The multi-instrumentalist talks the release of his self-titled debut album and the creative process.
Taking us into the weekend right way, is one of Australia’s most exciting producers, Ukiyo with his highly anticipated self-titled album. With synth-laden rhythms and heartwarming productions, we’re introduced to a downtempo soundscape laced with raw emotive vocals and unapologetic lyricism. Standout tune “Good Enough” boasts layers of bouncing melodies and soulful vocals for an insight on a dead-end relationship. Leading into “Friends”, the tempo slows down and featurette JANEVA glides over of the electronica infused bass lines for a genre-bending tune.
Opening on his debut album, the multi-instrumentalist said, “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 cloud-filled journey I’ve always wanted to through this music.”
Having produced music for the likes of TV gods HBO and Netflix, the producer is not new to the industry and has collected over 30 million collective streams. With features from Panama, Maribelle and Sammi Constantine on the album, we caught with the producer talking, the creation of the album, musical inspirations and how Flume’s debut album changed his life.
Check out the interview below…
Hi Ukiyo – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
I’ve been doing very well. It’s certainly had an impact on my creativity but it’s allowed me to focus more on other things like my mental health and to tick off some bigger goals I’ve had for a while now like creating videos for YouTube.
How has growing up in Australia influenced you sonically? Who are your musical heroes?
It’s certainly had a big influence, I’ve grown up listening to Triple J and sucked into a musical palette that I hear people refer to as the “Australian sound” a lot. One of my biggest musical heroes and the one that undoubtedly got me into music in the first place is John Williams, conductor of movie soundtracks for Star Wars, Jaws, E.T., Harry Potter and a million others. I spent my childhood listening to his and others’ soundtracks and it’s definitely had a big impact on the music I make and listen to now.
And how would you describe your genre?
I’m not very good with genres but the words I see floating around the most are “Aussietronica” and “Chillhop”. I see my music sitting somewhere between electronic and hip hop music with soundtrack/classical elements.
Where are the most unusual places you pull musical inspiration from?
I pull inspiration from everything so there’s certainly a lot of strange ones in there too, particularly sounds that I hear everyday objects make that I’ll record on my phone to either sample or use as inspiration. Some recent ones I remember was raindrops falling on a metal drainpipe that made a really strange metallic sound and a gas lift chair that made a super slow creaking sound anytime it was used. I love these everyday objects that for one reason or another aren’t quite making the noise you’d expect them to.
Congratulations on your self-titled LP “Ukiyo” – what is it inspired by?
I started this album with a beginning and an end – from the chill hip-hop-y music I’ve been making for the last few years transitioning to the big saw wave epic electronica I’ve been wanting to make for a while. I wanted this album to be the final chapter of the first era of Ukiyo. In the end, more than anything, it just became a journey I created with some of my musical friends that I’m super proud of.
I read it was already crafted in isolation before lockdown – has what’s happened given it new meaning?
Yes for better or worse that just seems to be the only way I’m able to make these damn Ukiyo songs! I think it could certainly bring a new meaning to listeners who are forced to listen to it in the same environment I created it. I think there’s a little bit of poetry to that.
How did you come up with the names for the tracks in the LP, especially when it is electronic/tends not to have lyricism?
I wish I had something a little cooler to share but the honest truth is I just have a big list of interesting words I’ve come across and I usually pick one out when I’m exporting a new demo. Sometimes the name sticks and sometimes it changes. I’ll try to find or come up with something that relates to the meaning of the song for me and how I was feeling when I was creating it.
What do you want fans to take from it?
I hope I can help people escape their hectic lives for 40 minutes and take them on a little journey. Two of my favourite albums in the world are Porter Robinson’s Worlds and Flume’s debut album, which have both helped me a lot in times of need, so I hope my album can be that for at least one person.
Your music has had amazing support and features – what would you say has been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
Hearing Panama’s vocals on “The Middle” for the first time was an absolute pinch-me full-circle kind of moment. I’ve been listening to that guy for years and the remixes on his ‘Always’ EP back in the day were some of the songs that got me into electronic music to start with. So honoured to have him on this album.
Your music has featured in countless popular films and by brands – what do you think gives your production style such a cinematic quality?
Obviously, I draw a lot of inspiration from classical and soundtrack music from my music tastes growing up, but the truth is that I really have no idea what the secret sauce is to make something feel cinematic. I guess I’m just drawn to the things I grew up listening to and I’m sure that influences me in every step of the process when I’m creating music.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to next year?
I’m incredibly excited for people to get to hear the rest of the album that they haven’t heard already, I think listening in the context of an album changes songs a lot in a good way. I’ve got a heap of tracks ready to go, a bunch of live shows starting next month, a side project I’ve been working on with some friends, a couple of tracks I’ve produced for others and some remixes. Lots to look forward to.