Last February Japanese composer and pianist Daigo Hanada released his debut solo piano album on Montreal’s boutique imprint Moderna. Ichiru is made of eleven beautiful piano miniatures and a full-length closing piece written in Berlin and Tokyo and recorded using only an upright piano, a pair of microphones and Hanada’s two hands. Iglooview is in the works. In the meantime Hanada has kindly agreed to share some Bits & Pieces about his life with us.
The first album you bought?
I was probably like 7 years old and went to a very small local vinyl shop with my mother, and we found an old Roger Williams record that has ‘Autumn Leaves’ on it and she bought it for me. The way he plays the keys and how fast he can go, it amazed me. But the first album I bought, I think it was Michael Andrew’s soundtrack album for a movie ‘Donnie Darko’. I listened to these two particular tracks called “Gretchen Ross” and “RossieDarko” on repeat everyday for years. They just sound so magical to my feelings.
The last album you were addicted to?
I actually have two answers to this question. ‘Settlers’ by Western Skies Motel, and ‘Monument Builders’ by Loscil. I discovered ‘Settlers’ about two months ago and since then it’s been on repeat. It was released about a year ago but somehow I didn’t find it until recently. The opening track “Falling Leaves” already proves that this is one of the most important releases in 2016, and “Whelm” makes this album so addictive to me. ‘Monument Builders’ by Loscil, I’ve been a fan of his works since many years ago, and yet this release blew my mind away! Put me in an empty room for a week without anything but this album and a pair of good headphones, I will be happy.
A movie you can always watch?
‘Waking Life’ by Richard Linklater. It’s about a man trying to seek the meanings of life while trying to wake from a dream, but when he wakes from it, he’s in another dream. It tells you so many interesting things about consciousness, dreams, reality, and the way you look at life. It has many strong quotes like “Which is the most universal human characteristic? Fear or laziness?” Oh, and after I watched this movie, I started taking notes about the dreams I had, and it allowed me to have lucid dreams from time to time, it’s pretty amazing.
A book you couldn’t stop reading?
‘Sisters Of The Earth’ by Lorraine Anderson. This book is a collection of poetries about nature written by female poets, writers, teachers, biologists, and so on. It reminds me of how powerful and beautiful the nature is, and how strong my connection is to it. Even though I sometimes struggled to understand the meanings behind the words because reading a book in English has always been a challenge for me, I still enjoyed reading it a lot. Other than that, I really like Sōseki’s ‘Ten Nights of Dreams’.
The weirdest thing that has ever happened to you on stage or in the studio?
I have my piano and recording setup in the same room where I sleep, and once I was just lying in bed and looking outside of the window, then I heard the A4 on the key on my piano even though there was no one else in the room. And on the next day it happened again, twice, and to me it sounded like the key was telling me “Play me a song!” so I improvised a song and called it “a song for A4”, and after that I never heard it again so I guess the key was happy haha. It was very weird but for sure an interesting experience.
A favorite piece of equipment?
My Yamaha piano and different kinds of felt cloths to mute and soften the sound. Since I was little, I have always played piano muted with the felt cloths between the hammer and the strings. I was a shy kid and wanted to hide the sound when I play so no one could hear it. It’s really funny that I still play the same way, but many people listen to it now. What I love about using different cloths on piano is that it’s sometimes hard to hear the difference, but when you put the microphones close to the hammers, it just sounds so beautiful and it’s so fascinating every time.
A reaction to your music you’ll never forget?
I’m so thankful for every word I receive from my listeners and reviewers, but about a year ago I received a message on soundcloud from one of the listeners, and he wrote me about how my music is saving his life. It made me rethink what music is and how powerful and meaningful it can be.