Picture: Atsuko by Masayuki Shioda
Picture: Atsuko by Masayuki Shioda

Atsuko Hatano

Atsuko Hatano is an experimental composer, improvisational viola player & multi-instrumentalist based in Tokyo, Japan.

Forming innovative compositions with contemporary classical arrangements and intricately constructed electronics, Hatano has released output on labels including Cassauana, the sister label to Important Records, Alien Transistor, run by The Notwist, the renowned Italian outpost SUPERPANG, the label offshoot of London-based venue Café Oto, and many more.

As a keen collaborator, Hatano regularly records and plays live with Jim O’Rourke and Eiko Ishibashi, with Hatano playing violin on O’Rourke’s recently released Hands That Bind soundtrack, as well as playing both viola & violin on Ishibashi’s award-winning soundtrack for the critically acclaimed 2021 film Drive My Car.


1. Triola member Anzu Suhara and I did the basic recording of the album at Hoshi to Niji Studio in Yamanashi, Japan. I was also the recording engineer for this album, so I spent more time running around than playing, going back and forth between the recording booth and the control room.

2. About the tracks Dreamland & The Farewell
All drums on this album were recorded last. In other words, Tatsuhisa Yamamoto played along with the string ensemble, which was recorded without a click. I was surprised at how incredibly well he played along with the string ensemble, as the basic Triola recordings always start with the strings.

3. About the track The Hideaway
The lyrics were written in the form of a letter, sent back and forth with Koji Shibuya, the leader of yumbo (Morr Music). It was a secret to him, and the letter had an underlying theme, protagonist, and background. My first e-mail to him was, ‘Have you been hiding all along?’. This was the end of the song, which means I used this poem in the reverse order of the emails (I cut some of my text…). Then I went to a coffee shop he runs in Sendai and recorded it.

1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?

A reproduction of a memorable experience or impression one receives from any work of art. Or a collection of random small cells.

2. How and when did you get into making music?

When I was 6 or 7 years old, I was freely combining chords on the piano and playing a series of chords with both hands. Or when I was 13 years old, I used a synthesizer with a sequencer (Yamaha V50) to record overlaid minor chord songs with reggae-like backing.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?

Charlie Haden – The Ballad Of The Fallen
Morgan Fisher – Slow Music
Cornelius Cardew – Thalmann Variations
Michael Nyman – The Kiss And Other Movements
Tony Conrad with Faust – Outside The Dream Syndicate
and more…

4. What do you associate with Berlin?

Wings of Desire

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?

Yanaka Cemetery 谷中霊園
It is an old and large cemetery located in Nippori, Tokyo, and contains the graves of many famous people. It is ideal for a stroll that takes in the townscape, which retains the atmosphere of good old Tokyo or Edo. It is one of the towns where I lived for many years.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?

Research on fungi and production of experimental films.

7. What was the last record/music you bought or listen?

Utopia or Oblivion, a recent compilation on the Constructive label.

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?

I would have liked to perform together with Peter Brötzmann at least once.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?

I have seen Jim O’Rourke’s improvisational live performances many times at Super Deluxe (an experimental music facility in Tokyo), for the last 10 years or so, from around 2010, and all of them were the best for me.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?

I think my music production process is considerably affected by the evolution of technology, as it clearly changes the way I connect with listeners, the medium of the music business, and the form of music itself.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your music?

I have one older brother, whether he understands my music or not, that is not certain as we have never spoken.