Aside from the all fantastic collaborations, experiments, performances, showcases, demonstrations, one of the other reasons I enjoy MusicTechFest so much, is the opportunities it provides to meet such a diverse range of interesting people from the community of music and technology.
One such encounter last year, at the end of the 2013 festival, was when I met MIRAI, (“Future Boy”) the founder of the neo-futurist network Intelligentsia. It turned out to be one of the longest conversations I had that particular weekend, as he explained his remarkable journey, growing up in the UK designing video games moving into music, relocating to Japan , Studio Gibhli and adopting to life back in the UK.
During the 80's whizz kid era, MIRAI released over 10 titles from age 14 and then moved on to music, video and fashion during the growth of the rave culture, where he began to group together a motley bag of musicians artists, always pushing against the status quo.
“Essentially because I had to program music sequencers for 8-bit computer games (C64, Atari etc.) and it was cheaper for me to write the music instead of paying someone, I discovered music and composition through games. I was listening to electronic music every night for 4 years while I programmed at night and studied the music patterns that way. Around 1989, I bought my first basic synths and decided to start a band and completely lost interest in programming. Our first live show was in 1991 at Camden Palace.”
MIRAI had visited there before, and as an admirer of the futuristic and technological wonderland that is Japan, in 1995 he decided to relocate to Tokyo, writing soundtracks for Japanese video games, club mixes, TV radio. He was also a video game character and co-hosted several electronic music radio shows, wrote for Keyboard magazine and did various TV National radio spots. In Japan, he had a political party named after him, was the first foreigner to perform techno live using a mobile phone, and was voted top Tomb Raider level designer.
I have always been curious about Japanese culture, a comment in an interview with designer Oliver Reichenstein made, always stuck with me about living there, where he mentioned “It felt like a trip to another planet” , MIRAI shared a little about his experience in Japan.
“I moved to Japan and worked as a Video game composer, where I started the “Ummo Discs” label which eventually turned into the “Earth Academy” label in London. ‘Intelligentsia’ also grew into a Internet artist network (from 1996) for people creating cutting edge works, which was the original intention of the name and music group. We were featured on Japanese television and then I started working with people like Susumu Hirasawa (Paprika / P-Model) and Morley Robertson (Logic System) who are both heavily featured in the Japanese media for frontier tech and eccentric electronic music.”