Back on March 31, I put up a post on Hataken, a Japanese DJ artist who primarily uses analog synths. At the time, Shane Chisolm, the manager of Don Juan Dracula mentioned Hataken was working on a remix version of DJD's "Take Me Home". Shane asked me if I'd be interested in doing an interview with Hataken, and I thought why not. It would be interesting to hear his perspective on the world of synths as a live DJ artist. The following is the result of that interview. Note, this is a long one. You will want to use page down to scroll through. If it is too long for you, I recommend reading one or two questions each time you visit the site. Each DIY item below would typically have been a separate post. There is a lot of interesting stuff here. That said, I start with an introduction followed by asking Hataken how it all started for him. Note the focus is primarily on synths as this site is about everything synth, and Hataken delivers. The gear he has both worked with and designed to meet his specific needs is overwhelming. There's also an interesting interlude on experimenting with frequency counters to produce specific frequencies of sound known to have healing properties, and of course there is a bit of the age old discussion of digital and analog.
Before we start the interview, I want to thank Hataken for taking the time out for this, and I want to thank Shane for suggesting it. It's a fascinating history of a DJ synth artist with interesting perspectives that I'm sure I will come back to over time. Be sure to check out the video and link to more at the end. And of course be sure to check out Hataken's website.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Hataken, Japanese. now my main thing is live performance with analogue synthesizers and digging their system. original idea of analogue synthesizer in 1970-80 are still great way for making music. actually " virtual analogue " means it , I think , but not necessary vintage for me. brand new analogue is good for gig and digital and analogue hybrid system is good to feature together. of course I love vintage synthesizers and know them is important. also I am DJ , playing ambient or psy trance and free style. I am doing live as solo mainly. but I worked with many artists and now I have band with jazz musicians . one of them Quartz Head Conversation 02 has released album. and doing gig with another jazz musician too. actually detail is also here. anyway I have been making tracks from 1994. same year I have my own studio. before that I was already bassist and percussion player. I had stated ambient, electronica track maker and live peformance. always the plays for performance were club. then I also started DJ as ambient, freestyle from 1997, then I started psychedelic trance DJ. I played many club and out door rave parties . in 2000-2002 I played in U.S.A. for DJ, at S.F.C., Arizona. the other side I have been working for compose and sound designing. that time I have O2R version 2 and ADAT, HD recorder and Mac system running with Digital performer also out boards. so that was digital studio. but now it is old technology and I sold them in 2003. that time is also timing as I completely back to analogue synthesizers and the CV/GATE. because I met Richard Sharpe (ex. SHAMEN keybordist ) . I met him at same party we performed. I played MC505 with samplers also play wave drum and handsonic. but he played all analogue synthesizer and sound was completely different from another. he likes my music, so I joined his band, Ken Machines and the machine elves from hyperspace. around me there are many rap top live musician too. I am also using Ableton Live now with analogue, but full analogue is completely special for my inspiration now. that is why I am consentrate on analogue.
2. So when was your first exposure to synths and what were they?
my first meeting with synths were YMO! when I was a primary schoolchild, fifth grade, 10 years old. that time I was always checking their sounds and what kinds of sounds were there. then I went to Akihabara, there was Laox musical instruments branch. and there are many many kinds of Synthesizers and you could play each synthesizer with headphone. so me and one friend got own head phone and every weekends went to there and checking synths, those are now all vintage of course. there were Jupiter-8, prophet 5, minimoog, MS-20 and all MS series also ULT SOUND too. any synthesizer could play and sound great! that time the shop stuff were remember us, because every weekends we came. so slowly to explain how to play and make sounds. and our hero is YMO, so they also knew us, how to play they are. this is very important experience for me : ) a few years later, not me but we got Korg Polysix, that was actually my first synthesizer also. but you know that system to program and making track is so difficult for junior high school student of difficult for me at that time. so slowly I start play drums and bass guitar too. after that till college student, I leave from synthesizer, and that time synthesizer was for keyboardist I thought. I played more old blues rocks, Zeppelin, Jimi hendrix, blue cheer, the cream and more : ) so I had a blank time for synthesizers. I returned to them on 1991 or around.
