Artist Feature 005: Repeat Pattern

Jan. 26. 2015

Photo: Chad Imes

Photo: Chad Imes

After a brief hiatus from the blog (holidays, work, etc.) we are back with another artist to start your week!  This week we feature American born, Tokyo based photographer / producer: Repeat Pattern. With releases across a number of labels: Cascade (France), Alpha Pup (USA), and Oilworks (Japan), Repeat Patterns' texture-rich productions continue to speak to a truly global audience. Have a read below as we talk creative pursuits, production process and how he achieves “that” sound.

Hey Repeat Pattern, what’s up these days?
I’m kind of a man of routine so it’s the same as always—photos and music alone and with friends, wandering in mountains and cities alone and in groups, all sprinkled with minor randomness. How’s that for vague? Right now though, It’s 8:38am, I’m on a train writing replies to these questions on my phone after drinking beers and listening to music all night in a clothing store with my dear friends Nagumo and Ishii who manage that clothing store (General Store in Nakameguro, if you’re ever in the area, go check it out!). When I get home I gotta mail cassettes out for the Broke DHYB release and a couple Youtaro 10”s—things on my brrwd label project (yes, shameless plug).

What originally brought you to Japan?  
I moved to help look after a sick family member

Talk to us a bit about your photography work… do you find much creative overlap between photography and music?
Yes and no. The rudimentary principals of what I appreciate in a good beat and a good photo are very similar. Sometimes photo making creatively feeds into beat making—I’ll take a photo that spins me on a creative streak which allows for some sounds that feel right or vice versa. But, the process of each is very different. With photos, either it’s good or it isn’t more or less. It’s primarily about how elements come together in the 15th, 60th, 300th or whatever a second the camera shutter is open and recording the scene in front of it. That element of time and its deceptive simplicity is endlessly fascinating to me and a good counter to my over analytical OCDish self. Music on the other hand is being created and I guess in most cases taken in over a comparatively much longer duration of time. For that reason music is far more laborious to me because if there is even one sound that I dislike I’ll spend hours working to fix it, which perhaps makes it a bad match for my OCDish self. I love both.  

A lot of your tunes sound to have almost a “vinyl- like” quality to them… how do you achieve this sound?
I record everything to reel to reel, splash the reels with fresh chicken blood, bury them on a sacred mountain here in Japan and then chant Shinto prayers over the burial site for the 24 hours leading up to the winter and summer solstices. That’s my sound. 
Actually, I used to always record through Echoplex and Space Echo tape delays, SP 505 and analog compressors and other outboard toys but I can approximate the same thing in software. It’s different but similar, I like both. EQ, compression, saturators and distortion. A love for raw midrange is all a person probably needs to find their way to that sound? I use Ableton for software.   

Do you produce much with hardware, or mostly “in the box”?
It’s always a bit of a mix of both although recently it’s mostly all in the box. It all depends on how I feel at the time really.  Sometimes I’ll batch process samples through outboard gear and use those samples repeatedly for some duration of time.  

Average time to finish a track?
They’re rarely ever done. 

Your discography includes many strong solo and collaborative releases, such as Badminton club made up of yourself and Broke.  Do you collaborate with many other producers over in Japan?  Or do you prefer working alone?
I do both. Which I prefer depends on the season or the stars or something. Alone is meditation of sorts, introspective. Collaboration is the opposite. Both have their drawbacks and strengths. Fitz Ambro$e and I have had 4 or 5 day beat retreat kinda things for the New Year’s holiday the last two years. Submerse and I toy with stuff but can never get anything finished,  and there are many others I sit in rooms with from time to time and tap stuff out with—illsugi, Bugseed, Pigeondust, Yagi, Aru2, Youtaro, Pena, ill the essence… Everybody’s around in some way or another.  

Do you find yourself producing across various genres?  What is it about the left field, lo-fi, hip hop sound that attracts you?
I like and have made all kinds of music. As far as why I make what I’ve been making for the last while well.. 5? 6 or maybe 7 years ago (idk, I’m bad with time), starting on MySpace and then migrating over to soundcloud, there was an amazing unorganized unofficial community of people making beat music of various kinds that was really inspiring, positive and supportive. I’d been around many different music scenes online and physically before and they had always felt closed, cold, snide, indifferent and or competitive in ways that were off putting to me. So I really think finding so many people that were not only making really interesting and diverse art and at the same time super open and positive was huge part of what led me to make a little home in this area. Some of my best friends are from that time frame. I still really enjoy the community and try to follow and support it as much as possible. Of course i also love this kind of music. That’s what led me to the community in the first place.

Specific highlights from shows you’ve played in Japan?
The highlights that are special to me won’t relate to people who weren’t there. I’ve had the opportunity to meet amazing artists from the States and Europe which is always a pleasure but those aren’t the highlights. It’s just amazing to be at certain all-local events and realize that the circle of people around you and the event happening is filled with some sort of magic and that you’re really lucky to be there. I know that Japan isn’t ground zero for this type of music but I do think that it has its own special take on it with some unique talent and I’m happy to watch and participate.  

The Freebie this week is for the producers out there…
Repeat Pattern: “a kick drum set I use as building blocks that were run through a Maestro EP4 echoplex and a urei 1176”

Connect with Repeat Pattern on Soundcloud, Instagram and Bandcamp.