Interview 採訪：Law Yuk-mui/ 羅玉梅
Editing 編輯、整理：Law Yuk-mui/ 羅玉梅
English Translation 英譯 : Winnie Chau/ 周潁榆
Transcription 謄錄: Janie Chan Tsang/ 陳錚
Hong Kong/ 香港
The musical work of Takuro Mizuta Lippit (aka dj sniff) builds upon a distinct practice that combines DJ-ing, instrument design and free improvisation. He is interested in how a mediated musical memory, from archival collections of vinyl records to digitally captured sound events during a performance, can be used to create a new sonic reality that emerges through the fleeting notion of the “now”.
The Library: Regarding the field recordings of “Umbrella Movement” you shared on SoundCloud. Is it your first time to do field recording in a social movement or protest?
Takuro Mizuta: No, this is not the first time I recorded a protest. The first recording I made was in 2003. I was living in New York at the time and it was when the U.S. was about to invade Iraq. There were many protests against George W. Bush sending troops to the region.
The Library: What was your intention to do field recording in such a kind of occasion?
Takuro Mizuta: I think the main reason was to document the moment, but also to give me a little distance from the situation and things that were happening around me. For me, one contribution I can make to any movement that I participate in is to document, and because there are so many visual documentations these days, I find it more unique to have sonic documentation. I also often use these recordings in my own music.
For example, around the same time in New York, there was a protest against a radio station that made a segment mocking South Asian tsunami victims. I became associated with the group who organized a rally and a boycott campaign. I recorded the sounds and speeches from the rally and made a DJ mix which was later broadcasted.
The Library: Is it an underground radio station?
Takuro Mizuta: The protest was against a mainstream commercial radio station and my work was broadcasted on the Internet, on a website.
The Library: Do you mean “digital radio”?
Takuro Mizuta: Yes, digital radio.
The Library: Talking about the recordings of Umbrella Movement, the first recording you made was on 29 September at 2am, right?
Takuro Mizuta: Yes, on the first day, when the police shot tear gas, I was watching it unfold online, and waiting for the right time to join the protests. That night my wife and I took turns going out, because we have a small baby. She first went to Admiralty and came back to tell me the situation. I went out later that night to Causeway Bay where the situation was very unclear to everyone. Rumors were spreading that the police were advancing east through Wan Chai using tear gas and pepper spray.
Standoff with Police
02:00 AM, 09/29/2014, Causeway Bay
(Please note that the contents contain language that may be offensive.)
The Library: When you are recording, what was your gesture? Did you follow the crowd?
Takuro Mizuta: I had my binaural microphones in my ears and I was walking through the crowd trying to capture their conversations. Some people were building barricades and others were collecting supplies such as water and food. This was before things became more organized as we saw in the following days. Some were telling people to gather, some were telling people to leave. So basically I was trying to move between these groups as much as possible. When I arrived at the frontline, the situation was very tense. The police in riot gear came to confront us and I was there trying to document but also trying not to get hurt.
When I record, I am also very conscious of what not to record because having too much material makes it hard for me to revisit it. The shorter the material the more concentrated I can be when I listen back. So I try to do a sort of “in-recorder edit” thinking about when to hit record. Sometimes I have the recorder on the whole time, but also I have it off a lot. When I see or think something will happen, I just turn it on and go there.
The Library: How do you decide whether or not to record?
Takuro Mizuta: When I was in Admiralty, the sounds were mostly just the general ambience of people’s presence. It was very nice because urban sounds are usually filled with activities by man-made machines like traffic, construction, air conditioners or planes. In this recording, there was none of these. But at the same time there are no sounds of birds or water that would suggest nature. It is a distinctly urban setting because we hear the voices bounce off the concrete structures, and there are thousands of people there. This was really interesting for me.
11:30 PM,10/01/2014, Admiralty
However in terms of sound events, there was occasional cheering and laughter but most of the time people were just kind of hanging out. There is a lot of dead time in the recording. I often returned to the occupy sites at Admiralty and Causeway Bay but didn’t record anymore because as sound material there was not that much happening.
The Library: Is the version you shared online the exact duration you recorded, or did you make some editing?
