After discovering Takahiro Izutani’s electronic project Dugo we were left with curiosity about his production work, mixing brilliant electronica, Bonobo, Four Tet and Massive Attack inspired, with a latin twist and the use of modern flamenco guitars. Definitely an eclectic mix which we highly recommend to our readers and that definitely left us wanting more.
Without spoiling the interview below, we’d like to at least introduce his work to anyone who might not be aware of Dugo’s many talents.
An eclectic musician and producer, Takahiro was the guitarist with prog-rock band Happy Family in the late 90s and after the band broke up he moved to the role of music producer and worked on different projects over the years. Dugo’s early production ‘Dublin’ was used for CSI: Miami Season 3 in 2006 and this led to a brilliant career as a composer of music for video games and films.
In 2017 Dugo’s debut album ‘Lingua Franca’ via released via Brave Wave Productions.
After three years he is back with new music, released early October. His new EP ‘Recluse’ was released earlier this month and the were written partially Takahiro was suffering with COVID-19.
We’ll leave you his words but first we recommend you to listen his music while you read the interview.
Hi Takahiro, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, we were so pleasantly surprised when we heard your track Recluse, the mixing of electronic production with Spanish guitar it is something we haven’t heard often, if ever, we always liked the flamenco sound and watching a flamenco show in a small venue in Grenada is probably in the top 10 of our favourite live music shows! So glad to have found your music through Musosoup and we are very pleased to find out more about you with this interview. Let’s give a bit of background information to our readers if you don’t mind
Tell us a bit more about your musical journey, when and how you started getting involved with music and how your journey has brought you to start your current project Dugo?
Music has existed in many places in my life. Being influenced in many ways has inspired me to move on to my current career.
Since my father is a Latin music researcher and collector, I have had many opportunities to come into contact with music such as tango, choro, folklore and salsa from an early age.
After that, I started listening to hard rock and metal, started playing electric guitar, and after I started listening to club music triggered by Massive Attack and Primal Scream, I gradually started making computer-based music using DAW.
Then, through my friends, I got offers from various record companies to make remixes of Japanese pop music, and gradually I started my career as a professional musician.
As I remixed and produced pop music, I began to feel the need to create a project that would be the basis of my own original musicality and activities. At that time, I was fascinated by the soundtrack of the movie “Amores Perros” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
The main theme composed by Gustavo Santaolalla is a song with a simple guitar phrase that expresses the ruthless world view of the movie, and I wanted to express this musical concept by fusing it with electronic music, and It became the musical concept of Dugo as it is.
Dugo means “blood” in the Tagalog language of the Philippines, but it also includes the nuances of “blood relations” and “family.” By featuring live guitar performances while being constructed with electronic sounds, I want to incorporate the human physicality (that is “blood”) into the expression, and also have the ideal of having a deep connection with the audience like a “family”. I decided to symbolise it and name it Dugo.
What was your favourite artist/band as a child?
I used to listen to guitar rock bands when I was a kid, so my favorite artists at the time were Van Halen, Gary Moore, Rush, Queen and Journey. The reason being that every band had a super guitarist.
What was the first music you bought?
When I was a kid, Yellow Magic Orchestra, of which Ryuichi Sakamoto was a member, was popular in Japan and I first bought a single for the song “Rydeen”. I think most artists making electronic music in Japan are more or less influenced by YMO.
What are your main influences now? Is there a particular artist or an album that inspired you more than others? You mentioned some of our favourites, Bonobo, Four Tet, Burial, Massive attack and more but is there a particular artist or album that really changed the game for you?
When comparing with Dugo, I mentioned Bonobo, Four Tet, Burial, etc, because I wanted to convey Dugo’s musical category in an easy-to-understand manner. However, I was mostly influenced by the Spanish flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo, Gustavo Santaolalla, whom I mentioned earlier, and the piano solo by jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. What they all have in common is that they have established an original musicality that has nothing to do with one genre or trend, and that they have established a musical worldview that makes visual images come to my mind. I also use electronic music clichés in a way like other electronic musician, but when I first get the inspiration I don’t think about it at all. As a result of repeatedly listening to the music of the three artists mentioned above, the music has already been imprinted in my head as individual shapes and visual images. That helps me when I try to create a zero to one during composing.
We are aware you are a very prolific artist but please tell us a bit more about the Recluse EP. How did it come about? Also curious to know if the creative process has been different from previous productions.
FYI we loved the EP and our favorite track is probably ‘Findings’.
When I made my first album “Lingua Franca”, I collaborated with a group of musicians playing traditional Italian instruments and classical music-oriented violinist, and incorporated many elements of traditional European music. However, when I visited the house of a friend of mine who live in Encinitas, a small town near San Diego in the United States, then when I visited the town of Byron Bay on vacation after I’ve made a keynote speech as a game music composer in 2019 in Melbourne. Being able to experience the beautiful sea and nature has influenced the musicality of Recluse EP.
