sounds- it is important to get original waveforms for making colourful and characteristic sounds. Recently I have been concentrating on more analogue synthesis.
A lot of people like the new virtual analog synths but I don't favour them due to the tone quality - they sound very weak and distorted- never really sounding like 'true' analogue.
They have cutting-edge controllers but the end results consist of too much digital sound."
Do you use the same studio set-up at home?
"Essentially the same; the JV-1080, AKAI S3200 and the KORG 01/W, but with different types of analogue synths."
Why do you stick to the sense of the future so much?
"Why? I'm not sure! When I was fourteen I took great interest in UFOs and I loved to watch STAR TREK."
What do you consider a 'futuristic instrument'?
"In the future, MIDI cables and wires will become obsolete and we will be able to control instruments with light or energy - directly from our brains, without mechanical apparatus."
Tell us about your plans for the future...
"We have been offered to play in a electronic music concert in Europe 1998. At present, we try to play live or organize events as often as we can. On stage, I play keyboards and electronic drums. I want to try the Theremin and other such devices next. But I need to practice! I am looking for a vocoder right now. The direction of our music ensures that will we only ever use futuristic electronic sounds. I doubt if we will ever use acoustic instruments; in this lifetime anyway..."