“My favourite space to create music is in my apartment which is still in transit since I moved here about a half year ago. I’ve been living in Berlin for a year so far, and I moved from another apartment to the other by sub-renting until I found a current space in the center of the town. Meanwhile, I toured a lot in Europe, so I couldn’t get settled in this new, tiny, cosy space to really feel like I could work on new tracks for a while (even though now I’m just about to leave for the UK and Ireland to play shows there). I’ve recorded my last two albums in Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan in 2006 and 2008. So now I’m excited as to how my future will work out after such big move from Japan to Berlin.
My musical space is a part of my bedroom. So this means really tiny (but it’s bigger than the one I had in Japanese apartment). It’s on the fourth floor on a corner where you can easily see the TV tower of a “symbol” (now regarded as a tourist one though) of former East Berlin. You can then look down at the tram on the streeet. There’s also one nice cafe/bar where a friend of mine sometimes works. The inside of the space is quite white and bright. In the summertime it’s too bright though, but now it’s getting to have appropriate brightness to be able to bear Berlin’s gray days of winter. I love spending time in the quietness of midnight here. It’s so meditative.
Right now I have a Macbook Pro to run Logic on, which have been my main equipment/software for creating music for these years. And there is a MIDI keyboard, and Korg synthesizer MS2000 which I sent from Japan by ship. Also I have a pair of speakers, headphones and the M-Audio’s firewire solo for an audio interface. Other things like BOSS Loopstation RC-50 are only for performance use, as it is very useful for improvisation on the stage.
Recently I bought a Melodica by made Hohner. I really like its sound. And what else? I have a few of ethnic-made shakers I got in Kyoto, which I played on some tracks from my second album. There still is one other piece of equipment which I left in Japan – my AKAI sampler S6000. It’s so heavy and big but I really love it. I’m not sure if I really need it later again though since the technology is always in progress to make all of those things smaller and lighter.
The most important things for me to have in this space is just simplicity and quietness. It was a bit hard to have the atmosphere in the summer because of the noise people made outside till late. But now it’s time to enjoy the “deadness” of this town in winter. I spend most of my time here except when I go to meetings or am having dinner or coffee with my friends, or DJing or touring. And I often get inspiration for some ideas for new music when I’m going out. Then I take time to shape all my ideas into sounds when I get back to home.
I work alone usually, since I’ve been doing this solo project for a long time. That’s why I need quietness to make myself feel like I’m in an isolated place. On the other hand, when I get stuck, I’d rather like to go for a walk or meet some people to change my mood. It also helps my creativity. In terms of the creative process, at first I try to record little phrases on Logic freely using by keyboard using the ideas that came to mind at that time, and then layer them up. But it always messes up at the first step, so I leave them for a couple of hours or days, and then go back to them again to see if I can make an outline more carefully, just to improve them. I keep doing this until I’m satisfied with the story and sounds contained in the track.
What I like most about this space is the fact that I can go to the kitchen immediately any time I want to make some food. There’s a big window where I can look down at the big tree in the courtyard which shows me the changes of the seasons.”
Hailing from Kyoto and now based in Berlin Midori Hirano dances the divide between electronic and acoustic sound, creating lush, layered chamber music out of piano, strings, digital samples and vocals. After graduating from university with a major in classic piano, Midori Hirano started creating music with the help of her computer. Her participation in compilations by overseas labels and EP releases led to the release of her first album LushRush from Nobel Records in September 2006. February 2008 saw Midori Hirano became the only Japanese to be invited in the composer category of the “Berlinale Talent Campus”, a program for aspiring young film makers hosted by the Berlin International Film Festival. Her latest album, klo:yuri, was released on Noble in 2008. Midori Hirano plays Whelan’s Upstairs on Friday October 30th with support from At Last An Atlas and Richie Keenan. Tickets are €12 from Ticketmaster. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/midorihirano.