Japan is not any giant in the field of dark ambient. However there are some exceptions, calm harbours on that noisy sea. The brightest one is probably SHINKIRO which released two great albums for Athanor and recently returned after three years of silence with collaboration with Empusae which was released by Ant-Zen. I invite you to read an interview with Manabu Hiramoto – the founder and only member of SHINKIRO.
SHINKIRO means “mirage”. Is it just a good sounding name, or is there a deeper meaning hidden behind this moniker?
The answer is both. SHINKIRO is an imaginary name to my music. As another meaning, the name is derived from that my hometown, Toyama, which is famous as a city where mirages occurre.
In my opinion “Way of the Gods” is less dark than “Deep Blue”, but more organic and deep, would you agree? What do you think today about both albums, from perspective of time? Did they reflect your state of mind of that time?
Yes, I agree. All my releases reflect my music taste and my state of mind. Especially, “Deep Blue” made me come out of my shell. “Deep Blue” is all I could do at that time. I didn’t know how to make an album at that time, but I can’t reproduce the sound anymore. Not deep ambient music but I expressed the image of deep blue sea and human’s emotion of deep blue in my ways. I keep many unreleased old materials in “Deep Blue” era, they have the same feeling. “Way Of The Gods” is a next step in my music career and in my spirit.
Your latest release is split with Empusae. Honestly speaking, I didn’t listen to it yet. Shinkiro is totally different project though, you’re like fire and water. I’d like to ask you about the origin of this rather unusual cooperation.
I always enjoy the rhythmic stuff, not only dark ambient. I respected Nico from Empusae as a musician and an artist. So our collaboration was very natural. We’re satisfied with our album “O.A.O”.
Is there any concept behind “Organic.Aural.Ornaments”
The main keyword of “O.A.O” is “organic”. I like the abstract title can make each listener imagine the concept. We want our listeners to think about the meaning of “O.A.O”. It was so fun to collaborate with Empusae, so I want you just to enjoy music.
You’ve also released an album as Kotodama. Unfortunately I never heard it – what are the main differences between Kotodama and SHINKIRO?
Shinkiro is my main project which expresses the inner landscapes of humanity. Kotodama has the element of dark ambient but is focused on the other side of Shinkiro. The style is experimental, electronic and weird. Simply I just play and enjoy the “sound” via Kotodama beyond the musical limitation.
I’d like to ask you about your cooperation with Athanor. How did you join this label? Will you release anything for Athanor in the future or is your cooperation definitely finished?
Stephane of Athanor liked my demo I sent in 2004. That’s all. Without him, “Deep Blue” would not have been completed. We have kept a good relationship. I finished an album with my new project, Bashin (with Bardoseneticcube from Russia). I think the sound is just what you expect. The title is “Four Noble Truths” and it was just released on Athanor.
Japan is the land of noise music, to be honest I don’t know many ambient artists from your country. Are you interested in noise scene?
I haven’t been into noise music ever.
Or perhaps I’m wrong, and there are some interesting Japanese ambient acts? Could you recommend any?
My friend Troll Lullaby is great. You can listen to his sounds on Jack Or Jive “Kokorobito” CD.
Is SHINKIRO popular in Japan (I mean in underground of course)? Or do you rather receive more feedback from other countries or continents?
No, most Japanese seems to difficult to accept dark ambient music. Sometimes I get positive feedback from European countries, Russia and Hong Kong.
I’d like to ask you about your influences. Where do you find inspiration – in Nature? Religion? Not without reason I’m asking this question, because for me SHINKIRO music is equally organic, close to Nature and highly spiritual – way of the gods, as the title says.
Needless to say, “Way of the Gods” was inspired by the Japanese religion “Shinto”. Every natural force has each own god. This unique practice is quite different with other monotheism religious practices. Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto gave me lots of inspirations. Field recordings like birds, insects, trees and wind were done there. I’m interested in religion and spiritual things. “Way of the gods” was one of my interests.
I know that you live in Osaka – perhaps one of the capitals of XXI century civilization. I know that Dotonbori district was one of Ridley Scott inspirations when he was creating all these futuristic visions in Blade Runner. And paradoxically your music is far from that modern world. How do you feel in Osaka? Is it possible to find some calmness and inner peace there?
I lived in Osaka for 12 years, but I was back to Toyama 3 years ago. Osaka was one of the largest cities. The crowd and noisy street always annoyed me, so that I was devoted myself to music to find the inner peace.
I suppose you can’t make a living from making music. What do you do in “normal” life?
My job is a sales of religious goods and gravestones. As a study, I can learn about Buddhism, though it has not inspired Shinkiro music yet.
Any plans for the nearest future?
Bashin CD is out now. And I’m working a double CD album to collect my old unreleased materials. Uitra Mail Production from Hong Kong will release it soon. The title is “From The Archives”. We are planning to make it limited to 99 copies.
Thank you Manabu for this interview. Last words are yours.
“We are all one beyond space and time”.