Go Hiyama turns his back on musical conventions

We caught up with the Japanese techno talent.

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As he waves goodbye to all rules with the release of a new album, Glamcult grabbed the chance to speak with experimental techno talent Go Hiyama. The producer’s prolific sound, often characterized as minimal, has been heard the world over—from his current home in Tokyo to the foggy clubs of Berlin. Not only has Go Hiyama’s work crossed national borders, it has also successfully transcended those of music. Hoping to play with musical expectations, I Am Goodbye explores previously unvisited areas of sound, and through it, distills the fundamentals and uncertainty of human emotion. In a conscious state of denial, the artist lets us in on the thoughts lurking behind his subtle but blood-pumping tracks. 

What does the title of your brand new album, I am Goodbye, refer to?

To be honest, I didn’t plan on making an album at all, or even an EP. I started the production—whether or not tracks would see the light of day—because I basically just wanted to deny the music style I belonged to. I was sure about two ambiguous activities: getting away from something and saying goodbye to something. The concept was denial, however, it seemed to me sort of narrow…

As the recording sessions went on, just about when I finished four tracks or so, I started to realize I wanted to make a complete work. At that time, I visited Takashi Murakami’s Super Flat Collection at the Yokohama Art Museum. The idea behind the exhibition was to eliminate all borders of three-dimensional, time and price, and try to see them in parallel. That had a huge impact on me. One of the works there, I am Good Bye by Friedrich Kunath, struck me as brave and comfortable.

It seems like you enjoy playing with the expectations and rules of music. Where does this urge to push boundaries come from?

I’ve released many club/dance tracks under the Go Hiyama moniker that were defined as minimal, industrial or hard techno. They all included certain components, of which the first one is functionality; as a premise, tracks should be DJ-friendly. That includes being easy to dance to, track length, easy to sync with other tracks, et cetera. With the release of my previous album, Holographic Remark (Semantica Records), there was a big change in balance between functionality and sensibility, especially when it came to unstable notes, bars, BPM and chords. I guess I had a desire to go beyond the rules of club/dance music. If you ask me what motivated me, it’d be Super Flat as mentioned before, but also Nils Frahm and Masayoshi Fujita, or each member of a band and the expression of his/her instrument.

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Which artists, both inside and outside of music, currently inspire you? 

The expression in performances by Ryuji Takeuchi and Tomohiko Sagae from the Hue Helix label influences me a lot. I’m also interested in works of Yuri Suzuki, Kyoichi Okamoto from Kyoei Design, Paul Panhuysen, Adam Basanta and Pan Generator.

Any tracks we have to hear or artworks we need to experience?

You should listen to all tracks—there’s nothing in particular I recommend. Everything has its own feel and trial. Atilla Fidan, who designed the record artwork, seems to truly have understood the concept I wanted to demonstrate. A digital release can only show surface. If possible, I want you to have the LP in your hands and experience the artwork keeping in mind the concept of denial.

In our previous issue we addressed Border Politics. Does this topic have an influence on your work?

I’m not sure if it’s the Border Politics you mean, but I’m interested in fragmentation and segmentation, and also the attribution that follows those two movements. Since fragmentation occurs anyway, I believe that the way I face the fragmentation influences my attitude. Not necessarily getting rid of fragmentation, but getting over it, with consciousness and recognition—going back and forth. What kind of interpretation would come out of those attitudes? Where’s the border between sound and music? Between music and other art forms? Between art and design?

What are your hopes and dreams for the near future? And what effect would you like I Am Goodbye to have?

I’m looking forward to standing in front of you as a performer, to deliver what I want to express.

Listen to Go Hiyama’s tracks here

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I Am Goodbye is out now on Parachute Records