Interviews

Q+A with Ukiyo

Glistening electronic producer Ukiyo has released his euphoric new single and video Make It Better featuring Bajillionaire and Brewer.  Evocative of Porter Robinson and early MGMT, Make It Better is the latest single to be shared from Ukiyo’s forthcoming self-titled debut LP Ukiyo LP, set for release on November 13 – Vinyl/CD available for pre-order/pre-save the album now. We caught up with Ukiyo to learn more about him and his music

Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?

Of course!  I’m currently driving home from a writing camp I’ve been on for the last few days.  A bit of a getaway before everything starts happening with the album launch this week.

Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?  

I’ve been tinkering away since I can remember on the family piano, but started taking music seriously around 2010 when I started writing my own music with the help of Garageband (and Logic Pro shortly after).

Who are your greatest inspirations?  Why?

John Williams – my obsession with music started with his movie soundtracks.  I grew up as a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic so John Williams ties all these interests together for me.

Flume – his debut album changed how I looked at electronic music and certainly set me on the path I’m on now.  It’s not hard to hear the influence.

How do you create music?  Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first?  Explain your process. 

Music/melody first always.  I tend to look at music as a soundtrack to my life instead of an outlet for my emotions so I’ll usually just head to the beach or out for a walk somewhere before writing and my brain does the rest.

What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?

Becoming comfortable on stage was a big challenge, and one that became a bit unhealthy when I started to rely on alcohol to be comfortable.  A definitely faced some challenges in the creative department as well when the Ukiyo project started taking off very suddenly and I felt a lot of pressure on me to create.

Tell us about your new album, what makes you most proud about it?

This album is myself and some friends coming together to make music that we love, and that’s always what I wanted an album to feel like.  I’m super proud of myself for pushing through to the end and making this album a reality.  I really gave 110% in everything from songwriting to mixing, 

What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?

Patience.  Make sure you’re making music for the right reasons and believe that everything happens when it’s meant to.  I produced music nearly every day for 6 years before anyone wanted to listen and trust me, at the time I thought what I was making was the absolute bee’s knees, but looking back it really wasn’t.  I was barely prepared for the attention I received for my music in 2016 and I certainly wasn’t ready in 2010.

Tell us your favourite Zen practice.

I do a lot of manifesting/visualisation.  When I’m feeling doubtful about what I’m doing or down about where I am I visualise where I want to be after I’ve achieved my goals.  It helps me find mindfulness and on a biological side I know that I’m creating connections in my brain that will help lead me to that goal.  Recently though, my favourite Zen practice has been gardening, my job as a musician has a lot of pressures and worries attached to it so doing something so mundane that I also find incredibly satisfying is a great escape from everything.

Make It Better is a supremely moving track, one which puts a beautiful, poignant frame around the writers’ personal struggles.  The soft, sparse feature vocals from Bajillionaire and Brewer float amongst a pulsing, glittery bed of rotating synthesisers and a infectious beat.  Produced by Ukiyo on the road, mixed by Tim Watt (Golden Features, MUTO, Hermitude, Crooked Colours) and mastered by Wayne Sutherland (What So Not, Motez, Willaris K), Make It Better is quite possibly Ukiyo’s strongest track to date, and a thrilling taste of what his debut album will entail.  

Speaking on the inspiration behind the track, Ukiyo says, “This song is all about personal struggles, so it means completely different things to Bajillionaire, Brewer and myself who wrote it.  For me, this song is about anxiety, which is something that I’ve always struggled with but only really started taking seriously very recently.  You’ll hear a lot of references to that in the lyrics as well as the production, which was originally called “Don’t Forget to Breathe” in its demo form.  I wanted to turn my feelings of anxiety into something beautiful, with the building, whirling synths in the verses representing how I feel in the moment and the chorus recreating the feeling of getting through it.  I recently started taking medication to help with the anxiety and I’ve found myself blasting this song in the car ever since, it feels good to finally have a lot more days feeling like the chorus section.”

The self-made lyric video for Make It Better features Ukiyo, Bajillionaire and Brewer and shares a similar theme to the song, with the video being about trying new things, conquering anxiety and not caring about what people think.  “I wanted to prove to myself how far I’ve come with my anxiety as I wouldn’t have felt comfortable putting out a video like this even a few months ago” explains Tim.

With his long list of career accolades including playlist additions from Pharrell Williams and Martin Garrix, brand syncs with American Eagle, Ripcurl, Microsoft, Volkswagon, HBO and Netflix, not to mention a casual 30 million collective streams, it’s safe to say that anticipation for Ukiyo’s debut LP is at an all time high.  And fans don’t need to wait for too much longer, for Ukiyo’s self-titled debut LP is completed and set for release November 13, full track listing below.  The album is a celebration of the Australian music scene, with some of the country’s best contributing to the record and an all-star line up of features including Panama, Maribelle, Janeva, Sammi Constantine and more. “I’ve always been completely in love with the Australian music scene, so I knew that in my unique position as a producer I wanted to showcase some of the incredible upcoming Australian artists when it came around to creating my album.  Everything from production, to features, mixing, mastering, artwork is all 100% Australian.  I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and I hope I can finally take people on the journey I’ve always wanted to through this music,” Ukiyo explains.

  Pre-order/pre-save the album now.  

Ukiyo LP track listing

1. Stars

2. Equi (feat. Isla)

3. Something Like This (feat. Feelds)

4. Friends (feat. JANEVA)

5. Good Enough (feat. Maribelle)

6. With Me

7. The Middle (feat. Panama)

8. Ryo

9. Runaway (feat. Sammi Constantine)

10. Sputnik

11. Aqua Skies

12. Make It Better (feat. Bajillionaire & Brewer)

13. Dimension

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