Podcast 748: Asta Hiroki
Modern, soulful electronica form Cyprus.
Podcast 748: Asta Hiroki
Modern, soulful electronica form Cyprus.
Asta Hiroki, from Brighton, on the south coast of England, came onto our radar through his submissions to our XLR8R+ member portal. Drawing from a diverse palette of styles including modern jazz, electronica, and abstract hip-hop, he builds layered compositions of soulful electronica, which are typically nuanced and deep. In 2016, British label Jalapeno Records signed four of his original tracks for the Balance EP, including two featuring the Australian songstress Kathrin deBoer. After several more singles with the label, he reemerged last year, having moved to Cyprus, with his debut album, Entropy, a cohesive record rooted in contemporary jazz and hip-hop. Though Asta Hiroki maintains his own aesthetic, you can broadly file his work next to the likes of Teebs, Flying Lotus, James Blake.
While he works on his second album, Asta Hiroki has put together an XLR8R podcast, on which he wanted to “really introduce my musical world,” he says. Style-wise, then, you can expect muscular bass sounds, colorful Fender Rhodes chords, delicate organic textures, and intricate sound design. As with his production work, there are knowing nods to the Los Angeles beat scene, the Bristol bass sound, and London’s jazz upstarts. And, as the mix moves through its left-field beats, downtempo electronica, and even ambient, it also nods to Asta Hiroki’s past, with the inclusion of his first ever composition, and looks to the future with unreleased material from himself and other artists signed to Folded Music, his own label.
01. What have you been up to recently?
Recently, music-wise I’ve been busy in the studio writing the second Asta Hiroki album, which I hope to get out next year, and I’ve been finishing off a collaborative Asta Hiroki EP with Tristan de Liege. But the bulk of my time has been spent running my label, Folded Music, which has been averaging two or three releases a month, so a lot of effort has been invested in building that. Aside from that, I am preparing to move back to the UK in a few months, from Cyprus, where I’ve been based for the last two years.
02. What have you been listening to?
Well, I am listening to a wide range of music on a daily basis. I’m obviously bumping all the Folded artists and their various projects because I am a fan of them: Catch92, Fthmlss, FLOCKS, and Bon-Psy; they’re all stellar musicians. You can hear them all in the mix and make your own mind up!
Aside from this crew, I’m enjoying the sounds of Megiapa, a soulful beats producer and vocalist from Chicago. There’s also a producer from Leipzig going by the moniker |||||||||||||||||||| (I believe it’s pronounced “barcode”) who makes sublime and intricate esoteric work that has many layers.
Recently, I’ve been working with Arms and Sleepers so I have been digging into their work a lot, and Move78 in Germany have impressed me with their jazz-inflected live hip-hop sound that goes outside the usual confines of the genre. Marley Carroll has sent me a couple of great UK dance-influenced tracks, too, that are going to be big, I think—they have a nice balance between classic and modern influences. Also, I’m loving the work of a Polish producer I’ve been supporting: PAWELG. He makes hazy and psychedelic electronica beats with a hint of Flylo!
I usually update what I’m listening to and working on in this playlist.
03. How did you get into music?
I was exposed to early ’90s dance and electronica as a child via my mum’s tape cassettes on the way to swimming lessons, so I enjoyed a lot of that material from a young age. Despite always listening to a lot of different music, as a teenager I was a decent guitarist, bass player, and pianist, mostly concerned with bands, but I developed a strong interest in the output of labels like Ninja Tune, Warp, The Leaf Label, and Mo Wax, I think mainly because I was excited by the possibilities of what sounds were achievable outside of a regular band setup. There was no watershed moment when I was suddenly into electronic music, but my interest definitely intensified from my mid-teenage years onwards, around the same time I was attracted to production.
04. What is it that appeals to you about music?
There’s a Basquiat quote: “Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time.” This really resonates with me.
