NTsKi (@ntski) has been paying special attention to the sensations that animals and places on planet Earth arouse in her. With an experimental, surreal, dreamlike approach in her music, “Orca” is the first album by this multidisciplinary artist based in Kyoto.
This album is the culmination of a journey that began in 2016 when the artist lived in the United Kingdom and collects much of the music that she has created since then. For this release, she has had the support of two different labels, Orange Milk from the USA, and EM Records from Japan. In “Orca,” NTsKi has surrounded herself with collaborators such as Dove (@d_o_v__e), Le Makeup (@le_makeup___), Yem Gel (@c0bweaver), or Dan Shutt.
In addition to creating her music, NTsKi conceives of her artistic production as a whole. She creates her videos, visuals, and performances, in addition to making works that led her to be considered as one of the new faces of art in 2020 by the prestigious Japanese art magazine Bijutsu Techo.
In this album, the orca becomes a symbol of all those elements in our planet that amaze us for their beauty and power, but also for the uneasiness they cause us. With its melodies and its sweet but intriguing musicality, NTsKi’s music tells us that, if we allow ourselves to be carried away by these sensations, we will be able to feel part of something greater, something that transcends us and makes time and space feel infinite.
Chorareii: “Orca” is the name of your first album, but it’s also the first song in it, a song that you have always used as an opening when you perform live. For all these reasons, I understand that it’s a special song for you. Tell me about it!
NTsKi: In this song, my voice imitates the voice of an orca. I often overdub vocals with a loop pedal to make songs, this is one of them. It is always the first song in my live set because it has a tuning and meditation role. By singing this song at the beginning, I can relax.
The main themes expressed in this album “Orca” are life, earth, and sea. Some of the songs have a sound reminiscent of water as an image.
“Orca” includes many songs from your career, the oldest is “H S K” from 2016. You were living in the UK at that time, right? Tell me how you started creating music there.
I started writing songs in collaboration with London-based producer Yem Gel. We were listening to Mary Pearson Andrew’s song “Inside Stuff,” and we decided to make something similar. Yem Gel put a beat on the melody I made, that’s how we completed “H S K.”
You collaborate with Pure Voyage (@purevoyage_) artists Dove and Le Makeup in the song ‘On Divination in Sleep.’ There are two remixes of the song in the album and you have also created a video together, so its relevance in the album it’s undeniable. Tell me about it!
In this song, Dove and I sing as if we were playing with words. I feel that our voices melted together without any clash, bringing a mysterious and warm texture to the whole song.
Le Makeup produced the track. It has a nursery rhyme atmosphere and makes you feel like you are dreaming, floating with the synths, guitars, and the sampled a koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument.
You have mentioned life, earth, sea, and water as themes in this album. I also feel that the passage of time and different realities seem important in your music. Do you think there is a reality beyond what we know? Can we get to it?
I want to make sure that there are no misunderstandings because this is related to people’s religious beliefs, in this case, it’s just my opinion. I wish there were heaven or paradise, but I don’t know if they exist.
I’m not an atheist, I think I’m an agnostic, so I don’t deny the existence of God, and some parts of me want to believe in the existence of heaven and paradise. On the other hand, I don’t think that everything happens for a reason when I’m facing difficulties. People who think that way are able to believe in heaven or paradise. For those people, heaven and paradise exist, so they might be able to reach them in a way.
I often contemplate time travel, but this is the same answer. Never know if it’s possible because I have never experienced it.
There is a cover in this new album. The song “Parallelisme” is original by Miharu Koshi and produced by Haruomi Hosono in 1984. What inspiration do these artists give you? What other artists have inspired “Orca”?
I listened to Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono, and Yukihiro Takahashi, and arrived at Miharu Koshi’s music produced by Haruomi Hosono.
Miharu Koshi’s album “Parallelism,” released in 1984, was important as a key to unraveling “Orca,” so I have included a cover of “Parallelism”, which is also the title of a song in the album. If you enjoy listening to “Orca”, please also listen to the album “Parallelism.”
“Orca” has been released on vinyl, CD, and cassette. Each different format includes different remixes as bonus content. Despite we live in the age of streaming music, why do you think it is important to continue editing music in traditional formats?
I like listening to music on vinyl. However, I definitely don’t say that vinyl or cassette is better, or CD is better. Even if we are living in the era of streaming, some people only have vinyl and cassettes, others keep listening to CDs, but others don’t have any physical recordings. We chose to release the album in all formats so that you can freely pick up your favorite one.
You have worked with artist Keith Rankin on the album visuals. In addition, you participated in the exhibition “Quad Mirror (By myself, For myself, to myself & ourselves)” at the Parcel gallery in Tokyo (@parceltokyo). Tell me about your art.
At this group exhibition in the Parcel gallery, I exhibited pseudo-holographic images and three lenticular prints (photos with changing pictures). Both works have special visual effects, and although there is no such thing as “existence and absence” and “existence and virtual image,” they are produced with the theme of being visible.
In a lenticular print work, two NTsKi are present on one screen, but due to the effect of image shift, these two people do not coexist clearly at the same time. It is a desire to change into a different being, and the motive is resistance to the categorization and prejudice that “you are such a person.” I am trying new dialogues with the audience and others by using art to repeatedly transform and virtualize myself.
What connection do you have with Orange Milk and EM Records, the labels with which you released the album?
Orange Milk released CVN’s album “I.C.” in which I collaborated. EM Records released Brenda Ray’s cover “D’Ya Hear Me!” that I created with 7FO, and I also participated in their compilation album “SDS =Zero= (Subscription Double Suicide)”.
Many people of our generation suffer from stress and anxiety and find refuge in music. What does creating music contribute to you, and what would you like to contribute to all those who listen to “Orca”?
Like many of them, I’m saved by music as a listener and as a musician. So if listening to this album is a way to save someone, that’s the best thing that can happen. I hope you listen to “Orca” and experience nature how I feel it, I’m in awe of Earth.
人◕ ‿‿ ◕人