Tokyo Festival of Modular

By Audio Pervert - 8/01/2018

Up in Japan and especially Tokyo, modular synthesis has grown in a viral uncharted way (similar to mainland Europe and North America) in the last 10 odd years. The Japanese modular scene is eclectic, is ambient, is noisy and a lot is internally embroiled in constant change. As Japanese post-industrial cultures exhibit immense need for innovation, edge and counter-points, so does the modular music scenario. A recent survey of ambient and modular music beaming from Japan was recorded in an article on A sound-check with Vactrol Record featuring Japanese modular sounds is reflection of the avant-garde of Japanese electronic music. We recently spoke to Dave Skipper curator and co-founder of Tokyo Festival Of Modular, about the ebb and flow of modular music and musicians in Japan currently. We asked him about the festival and what it aims to achieve. 料理とは何ですか?What's cooking?

What is Tokyo Festival of Modular? In terms of it's objectives and works currently?
The purpose of Tokyo Festival of Modular is to celebrate creativity in the world of modular synths, and to create a community in the process. We love the diversity, as seen and heard amongst modular artists who are transcending genres. In Japan, a range of forms exist in modular synthesis now, be it experimental, ambient, techno, noise or straight up electronica. The nature of the modular synth as an instrument is key to exploration and uniqueness. The diversity of synth designers and makers is what makes this possible : we also love to invite and include any modular company, however big or small to our festival. TFoM as an event is therefore threefold:

► to create awareness and interest about modern modular synthesizers and the vast creative possibilities within ► to showcase both local and international artists performing live with modular synths ► to provide an opportunity for some of the many manufacturers producing synthesizer modules to promote their works in Japan.

We want to incorporate all these elements together in the festival, now in it's 5th year. We have an exhibition/marketplace for modular synth companies, distributors, and also some other music gear companies who are connected to the modular scene. The festival includes lectures, production demonstrations and workshops. And last but not least concerts featuring numerous artists with diversity from many nations.

Who founded it?
TFoM started in 2013, and was started by Dave Skipper and Hataken. I am into noise and more extreme and aggressive sounds, while Hataken pursues a unique blend of beats, ambient, techno, and electronica. We are united by a passion for open artistic expression. Since its humble beginnings TFoM has expanded year by year, allowing us to increase the size of the exhibition and a 'live-artists' lineup. We have been privileged to welcome such artists as Richard Devine, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Russell Haswell, Eat Static, and Sarah Davachi, as well as special one-off interviews/lectures with Peter Zinovieff (EMS) and the legendary Isao Tomita. But it's the organic growth of a local modular scene in between the festival events which is the greatest satisfaction for me personally. We are always expanding our network with artists, designers and manufacturers. Check out all our past events and festival editions here.

Describe the 'scene' in Tokyo to us?
It has been very exciting to say the least, as a good number of modular artists emerge here in Tokyo (more than 100 actually), as well as several module makers and distributors starting up in the city. There are different modular events being organized independently from TFoM, such as the monthly Modular Cafe (run by KURO at Space Orbit) and the occasional party at Things Tokyo. Tokyo is also part of the global PowWow live-streaming community. Tokyo artist Isei Ben has released several compilation CDs of local artists, titled The Young Persons' Guide to Modular Synthesis. We have also hosted special DIY module-making workshops with Befaco [Barcelona] who have been visiting Japan annually for a few years now. Check out our Modular Weekends in a Pyramid events where-in we hosted Befaco Modular.

Future plans 2019 /20 ?
We want to improve our organizing and promoting, especially to be clearer and more welcoming for complete beginners or outsiders to the modular scene. We want TFoM to continue to celebrate creativity and create a growing community, but to do it better! We want to connect more with the wider Asian modular scene, and we are always open to ideas and suggestions as to what that might look like. We are trying to connect with modular music groups in different countries, and are very excited about other makers and artists from around Asia as most of the makers come from North America and Europe (plus Australia too). For example, we are keen to learn more about what is happening in India's modular scene!

東京モジュラーフェスティバル / モジュラーシンセサイザー 見本市&コンサート、ワークショップ : - Next Tokyo Modular Festival November 17th, 18th 2018.
Very stoked with our conversation with Dave, we will surely follow up with a full length feature about Japanese Modular Music in our future posts. Stay tuned! 

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