Ahead of Hinako Omori’s highly anticipated UK tour starting next week, which includes her biggest headline show to date at London’s ICA, we caught up with the London-based ambient and electronic artist; exploring her creative process, fascination with surrealist art and the immersive, introspective journey of her latest album stillness, softness…
What sparked your initial interest in synthesisers, and how do they influence your approach to songwriting?
My music technology teacher at college, Lloyd, was (and still is!) an analogue synth maestro – I was definitely inspired by him, and it was a really lovely introduction into the world of synths.
In terms of creating, I usually start by experimenting with synths to see what comes out in the particular headspace I’m in that day – record everything – and at a later date I revisit the recordings and assemble the layers together like a collage, seeing how they might fit together.
In your latest album stillness, softness…, you explore themes of inner healing and embracing discomfort. How did these themes shape the creative process behind the album?
I think the themes became clearer to me after the album was finished – I guess the album is a sonic map of what I was figuring out within myself at that time. Thematically it explores our shadow sides, a quest to shine a light on the darkness and seek inner resolution – it’s a continuous album from start to finish, a stream of consciousness, with each song representing a memory “room” connected to each other by neural corridors.
This record explores perhaps more ‘abrasive’ sonics at the beginning, representing sides of ourselves that may have been ignored or suppressed and highlighting the challenges of the quest which are processed throughout the album, embracing these in order to heal. The hope is that towards the end, a sense of peace and stillness is reached within ourselves.
The album artwork for stillness, softness… features an amazing cyanotype print inspired by Man Ray, could you share more about the artwork and its connection to the music?
Thank you so much! I’m fascinated by surrealist artists, in particular the beautiful work of Man Ray, for a long while – I love Man Rays’ ‘rayographs’, and through this I discovered cyanotype printing. I loved the idea that an object placed on the cyanotype paper can leave a stronger image on the paper when left for longer under a UV light, and thought there was an interesting similarity in our thought patterns and neural processes – by focusing and redirecting our thoughts we can create new neural pathways in our brains, with the repetition of these thoughts creating stronger paths.
I’m very honoured to have collaborated with two dear friends for the album artwork – Luca Bailey, who took the cover photo, and Emi Takahashi, who cyanotype-printed the photograph and designed the artwork. I’m such a huge fan of their creations and their vision, and it was such an inspiring process working with them both.
Continuing the theme of each song on the album being a ‘memory room’, I wanted to assign a specific meaningful ‘object’ to each song/room, echoing the Surrealist influence of the use of everyday objects – these are printed inside the vinyl and cd covers, and also on the single artwork.
What do you enjoy most about performing live, and how does it compare to your process of creating music in the studio?
I think the current live show and the studio process are quite similar, in a way that both leave room for experimentation – I really enjoy experimenting with hardware live to keep things as fluid as possible, and I feel it also allows us to be fully present in the moment.
What do you hope your audience take away or feel after experiencing one of your live shows, and are there any special surprises fans can look forward to on this tour?
I hope that it might provide a space for connection and openness with each other, sharing through our emotions, and finding a sense of peace and stillness together. It’s such an honour to have the opportunity to share music, and I’m so grateful for this tour experience.
Hinako Omori’s UK tour starts at Alphabet, Brighton on 29th November and culminates at ICA, London on 2nd December. Tickets are available here.
Follow Hinako Omori