Sladerfluous: ‘LUST’ by Meishi Smile

- Posted January 27th, 2014 by

Lust - Meishi Smile

Juxtaposed in the eye of the storm between high-energy and ambience, LUST by Meishi Smile charges peaceful melodies with energetic electronic pop to create an engaging, contemporary album. Meishi Smile recently performed live at this year’s Frequency 3.0, lending his track “Honey” to the Frequency 3.0 Artist Sampler compilation album embedded below.

I highly suggest you press play.

“Honey” showcases Meishi Smile’s J-Pop influences and ability to weave emotion into contemporary electronic music. Whispers of cryptic lyrics may catch your attention throughout LUST; subtle windows into Meishi Smile’s state of mind during the creation of the album.

LUST flows from track to track with an ever-evolving stream of synth-laced electronica. The marriage of energetic melodies and cool, breezy ambience in this latest offering from Meishi Smiles makes for an alluring album of tracks that nuzzle into your brain-space and will stay with you for days.

LUST by Meishi Smile is set to release Jan. 28th, and pre-orders (in both physical and digital forms) are available here. [Edit: Album is RELEASED!! Stream below! =D ]

I was able to steal a few precious minutes from Meishi Smile for a few questions, and that interview continues below:

Pixel Recall: Hoodie tells me you rocked Frequency this year. What was it like performing at Frequency? Are you a fan of performing live? Do you have any upcoming live events we should know about?

Meishi Smile: I went to Frequency last year primarily due to see my pal Pedro in Slime Girls perform. It was the first time I met him, as well as Jami from Space Boyfriend and Thymine/Grace, who illustrates under the names Tochiimint and Mahoushoughost. I had a really great time with them, and I guess I’m mentioning such an encounter because it’s made Frequency this really symbolic thing of friendship to me, that looking back at meeting these people one year ago and being extremely close to them now, it’s reinforced a lot of what I believe in with my life and what I do creatively.

Frequency itself though is amazing. I haven’t been involved with those creating chiptune music for that long, but I’ve quickly discovered all the amazing underground artists in the scene who definitely deserve a lot more attention. Being amongst those people was a great feeling this year. It’s still a very small thing, but it’s definitely growing by the year and I think a lot of chiptune music is really in the spirit of punk rock. Just the general idea of chiptune to me has always seemed like that, and sort of rebellious in a way. A generation of kids growing up with video games and gadgets, a lot of them being told that it’s a waste of time by their peers, yet turning around and utilizing those things to do something that’s very creative. 

My performance at Frequency was the first time I sang live and performed all original stuff. Usually I put a lot of remixes into my sets and have been in situations where I’ve felt the need to play only music that people can dance to, but I felt like this was a good opportunity to finally explore something much more in tune with my emotions. It’s definitely been the most meaningful set I’ve done so far, and I hope to continue to perform more shows like this in a similar vein.

I’ll be doing an online release party with my friends at SPF420, and DJing for this event set to celebrate the release of a zine dedicated to Yasutaka Nakata (producer of capsule, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Perfume). Aside from that, I have some out of state gigs coming soon and some surprises I can’t announce yet. I’m always looking to play more shows!

Pixel Recall: Tell me about ZOOM LENS! How you got involved with them, how it has affected your music making/reaching out to fans/getting your music out there?

Meishi Smile: I actually founded ZOOM LENS and I’ve been doing it since around 2009, although there are some gaps where I took a year or two off since I had some moments where I lost heart in the project.

I originally created it in intention to primarily release noise music (I had a project back then called Yuko Imada that did harsh noise and ambient music), but then I met my friend Kyle, who was currently performing as Class of 1923 (his latest project is called Uio Loi). It opened me up to the idea of working with other people, and soon I met more people online and began to create a little network of like-minded people whose music I enjoyed and personalities and drive I respected and it started to blossom from there.

I use the term “digital punk rock spirit” in correlation with ZOOM LENS a lot. I guess to me that sort of means this community of people I’ve met online who are operating on a sort of level of subversive interests and ideals and that I want others outside of the music to identify with who we are as well. 

For instance, with what I do with MEISHI there is a large degree of me being influenced by J-Pop and Anime culture, and I want to make that sort of thing approachable to others and something that one can be proud of liking. I think Tumblr and some other social media venues have made such things as this sort of ironic meme-worthy kind of thing. Even though that sort of culture has become more acceptable it’s still this kind of weird, uncool thing in a way. Ultimately I’m happy though that my music seems to fit underneath a wide variety of contexts and people who don’t even like that sort of stuff can at least be introduced to it on the musical/emotional level that I present it as, and possibly understand how that sort of thing has more substance than it’s taken for.

Not all of ZOOM LENS is even into stuff like that though, but I guess I use that as an example as ZOOM LENS trying to be something that represents a wide variety of interests, yet sort of comes together as this identifiable and unified whole due to this community of friends who just simply believe in what they believe in and do it.