Takuro Mizuta: The sounds I put online are actually short excerpts of longer recordings. The original recordings are about 30 to 40 minutes. I had the intention to try to highlight the events, and share the atmosphere of the movement with a wider range of people.
In Japan, people were very interested in the movement. At the beginning, there were only a few people reporting the situation in Japanese and I was one of them. Especially when I was in Mongkok during the confrontation between the protesters and the thuggish anti occupy groups, I was recording and live tweeting on the spot, and many people were following this in Japan. You know, Japan and China have a really sensitive relationship, so people are generally interested in what happens politically. Also, there has been a lot of activism in Japan after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Much of this has shifted towards protesting against the current right-wing government and the prime minister. Many of these people closely followed the Sunflower Student Movement in Taiwan, and it was the same during the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong.
Protesters’ Gathering after attacked by Pro-China Thugs
07:30 PM, 10/03/2014, Mong Kok
It is an interesting time in Japan. When I was a student, there was no activism. There was no sort of social movement. There were only small groups leftover from the 60’s that were protesting. This has changed drastically. Now the protests are organized by all generations, and especially the younger people are becoming more active. There are large movements organized by just university students. I think it is a global phenomenon, right? It’s a shared sense of resistance and solidarity to fight against injustice and protect freedom. Recently we‘ve seen large protests in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and in Turkey. For the Japanese people it especially has a strong impact when it happens in nearby places like Taiwan and Hong Kong. As Asians, we feel a stronger sense of sympathy and unity.
The Library: So Soundcloud is the only platform you used to share your recordings?
Takuro Mizuta: That’s the main one. I also included some of it in a mixtape that I recently made for a festival in Tokyo called Asian Meeting Festival. This is a five-year project that brings together South East Asian artists with Japanese artists. The mixtape was given to people who came to the event. I used some parts as transitions between tracks, and I also use some during my concerts. I approach the material more on a sonic level rather than addressing the actual content. It fills in for a specific feeling or texture that I am looking for when I am composing or playing live.
The Library: I have a final question. Maybe it is a big question, but I just want to hear your opinion. As an artist, what does this recording means to you? How do you think of the relationship between sound and politics?
Takuro Mizuta: Well, the whole experience was intense, unique, and also very emotional for me. Even as a foreigner, it was very touching to be part of such movement and also see my students get involved. At the same time it was emotionally and physically draining. Now when I listen to the recordings, they remind me how intense it was at the beginning with all the uncertainties. I had forgotten how it felt because after the first month there was a long dragged-out period, and the movement got smaller and smaller. When I listen back, they are like pictures that bring back strong memories.
And the relationship between sound and politics? Um…I mean, to be blunt, there is no relationship whatsoever. Sound is sound and politics is politics. I believe that art and sound or music can’t do anything politically. If you want to make a political statement, or make a change, you shouldn’t trick yourself by saying “I am going make art to do so.” You should go out and do political things. You should organize and rally on the street. You should vote or go talk to your representatives. I think it’s dangerous when people get a false feeling that they are making a change through just an artwork or a piece of music. However, of course, we need art and culture to live. It gives us distance from our daily strife or perspective on things that we were not aware of. But this is different from being political, right? So I have a pretty strong stance that I don’t want to say the sounds I recorded are political. They are what they are – just sounds from a unique situation. We can talk about these recordings in different contexts, and of course in relationship to politics. But it is not my intention to go out and record for these purposes. I am there to participate, document, and maybe find useful sound material for my own future work.
02:00 AM, 09/29/2014, 銅鑼灣
11:30 PM,10/01/2014, 金鐘
07:30 PM, 10/03/2014, 旺角
水田拓郎：它是主要的一個。我亦有將部分錄音加入一個混音聲帶內，這聲帶是我最近的創作，用於東京舉行的 “Asian Meeting Festival”。它是一個連繫東南亞和日本藝術家的五年項目，這混音聲帶是送給來看演出的觀眾。有些錄音我用了來做聲帶之間的過渡，也有一些直接用於我的演出。我是從聲音的層面去使用這些材料而多於它所指涉的內容。當我編曲或作現場表演時，它注入了我想要的感覺和質感。
Mixtape for “Asian Meeting Festival”/ “Asian Meeting Festival” 混音聲帶