Hugo Noguchi: “An art that only reaffirms differences is not only welcome, but necessary”

Still in 2021, Hugo Noguchi, known for his work as a bassist for bands such as Ventre, Posada eo Clã and SLVDR, released his first solo album, entitled Humanities. In 20 tracks, which had been developed since 2018, the album brings references ranging from Taoism to Greek mythology, through games and animations, as he explains in this interview with Pave Music.

Music Pavê: The album brings a good mix of organic, electric and electronic music. Are you the one who controls all the instruments and created all the beats, or do you have some collaborations in these creations?

Hugo: First of all, thank you very much! I composed, produced, arranged, performed and mixed everything, I just didn’t take care of the mastering (made by the great Ramiro Mart, a sound engineer who works more in the field of rap). As an author, I came to the conclusion that I don’t intend to compose music as its own medium, but linked to other forms of making art. In this discourse, the relationship with video is the first thing that comes to people’s minds, but I was thinking of other media that have always talked about music, but a little less obvious and expensive than music videos and movies, for example. So as I read again during the pandemic, I thought of the work as the writing of a book, the songs being chapters, like a big book with short chapters, which fits in with this loneliness in the making. This also fits with the limited dating of those years, so concept and circumstance complement each other.

MP: The reference in Japanese culture is easily identified, even by the use of ideograms as the titles of some songs. But I also noticed the use of poems in haiku format. Was it already your practice to write them, or were they created for the album?

Hugo: I will separate the answer here between two points, the use of nihongo and the writing format.

Regarding the first one, I used it mostly in the names of some songs, to synthesize the feeling of the songs (rain, sky, mother, me) or to reference personal symbols (good morning, hana nirá) or Japanese symbols that I like and that flee a little of the common admiration here, like a monster (kappa) and a slightly less award-winning movie by Miyasaki (lives in the wind). The ones that have a Japanese name, but that I used the romanji was on purpose to facilitate understanding (references to Naruto and kintsugui).

With regard to haiku, I believe that this impression comes from having reread the Tao Te Ching during that period, and perhaps this influence has appeared in the way I expressed myself, albeit unintentionally. I never studied and practiced haiku, and I consider Greek mythology, German and North American literature and little Italian literature to be the main objective inspiration in writing this record, not counting my own experience and less literary symbols such as animations, games, etc. So why: the haikai belong more to a tradition of Zen Buddhism (which drinks a lot of Taoism in theory); some letters are freer of meaning and form; and of course, due to my ancestry (delivered by phenotype), I think this association is made, which I find very interesting. And it could also be that something Zen stuck with me from my teenage readings.

MP: Could you talk a little about the album title Humanities, its meanings and subtleties?

Hugo: It’s a chapter of The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann. A book I read as a kid and I’ve known since then that it would be the name of my first album. It would be something like a study of the humanities, which the record tries to do a little bit. I proposed to show a little of my worldview, because I believe it’s cool to show more than one dimension of a Japanese-Brazilian experience, and because of the desire to write from a point that is also universal and not just my particularity, than differs me from the numerical majority of people in that country. An art that just reaffirms differences is not only welcome but necessary, but I believe that it has its limitations and I have been inspired by artists who present their difference as a universal experience, as opposed to the place where the world works. put. Therefore, I resorted to European symbols too, something like a Trojan horse where I present my universality from the pseudo-universality of someone else.

On a more literal level, the entire book is set in a TB retreat, and this is the chapter where Hans starts studying when he goes into quarantine in it, before the bullshit from the rest of the world calls him back. So I think there is an identification of moments there.

MP: The album has been built for about three years now, but what is the impact of the pandemic on it?

Hugo: I think I’ve already answered a good part of this question in the previous answers? (laughs) The pandemic is present both artistically and in the way it is made, this thing of being locked in my thoughts… It also gave me a sense of urgency to finish and release, believing that the public’s attention is divided with a thousand other issues in this context so crazy, and that the “windows” of release are getting smaller.

MP: How do you intend to take this work to the stage? Will it have a band format or imagine yourself playing live?

Hugo: I’ll be quite honest, I’m still in doubt if I’ll start putting together the gig with this material or sit down and produce another record, this time not alone. I’ve already gone back to composing and there are leftovers from that album that are ready to be released in the next one. But I’m definitely not going up on stage alone. At first I want to assemble a trio, me, plus a piano/keyboard and drums, it’s already known, but I still need to act. I want to do something like Bird (Charlie Parker) used to do, which Miles later continued, thinking about songs in themes and playing with the musicians’ musicality, without structuring the songs’ forms too much. This current uncertainty is badass… And I foresee a very chaotic year.

MP: Sorry, but I couldn’t get away from that question: what about Ventre?

Hugo: (Laughter) Imagine, fine! Look, it’s hard for me to answer for the whole being only one third, but I can guarantee that a lot of music will still come from the three of us. In the present, our musicality continues in our projects, but I cannot answer for the future. If the desire is aesthetic, probably Gabriel’s record that’s coming here should fulfill that desire, but I can’t say the same about mine. Larissa’s work is also something else and it’s very interesting. As for me, I have sought to tell my own story, build and play with new languages. In a few years in this, I’ve already noticed a kind of strangeness with this path of mine, but inside I’m very satisfied. And I feel like I’m just getting started.

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