TFword in Conversation With Azumai

The Japanese producer, after his full debut on ProgRAM Records, had a chat with us about his ‘Festima’ EP, his influences, plans for the year and lots more.

There are few artists in drum & bass who, despite the genre’s breakneck speed, deliver a journey with their music – an artform Azumai discovered early in his career as a producer. The Japanese producer, who is now based in London, brings a wide range of styles in his music while offering the perfect dose of atmospheric and heavy duty bass music.

Azumai made his official debut in 2021 when he collaborated with fellow Japanese producer Mountain on ProgRAM Records. He is now back on the label to make his full debut with the ‘Festima’ EP, which is an exhibition of the sounds Azumai has been experimenting with. Four tracks loaded with pace, power, and rhythm; the EP is a proper package.

Following his release, we wanted to know more about Azumai’s diverse drum & bass wizardry. We sat down with him for a candid chat, and here is what he had to say:

TFword: Hey, thanks very much for taking the time to chat with us. How do you look back at 2022?
AZUMAI: Cheers for having a chat with me! I relocated to London in 2022, and it was quite the year of experiences. And I met more musicians and have lots of new music waiting to be shared.

TF: For the people who are new to your music. Tell us a little about yourself?
AZUMAI: I’m originally from Japan, but now based in London. My focus is on drum’n’bass, but I also incorporate unconventional beats in my productions, which I perform as a DJ. My tunes incorporate elements of darkness, experimentation, and tribalism, amongst others.

TF: A smashing EP on RAM Records to begin the year and each track is a tune and half. How long was the EP in the works?
AZUMAI: Some of the ideas for this EP have been in the works for a long time. But the final version of “Ah Eh,” which is included in this EP, was done within a week after I started working on it.

TF: What inspired you to name your EP Festima?
AZUMAI: As I was crafting the beat that would eventually form the backbone of this tune, I was inspired by the African mask festival “Festima” for which the song is named. It features a brisk tribal rhythm and a lively percussion melody.

TF: The EP also marks your second outing on the label. How would you like to describe the experience of working with a drum & bass behemoth like RAM Records?
AZUMAI: There are many more notable young producers today than before COVID. Especially the historic Ram Records and ProgRAM catalogs, they are filled with both legendary artists and talented young producers. In that lofty place, I am honored that my tunes were chosen for release.

The first release I had on ProgRAM was co-written with Mountain & Maozon, but this time I think I was able to show more elements of my production by releasing a solo EP.

TF: Whose inspired your music the most?
AZUMAI: Growing up, I listened to a wide range of music, and as a shamisen player myself, I was exposed to traditional Japanese and classical music. However, after discovering rock, I was particularly influenced by acts such as KOAN Sound, Pendulum, and Skrillex.

TF: Outside of electronic music, what can we find you doing?
AZUMAI: After COVID, I worked as a sound-technician in a London club called XOYO. Currently, I am traveling around the world and trying various things. I drive boats, do marketing, and all sorts of other stuff, so give me a shout if you see me!

TF: What are Azumai’s plans for 2023?
AZUMAI: Whilst I plan to continue making music and performing gigs, I also aim to impart my knowledge via social media and explore more imaginative ways to convey the emotions and visions that I experience.

Listen to Azumai’s ‘Festima’ EP here:

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