3. What synths did you pick up again after 1991 until today? Can you briefly comment on your interaction with each and what has lead you to your current setup?
so till 1991 , I used hard ware sequencers as Yamaha QY series. and my main musical thing was playing at my own band and for another band as bassist. but I met Mac and Performer(that might be ver.2.1 or 2.4 ). soon I knew what a progress around synthesizer or computer music. then I backed to techno music and research the UK club scene. then I met the Orb , KLF sound. the other side I was doing meditation a lot and follow one master who is Japanese and scholar of electronics and an new science inventor. I was influenced by him a lot for spiritual things and sound wave how to work to our consciousness. then my main theme is all things has own frequency and can be resonance, I will make sound frequency to have a experimental journey for audience. that journey will be story. at the first I made it for meditation. 20 min ~ 60 min. long music will be guide for meditation. actually it is so similar as ambient chill out DJ set. then the orb's U.F.Orb and irresistible force's Global Chillage very inspired me. that time, actually I didn't care real analogue or digital... I use frequency counter for leading the sound healing by binaural way. 1994 I had my own studio with digital recording system and starting music products for job. Main mixer was O2R ver.2 and ADATxt, Hard disk recorder, Mac and digital performer and I got out boards. actually now I sold them all with out out boards.
in the middle of 90's, I started my solo live project. it is still my main thing. though at the first that was also all digital : ) Roland MC-505, SP-808, Korg Wave drum and effects. I did a gig at a club and rave. not only ambient party, that time psy trance party has always chill out or ambient space as sub site. that time I also started my DJ carrier. till 2000 my set is almost same. I made basic sound on Mac and covert to MC-505 and SP-808. I use that live set for many bands too. I played with Gregg Hunter , Sevda (beli dance band), Jiyuujidai (ethnic trance ) etc. then I met Richard Sharpe at the same party we were booked. he was the SHAMEN member as keyboardist. at the same event, I used that same system, but he used full analogue synthesizer live set. he used SCI Pro-one, TR-606, TB-303, Moog vocooder with cheap casio keybord and small sampler. and it was controlled by trigger. but that time I can not realize why he use analogue synthesizer and how great it is.... but that time Richard was interested in my music and try. so he invited me to his band, Ken Machines and the machine elves from hyper space. the band is his solo unit from early 90's. the band has long live history in S.F.C. with analogue synthesizer. Richard is well understand analogue synthesizer and experience with great synthesizers. soon we started rehearsal, then I realized how different analogue and digital, many try and checks with Richard. he was very good teacher for me. then we made some albums. also till 2005 we had a lots of gig and we feature analogue how great sounds. that time I also understand analogue synthesizer system has own way to make music. I understand original techno music has been made in them. specially analogue sequencer and control voltage. after meeting Richard, I am completely analogue synthesizer freak. soon I got Minimoog Voyager and Pro-one of him. at the first I made a track with hybrid of analogue and digital. but with out effects, all synthesizer source are gone. I used Korg Z1, T2 and many digital devices... but all has gone and change to analogue. there were also long story to fixed my live system. for me live is most important. analogue sounds at the live performance is the only chance to have a organic electric oscillator sound with big wave (loud sound). yes I can follow the recent way to make electronica sounds... it is so testable and possibility you can do many kinds of simulation. and there is digital's own sound too. but always at the event, my real analogue sounds are completely well than another rap top musicians... analogue sound can comes out as 3D and dynamics. digital is wall paper... actually always after my performance... next artist sounds looks like that... later our ear adjusts to a sound it can be one of reason enough why I am using analogue. the way to make sound is also analogue is so beautiful and human like.
then my system is Korg Monopoly , Techosurus two Microcon ( recently one of them change to SCI Pro-One), Future Retro Revolution, Future Retro Mobius, Korg MS-02 converter interface, Toyo ULT SOUND, Techosaurus Cyclodon, Moogerfooger, and effects.
at the Ken Machines we use more and more systems, we made own cabinet box for gig. because full set of analogue synthesizer is so big.
it is one of our original box for five TR-606 and TB-303 with multi effects , DBX compressor and mixer. this is Big rythm box. you can change each part pattern. and we need a lots of trigger for a lots of synthesizer .
I made own box for DIN SYNC parallel connection .
Ken machine had Minimoog Voyager, SCI pro-one, Monopoly, microcon, the rythm box, SCI prophet2000, Oberheim drummer. Korg SQ-10 analogue sequencer, Synthesizer.com's analogue sequencer and some module of them. and I made some own boxes for live playing.
this box for OBX Drummer, you can start/stop, mute on/off, fill in, pattern arrange change. you know Drummer has great pedal function. but it is difficult by foot for four pedal. so I made it for that pedal connections. you can hold by top switch too. you can get full time fill inn sound, Drummer can play random, also very humanized natural playing! so this is very simple and easy made but so useful and powerful!! anyway the box is japanese style cake box original.
