Interview: Shin-Ski (of ShinSight Trio)

No one expected it, but this year ShinSight Trio was all of a sudden back with a sophomore release to ‘Shallow Nights, Blurry Moon’. Emcee Insight, producer Shin-Ski and dj/producer RYOW did it again: their second full length album ‘Somewhere Beyond The Moon’ is an incredible jazz-influenced release. We hooked up with Japanese producer Shin-Ski to talk about the new album.

Music: ShinSight Trio – Teamwork 

Since you live far away from each other, can you give us some insights in the process of how ShinSight Trio creates music?

It’s pretty simple, actually. I usually send Insight beats over the internet, and he sends me acapellas back. So we use modern technology such as e-mail, Skype and phone to communicate and to create music. 

How did you guys meet and why did you decide to work together as a collective?

I met Insight through my friend DJ Real back in 2002, when I was living in USA. We got along very well, so that’s why we decided to work together.

Fans who’ve heard your first album and still gotta check the new release: what can they expect when they press play, compared to the previous release?

I had a strong tendency to add more futuristic sounds over samples while I was making the beats. I guess that’s a big difference between this one and the previous one. I didn’t want my beats to be sounding just sampling sounds which I did on the previous one.

The jazzy hip hop scene in Japan is incredible, but ‘jazz hop’ is kind of -let’s say- overlooked in the US. Why do you think jazz-orientated hip hop is so popular in Japan and not so much in the US?

Honestly, I don’t know why it’s so popular in Japan and not so much in the USA. I think that listeners in Japan are more interested in listening to beats rather than lyrics, just because English lyrics are indirect to most of the people in Japan. 

Also, they like somewhat catchy melodies over dance orientated drums. I think that’s one of the reasons why it is so popular in Japan. If we would have the right publicity in the USA, it may make a difference. But again, I have no clue. But I know there are a lot of people that are fond of my beats so I am okay with that.

Honestly I feel like the Japanese hip hop scene is kind of isolated: lots of releases are Japan-only, labels (i.e. Jazzy Sport) spread mailing lists only in Japanese… Stuff like that. How do you feel about that?

It is pretty awkward for me because our music should be more spread to the world. Not only my music, but other great producers and artists from Japan as well. But it doesn’t seem to happen yet.

Personally I would love to break through in the US, Europe and other countries. But we don’t have any way to promote our music there, and we don’t get to go out and do live shows either. I think these reasons goes out to every producer/artist in Japan.

When I Google your debut album, the second result is a download to it. How do you feel about bootlegging and in what way does it influence you as an (independent) artist?

Well, it really sucks. I know downloading music is easy and free, but people have to realize that just downloading music and not buying is killing artists. If this stays this way, eventually no one is gonna make real good music anymore. There will be only commercially successful music left. I don’t deny that downloading is good for references, but if people like what they hear on that reference, they should buy it.

What about your own musical collection (digital and physical)? Can you give our readers a taste of your archives (vinyl, MP3s, cds, etc)?

I am a vinyl and CD addict. I would like to stick with those. I listen to digital MP3s on my Ipod, but only when I am outside of my house. I just love to have the physical feeling that vinyl records and CDs gives me.

Last year we unfortunately had to say goodbye to a true legend, Nujabes. Can you tell something about how he inspired/influenced you as an artist?

I knew him personally. We used to have drinks together, so losing him left a big hole in my heart. Although we were looking at different directions, I believe that we had the same roots in music that we shared.

His absence is a tragic to the music scene.

We love to hear about talented artists who the majority of people doesn’t know yet. Can you give us recommendations of unknown artists who we have to keep an eye on?

Well, our partner DJ RYOW a.k.a Smooth Current is a great DJ and a talented producer as well.  My old partner DJ Real (Martiangang) who produced Dagha’s album Divorce‘ is just crazy good. Love his beats so much and I need to hear more of his beats!

Lots of our readers are (beginning) artists and they look up to artists like you. Shin-Ski, can you please give these producers motivating advice/tips? And Insight, can you do the same for upcoming emcees?

Well, I still consider myself as a developing artist, so I don’t wanna be a big mouth. But what I learned from my experiences: Just keep doing what you love to do. If there’s no love, it never gets better. If you like someone’s beats, study them in very small details and try to recreate them as they would do, but never forget to add your own spice too. If you keep doing that, eventually you will have your own sound – I believe.

What can we expect of you guys, when it comes to solo releases, collaborations and maybe even more ShinSight related music?

We will be working on a next ShinSight Trio LP. The beats are done, so I’m just waiting for Insight to finish up his lyrics and soon we will be wraping up a new LP. I am also producing my friend’s group Midicronica‘s entire album, which is more dance orientated music. It is totally different from what people have been hearing from me, but since I joined them as a character that represents my alter ego, I decided to do different things.

More info: ShinSight Trio / Shin-Ski
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