Text: Alec Coiro
Image supplied by the artist
Logan Takahashi recent released his first solo album, NoGeo. If you haven’t heard it yes, why not go ahead and put it on right now while you read. It’s the kind of electronic album where you learn something from listening to it. Indeed, Logan says he initially conceived of the tracks on the album as “etudes” for himself to “learn different styles of composing and producing.” Obviously NoGeo grew into something much bigger than etudes and worthy of further investigation, so I sat down with Logan over chicken parms to find out more.
If the aforementioned “etudes” sound suspiciously academic, that’s no accident. Logan is a conservatory trained electronic musician, studying electronic music at Oberlin. “We were kind of like the weirdos in the basement of the conservatory.” Apparently, studying electronic music at Oberlin isn’t all fun, games, and twisting dials. “I had to do 2 years of composition modules. For those first two years I was only allowed to notate.”
If you know Logan from his band Teen Girl Fantasy, you may know all about his academic background already, as he and Teen Girl collaborator Nick Weiss met their first week at Oberlin. Logan describes Teen Girl as “not too far away” from the sound of his solo work. “They both branches of the same tree. Not that it’s as hierarchical as a tree,” he adds. Interestingly, though, the Teen Girl Fantasy project which began at Oberlin, was sort of a naughty endeavor in the eyes of the professors. “I was making Teen Girl music at the same time as I was doing school work but kind of compartmentalized the two. Anything pop referencing was considered not serious, taboo even. I realized later that a lot of the [academic electronic music] actually shares a lot in common with ASMR.”
One of Logan’s most foundational influences in the world of electronic music and the basis for the name of his album is Ryuichi Sakamoto, who you might be aware of from his film scoring work for movies like “The Revenant” and “The Last Emperor,” but who Logan remembers for the Japanese experimental movement he founded with his album NeoGeo in the mid ‘80s. “It was that album and the musical movement around that album of Japanese producers who incorporated a lot of the new technologies of the time. A lot of the music has aged really well. It sounds really fresh and cool. They used the first samplers like the Fairlight: a computer with a keyboard that has a recognizable way of chopping up a vocal that you’d probably recognize.” (Fairlights were subsequently used by everyone from Def Leppard to R.E.M.) Logan himself is a big fan of instruments like the Octatrack and the Monomachine made by the Swedish company Elektron. “They should sponsor me, I’ve shouted them out so many times.” For his live shows Logan uses three sequencers, which he refers to as boxes. There are no actual keyboards involved “I’m not doing any keyboard solos for this.”
Logan currently also DJs the Purple Trax party at Bossa Nova Civic Club. “We play weird techo, and usually have at least one live act at each. I find myself playing jungle a lot of times. I feel like there’s a new Bushwick techno attitude about playing strict techno, and it’s fun to break that.” Ultimately, though, he prefers live performance to DJing, although he sees a connection between the two. “I like playing live because it demands more attention than DJing. You’re more functional as a DJ; People are more willing to pay attention when you play live.”
Logan’s last live show was June 4th at the Queen’s Museum, but we’re looking forward to more.