I made this as trigger pad for ULT SOUND. it can play by finger and very sensitive for nuance. and it needs just a small space, original pad is looks good but need stand (it is also I made).
the four pads are original pads playing by drum sticks. I just made the blue board which can be put on regular drum stand and can be set ULT sound module and pads on it. the bottom one is KORG WAVEDRUM, I use it on session with jazz musicians and another more playable session without sync. that time this electro drum set is working. and always that time I use acoustic percussion as Darbuka which product in Turkey.
this box is "CV selector" it is also very simple. top of connector of black rotary switches (black cables are connected on the picture) are CV inputs and left side empty connect is out put of source. bottom switch for change ground position. Right side is multiple junctions.
I don't have picture now but I made one most big white case include main mixer and many out bord effects and small analogue things... because our problem at the gig is takes hours for setting... it is so fun and we don't need map for connections, that all in our head and no mistake there was. but still takes hour and always doing same things.. so I made them in one box as I can. it make ready made connected system, so just connect AC and take mixer out and each synthesizers power and audio, CV, GATE in/out connect with main big box. so it was great idea! I made it takes one month... then at the first gig we brought it to out side big stage. it works great and setting and resetting was so easy and speedy.... but too big... it looks like a coffin.... I want to see you I made good lay out inside... good DIY... : ) but only one time it did gig after all. because we always changed connection and setting. so every time we choice different equipment and settings...
4. Above, you mentioned: "that time , actually I didn't care real analogue or digital ... I use frequency counter for leading the sound healing by binaural way."? Can you talk a bit about this technique?
I have no license about this sound healing. there are many kinds way of sound healing. original of this sound healing use two frequency for both ear. for example left 90Hz, right 100Hz, then your brain can realize how much different of them, now there is 10Hz. when brain realizing it, also brain makes 10Hz by own, same time it also goes to effect your body. it can be used to reinforcement of the natural health. one of schooler in hawaii research this things and it can be release your Mineral poisoning by using the frequency as a reciprocal number. actually I can not it is how much true ... but I have a text and method what is that. but if it is true, it's so great, without medicine taking, we can get same effect by sound frequency. also they tried to listen us the frequency of dolphin. then tears came out as automatic on audience. anyway that was so impressed me, I didn't want to be the doctor of sound healing.. but it is very important to think another mean of power of sound. if you know well sound frequency what is and how to act for our consciousness. I told you, I had a meditation master he also well know as Indian philosophy too. he talks about three sounds of secret. our brain always can focus on two different sounds, but also can realize three sounds in same time, but that time the brain must be awakening. it is also very interesting for me. DJ mix can be sometimes and I have some experiences like as that at rave event : ) also it is very close psychedelic music or it is. in the 90's I researched that kind of things. I use not 12 keys scale as average rate musical scale. I used frequency counter and use pure sine wave and some times triangle, saw wave too. then tried that binaural way to listen... you know, frequency has much wide range zero ~ infinity.. so low frequency band act for physical body, next high band for nerve system, next range for mind, next for more higher something. so anyway I tried a lots of frequency... at least no big thing happen at around me. but it was happen on true at the Hawaii and U.S. one patient had an operation without Anesthesia, but he had binaural frequency of Morphine. if you can make best situation of the binaural speaker system it will work. but our speakers and sound system has own range with limit. so not easy to make completely right frequency without professional frequency generator. so I don't care analogue or digital, just I wanted accurate frequency. I also interested in Golden ratio music.... but nobody knows what is that... or how to make that. though it can explain to E.T. what is our degree of the evolution. anyway it looks like almost science fiction, is it O.K. for this interview? [matrix: yes : ) it's all part of the connection with synths and music] it is also long story about E.T. : ) actually I am not chasing them well recently. I am not scientist, not new age (but before, I played live for new age event and DJ for meditation session). I believe my sense at the first, I am interesting in which can help my feeling what is. original idea of my music approach came from there. spiritual things, psychedelics, time wave, mayan people... and synthesizer and electro music is the tool for opening our gate of consciousness to the next dimension : ) it is almost fantasy on words.... I don"t know better way to explain ... but music can be without word translating ; ) I think how to sound the music is depends on listener how to get and meaning it. if he feels there is melody then he realize it as song... but it can be possible noise of city, birds of forest and any situation, also electronic sound frequency and processing. any sound also can be music and melody also can be noise if he doesn't care it. but brain is always catching the frequency of all around of you, even if you do not mind it. you can realize where you are the sound come from how far and which side. all by our ear and brain.
