Sound Of The Year Awards 2023: Yoichi Kamimura

Presented by The Radiophonic Institute and the Museum Of Sound, The Sound Of The Year Awards is an annual competition celebrating sonic life in its many forms from across the globe. We caught up with Japanese sound artist Yoichi Kamimura, winner of the best Natural Sound award, which recognises “A sound that occurs without human input”

Hi Yoichi. What’s happening in this recording?

“This recording captures the sounds of the Amazon rainforest in the early hours as part of my experience during the LABVERDE residency program in Manaus, Brazil, in August 2023. Not only is it composed of the natural sounds of the Amazon rainforest, it incorporates ceremonial sounds created by the indigenous Kokama people of the forest.”

Why did you title it ‘The Disorderly Harmony Orchestra’?

“These ceremonial sounds form a unified orchestra, resonating with the countless birds, insects, flora, fauna, and troops of monkeys in the Amazon. The ‘orchestra’ even attempts to harmonise with the thunderous roar of a somewhat forceful airplane engine flying overhead. To me, it felt like a special ritual exploring new sounds of nature in this modern era where the boundary between nature and humanity has become blurred.”

Is there anyone you would like to thank?

“Special thanks to LABVEREDE, an immersive arts residency programme I participated in last year in the Brazilian Amazon. It is one of the most unique residency programs I have ever participated in. In addition, I would like to thank my former bandmate, Jiro Matsumoto, who has given me so much in terms of music during the most difficult period in my life. Lastly, I would also like to thank a former Professor, Yoshihiro Kawasaki, of the Tokyo University of the Arts. I was an underachiever who was always sleeping. I don’t remember any details of his lectures, because his pleasant, calm voice and his classes on pleasant sounds, music, and art were worth sleeping through, but his classes impacted me.”

How did you begin working with sound?

“I do not have a degree in music or sound, however music has been around me since childhood, and I have been making music and sound since I was a teenager. I then studied contemporary art and sound art at university. It wasn’t until after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 that I started thoughtfully incorporating field recordings into my work. This disaster involved not only natural disasters such as major earthquakes and tsunamis but also human disasters such as the nuclear accident. This profoundly impacted us and led me to work on the deep relationship between nature and humans through field recording.

Who inspires you most?

“Lou Reed and My Bloody Valentine are always my standards for sound.”

If you could choose anything to record next, what would it be?

“I hope to record more sounds related to the aquatic environment.”

Any parting words of wisdom for other sound artists?

“I am still struggling with field recording, so I have no idea about advice for other artists. However, you can find your way by doing your own thing. I always aim to recognise sound through hearing and other senses, such as memory and vision.”

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