I first encountered Japayork back in January when he released his brilliantly mysterious track "Our Now" in all it's synthesized melancholic glory. Needless to say, I was more than intrigued. Just last week he released his first proper single "Teenagers" which encapsulates the Shoreditch chic lifestyle the imsomniac hipster is keeping right now.
In this EQ interview with Japayork, we chat about filming the video, how "Our Now" was conceived, balancing the day job and why male electronic pop stars aren't getting the same attention as the ladies. Japayork is currently putting the finishing touches on his debut album and expect to hear more him in 2011.
Why the name? Obviously we get that it's a cross between New York and Japan.
That's a tough one. Basically it's been my name for years. A lof ot my friends call me "Japa" too and I respond to it. I switched music styles a lot when I was younger. I used to do a lot of instrumental music then because I wasn't that confident in my singing – making electronic music with samples. Basically the styles I was doing then quite fitted my name and it just stuck – my dad calls me "Japa" and it feels natural now.
Do you feel the single and video for your new single "Teenagers" sums up your 22 year-old life right now? When you look back upon it will this video be an accurate depiction of your life now? It is kinda just about sex, drugs and electro isn't it…
At the moment – definitely. Recording this video I was really thinking that this is gonna look like a mega party and it's definitely the sort of things I do right now! [Laughs]
What was the best part about filming "Teenagers"?
To have a pile of girls on you basically. The process of filming this video was a lot of fun – it's long days. You can't believe how tired you are after filming a party video! The crew we worked with are brilliant guys – very creative.
You kinda have this reoccurring theme of "never sleep again" in your songs and artwork – are you lacking in the sleep department sir?
I never sleep – I don't. My body clock is always telling me to wake up really early. I don't stay in bed in the mornings. I guess I'm still young enough to live on just a few hours of sleep. I know that's going to catch up with me later in life – I know that.
I really liked "Our Now" when you unleashed it awhile ago on us…tell me what that song is about.
That track was my first effort with a producer that I hadn't worked with before. We sat down in the studio and he played around on the keyboard. I was kind of rough that day because I had been out to a party before – I was a bit late. Basically that night, I did some things I wasn't proud of – but I don't regret it. It's all about living in that moment and doing things that aren't exactly our finest moments. That track was written in about an hour and we just recorded it in the moment and in the first take – it's all fragile and broken and we captured it, because, well that's what the song is all about.
So have you given up the day job of being a graphic designer/videographer yet?
Not yet. I still do a lot of design work for the music industry – quite a lot of CD covers and I work on a lot of videos too. I''m usually the art guy on the set drawing away and doing computer graphics. I don't think I'll ever stop doing that. It's my passion.
Where do you go in London for design inspiration?
Everywhere and anywhere really! I've got a lot of friends who are in the creative industry, so when we meet up and have a drink, a lot of inspiration comes. A lot of ideas for videos we did were written on the back of beer coasters. In London you can just get so much inspiration from just watching a band or seeing a DJ play.
What's the hardest part about doing a day job and trying to be a popstar by night?
I don't work that much – so I can combine it. It would be nicer to give all my time to music, but that's just the patience you have to have for awhile whilst waiting for your music to take off. The two are not that far apart in a way – it all comes out of the same creative organ I guess.
Interested in your thoughts on this. Electronic pop ladies seem to do quite well. Lady Gaga, Little Boots, La Roux – why do electronica male artists who are just as brilliant seem to not get as much attention?
It crosses my mind a lot that question. Male artists don't get a lot of attention and for me, it becomes more of a mission to get my music out there and show people it can be done. It's interesting I agree. I think with a bit of luck, male artists can make electronic pop and make it credible too – it's a challenge – not an obstacle. There's not as many men trying though, but we can do it.