Interview: Five Minutes with Shingo Nakamura

Photo credit: Koji Sato

If you could pick the music for a strategic acquisition, what would it be? For the label Monstercat, as they take over the LA-based label, Silk Music, the answer was simple. Shingo Nakamura, a Japanese based progressive-house artist provided the stunning and dynamic single, ‘Glow’ to mark the occasion. The new label, now called Monstercat Silk (perhaps they’re still ironing out the name) will also be releasing Shingo’s upcoming album, as well as including several other big names such as Kaskade, Vintage & Morelli, A.M.R into their fold.

Knowing the basics about Shingo Nakamura (his love for saké and talent for unusual beats), we were eager to find out more about the talented producer. Catch all you need to know in the exclusive below.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

I started to play music (piano) when I was a child, at the age of 8. I also played the instrument, Euphonium, in brass bands since I was a junior in high school. So I mainly listened to classical music before discovering club music. When I was a high school student, my friend recommended me to listen to BT’s “E.S.C.M.” The sound was so fresh that it got me hooked on club music.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

Most of the time I get inspiration and ideas before I start writing a song. Ideas often come to me when I’m walking around town, having a cup of coffee at a cafe, or just going about my normal life.

Your musical style is unique – incorporating classical piano with progressive house. What other unusual elements would you like to incorporate into your work in the future?

I would like to incorporate orchestral instruments. I used a lot of strings in this album. I would like to challenge myself with brass bands and violins in the future.

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

Yes! I rarely work in the same studio, but I sometimes share stem data and project files to create a collaboration. My friend and artist Stendahl and I have been collaborating regularly on a series called “Tribute”. Part 3 of the series will be released soon. It’s been a lot of fun to create, as it reflects the sound of the moment for both of us.

What’s on your current playlist? 

I listen to a variety of genres like classical, Rock, and K-POP. It helps me a lot when I write my own songs.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

I am very grateful to my fans who come to see my DJ sets and comment on SNS, YouTube, etc. The last gig before this pandemic, Anjunadeep’s release party in Japan was really well attended by many fans. After my set, I danced on the floor with them and it was a memory I’ll never forget. We can’t have that kind of party now, but I hope to see you all soon.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

The keywords to describe my songs are melodic, atmospheric, and emotional. I want people to listen to my music in clubs, but I also try to make my songs accessible to the listeners’ lives.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Actually, I usually work in an office, so I can’t be in the studio during the daytime on weekdays. I can only work in the studio on weekends. Since my time is limited, the frequency of my releases will decrease. But I’m trying my best to streamline my work and deliver as many songs to my fans as possible.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

I’ve touched many instruments in my life, such as piano, bass, guitar, etc. But the uplifting feeling of club music and the sense of unity on the dance floor has a charm that no other genre can match. As long as this feeling lasts, I’ll keep writing songs in this genre.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set? 

Beer, beer, beer and a small amount of water.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

It’s hard to pick but “NŌpi” and “Yusuke Teranishi” are my recommendations at this time.

What gets your creative juices flowing? 

Atmospheric and textural pads. I tend to start writing songs from that now.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

I use a lot of soft synthesizers, especially atmosphere 2 and Spitfire Audio’s strings, they are great for making creative sounds.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

I’ve been writing ambient and chillout songs lately. These songs will be included in my upcoming album. Due to this pandemic, I feel like I want to make music that is more relaxing to listen to, so there may be more songs like that in the future.

Tell us about how you discovered a passion for saké and why you chose to share it with the public?

After visiting a sake bar with a friend, I was mesmerized by its aroma and taste. The reason I post about the bottles is simply because I love the design of the labels, besides sharing information with my sake-loving friends.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

When I started releasing songs, I just tried my best to create as many tracks as possible because I thought it would be the best way to improve my skill. But since around 2014, when time constraints became greater, I started to think of quality rather than quantity, and I have also studied various things about music. Most importantly, I’ve been able to enjoy writing music more than before by reducing the quantity.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

I’m releasing an album for the first time in seven years. Look forward to it! When I’m done with the album, I want to write new songs so that I can release them on other labels. DJing may be difficult under these circumstances, but I would like to DJ not only in Japan, but also overseas if I get the chance.

‘Glow’ is the title track of your upcoming album, to be released in June 2021. What is your favourite track on this album and why should fans look out for it?

It’s really hard to pick but I would say my first original vocal track, “Darling Midnight”. The lyrics and melodies match perfectly.

Famous last words?

It’s a tough time in this pandemic, but don’t worry too much and relax. Let’s get through this together and see you on the dance floor!

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By Sarah Britton