5. So tell us about your current system and how it is working for you?
here are my current equipments list for live set.
Korg Mono/Poly analogue synth
Sequential Circuit Pro-one analogue synth
Technosaurus Microcon analogue synth
Future Retro Revolution analogue synth + sequencer
Toyo ULT SOUND analogue synth percussion module and pads
Future Retro Mobius sequencer
Korg MS-02 interface
Technosaurus Cyclodon analogue sequencer
Roland TR-606 analogue rhythm machine
Metalbox 8008 kick analogue sound module
Roland SVC-350 vocoder
Eventide H3000 Ultra Harmonizer
Pioneer EFX-500 multi effects
Moog MoogerFooger low pass filter
Mackie Onyx 1640 16 ch mixer
Sub : not regular
Korg SQ-10 analogue sequencer
Korg Delta analogue synth
Korg ER-1 digital rhythm machine
I have been tried to know how much I can play by myself without rap top computer : ). live is the best for listening to analogue synthesizer sounds. I am trying to make it mixture of flexible as DJ playing and more tuning it to audience and situations. how much it is possible? it is depends on the player how much understand his system and he have to realize what he wants to play or what kinds of sound it needs. some musical instruments player says my live set is still different with playing live instruments as a guitar. I understand it, but all system as my live set when I am playing, it needs a sense of cool view and get the chance and can not loose it. it is kind of improvisation performance. I prepare for live with some pattern programs on sequencer and rhythm machine, it will be basic of my live sound. it can be changed at the live performance. so I chose TR-606, it has not much memory but you can easy to arrange the program when it is running at the live. and it has two triggers out, these are also important.
My performance was much influenced by DJ performance and dub PA mixing and respecting 90's and early 2000's music with analogue synthesizer and analogue techniques. I think after digital synthesizer(or all digital technique) was born, people and company tried to change all to digital. it is still going on. digital image is perfect, easy and cost down.... the other side it lost great value which we can not see and people doesn't care about that value.... at that time, analogue technique music was stopped to progress any more (image).... people thought next of analogue is digital.... actually it is right may be... but analogue and digital is different... I would like to continue analogue synthesizers music and progress it. many synth makers are also going to change digital and featured how it is great... when I was young I also completely believe it.... it makes company's cost down and all parts changed to be IC. it was cool image I remember. but it makes soldering space to micro size... but inside of Mini Moog has a wide space for electric way, it makes different on sound value, I heard it from one of great repairing engineer of analogue synthesizer who works for a lots of vintage analogue synthesizers... actually the maker of synthesizer also lost some important purpose, now some makers in Japan are similar as a household appliance makers. cost down and price down... and control The psychology of the consumer..... I had a meeting with Korg stuff for giving idea for next synth and live at club. they could understand it but can not change easy of main stream which made by them. I would like to make them backing to real analogue again!! it is difficult... virtual is a kind of simulation.
