Making of “mishmash*Miki Orihara”
Hi, I’m Masu, the producer of mishmash*. I’m glad to announce the release of our new project, mishmash * Miki Orihara.
For this project, Miki Orihara joined us as a producer. Miki is, without a doubt, one of the greatest dancers in the contemporary dance field worldwide, who has been dancing in New York for over 30 years.
The choreography is by Adam Barruch, a young choreographer in whom Miki sees a great talent. Adam also choreographed a piece for Miki’s first solo concert in New York in May 2014. Dancer Chelsea Bonosky shared her talent with us in the video for Ding dawn. Chelsea has performed in renowned shows such as Sleep No More, the long-running, immersion theatre in New York. You can also see Adam and Chelsea dance together beautifully in Te wo nobashite Watashi ni furerumade Gyutto (Reach out until you feel me. Hold tight.)
mishmash * is a solo project by Toyoaki Mishima, who has been the sound programmer of Japanese pop-rock artist Cornelius for a long time. In each new project, he works with a different artistic partner that is named after the *, hence mishmash * Miki Orihara. Now, I’d like to talk about a few reasons why mishmash * came to collaborate this time with a dancer, not a vocalist or even a musician.
I first met Miki when I was in New York in the 80s as a student, and I was always aware of her reputation as a worldwide dancer since then. It was in 2012, one year after I had started creating music professionally in mishmash *, that Miki and I ran into each other in NY by chance for the first time in over a couple of decades.
At that time, I was thinking that maybe we could incorporate contemporary dance into our music videos, very much inspired by the music video of the song Ah! by an electronic music group Oval in 2010. In that video, where we see dancers in a studio with dark purple walls and dirt-covered floor, the lead female dancer wears a mask that covers about one third of her face, and she dances with a bunch of other male dancers in white underwear. Her dance exaggerates awkward body contractions that convey a sense of pain and tension to the audience. To me, this visual seemed interestingly very compatible with Oval’s minimal and abstract music and its tone. It left me a really strong impression on me.
After several meetings with Miki, we decided to make music videos as a collaboration project between dancer Miki Orihara and music group mishmash *. We invited a vocalist called NNS (currently inactive) and recorded the songs in Tokyo. Then I, as a producer, had a really hard time deciding whom to ask to shoot these music videos. Miki, Adam, and Chelsea all lived in New York or nearby, so naturally we were thinking about shooting our videos there. I would think about ideas for the videos, looking at DANCERS AMONG US, a photography book of pictures of dancers striking various poses in otherwise normal, everyday-life scenes in New York.
That was early 2013, and one online video was going viral then. It was a video by augment5, a Tokyo-based, young creator team. (The team’s Chief Producer Mr. Ino was only 29 years old then.) Its stylish footage of places in Japan such as Kusatsu and Shikotsuko and its speedy tempo caught a number of people’s attention. People said that the video was a great reminder of the beauty of rural landscapes in Japan. I was very impressed to learn that the video was done by Japanese people because their choice of theme and style didn’t appear typically Japanese.
As I watched their video, I started thinking; “Maybe we should have dancers dance in a Japanese landscape like this.” I thought that our video would be even more appealing for audience outside of Japan if we shoot it in Japan, and I became convinced that it needed to be filmed by augment5. Luckily, we had a person on our mishmash * production team who knew the musician who worked with augment5. So it wasn’t that hard for us to get in touch with augment 5.
Augment5 had, however, become quite popular after their video went viral. Their clients at the time included major corporations such as Google, and they kept receiving offers from other companies. I remember I was very eager at the first meeting with augment5 as I wasn’t sure if they would be interested. Please check out what our collaboration generated in the end.
“Reach out until you can feel me. Hold tight.”
Needless to say, from ballet, jazz, to EDM, music and dance are inseparable. The late Eiichi Ohtaki (Japanese equivalent of Phil Spector) decided to use Masayuki Suzuki as the vocalist for a song, Kinen Ondo (Quit smoking dance), from his album, Let’s Ondo Again (1978). This was before Suzuki debuted as a member of the funk/R&B band, CHANELS (later changed its name to RATS & STAR). At first Suzuki was reluctant, saying, “Ondo…? Really?” as Ondo is Japanese traditional folk music which has never been popular among young people. Eventually Ohtaki convinced Suzuki by saying, “Ondo is legitimate Japanese dance music.” When I heard this episode between Ohtaki and Suzuki, it really broadened the scope of dance music in my mind. mishmash * Miki Orihara is our own approach to dance and dance music.