Interview with Tomggg
Tomggg – Interview (2020.01.10)
Why did you start playing music?
My mother loves music and she recommended that I go to a music school run by YAMAHA. I learned how to play many musical instruments, but my favorite thing was playing classic music, such as Beethoven and Mozart, on the piano. I played it until I graduated high school.
What kind of music did you listen to then?
I didn’t listen to music much until I entered high school even though I played it a lot. I was in the school's popular music band when I was a high school student so I listened to J-pop like L’Arc～en～Ciel and BUMP OF CHICKEN, etc. I started to compose music then, and I wanted to understand composition more deeply. I chose to go Kunitachi Music University because it has a course on composing, acoustics and sound engineering.
What kind of music did you learn at the university?
Basically, a mixture of composing and engineering. I made quite cutting edge works then, like setting 20 speakers in a room and having sounds jump from one speaker to another. And I also wanted to make music that did not yet exist in the world, so I ended up making very original sounds using software called MAX MSP, which lets you make sounds that are unlike any music instrument.
So, did you like electronic music then? Were you influenced by any specific artists?
I loved artists from Warp records, such as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Autechre.
They actually make the opposite type of music from the type that you make. How did you find the taste of music you compose now?
I was influenced by a Japanese electronic musician named Rei Harakami. I learned that music machines are not crucial factors in making music because he composed brand-new electronic music with an old school machine called SC-88Pro. He also made various type of music from experimental to pop, like Yanokami with Akiko Yano. I loved his essence of nostalgic and pop.
Rei Harakami - Last
Many people are aware that you emerged from an Internet label and in particular from Maltine records. What was your first release from the Internet?
There were many Internet music labels around 2010. The guy called Redcompass started a series of compilation albums called FOGPAK, which I think became a gateway to success. I joined it around 2013, and then I was offered to perform from a live concert hall called 2.5D, which pushed our Internet label phenomenally. This all helped me finally release my music from Maltine records.
How did you find the originality in your music?
I composed music like Autechre and Aoki Takamasa as I said, but I sometimes incorporated melodies into it because I was scared it would be too difficult for listeners. But I also felt it was music that I love. And the turning point at which my music became really pop was when I listened to Miss you by bo en compiled by FOGPAK#6 in 2013. It really shocked me because he composed club music with melodies, vocals and complex chord progressions. That made me realize that I should do whatever I want.
bo en - miss you
So did you make your first EP Butter Sugar Cream with the mindset you learned from bo en?
Before I made Butter Sugar Cream, I made a remix of Chuto Hanpa wa Yamete by Kindan No Tasuuketsu. I used bell sounds and used half beats in the chorus, which I don’t think anyone had done before then, and it also got a good reaction from listeners.
Tomggg - Butter Super Cream (2015年/1st EP)
[Apple Music] https://music.apple.com/jp/album/butter-sugar-cream-ep/967898624
What was the difference between Butter Sugar Cream and Art Nature, your second EP?
It was made during the same period of time, so Art Nature was an updated version of Butter Sugar Cream.
Tomggg - Art Nature (2016年/2nd EP)
[Apple Music] https://music.apple.com/jp/album/art-nature/1111443280
Now you have released a new EP, Unbalance, which took 4 years since Art Nature. What’s the difference between these two?
I feel I am done with sweet sounds, like those that people describe as Kawaii in Art Nature. I released Aoi Yagawa prod. Tomggg - ON THE LINE, which was shaped by minimal sounds, from Maltine records in 2017. It was kind of going back to my roots. I had been in the world of pop for 3-4 years, but now I am thinking about where I should go next.
Why do you think the change happened?
I think many people started to make music like I made. There are also many parties that support those kinds of sounds, like Bouryoku Tekini Kawaii. I feel I have done my part, and now my followers can make it bigger.
Please describe Unbalance by comparing it to Art Nature.
I cannot describe it with exact words now, but the construction is totally different and the music is much shorter. It is more like hip hop beats. But the tone color has not changed much.
Tomggg - Unbalance (2020年/3rd EP)
Tone color is one of the reasons we feel that Tomggg’s music is Kawaii. You said previously you want to escape from it. What does it mean?
I don’t think it means that I want to get away from it musically. I mean it in more of a cultural sense. For example, a lot of my music is uploaded to YouTube with Kawaii animation. I love animation and anime songs, but I feel they do not fit my music. I am not interested in types of Kawaii that are expressed shallowly.
Last question, do you have an ideal vision for your future?
I read an interview from TNGHT, a music duo composed of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice. They said that, if music becomes too big, it loses its freedom. I sympathized with this idea. I want to make music that is fun. Also I want make music for anime and films in the near future.