In The Studio: Satoshi Tomiie | Features | MN2S

New MN2S DJ booking agency signing Satoshi Tomiie is a true legend of house music. Setting somewhat of a precedent with his debut release in 1989 – a track you might have heard of called ‘Tears’ alongside Frankie Knuckles and Robert Owens – the following two-and-a-half decades of his career have not disappointed. Whether its his work as part of the Def Mix roster, classic remixes for the likes of Photek, his ‘Full Lick’ album or his Saw Recordings label, everything he has touched has been characterised by cutting-edge production and unrelenting class.

From his native Japan to New York, he’s worked with an incredible array of vocalists and producers from across the house music generations. With a new album ‘New Day’ coming this summer – including a slew of heavyweight remixes – and a hardware-focused live project alongside Tuccillo, he’s entering a major purple patch. We caught up with him while he was on an airport stopover to find out about his studio habits.

So tell us about the new album. What can we expect? Who have you worked with on it?

The songs on this album are mostly instrumental, I collaborated with a singer-songwriter John Schmersal – who is also a part of Caribou’s live band – on the title track ‘New Day’. We had a mutual friend and I was strongly suggested to work with him and we are both totally happy with the result!

The album contains 12 songs and my goal was making a real meaning of an album. Each song stands out, but by listening from top to the end you hear a story. That’s what I wanted to achieve.

Is collaboration an essential part of the creative process for you?

Good collaborations are, yes. It’s really fun and inspiring.

Where is your studio based now?

It’s in New York right now.

Growing up in Japan, was electronic music production equipment easily accessible?

Yes, thanks to Roland, Korg, Akai, Yamaha and so on. Imported synths were really expensive but used domestic machines were affordable. Over the years I sold a lot (and I’m regretting it now!) but I have been using those classic Roland gears like 909, 101 and 303 since I started producing. I got my 909 for $200 at the time of exchange rate, with 10 instalment payments!

What was the first piece of kit you bought?

Yamaha CS-01. It’s a super-simple, fun mono synth. It looks like a toy but it generates nice fat bass! Unfortunately I can’t locate it no more, I think my mother got rid of it. Ouch.

Did you have anyone to learn from when you started getting into production?

No, I taught myself pretty much. Some info was coming from magazines and friends.

Do you feel you are still learning with regards to producing?

Always! Learning never ends, especially with new technology which changes so rapidly. These days a lot of free tutorials are available on YouTube. It’s much easier and more fun. Reading manuals sucks!

What does your current set up look like?

I have a few stacks of gears. Stack #1 TR-909 on Yamaha TX81Z on Arp Solina on Wurlitzer 200A. Stack #2 from the bottom to the top Jupiter-8, Pro One and Moog Voyager. Yamaha KX8 is the centerpiece of the set up, which controls Ableton along with Push.

Push is definitely the best recent purchase; it made music making on Ableton so intuitive. Avid MC control controls both Ableton and Pro Tools. There are 2 pairs of monitors, Yamaha NS10M and Neumann KH 310A with Adam Sub10 Mk2. Roland SH-101 & TB-303 are both sitting on the Yamaha controller as part of permanent setup.

What was your most recent purchase?

Sequential Pro One. Amazing mono synth. I wanted this one for a while.

How do you normally get started on a track?

Starting with basic beats, on a hardware drum machine or Ableton.

What part of the process do you find the most difficult or taxing?

The process of making music is pure fun. The most difficult part is where to stop the process. You could tweak a song forever, it never ends unless you tell yourself it’s good and you should stop here.

What’s the most exciting technological development been in the past decade for you?

The most exciting thing is not just new technologies alone, but the fact that it revived creative possibility of vintage gears. DAW like Ableton made audio manipulation so much easier and it makes use of old hardware so much fun and efficient. You just run the machine, play intuitive and randomly… record them, pick the favorite part, loop it, tweak it and boom! That’s so much fun.

‘New Day’ will be released on June 22 via Abstract Architecture. 

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