124 - SHiNES
Artist Interviews 🎶 Studio Tours 🎛
Hello music people 👋
Today in the spotlight, SHiNES
Currently in the United States, he started playing with tape at the of 6 and hasn’t stopped since. Even though it’s not his main job, he is making music, has a YouTube channel with jams and gear talk and on top of that, now a podcast.
If you want to be in the music space, there’s more than songwriting, and SHiNES shows the way 🎶
Interview & Studio Tour
Who are you and what is your relationship with music?
Hi, I'm Shines (@shines.music). Thank you for having me in your newsletter!
I was born and raised in Tokyo, and am now living in North Carolina. Growing up in Tokyo in the 90s, I heard a LOT of J-pop boy-band music. So much so that I feel that those vocal harmonies and pop beats are now part of my very being. In high school I was in a four-person a cappella pop group, and have been performing live on-stage since I was 14.
I started playing with tape recorders when I was 6, and still remember having fun playing with fast and slow motion tape speeds. When I was 15, a friend of mine got me a copy of GarageBand, and the world of music production was at my fingertips. Unfortunately my idea of "original" music was a cringy mix of heavy metal and show tunes with a J-pop vocal element mixed in. I feel lucky that MySpace and other methods of sharing music were not very prevalent when I first began writing!
After college I started working in the US; in retail and eventually IT. I wrote music then and I still write now, though my writing method has become a lot less focused now that I have a son. Currently I am between IT positions, and have been focusing on my career as a street-style family photographer (@stefan_kei_).
In 2019, I was gifted a Pocket Operator by my brother during a visit to see him in London. That was the first piece of my DAWless arsenal, and the start of Shines as a music project. I was living in NYC at the time, and got linked in with the modular synthesizer community there (New York Modular Society). From that point on throughout the COVID lockdowns, I made it my mission to make music outside the confines of computer screens.
Which piece of equipment in your studio is essential to your production process?
I've had my OP-1 since 2020, and since then it has become an essential part of my songwriting process.
What is the least expensive piece of gear that gave you the most results?
I bought the original Korg Kross back in 2013 for around $550, and it has become the mother brain of my DAWless studio.
Walk us through your process for creating and producing music.
I write my MIDI stems in Logic using the built-in software instruments. I'll then export those stems into a MIDI file that I can load onto my Kross for channel assignment. From there I can run my tracks out to my Korg Minilogue XD, Moog Mother-32, and TC Helicon Perform VK to perform with a full synthesizer ensemble.
I have not set up a way to record everything at once, but when album time comes around, I can't wait to find a way to do this.
What is a production technique that you always come back to?
Create first, edit later. It's more important to get something recorded that you can over-analyze later.
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How would you describe your style?
I'm a fan of many intertwining melodies that make up a chord progression. I think I overdo this sometimes in my vocals, but too many harmonies is never a bad thing in my book. As a photographer I really enjoy "busy" images, and I think it's the same for music.
What is a big challenge you have as an artist?
Currently, I am going through month 21 as a dad, and it's getting really hard to find time to make music. I do share my synths with my son, but you can probably guess how it ends up sounding. Some days I get only 15min of music in and then have to jump back into being a dad. We are on a waiting list for a really nice daycare, so I'll have some freedom back soon. Fingers crossed!
Has building a hardware setup changed your perspective on music or life in general?
I had no idea how much joy I would get out of singular instruments working together to create huge jams. The freedom from computers has done wonderful things for my mental health as well!
One tip on how to spark creativity?
Get outside as much as possible, and always stay on top of the house chores. Creativity comes from a place of chaos for some people, but if you're like me, the smallest things will nag at you until you can't make anything new.
A book, movie, article, or album that has inspired you?
Not a book or album, but there is a new izakaya-style restaurant in town called Yokai (@yokaigso) that gives me such a vibe when I'm there I can't help but feel creative afterward!
Anything else you'd like to say?
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my story, tips, and gear with you all!
I'll be playing a show on 11/18 at Meet & Bleep in Raleigh, NC, if you're local!
Where can people find more of your music and connect with you online?
In Case You Missed It
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