Interview: Tokyo’s TAAR & MASAtO Create History With First-Ever Japanese Song Created on “Clubhouse”

Photo credit: MASAtO/ANIMAL HACK

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have noticed that the audio-based (and invite-only) social media app Clubhouse has been taking the world by storm. The real-time, conversational nature of the platform has gave birth to a variety of ‘rooms’ on topics ranging from investing to health to hustling and everything in between.

It has also been a breeding ground for musicians around the world to network and collaborate. Open Mic rooms pop up in the dozens everyday, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the app’s audio-centric identity.

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In late January, Tokyo-based DJs TAAR and MASAtO (of ANIMAL HACK fame) started a room titled “Who wants to make a song together? (Singers welcome)”. Initially conceptualised as a casual get together session, the room attracted much more attention than the duo anticipated; established singers, rappers, trumpet players, and guitarists among other creators all came out in full force.

4 hours later, the efforts of the duo alongside Mitsuki Aoyama, Seiho, Daisuke Kazaoka, CHICO CARLITO, Daisuke Hasegawa, Meiko Hoshibana, madflash, Anna Yano and YOSY POKARI gave birth to the appropriately titled “Clubhouse”.

A mixture of each individual member’s strengths and the result is a song that feels like a first step into the many possibilities for creativeness to flourish on the ever-growing platform.

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Follow MASAtO (@masatoanml) and TAAR (@taar88) on Clubhouse, listen to “Clubhouse” below and read on for my interview about the track with them.


Turntable Thoughts:

Firstly, could you both tell me about yourselves?

TAAR:

I’m a music producer/DJ based in Tokyo. I produce music that is mainly house music and disco music (Modern Disco).

MASAtO:

I work as part of ANIMAL HACK, a music producer duo based in Tokyo, Japan. I am in charge of a wide range of creative and planning activities as well as music production.

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Turntable Thoughts:

In your press release, it says that “Clubhouse” was recorded under 4 hours. How did the recording process work so quickly? Especially when there a large number of people involved.

TAAR:

It is interesting that we got united with good, talented people. My role was a bit like a director, putting together everyone’s contribution of sounds. I think that’s also why we were able to complete the track so quickly. I had the skills, and I usually do similar within my own production work, so this was effortless.

MASAtO:

Although there were many members, miraculously everyone was cooperative, and there was an atmosphere of trying to get the best done in a short time.

Process wise, I think the main reason was that I asked the participating members to put their favorite phrases into a short 4-chord loop, and then reconfigure the data completely at the discretion of TAAR and [I]. If the members had argued about the composition of the song, we would not have been able to finish it.

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Turntable Thoughts:

What made you guys decide to work on your first collaboration through Clubhouse?

TAAR:

MASAtO and I have been talking for a long time about writing songs together. I contacted MASAtO, thinking that we could meet a good singer using Clubhouse.

MASAtO:

[TAAR] had been planning to finish a song with me since we made a room at Clubhouse on the day of the event. To be completely candid, I [went] to the event with a light heart, hoping to meet a nice singer.

I heard a sound coming from TAAR’s account, so I asked, “What music are you playing? He said, “I’m currently playing the piano for a song I’m going to write,” which made me think he was serious and I also started working on it.

Later, when Daisuke Hasegawa, one of the participating members, added a 12-track chorus to the song, I think the quality and seriousness of it switched everyone on.

Photo credit: MASAtO/ANIMAL HACK

Turntable Thoughts:

How does it feel like to be part of this historical moment for both Japanese music and Clubhouse? Would you be interested in recording even more music this way?

MASAtO:

I had never been a leader or a pioneer in a new field before, so I was surprised to see how much attention I was getting from both inside and outside of Japan. I feel that I have been given a really good opportunity. In future, I’d like to try making more time-limited songs in Clubhouse with international artists.

TAAR:

Listening to music brings fascinating moments, but the moment when a piece of music is being completed is equally fascinating. In that respect, due to the real-time nature of the Clubhouse app, it connects music in ways other social networks do not.

It creates more ways for listeners to experience music, and allows us musicians to put more messages into their songs than ever before. I would like to see more efforts and experiments by other musicians.

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Turntable Thoughts:

What are your thoughts on the popularity of Clubhouse right now?

MASAtO:

I feel that the current popularity of Clubhouse comes from people seeking business seminars rather than pure entertainment, as the first Japanese invitees were CEOs of an IT company. However, I believe that use and enthusiasm in the entertainment field will grow as the number of users increases and the user base expands.

Also, I note that the excessive enthusiasm of users who were committing themselves without sleep [since] late January seems to have subsided a bit as of February 21.

TAAR:

Most users are interested in following business people and entertainers. However, for some users, it is a place for exchanging opinions with professionals such as engineers and performers. It is a gold mine of very useful information.

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Turntable Thoughts:

What are the future plans you have for your careers respectively?

MASAtO:

This year, we are planning to write our own songs and sing them ourselves, as well as releasing songs featuring Asian artists outside of Japan. We are also planning to write music for a wide range of artists, animation works, and even YouTubers who are interested in our music.

TAAR:

Our song “Clubhouse” is a track made through co-writing among a lot of people. In Japan, the culture of making music through co-writing has not taken off. While continuing activities that promote it, I also want to make use of it in my own work as usual.

Posted by

Based in Melbourne and Malaysia. Jensen is a part-time journalist and full-time music fan.

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