Hinako Omori is a wondrous producer and musician from Yokohama, Japan. Her thoughtfully crafted compositions weave between forest bathing, ambient electronics and celestial soundscapes, which transcend the experience of them into something more than music. We were lucky enough to be invited into her studio to take a brief peak into her musical world. The critically acclaimed artist talked to us about her release ‘a journey…’, and gave us a generous insight into her process, as well as some of the new technologies she is exploring such as binaural sound.
Can you tell us a bit about the themes and concepts behind your new project ‘a journey…’?
Of course! “a journey…” came into being through a very kind invitation from my friend Oli Jacobs, head engineer at the beautiful Real World Studios. It was during the Summer of 2020, and as we were still in the first wave of the pandemic they weren’t able to host WOMAD Festival in person as they would usually do. They arranged an online, immersive audio version, and Oli very kindly asked if I’d be interested in taking part. I’ve always been fascinated by binaural and immersive audio, so I was over the moon!
I had a couple of weeks or so to put something together, so I decided to piece together some demos to make a continuous piece and took the stems up to Real World. The day before the mixing session, the lovely Katie May (who is an incredible engineer also at Real World) and I took a binaural head to the surrounding areas of nature, such as the Mendip Hills, and the piecing together of the songs and field recordings became the album.
The use and importance of binaural sounds comes up in your work, could you tell us a bit about what this is and how it works? And why it is important for your music.
Binaural sound (very broadly!) is literally how we hear sound through our ears - how sound waves arrive at each of our ears at different times, enabling us to place the source of the sound and create a spatial awareness.
Binaural recordings can be used to create a more immersive atmosphere and experience, and one of the ways we can do this is by using a dummy head with two microphones placed where our ears would be, capturing the audio how we would hear it.
As this project was during the beginnings of the pandemic and I was conscious that not everyone might have access to nature, I wanted to create an atmosphere where you could pop on some headphones and fully immerse yourself in nature from the comfort of your own home - I feel that the binaural field recordings that we captured from the forests around Real World Studios definitely helped me in creating a sonic environment for the music.
Have there been any essential studio tools/items that have helped you through the process of making your new album?
My dear synths, Sequential Prophet 08, OB6 and Moog Matriarch - I love them and use them on everything!
How would you explain the relation in your work between sound and visuals?
It’s a really interesting question as I’m not sure necessarily if the visual side of things come into my head at the start of the music creating process for me, unless it’s for a particular project or theme. I think a lot of the time it becomes clearer as the project unfolds, perhaps!
I’ve been incredibly lucky to collaborate with artists I admire greatly on visuals for different projects - Gustavo Eandi and Emi Takahashi on release artworks, and Thomas Harrington Rawle and Jessie Rodger on visuals for live shows/videos. Emi also created videos for “a journey…”. It’s been such an absolute honour to collaborate with them, and to see their magical vision come to life.
How has your experience been being a part of the Ten87 community?
It’s been such a lovely experience getting to know the incredible community here, and there’s always so many wonderful opportunities for collaboration. It really is a very uplifting environment with a very warm energy, and I’m really grateful to have met everyone here.
Thanks so much to Hinako for showing us around her Ten87 studio and sharing her world with us. If you haven't already listened to ‘a journey…’ The project is available to stream on all platforms. She has also recently released a collection of reworks of the album called ‘a journey with friends…’.