Interview with Akita Masami of Merzbow

interview - 11.06.2010 20:01

Shortly before his European tour, the creator of the noise project Merzbow granted JaME a short interview.

Having just completed a tour of America, noise musician Akita Masami answered some of JaME's questions. Akita spoke about his music, his tour of America and his constant campaign for animal welfare.

Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Akita Masami: I’m Akita Masami. Through music, I emphasis that I am a vegan and protect the rights of animals.

How did you choose the name Merzbow?

Akita Masami: I took it from the German Dadaist Kurt Schiwitter’s work Merzbau. Merzbau is a structure (architecture) that he made from collected scrap material.

In the beginning, in the 80s I started with tape music. That method was to pick up noise in everyday life and record it. I thought that [making art from scraps] was a point my art had in common with Schwitters’.

Could you please explain your musical style?

Akita Masami: People call it Noise/Experimental, but the explanation doesn't have meaning.

Why did you choose to make noise music?

Akita Masami: I didn’t “choose” to. The music I started with became Noise music. Because at that time, that kind of genre wasn’t there. Of course, even before, there was music using noise, but that was called avant-garde music or experimental music. It wasn’t called noise music.

How did you come up with the idea of promoting respect for animals through your music?

Akita Masami: I became a vegan about 8 years ago, and I thought about conveying the message of animal rights through my music. What I can contribute is artistic activities including music, so I thought it was important to use that to transmit even a little bit of the vegan and animal rights message to listeners. Of course, music is abstract art, but I think it reflects the creator’s ideals. Also, at the same time, I supported animal rights organisations called PETA and Sea Shepherd, and also joined demos. Also, in 2005 the Vegan and Animal Rights themed book “My Cruelty-Free Life” was published.

Is there a message you would like to give to our readers with regards to animal welfare?

Akita Masami: I want to promote not just Animal Welfare, but Animal Rights. Western countries are the origin of Veganism and Animal Rights, so I think you are all well informed about Animal Rights. Animal Welfare aims to reduce the suffering, killing and euthanasia of animals. Animal Rights isn’t the same. Its perspective is that animals have the right to be free from abuse and free from being killed, and it promotes the complete removal of farming livestock.

How was your tour of America?

Akita Masami: This time in addition to the solo sets, it was very meaningful to be able to have duos with Balazs and Richard Pinhas (Heldon).

Why did you choose to work with Balazs Pandi?

Akita Masami: Around two years ago I started making music using drums. I used to play the drums myself and record it. Last year I released the 12 CD piece Japanese Bird Series in which a lot of drums were used. Then I wanted to use them in a live too. A year ago, Balazs planned a project, a Budapest Live. At that time he wanted to join on drums, so we did a Small Europe Tour. It was completely unknown, but from the first day it was perfect.

How has it been working with him?

Akita Masami: He's an extremely skilled drummer, and understands everything from Grindcore and Heavy Metal to Free Jazz. From quick heavy drums to improvisation, he gave support and was very flexible, so working with him was very easy.

For your album, Animal Magnetism, you recorded the sound of your pet chicken. How did you come up with this idea?

Akita Masami: Because chickens’ voices are extremely noisy and interesting.

How are your pet chickens doing?

Akita Masami: They are doing very well. At the moment I have bantams, a duck and fantails pigeons. In the garden, mice, pigeons, cats, sparrows and crows also come.

Do you have any plans to release anything soon?

Akita Masami: I plan to release a live with Balazs.
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