anyway at the step 1 for set up my system first, build up stand and put those equipments and next power connecting. I made own power connector box. it makes easy to cables connection. all adaptors, step up transformer (100V@japan to 117V) and high quality power socket for synthesizers are always connect on this board, so it makes easy for power supply connection. next step 2. I will connect sound out put to mixer, Mackie Onyx. and all effects connect to send and return. send 1 is EFX-500 (echo with BPM counter), send 2 is moogerfooger low pass filter, send 3 & 4 are H3000, send 5 is vocoder microphone input, send 6 is vocoder instrument input. EFX-500 is working for rythm and some sequence phrase and sometimes another kind effects which has. it has isolator on delay, for example you can choose the delay processed sound only high frequency. it is good to rythm, if you want delay effects on only hihat etc. Moogerfooger is working for everything though with 606 hihat is great, also if ER-1 rythm machine is there, it is full processed by Moogerfooger, I don't use direct sound of ER-1, but processed by moogerfooger is good sound. and connect ER-1 to vocoder microphone input is also great. H3000 harmonizer is working almost for MonoPoly, these are so good match, it can make enough for spacy sound! vocooder can be work with Monopoly, but sometimes I bring Korg Delta, polyphonic string sound for vocoder and microphone for my voice. next step 3 is CV/GATE and DIN sinc and MIDI connection. about Monopoly, it is kind of main synthesizer of my set. it is used for lead melody and many sounds shape can be made easy at live stage. sync effects are great for the peak of live : ) Monopoly's arpeggio clock comes from Cycrodon, trigger comes from Revolution's Accent out (it is SE Revolution's own function, it can take from Gate Out connector by half inserting), this input is sometimes disconnect by hand... for solo and arpeggio playing. arpeggio by trigger is also beautiful. this trigger in is so good working with Monopoly's poly ode "UNISON / SHARE", you can get any 4 voice chord by keyboards and trigger shot is always follow with Revolution sequence line. Revolution is center of sync, sometimes it is master of clock but usually TR-606 is master of clock, because at the dance set kick is most important. I use 8008 kick module for it. it is triggered by TR-606 low tom trigger out. (high tom trigger for Microcon.) because of TR-606 should be master of clock, Kick sound should be at the first of all sounds. sync system make a bit delay but sometimes it is good for making groove with some BPM. din sync out of 606 goes to KMS-30, KMS is synchronize converter. two MIDI outs to Revolution and Mobius. at the some long live set I use Ableton Live for sampling sounds and sequence for synthesizer, that time I use KENTON2000 for convert note message, also Mobius can be MIDI/CV converter when it is stopped sequence. Live can set tracks delay. it is also useful. Revolution CV out goes to Microcon. so Microcon get CV from Revolution and TR-606 high tom trigger out for gate. so Microcon can be different arrange of Revolution's current pattern. and trigger from 606, so it is also follow rhythm pattern. if Revolution pattern changed or use Remix function, Monopoly trigger timing and Microcon will follow Revo. but rhythm pattern of Microcon is still keeping same till rhythm machine's pattern changing. it is so useful for making story and variation of music. Revolution DIN sync goes to Cyclodon, analogue sequencer. CV out of Cyclodon goes to Revolution's filter CV in, it makes good groove on it. specially with long tone, it works so good and beautiful movement. Cyclodon can choose cycle steps 1 to 16, I use it and change the cycle at the live, it makes good effects on any phrase. also Revolution has knob of CV mod, it can be set value how much work CV for filter when filter CV comes in. Revolution with Cyclodon is one instruments for now. I used TB-303 before, that was so great but many problem was happened and at least it has gone... so I am so interested in new analogue products. Revolution is one of them. I have been used Mobius long time, I like it and many out puts for analogue synthesizer and many possibility development. I love modular synthesizer patching and making sounds motion . but at the live situation not necessary for performance. stand alone synthesizer as Monopoly is so useful. Mobius's CV and Gate go to Pro-one and accent CV goes to MS-02 for change accent CV voltage for Pro-one's filter CV input. sometimes Microcon's CV get from Mobius, that time MS-02's multi junction is working for sharing same CV of Mobius. also sometimes cancel Mobius and Microcon and get CV from Revolution for Pro-one and gate from 606. moogerfooger has a Cyclodon CV out for Cut off in put or envelope amount.. for them sometimes I need SQ-10, analogue sequencer for them.
ULT sound [Ultimate sound] has four Independence sound modules, it has LFO which has wide range. it is my favorite equipment. it is so sweet, clear also powerful and crazy sound you can play. it works by trigger for syn percussion, sometimes I use 606's trigger for it. when I was Ken Machines we have five 606, so 10 trigger out puts, that time I could play all ULT by programed. that time I use short decay with wide range LFO, that time you can get very sweet liquid sound. LFO level is also very playable. it has no filter but all function has so wide range so it can make many kinds of sounds. it is also famous as YMO's drummer, Yukihiro Takahashi using.
now I am ordering and waiting for two years which is modification of TR-606. it will have all part trigger out and each sounds have CV input and parallel audio out puts. it will work great. when it came I will make box again for good performance and easy set up : )
Matrix: And that's it. Again I want to thank Hataken for taking the time out for this interview. For more general info on Hataken, including upcoming live shows see the Hataken website. You can also find videos including live performances of Hataken on YouTube.
ULTRA EXPELIENCE / Hataken
YouTube via htkn.