Asa-Chang commenced activities as a solo unit in 1997. Tabla wizard U-zhaan joined in 2000, and the group began staging live performances with Junray Tronics. Its music is imbued with a distinctive vibe produced by the combination of tribal and abstract sounds. Beginning in 2000, the group appeared at Fuji Rock for five consecutive years, a feat unmatched by any other acts. After its 2001 release in Japan, ‘Hana’, its second album, was also released in the United Kingdom under the Leaf label, and was selected as the fourth best album of 2002 by the British magazine The Wire and best album of the same year by Mojo Magazine and Muzik. Besides these accolades in Europe, the group and ‘Hana’ received extensive coverage in the music media of Australia, the United States, Chile, and other countries around the world. A collaboration with contemporary dancers in a music video created a buzz worldwide, and was followed in 2009 by the staging of ‘Aoiro Theater’ featuring their music with dance at Setagaya Public Theatre. A production that could only have been created by a musician (and ex-makeup artist), the work garnered high ratings for its free conception untrammeled by the conventional framework of stage arts. In 2010, Asa-Chang made a fresh start as a solo unit and began to be handled by precog. It has since remained active in creative forms that go beyond established ideas of music. In 2012, it unveiled the opus ‘NEW Aoiro Theater’ at Kyoto Experiment 2012 with the addition of Yoshihiro Goseki and Anzu Suhara as members.
1: To live is to change.
2: Turning away from authoritative Western music, seeking possibility for non-Western percussion instruments.
3: To deny the commercialization of feelings by chopping words, to redefine poetry and songs.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Collaborations with artists of other genres.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
Communication with members and other artists.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
I couldn’t find them yet because I’m still half way in my life.
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Techno music, art.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
A restaurant where elderly couple carry on.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I cannot image.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Traditional music of Myanmar.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
‘Aoiro Theater’ featuring their music with dance at Setagaya Public Theatre.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
At the creation stage, the same as a medieval musician (with a pencil and paper), but technology is necessary for the finish. Technology is my painting materials.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a junior sister, she is not very positive about it.
Asa-Chang & Junray will play at this year’s last edition of the Kiezsalon on Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, along British saxophonist Ben Vince, electroacoustic duo Valerio Tricoli & Hanno Leichtmann, and Salon des Amateurs resident DJ Frank D’ Arpino.
Photo © Asa-Chang & Junray