Pixel Recall: During the production of LUST, did you discover a new favorite way of building/creating your music? 

Meishi Smile: LUST is still a really weird record to me because it’s not what I intended to initially make MEISHI SMILE into. Like I mentioned, I used to record a lot of noise and ambient music and I really wanted to completely move away from that. 

My initial goal was simply to create electronic pop music, and I was listening to a lot of production by Yasutaka Nakata at the time and the first Ravex album- that’s sort of what I wanted to do. 

But as I went through different emotional experiences, I found myself making the album that would end up being LUST and I ended up channeling different influences and ended up making something that musically, I feel takes my influence from Shoegaze, J-Pop, Noise, as well as elements of music such as Happy Hardcore. 

So I guess my discovery was that things can always change from your set intentions, and you should be open to that. What ultimately matters is that you successfully create something that channels who you and what you feel, and with LUST I think I really captured the feelings I had in those particular moments.

Pixel Recall: During the production of LUST, were there any unique challenges that you found yourself having to overcome? How were you able to overcome that challenge, and how did it help to shape the final release?

Meishi Smile: I initially released a low-key cassette version of it on Orchid Tapes, and since then I’ve grown more comfortable with who I am and what I do and how I record music, both on an emotional and a technical level. I suppose my challenge that came after I made that initial version was that I wanted to make it sound more like what I wanted on the level of finding more appropriate sounds and mixing the record better. The structure was there, but I felt sort of unsatisfied with what it was a few months later after its release. All that sort of grew with time, and after I released my EP with Maltine Records I had a lot more confidence to start doing things again and LUST slowly became the product it is now, which I’m much more proud of and finally happy to say I can close this chapter of my life.

Pixel Recall: Do you have a favourite technique or specific way/program you prefer to employ when making music? It could be a program, a way of organizing your thoughts, the way you create a given track, etc?

Meishi Smile: My approach to creating music isn’t really based on that much technical skill. I’ve played guitar since I was like 12, but I never learned any theory or how to read music and I’ve only fiddled with the piano since I started making music for MEISHI. I guess in saying that, most of how I make music simply comes from personal experiences that I try best to put into musical form. I find sounds by reflecting upon those experiences and thinking of the texture that brings out that particular mood. 

A lot of those sounds are reflective of a lot of 90’s Nintendo video games, stuff I’d heard as a kid. I think I say that on a very general level because I like video games, but I’m not completely knowledgeable either now at my age. I would hole myself up and had little friends when I was young, so I would no doubt enjoy the textures in games like Bomberman 64 or Mystical Ninja Goemon, very “Japanese” sort of melodies, but that’s all I have. I think that sense of separation reflecting on something that I am so contrastingly close to and also removed from helps create a sound that some people have told me is kind of “nostalgic.”

Pixel Recall: Your style embraces a light, energetic, positive ambience. What draws you to this style? Do you have any specific influences? What is your favourite way to explore this particular style when you’re making music? 

Meishi Smile: I think it all goes back to being influenced by a lot of Japanese music. There’s a particular moment in time that really influenced me in the way that I write, and it was when a friend of mine passed away in High School. During that time I had seen the movie Bright Future, and I really enjoyed the closing song “Mirai” which was by The Back Horn. I always felt a sort of message with that song. A sort of walking into the unknown, never retracing the steps of the past and simply saying goodbye to those moments with a sense of both heaviness and optimism. When I read the lyrics, they were very similar to what I had felt, it really hit me in a profound way. It was sort of the confirmation I needed when listening to foreign music that much of it is in the emotion, and from that emotion you can sometimes even sense something much more literal (such as the lyrics, in this case).

So with MEISHI SMILE I try my best to convey what I can in the abstract. Although I include lyrics to my songs, they’re not what I said when I recorded them. Most of the melodies and lyrics I make are simply me hitting record and singing stream of conscious. I don’t know what I said then, and the lyrics I use later are simply a placeholder that vaguely capture the emotion of what I felt. I hope that something can be felt despite what is read or heard. I think I want to just make something that is transcendent of the standard conventions of how you’re supposed to listen to music. I don’t meant that all in a pretentious way, but when I was listening to Japanese music as a kid, people would insultingly ask me “why?” That “if you can’t understand what they say, why bother listening?” To me, it’s because something can be felt. And I’m not sure why that isn’t a good enough reason for listening to music sometimes.

Pixel Recall: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Meishi Smile: Interpret your influences through your own state of mind and allow that to inspire what you truly want to create as an individual.

Pixel Recall: Is there anything else you’d like to leave our readers with?

Meishi Smile: Thanks for reading my rants all the time.

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Huge thanks to Meishi Smile for taking the time to so eloquently answer those questions.

Get in on the ground floor and snag your pre-order for LUST here!

Pixel Recall ~ (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love

Relevant Links:

Meishi Smile:
Pre-Order | Soundcloud | BandcampFacebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Zoom-Lens (Netlabel):
Website

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