P&C interview: Daigo Hanada / by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Only a few weeks ago, Tokyo-based Daigo Hanada released his debut solo LP, Ichiru, via Moderna Records – a soft, minimalist collection of tracks glowing with warmth and curiosity. Daigo, though he took piano lessons as a child, is mostly self taught, and growing up he was surrounded by his mother’s favourite records, which provided him with a basic understanding for music, without realising it. 

How were you introduced to music? When did you start creating your own?

My mother’s passion for music for sure. Also, my grandmother was a koto player and I grew up listening to her play the instrument. It was amazing to see her tune the instrument with her ears and hearing this unique harmony that the instrument has – it grew my interest in music a lot.

I was always humming new melodies in my head since my first childhood memories so if it counts I was probably like 4 years old, but the first time I really made my own song which I remember, it was in my third grade. It’s a very short and simple song but I remember I felt like I just found my own star in the sky or something. It’s a very happy song! In 2012, I purchased my own piano and it was my first time having a real acoustic piano so since then it became my habit just to sit in front of it and improvise for hours.

Could you describe your creating process for me?

During my creating process, I usually wake up very early in the morning when it’s still kind of dark outside, just to take a walk to clear my mind when there’s no one outside yet. That’s when I find all the feelings, emotions, and even the smell of the air which I usually don’t realize while being awake. Then I sit in front of my piano and put my hands on the keys and just play, for hours and hours.

I’m not really settled in one place right now so it limits the equipments I can own, and the limitations I have, have been very important to me and also to the work on this album. For most of the recordings for the album, I only used two condenser microphones, my piano, and my hands. So the whole process was very minimal and I’m very thankful for having a big limitation and not getting myself lost in fancy equipments because I don’t think I can handle all the possibilities with so many gears around me yet. Of course, there are some musical gears I wish to own someday, but for now, I’m very happy with what I have.

What or who is your biggest inspiration when composing? Do you have a dream collaboration?

The piano. It’s just a thing of beauty. Just by looking at all the details, and just by feeling the warmth of the wood, it already makes me immerse in playing the instrument. All of my compositions start from improvising, so the color, the smell, the emotions and feelings, and the atmosphere of the moments while I’m improvising; they all mean something to it.

My dream collaboration would be, for sure, my grandmother. She is the reason I really got into music and I feel like I have her way of playing an instrument; the way the chords follow after one another, and the way the melody follows the chords. So if she was still alive today, it would be my dream collaboration.

What can you tell me about Ichiru?

In Japanese, we say “ichiru no nozomi” which means “a ray of hope”.  This reflects how my life has been so I named one of the tracks Ichiru. I’m not really good at naming things, and I had no title for the album when all the recordings were done, so I was talking with Évolène and he suggested me to have a title track from the album, and he made me realize that “Ichiru” would be really perfect for the album title.

I’m really thankful for Moderna Records to have contacted me and offered me to release the LP with them. It’s been an amazing and unforgettable experience to me. They welcomed me with warm hearts and I truly enjoyed the whole process of working on this release with them.

How does it feel to have released your debut solo LP? What were your thoughts and expectations throughout the whole process?

It feels really amazing! I have never thought I could release my own songs and even feel it as a physical release in my hands, so I’m still amazed and very thankful for having this opportunity. It also made me realize that I have a big support from so many people and how lucky I am to have them.

My expectation was to have a connection between every song. I didn’t want to make the album just a collection of my recordings, so I tried to keep the same habit and recording process throughout the months.

Lastly, did you ever receive a certain piece of advice that stayed with you?

It’s actually a difficult question for me because I have never really received a certain advice from anyone. I’m kind of afraid of taking one because one simple advice can change my whole perspective. I would like to keep my own perspective and my own way of learning things. I just really enjoy learning things alone.

You can listen to Daigo’s breathtaking album on Moderna Records’ Bandcamp, and follow him on Facebook for updates on new projects.