From its origins to the present-age movement, jazz has been inseparable from the concept of community. A precursor of jazz was African-American work songs, where slaves bonded over songs they conceived in the thick of working in chain gangs and plantations. Later, the age of the free man allowed them to bring these tunes to their communities in New Orleans, sparking the beginnings of the jazz movement as we know it today.
As Jazz travelled out of America to the rest of the world, communities drew on bits and pieces of local musical culture, giving rise to many jazz enclaves around the world.
In fact, if you looked closely enough at your own community, you would most certainly be able to find the colourful characters that make up your local jazz diaspora.
One such character is Nori Shiota, a forerunner of the modern indie jazz scene in Japan.
Shiota-san has been active in the Jazz scene for a whopping 27 years since 1992. He is a bassist and a producer, spending his time combing the jazz bars of Japan, performing and honing his craft while producing music.
Shiota-san is also an audiophile for the sake of his trade, constantly seeking out the best gear for his art, in 2016 he produced “DITA Live Session in New York”, mastering the jazz album with a pair of DITA The Answer earphones.
In this interview, PP chats with the Japanese Jazz artist Nori Shiota about his work, his travels, the importance of lifelong learning and his penchant for DITA earphones.
PP: Shiota san, you’ve been to places like New Orleans, New York and many more in the course of your career. Which part of your travels are you most inspired by?
NS: I was the most inspired by the people who I met at those places. All the good and bad experiences made me grow as musician, and I believe those experiences were created by the people I meet there.
PP: Is there one person you met during these experiences that impacted you the most greatly?
NS: Not a person. people, that's the key, I think. Much like music how music is made up of vocals, drums, bass, piano and guitar, people make the experience. Those experiences make me remember what it was and where I was.
PP: For the readers who don't know you well, how would you describe your style of music?
NS: My style of Music? Groove Entertainment.
PP: Sounds like fun. What made you decide to adapt this style of music?
NS: Groove makes people move, it’s a lot of fun on an emotional level. When I see people move or smile or even cry when I perform, I feel like I'm making Music.
PP: I saw on your profile that you be having a full-member performance with your Jazz Band SFKUaNK!! on 24 February 2019 What sort of vibes are SFKUaNK!! Looking to bring to the audience this time?
NS: The people I’m performing with are great musicians, or should I say great people.
PP: There's something I am a little curious about. In 2010, you entered the Berklee College of Music, majoring in Music Production and Engineering. Caused you to make the decision to return to school in 2010?
NS: Well, since I was working with a major label as producer, I was always struggling to get the “sounds” I want. It’s very tough to make recording engineer understand the kind of quality and taste we’re going for.
Also, the advent of digital recording these days changed everything about the production game, so I felt like I should study these recording technologies by myself.
PP: Now that you're doing so much music production, the course seems like it’s been very helpful!
NS: I mean new technology is always helpful if somebody understands exactly how much it can help in reaching the dream.
PP: As people who love earphones, the game seems to be changing at a breakneck speed. Is the music production scene also changing rapidly?
NS: Oh yes, I think so. Internationally we’re turning more towards streaming music and away from CDs, but vinyl records are coming back... there are so many different perspectives for music.
PP: In 2016 you produced DITA Session in New York: What inspired you to work with DITA audio and how did you decide on which pieces to include within the album?
NS: DITA earphones are amazing because they’re honest. Usually earphone or headphone companies do their best make their products sounds good, but they achieve this by "faking it" a little: a fake sounding low end, fake high definition etc.
These are "ok" as consumer product but not for professional audio engineers, we need accurate sound, we want to listen to what we are going to be recording, controlling or balancing as it is.
I’ve tried many different companies’ earphones for mixing and recording but so far DITA earphones are best. That's all I know from my own experience.
For the song selection, I’m always thinking the singers and audience there. So I picked songs where the singer is comfortable and sounds good in.
It's like a good movie. it's like good cooking. We need to know what the best thing is to do with the material, we need good devices, such as the best camera, the best knives... Well DITA earphones are best for music.
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