Tokyo Midnight Youth, from Hull, UK, has recently released a 7 track EP called Asteroid Arcade.
We had the pleasure to ask him a few questions.
Check out the interview.
Headphones For Robots: Who is Tokyo Midnight Youth? Where does that name come from?
Tokyo Midnight Youth: Tokyo Midnight Youth is primarily just myself, Harry. But the vocals for each of the tracks were sung by a close friend and long-time collaborator Josh Hedges. The name actually comes from an anime film called Akira. In the film they’re a sort of young biker gang who live in ‘neo-Tokyo’, I think the name just came to me one day when I was watching it on TV and it sounded perfect, especially for the genre.
HFR: How did you start making music? Could you tell us a bit about your synthpop and non-synthpop influences?
TMY: I began making music when I was about 12, being a bass player for a band, eventually graduating to rhythm guitarist and then singer in a band called The Talkdown, we split up around 2 years ago now though. I first started writing my own tracks on Logic Pro about 5 years ago, but recently switched to Ableton and really knocked it up a gear and started making Synthpop/Synthwave stuff. In terms of my influences from the genre, I absolutely love FM-84. He was who I discovered specific Synth music through, and I found him by listening to the ‘Drive’ film OST a lot on YouTube. But FM-84 was definitely who influenced me to begin creating Synth stuff. Outside of the genre, I love such a diverse range of music it’s crazy, recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Blood Orange, Theo Katzman, and even a lot of Drake/Kendrick Lamar. I grew up listening to pure 80’s music like Duran Duran and Adam Ant because of my parents, so it’s a real full circle for me.
HFR: Can you tell us about Asteroid Arcade your first EP? Is there a concept linking the songs together?
TMY: It’s actually way more interlinked than most people would think. The whole concept for Asteroid Arcade actually came from the idea of Pizza Planet in Toy Story, which I loved as a kid. I worked with an artist to create this whole range of concept art based on an actual Arcade on an Asteroid, and the idea was that the songs would be those played in the background around the arcade. The artwork is unbelievably good, and I’ll be uploading them on to my facebook pretty soon!
HFR: What is your approach on writing music? Which are the steps you make when songwriting?
TMY: I usually create in Ableton, and the first thing I do is create a basic song structure, which I know a lot of people would find limiting. I usually create it in session view so I can mix it around a bit, but I try to avoid getting stuck making really good 8/16/32 bar loops that never actually end up a song. I start with a few basic instruments; drum rack, piano, bass, and usually have a physical guitar and bass on hand. I think the most of the tracks I write are done within 4 hours of getting that first melody or chord progression, and from there it’s just tweaking to make things sound the way I want.
HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? What do you use when writing a song and which are your favorite instruments?
TMY: Last year I switched over to a portable rig, I used to have an iMac. So currently I love working ‘in the box’, I have a couple of MIDI keyboards, usually I use the Arturia Minilab because it’s so compact, but still has drum pads, and all the knobs at the top are assignable, so that’s amazing. I love my Fender Strat and Jazz bass, so they see a lot of action. In terms of synthesis, which is a huge part of my sound, I tend to use Ableton’s ‘own brand’ stock stuff. I’ve had Komplete and SoundToys in the past, but I always got way too stuck in the sheer amount of options. I have a sample library of thousands of 80’s drums that I use all the time. The only non-stock synthesizer I currently own is Output’s Exhale.
Most of my go to equipment are audio plugins, I spend most of my time manipulating sounds to get texture and layers. I couldn’t be without my Valhalla VintageVerb, ToneBooster’s gear, iZotope Ozone, iZotope VocalSynth, and most importantly my Slate bundle. I love running big polyphonic synths through some of their analog emulations, it just sounds great.
HFR: Apart from producing music, what drives you in life?
TMY: I actually love teaching and learning, the reason I switched to a portable rig is so I could take it all with me, as I’m planning to move out to Japan next year. So I think at the moment, Japan is really driving me. Oh, and whisky. Lots of whisky.
HFR: Tokyo Midnight Youth in a near future?
TMY: I think I’ll still be sat behind my laptop creating music wherever I go, I’ve got a few songs already written in the bank, and I might decide to create for a few others projects too. But I’d love to make a follow up to Asteroid Arcade. I like to take breaks between projects, I think I start writing pretty bad music otherwise. haha.
HFR: Last words?
TMY: Thanks for having me, and don’t forget to follow me on all social media! I do also have some killer merchandise on BandCamp that I put a lot of effort into, I’m selling it at cost so if anyone likes it, grab some!
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