Cokiyu Interview: Talking Collaboration With Baths, ASMR, and Merzbow

Cokiyu’s new album sidhe is out now.

In the decade since her debut album Mirror Flake released, Cokiyu has been busy perfecting a very singular brand of music. A kind of music that managed to capture the ears of listeners not just in her native Tokyo, but the world over, as well as incredibly popular electronic musicians like Baths, who Cokiyu would eventually collaborate with on the single “Twinkle Way“. During that time her enveloping and maternal brand of ambient pop has grown to encompass very disparate elements of dance pop and noise music, while still managing to maintain an incredibly unique element of “healing”, as she puts it.

Cokiyu was nice enough to talk with us, and give us her first English language interview. We talked about her new visual album, sidhe, ASMR, her Baths collaboration, and the influence of Merzbow.

Some responses are slightly edited to improve clarity.

Your latest project, sidhe was a combination of visuals and live musical performance. Do you think of visuals as you create music?

I didn’t try to think about the details of visuals of “sidhe” when I made the music. Sharing a concept was just the most important thing between me and Akiyoshi Kitagawa (visuals), because we had already collaborated on ‘Water Erosion’  actually. In my case, having influences of visuals deeply would make a bad result, and there wouldn’t be anything new, like a chemical reaction.

How did your collaboration with Baths happen? Do you keep in contact?

He used to listen to my music, that is the reason that I supported him in his Japan tour, and he collaborated on my single.

During this performance, you gently ripped up paper next to the microphone (at 2:58). Are you familiar with ASMR? Do you think your music does something similar?

Thank you for watching my live performance.

No idea, I don’t know anything about ASMR. I’m just now looking for ASMR on web, and I think that project is interesting for me. I often record small sounds, like the noise of my daily life for making beats etc. It is the same thing in this point. But for me, it does not matter whether a listener recognizes the roots of small sounds or not. I think that’s one of the big differences.

Your music has become much more noisy since Mirror Flake. Do you feel connected to japan’s noise music scene, even as an ambient/electronic artist? (Noise music like Gerogerigegege, Hanatarash, or Merzbow)

In 2001, Merzbow’s performances made me start to have interests in making noise materials, and I did during a collaboration with contemporary dancers. So ‘since Mirror Flake’ is wrong.

You went to college for musicology. Does this affect how you approach music? Do you think of music as a social thing? A cultural thing? A personal thing? An emotional thing?

Just a cultural thing. I grow up in a countryside until 18 years old, and moved here to the big city, Tokyo, to study electronic music and musicology in college. At that time, I didn’t have any experiences to compose music on a computer, or even use them, and I was shocked that there are so many genres in the world, and that most of the members of my class had a lot of knowledge about electronic music. I just knew only synthesizers TM network used.

Your music has been called “motherly”, do you think you have that kind of relationship with your listeners?

Because healing listeners with music is the most important theme of my work, I’m so glad to hear that it has been called “motherly”.

On a blog post, you said, “you suggested to me making music and recording my vocal for some projects of advertising etc.”. Which you ended up doing for Sony’s design concept video. Does making music for commercials appeal to you creatively?

That’s so excited and a very rewarding experience to share images with other people.

Do you enjoy performing live, or do you prefer the act of making music alone?

I prefer performing because it makes me feeling of release. However, I have to struggle with myself when making music alone.

Do you plan to release another album anytime soon?

For my 10th year anniversary (my 1st album was released in 2007), I plan to release a new EP, and perform live somewhere.

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If you’re interested in more Japanese music, check out the articles in our ‘Artists From’ series.

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