The title song, Recluse, is a song that expresses my determination to continue making original music on my own, not following the trend of popular music without belonging to a flock.
Crossing Probability is a song that expresses the conflict between human relationships that pass each other in a complicated way.
I’m very happy to have ‘Findings’ on your favorite track. Because this song was the most recently made in this EP. I got COVID-19 in April, and after recovering, I started jogging in various places around the city of Tokyo. ‘Findings’ is a collection of ideas of music and images of sound that came to me when I was jogging. There is no special concept, but it is a song that reflects my current daily lifestyle.
Can you tell us a bit more about your local scene in Tokyo? Any special bands/artists or special places that are worth a mention?
There is no big scene or demand for artistic electronic music in Japan, so many artists are looking for a base for their activities overseas. I’m rather isolated from the scene of Tokyo, but there are a number of artists from Tokyo who, like me, are working independently but with amazing talent and creativity. I believe that the artists listed below have the potential to succeed overseas in the near future.
BISK (@bisk_jp) – https://bisk.bandcamp.com/track/summer-breeze
Ton Mise (@ton_mise) – https://acroplanerecordings.bandcamp.com/track/super-april-fools
We worked on an online 2-day festival over the summer, it was a brilliant production and the shows were great but chatting to the artists it was very clear that the main issue was about them finding it hard to deliver to a certain standard without any audience. What’s your take on live streaming gigs? Do you think it can be a viable alternative for musicians for the time being? Have you been involved in any or are you planning to?
Online festival is a great idea. Of course, the live performance that you actually experience at the venue is valuable, but I think that reaching a new audience by sending the performance online is indispensable for musicians who will be active in the global market from now on. It is essential regardless of COVID. I haven’t planned an online concert yet, but I would like to offer a decent quality one when the time comes. Live performance for me is different from DJ-style ones, and it requires some preparation and practice, so I’m thinking of taking the time to steadily proceed.
This is something we ask pretty much everyone we know, not just during the interviews…
We are massive fans of movie soundtracks and since we know your music has been placed in tv series and you have produced a lot of music for video games we are curious to find out what’s your favorite movie soundtrack (if any)? And what existing movie would you like to recreate (or even just curate) a new soundtrack for?
I am also a big fan of film music. As I mentioned earlier, it was Amores Perros’s music that inspired me to start Dugo. I’m also a big fan of Ennio Morricone. I especially like the songs from the Spaghetti Western era, but since 2000, Malena’s music has been a great inspiration to me.
Among the classical composers, Craig Armstrong’s strings score is a big influence. His first solo album, ‘The Space Between Us’ in is one of my best all-time albums.
Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Dead Man’ music is also the best guitar music in the history of film music. The music was improvised by Neil Young while watching the movie. I’m always overwhelmed with the withered tone and emotional performance of his guitar when I listen to the soundtrack.
I’m always looking forward to listen to the work of Brazilian composer Antônio Pinto, which is close to Dugo’s musicality. He is one of the greatest composers in the world today in terms of film music using various guitars and stringed instruments.
What if I could recreate existing movie soundtrack? It should be ‘No Country for Old Man’. This wonderful thriller movie of the Coen brothers does not use any music in the play, but the color tone of the movie and the world view of the story strongly make me want to express it with Dugo’s music. The song, written by Carter Burwell, which is played only on end rolls, is close to Dugo’s worldview and is one of my favorites.
Free question – please ask yourself a question that you have always wanted to get asked. Could be a question about your future plans, or a statement or just a story you’d like to share with us and our readers.
Please tell us about your future plans and activity.
While so many artists unable to perform concerts, the tendency that content creation capabilities will increase the value and demand in the future could be an opportunity for me in a sense.
Even a person like myself who is working as a complete individual and has no backing or achievements as an artist nowadays completes all music production, and music video production by my own, and by making full use of Internet services these days, you are now in an era where label management, marketing strategies, and even tools for learning them can be operated in the price of one-thousandth or free of charge compared to 10 years ago.
The latest release in the form of an EP this time is due to the trend of streaming services these days, it makes sense to release in units of several songs rather than releasing an album after 10 songs and 15 songs are completed together, because such style has become mainstream when you think of the presence online.
It’s even more rational if you don’t think about physical releases such as CDs. That’s why Dugo will continue to release EPs and singles constantly, and will focus on releasing albums as the culmination of those.
Before we let you go, can you recommend us a couple of great new bands/artists you are into at the moment?
As a fan of electronic music, I’m paying attention to the artists of Max Cooper’s label, Mesh. As I said earlier, in this era, the influence is important, including collaborations with filmmakers and other musicians, original ideas to increase the presence online and forms of activity. In that respect, he is very energetic and innovative, and it is a great inspiration for me.
Follow Dugo at the links below:
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/dugo/1447670572