Sivutie, the debut album by Japanese producer Noah is one of those records that gets better the more you listen to it. A contemplative, yet transportive record, every second of it feels expertly and carefully crafted. As such we jumped at the chance to chat to the artist behind the album and uncover the story that lead to the creation of Sivutie, an extraordinary record that seems to hold within its songs a new, fantastical world.

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How did you get into making music, was it something you always wanted to pursue?

I used to watch my sister play, and I naturally took interest - I was only about 2, but I can vaguely recall the scene. And from as far back as I can remember I had this sense of purpose to attain my favourite music and make it my own. I would frantically try to memorise favourite tunes and kick it into my head.

It's not that anyone told me to do those things, (I didn't know how to compose and record) but when I look back on those days, I realise it was a very natural course [leading to] making music now.

Yas (of Flau Records) told me that when you first approached him with music he rejected it, how did you react to that, and how did you improve your output so that you could finally release an album on his label?

I actually knew the result beforehand, but I wanted to know how far I could go. I sent my heart out. When [Yas] replied that he'll be waiting for another demo, I took it as better than nothing, and continued with production.

Up to the album release, I was inspired by many artists I respect, such as Newworldaquarium, SELA., Readymade F.C., and aus (the recording moniker of Yas). Without those artists the album nor myself would be here. Not only their technical experience, [but also] their view of the world, their attitude towards making music, and other things all inspired me. Their work has gradually guided me and affected me in what sound I choose and make in a good way.

The album's press release states that conceptually the record is about a "girl's mysterious world in a night dream" - could you explain how the concept of Sivutie came about, and why you chose that title in particular?

The album's main character is actually a boy. One winter evening, I was gazing out from the balcony on the 2nd floor. It was a mysterious night. Thick fog had covered the entire city and it was white everywhere. Orange city lights faintly floated on the fog and from the 2nd floor balcony it felt as though I was floating in the night sea. It was very strange. I've never seen anything so eerie and magical even after moving here (Nagoya, Aichi).

After gazing out for a while, I returned inside to grab my iPhone and coat to immerse myself in that world of thick dark fog for 30 to 40 minutes. The song I was listening to then was the title track - 'sivutie' - [which] I'd been working on. Listening to the song while gazing at the fog, what popped in my head was a boy living alone on the street, maybe a back-alley somewhere in Europe, perhaps Northern Europe. The image clicked right away and I furthered details of that world. The boy had some sort of a dark past, and was spending a quiet evening. Frail yet tough were the two opposite [adjectives] that would describe him. His face, with a bland expression like a doll's, gave not much hint to the mysterious thoughts he had in his mind.

I decided to make music of this world so that I could recall the boy living on the street even after the fog had passed. This is how the album really started. The album includes 15 songs, some are old ones I had made long ago, but they all meshed together in creating the image of the alley and the surrounding scene.

What would you say has been the biggest influence on the sound of Sivutie?

I'd say it's The Dead Bears by Newworldaquarium. I've always been a fan of evenings, or the night, and this album has taught me the mysterious beauty and magic of the night.

Each song on the album seems to introduce mysterious and romantic colours of the night. The unique and heavy sounds quietly, yet powerfully deliver this rich world. I've been listening to "The Force" the most. Intense chords are repeated in phrases for almost 10 minutes in this song, and the chords gradually develop into a hopeful tune in the end. It's where I get overjoyed and often cry.

This is just my own interpretation, but the darkness of the night is not limited to "fear and mystery" in his album, which Sivutie also incorporates by including hope in many parts.

As for my music, I believe there's reason to draw out darkness. Say for example if I were to draw "white", rather than colouring a canvas white, I'd draw a tiny white dot onto a black canvas. That accentuates the white.

Your music is often quite abstract and conceptual - I think you once said you wrote a song while you were thinking about a baby that wasn't born yet - how does this affect the way you work?

Making music is always on a whim. I'd play the sounds and chords, then colours and scenes drift into my head. They are a big part in making music.

My songs are often affected by what can be "heard" and "seen" (mainly pictured in the mind). Also, I like to keep titles and lyrics abstract. My music has its own thoughts and message, but I don't want to impose it onto the listener. I want them to freely imagine what they will from the music.

You've collaborated in the past with SELA., do you think this helped you to both evolve as artists?

Ever since SELA. and I met [by making a] split EP (called Split), we've been great friends with no secrets. Without his influence, I am certain Sivutiewouldn't have made its debut. That's how much he has inspired me to grow. He's not only been a great musical influence, but would hear me out during tough times and support [me].

When we first met, he already had established his style of music. He is clear about his likes and dislikes, and is always looking out for what inspires him. It's interesting to know what he's listening to and what he's into. I'm very curious in what music he sends out to the world. Although he has a set style of music, but I feel there's always change and is refreshed each time.

I don't know how he feels about me, but I'm probably not a negative influence on him since we'll continue to make music together.

You grew up in Chitose and now live in Nagoya, do you think your surroundings have influenced your sound?

That's absolutely true. City artists make music that fits city life, and artists that enjoy a slow life make unbelievably relaxed and warm music. For me, it's been a big influence that I grew up in a vast land of tranquility. The goodness of the land is often realised after leaving it, and there's a sense of nostalgia in songs that I wrote imagining my hometown. I live in Nagoya now, but I think once I leave here I'll realise what I'll miss about Nagoya, and the intensity of that emotion will be reflected in my music.

You're on tour to promote Sivutie, how do you approach live music, given how intricate and delicate the album is?

I try to put out a simple set whilst maintaining the feel of the album. I don't feel obligated to be spot on with the audio source since it's a live show. In order to express the world of Sivutie I feel the most important aspect is my voice and atmosphere that's created by my voice, so that's what's emphasised during the show.

And also, I try to remember to enjoy my own show.


You can visit Noah by heading here. Many thanks to Aya Nelson who provided translations.