Austria’s Ken Hayakawa has been a bastion of the local scene for the last 15 years plus and continues to push his own take on house and techno. We caught up with him ahead of his latest release to discuss his music and more.
Ken Hayakawa - Interview
Hi Ken, welcome to Minimal Mag! We’re very excited to have you with us; how has 2023 been for you so far?
Hello, thank you for the invitation! 2023 has been very turbulent so far. Currently, I am spending more time in the studio than ever before as I am involved in many exciting projects. It takes a lot of time, but I love it.
You come from a background in classical music. Tell us a bit about that. Do your roots play a role in your creative process today?
My mother is a music professor and an organist in the church, so I was always surrounded by music and naturally drawn to it. However, I used to hate it because I had to practice a lot and had an extra piano teacher due to my lack of discipline. This created a love-hate relationship with music shortly before puberty. But looking back, I have learned a lot and wouldn’t want to miss it.
You were born and raised in Austria and are pretty active in the scene there. How have things been since the pandemic?
At the moment, I feel like the cards are being re-shuffled in the music industry, which is very refreshing. Techno, house, and all the sub-genres that came with them were at their zenith, and now they have become mainstream. Many have sold out or allowed themselves to be exploited, which is a natural progression when money is involved. It’s a certain wave that repeats itself over and over again, with an up and down. This was also the case about 20 years ago when techno/schranz etc. hit a wall, and independent creatives reinterpreted the music and did great things. We are at this point again, and it will be extremely exciting! The pandemic has only accelerated certain processes, but in the end (from a musical point of view), they will no longer be relevant.
For your latest release, ‘Mute Air/Unity’ you return to Stripped Down Records. What’s your relationship with the label, and why is it a good home for your sound?
Stripped Down is still a very young label in comparison, but they are very committed and passionate about the subject. In my opinion, this is crucial if you want to deliver as a musician. When working with them, I feel like we are on the same page, and we develop an optimal plan together. I feel well represented by Stripped Down, and I have the freedom to express myself musically.
Does this release differ from your previous material on the label?
I see my music as a further development of my musical vision. I come from techno and have always combined it with technology, progress, and sound design. Making music is like keeping a diary tied to the zeitgeist (the spirit of the age).
What inspiration did you draw from in the studio?
My studio is constantly changing. Whenever I feel imbalanced, I like to mess around with my studio, like tuning an engine to optimize it. In the past, I developed a new workflow so that I could play my tracks in a more live-oriented way. I think you can hear it in my music; everything fits together more organically, and the arrangement became more natural as a result.
Have you got anything exciting coming up that you’d like to share with us?
I am currently in the process of making my second album, and it’s a thrilling journey!
Finally, thanks so much for joining us today! We wanted to ask, since you’re based in Vienna, what is your favourite venue in the city?
At the moment, Praterstrasse is my personal favourite club. It’s a cosy, compact club with an excellent sound system and, above all, the best room acoustics.
Thank you for having me!
Ken Hayakawa ‘Mute Air/Unity’ is out on 21st April via Stripped Down Records.
Ken Hayakawa - Links
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