SINGULAR BALANCE ON SPOTIFY
Perhaps how we feel about an event is more influenced by the events following it, rather than the actual content of the event itself. singular balance went through a few rough patches a few years back, but through that he has found his path in music, and a best friend.
singular balance is half Japanese, half American and currently 21 years old. He was born in New York but moved to North Carolina with his family when he was 13. University brought him to Tokyo at 18. He began tinkering with music during his freshman year and decided to take a gap year to focus on his music. His first single, Alive was released at the end of 2019. Since, he has launched projects with New Zealand singer-song writer Lontalius as well as solo creations such as Each Other and Bare.
This interview was recorded on voice memos whilst we were chatting at a cafe along the river bank. It was one of those days where time passed by slowly ー as cliche as that may sound. This article shares a portion of the conversations we had on record that day. Hopefully it allows a little glimpse into his music, and the mind behind it.
When did you start getting into music?
2017, 2018 ish. My friends at the skatepark were into listening to underground music on SoundCloud. The stuff was really unique and the production on the songs were really experimental. After going into university, I got more into the guitar, but it was for a fleeting moment. Then, I hurt my knee skateboarding and I was so bored because it was all I did in high school. So, I got a loop station for my guitar and started making little ambient loops with my guitar to put on the internet.
How would you describe the music you typically make?
Mmm.. electronic and alternative, I guess. I started by playing the guitar in high school and I was really into alternative rock and sad bands like Paramore and All Time Low. I still love their song, Remembering Sunday.
What’s your favorite part about being an artist?
I like getting total control over my work. I get to think about why I do music and what I want to represent in my creative endeavors. I guess this is a double edged sword, but in my experience, I’ve noticed that the songs that are really magical are made spontaneously, and those can be the most memorable. Something about it is exceptional but also haunting ー you can spend so much time on one piece of work just to listen back to it and have a gut feeling that this just isn’t ‘it’.
I think this is part of the magic of it all, but I would say it's sort of a darker kind of magic. But life is all about dualities, and a life without dualities would not be fun.
Whats your least favorite part about it?
That there’s no formula to success. It’s the idea of spending so much time on a song just to realize it’s not good. There’s no guarantee of if you put X in, you get Y out. A lot of my friends have worked on their albums for years, to still find it flawed. A lot of my new music that’s coming out soon was made in that way but I also went through so many throwaways and B-sides. I’m glad I can differentiate between the two now though ー my friend Lontalius mentored me through that. I feel so much more creatively fulfilled as an artist now and I’m so so excited for everyone to hear it all.
Why do you choose to have an artist name?
I’d feel so weird putting music out under my real name. It just wouldn’t feel right. I also honestly wouldn’t want people I know to find my music in that way. I don’t really like telling people I know about it, it’s something I kind of want to keep on the low.
Do you collaborate with others?
Yeah, I’ve made a lot of friends through music. They live all over the world. I collaborated with my friend Lontalius from New Zealand for this EP we have called ‘Alive’ that we started like a year ago. Right now, I’m producing for a rapper-artist, ATO, with two other friends ー EDEN and Steve. It’s fun working with all these guys because we’re all on the same frequency and vibe really well.
What’s your process like when you collaborate?
I work best by giving people fresh ideas to branch off of, and on the contrary, it’s harder for me to be the one expanding on an initial idea.
If your song was human, what kind of personalities do you think it would have?
Maybe shy, but someone that tries to open themselves up to people, but kinda struggles at it. I feel like this is me too. The resemblance is a cool parallel.
What is your creative process like?
I have a midi-keyboard that I connect to my computer, and I use a software called Ableton. I kind of just layer instruments together and see what sounds communicate fluidly. What I’m trying to do lately is to keep things more focused. I used to clutter a bunch of sounds together. I’m really trying to work on having fewer elements, the less is more approach. This is hard though..
The conversation stumbled upon one of his favorite books — The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. To briefly share the plot, it’s a love story between two individuals that are very much opposites in terms of their approach to life. The female character seeks a heavy life, with meaning, responsibilities and a whole lot of emotions. Alternatively, the male character seeks a life without these weights. In relation to the book, the question goes:
Do you think you’re choosing the heavy life?
Yeah. They characterize the heavy life with a life with burdens, I would rather have heavy and more meaningful relationships in my life that give me a sense of weight. I guess weight can be tied to emotions, and I want to feel a lot of emotion. To have the good, you have to have the bad as well because life is about dualities. I have been incredibly sad at certain points in my past, but I’m glad I went through them.I want my life and relationships and feelings to have more meaning - intimacy and closeness. I want to feel more connected with people because it just feels better and more raw.
How do you get your inspiration?
I try to go out and do things that will make me feel things. Talking to people, making human connections will make me feel things. If I don’t feel things, I have nothing to channel and I’ll feel blank. Making music for fun is cool but I prefer to start with a preconceived feeling that I want to get across. I hate viewing myself as a musician because that’s not what I’m doing. I don't just want to make music, I want to make worlds that people can listen to and take things and feelings from.
What was the first song you put out?
I had a lot of demos on Soundcloud from a few years ago but the first song I properly released was this song called Each Other.Following that was Alive ー a collaboration with Lontalius. It was named that because there were a lot of things in our lives that would make us feel alive. It started because I was making a song one day and I could really hear his voice on it. It felt perfect for him. He felt the same way and we were sort of freaking out about how awesome it would be, so he started recording on it, and we became friends through that.
What are some of your proudest creations?
These past few years have just been me kind of trying to get a hang of song-writing. I'm just now starting to get a tiny grasp on it. I’m the proudest of the newest things that I’ve been working on - a new EP. Lontalius mentored me through it and it’s really changed me and my outlook on being an artist.
On his new work:
The songs are special because they’re a culmination of all the past years of trying to make good music. I basically channeled all the things people have taught me, This EP is about thinking for myself and being true to myself.. It’s basically me shedding out of my skin. I’ve been feeling so misaligned with all of the music I’ve put out in the past few years except for select few songs/projects, and it’s taken a toll on me so I’m really excited about this.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Staying with your own flow and doing things that you believe in ー my friends, EDEN and Lontalius gave me this one.
It’s easiest to go with the flow when you’re with your own flow, things that are meant to come to you will organically come to you. This helps me feel at ease with my life during the harder times.