On the creative side of music, you are the decorator that can influence the mood in a moment, or even throughout a lifetime. It’s a beautiful responsibility that is so wide-ranging and offers so many options.
As the experiencer it’s equally exciting to be taken on a journey for a few minutes, or however long, and to appreciate how it makes you feel, or just to be lost or immersed in something else. It can be both a basic joy, or deeply moving. For me it is a life-long love that won’t fade!
05. When and where did you record this mix?
The mix was recorded in Nicosia, Cyprus between April and May 2022.
06. Where do you imagine it being listened to?
Interesting question. I could see this being a mix for a long walk, a bus or train ride, or some kind of journey. It travels various styles and BPMs, and I feel that gives the mix a journey-like feel in my mind. Equally, though, you could listen to it in your room at night and let the music do the travelling for you!
07. How did you go about choosing the tracks that you’ve included?
For this mix I wanted to cover a lot of ground to really introduce my musical world to XLR8R. Style-wise it spans left-field beats, abstract hip-hop, nu jazz, downtempo electronica, ambient, and everything in between. There is a nod to my past with the inclusion of the first ever Asta Hiroki composition and a look to the future with unreleased material from myself and three other Folded Music acts. First and foremost, I’m a fan of all the artists on the roster so there is a healthy amount of sounds from our catalogue, among works from labels I have looked up to for a long time, as well as a couple from my hometown in Brighton!
08. How does it compare to what we might hear you play out?
It’s not dissimilar to what I would spin on my Radio D59B radio show, but for live audio-visual shows there is more of a focus on groove, whether that’s with more hip-hop beats or more dance-oriented electronica. And there would definitely be less ambient material in the set list than there is in this mix!
09. What’s next on your horizon?
I have an Asta Hiroki x Tristan de Liege EP coming this year with the first single scheduled for September. Finishing off the second album is an ongoing task for me right now. I’m enjoying how that is shaping up but it will likely be a few months before I’m there on that.
Folded Music has a packed schedule which will put us over 30 releases deep by the end of the year so that will continue to be a primary focus for me. We have our first vinyl release coming in August or September with the FLOCKS album You Were Probably Younger Then, which is something I look forward to getting my hands on. Once I’m back and settled in the UK, I’ll be looking at Asta Hiroki live bookings again and planning next year on all fronts. There’s no rest for the wicked!
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Full XLR8R+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.
01. Catch92 “Wake” (Folded Music)
02. Green Tee “Dispatch” (Folded Music)
03. Agosta “Don Alfio” (Space Is The Place)
04. Bugseed “Stronger Far” (Raund Haus)
05. FLOCKS “find, fix, finish” (feat. Ben Sloan & Brianna Kelly) (Folded Music)
06. Koushik “Welcome” (Stones Throw)
07. Tsaik “Hera” (Lost Tribe Records)
08. Fthmlss “Treks” (Aviary Bridge Records)
09. Arms and Sleepers “If I Had Drowned, I Would Be Here” (Future Archive Recordings)
10. Teis Ortved “Cliff” (Bathurst)
11. Kaukolampi “Part VIII” (Wejazz)
12. Asta Hiroki x Tristan de Liege “Swim” (Folded Music)
13. Actress “Walking Flames” (feat. Sampha) (Ninja Tune)
14. Anchorsong “Breathe” (Tru Thoughts)
15. Godriguez “Max Lush Carlos” (La Sape)
16. Asta Hiroki “Her Image In Focus” (feat. Kathrin deBoer) (Jalapeno Records)
17. Four tet “She Moves She” (Domino Recordings)
18. Bugseed “Intaglio” (Raund Haus)
19. Inwards “Mouse” (Small Pond Recordings)
20. Agosta “Ilice” (Space Is The Place)
21. Bon-Psy “Order” (Folded Music)
22. Gold Panda “You.” (Ghostly International)
23. Rival Consoles “Recovery” (Erased Tapes)
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