AKATOMBO: Naoki Kenji Discusses His Long Awaited Album and the Music Business.

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"I have decided that I definitely won’t wait another 6 years for a new album to come out. I think I would like to release projects every 2 years as I did before." -Naoki Kenji

After decades of composition experience, musician Naoki Kenki has continued his journey with another outstanding release.

Spending his early years in Japan and practicing classical piano from a very early age, he has honed his skills to formulate a respectable career.

While he is known for his smooth, sensual multi-genre grooves, he isn't afraid to branch and explore new territories with each release. Even though his music is under the "electronica" blanket, it encapsulates elements from many other categories to create a unique atmosphere. 

After a six year hiatus between Shiokaze and his latest project AKATOMBO, Naoki is excited to unleash his latest album.

Prox: How would say that your brand of electronica (downtempo, lounge, smooth jazz, etc) differs in Germany compared to Japan? Could you compare the American sound to the German/Japanese ones?

Naoki: As I do not live in Japan anymore, I don’t think I am qualified to give an absolute answer, however I do know that some of the Japanese artists I like have some very creative work.

Regarding the US, I believe that the chillout/lounge genre as it is today (or as I understand it) is still developing.

However instrumental music in general has a wider, greater history in the US than it does here in Europe if you think about genres like New Age.

Prox: With the resurgence of atmospheric Drum & Bass, do you think it’s possible we could see another full length album from you?

Naoki: I am not sure if I will ever go back to D&B. Only my first 2 albums contain any elements of D&B.

However: Never say never...

Naoki Kenji: AKATOMBO

Prox: What’s the story on the new album? How long have you been working on it and does it resemble any of your previous releases?

Naoki: It has been almost six years since my last release, Shiokaze. I was quite frustrated with how the music market has changed for the worse and for quite some time, I was not willing to continue.

However the artist side of me is way stronger so I began collecting ideas and layouts around summer 2016. The main recordings were mostly made in January until March 2017.

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I wouldn’t say that AKATOMBO resembles any of my previous releases as an artist always (well at least I do) tries to grow and improve their techniques and songwriting. So if you will see it from that perspective, the latest album is usually the greatest thing you have created so far... :) 

But of course I do have a lot of tracks from previous albums that do a sufficient job of holding up today I think.

Prox: As the years progress, what would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself, your music, and the music business? What are some things you still feel like you could improve upon?

Naoki: Regarding the Music biz I have learned that even I am able to go through changes in the digital world and not only accept the new way of music consumption, but also see new media as a great chance to submit and present yourself to a very large audience.

Regarding myself and especially my music, I think that I have gained more skill regarding songwriting and harmony. In production, i’d rather stay very old-fashioned. I do not need the latest software, nor do I need the newest sound modules or plugins. I have had a setup for years that is quite simple. It’s stable and works perfect for me. 

Prox: Could you give us some tips for aspiring artists?

Naoki: What I see especially in electronic music is that quiet a lot of artists and newcomers relate to much on technical devices, software, etc. I would like to advise everybody to learn and study well to play an instrument well and not to create music by bouncing prepared samples and melody lines that you nowadays can find in any sequencer program.

We have to lean on basics, and the basic is to make hand made music and not let your program create the music. To usage of programs is a great advantage, yet supports the creativity but we should not rely on them only.

Also never make music as "XY". Try to be original and unique - that makes the difference!

Prox: Please tell us something that influences your work that we may not know.

Naoki: I can not say that something special influences my composing work.

It comes and goes, it’s not something I can control, most songs are the outcome of improvisations on piano....at least the basic idea is created that way.

But drum programming can also be inspiring...

Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists, creatives, or intellectuals?

Naoki: I do not follow the music market much nowadays, but I am trying to stay wide open for all kinds of musical styles.

Prox: Anymore information on other upcoming projects and releases?

Naoki: For the time being, I am quite glad and excited that AKATOMBO will hit the market 20.10.2017.

I have decided that I definitely won’t wait another six years for a new album to come out. I think I would like to release projects every 2 years as I did before.

Prox: Final Thoughts?

Naoki: I wonder (as the CD market is almost gone) if a vinyl release would meet today's interests? I have heard that in certain countries vinyl now sells more than CDs....