Premiere: King Shoji – Untitled [8], plus interview

Prolific Detroit electronic artist King Shoji keeps his incredibly creative and prolific streak up with a new album on Muzai Records, Vortex. Which drops on May 29th.

It’s a nine track ‘Suite’ of tracks, crafted in these lockdown times, it’s supposed to be listened to as a whole, rather than in parts, but despite that, label and artist were keen to give the public a glimpse of whats to be expected, and so we are absolutely delighted to premiere ‘Untitled [8]’ here on Backseat Mafia today.

Immediately not as harsh and challenging as its predecessor Black Rainbow Machine, Untitled still has it’s moments – the long drawn out synth rises, as these acid beats juggle things around, moving faster an slower on a whim, leaving the minimal beats to scatter themselves across things. as it continues to it starts to break apart, ending in a gloriously electronic melee.

Check it out, here

We also caught up with King Shoji to talk to him about the release, the forthcoming album, Muzai, Lockdown and more.

Hey thanks for talking to us – firstly, how are you coping with lockdown? Has it affected any plans? Or rather, how much has it affected plans?

Thanks for having me. I found my daily routine altered immensely and I was forced to adapt to a new lifestyle and schedule- I’ve made a pretty good transition though and am happy with where I’m at. 

Have you been able to do anything creative in the time?

Oh yeah, aside from recording audio stuff I’ve been working on some custom cassette projects of some of my favorite Sega Genesis game soundtracks. I try to sit down and record at least a song or two a day. 

Whats been soundtracking your lockdown? Any particular albums or artists or what have you?

Whats been soundtracking your lockdown? Any particular albums or artists or what have you? I’ve been diving deep into some far out synthesizer music. Silver Apples of the Moon by Morton Subortnick, The Wozard of Iz by Mort Garson, Dick Hyman’s Moog records, stuff by Jean-Jacques Perrey. Other than that it’s been soundtracks by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth (Halloween III mainly) Kraftwerk, Sunn O)), Primitive Knot, Suicide, Terry Riley, Lonnie Liston Smith, Patrick Cowley, Franco Battiato, Goblin, the list goes on. 

Your incredibly prolific in yur work – how do you go about writing and making your music? Does one piece / idea lead into another?

I rarely ever sit down to record with a specific idea in mind, it usually becomes apparent once I figure out the hardware setup of whichever machines i’m going to use and hit record. I like to think the machines are just as much a part of the creative process as my human brain is- we’re all computers, after all. Usually once everything is in motion, the machines will take me where they want to go and I try to capture those moments. 

We love the track ‘Untitled’ – can you tell us a little bit about that? Where / how did you make/write that, and what inspirations/ images/ideas were in your head when doing so?

I sometimes create ideas for these weird, low budget horror movies that only exist in my mind and I try to create a score for them. This was one of those instances, I was mainly inspired by John Carpenter and his synthesizer work. I’ve been studying what makes horror movie soundtracks effective, and have focused on the concepts of space, silence, suspense, fear, and shock. I tried to replicate them in that song. 

Its from a new album Vortex – tell us more about that. Is Untitled a good indication of whats to come? Is there a range of meanings / moods to the record? I wanted to make a record that could be listened to all the way through and seen as one long piece- I didn’t want each part of the album to be classified with a song title and made separate from the rest. Definitely an album that tries to focus on the light as much as the darkness- I strive for universal balance between the two and this album is a good reflection of it. 

Whats your favourite track on the album? Or are they all a little like children – you couldn’t possibly pick a favourite? I’m pretty happy with how they all turned out, but I really like the tracks with the old cassette samples. I found a tape labelled “German Xmas Music” from the 70’s, i guess it was my grandpas. I recorded it and found it to be really eerie and foreboding, and i think it fits really well with the whole low budget horror movie soundtrack atmosphere- I think Rob Zombie likes to include old radio broadcasts or AM radio music in his movies.  

And you’re with Muzaii again, is this a good partnership for you?

Oh yeah, Muzai has been great to work with. Benjii is a really cool guy and has an open mind when it comes to experimental music- which is really important and hard to come by in this day and age. It’s been awesome to work with someone overseas and know that some people in the UK are hearing the transmissions that I channel from my Michigan bedroom halfway across the world. 

What’s next – difficult one I know in this current climate

Not sure yet, I’m just gonna focus on making more music and hopefully have the next album or project out soon.

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