Billain: 10 things about Japanese culture
Living through the unimaginable reality of war in his home city of Sarajevo instilled a sense of the sometimes warped and surreal nature of humanity within Billain. His experience through this time melded with the diverse and unusual influences of his youth; comprising figures such as Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Katsuhiro Otomo and the amorphous brooding music from numerous Anime movies. He found his first expression of the exploration of his own ideas through visual arts – sketching and painting them into existence. However, it soon became apparent to him that the visual medium was not enough by itself; and in 1997 Billain started to explore the realms of music production, with the intention of further enabling the transcription of his complex vision into reality. Schooling himself in the techniques and theories of music production led him initially to Techno; with influences coming from a variety of sources, including Iannis Xenakis, Stockhausen, Aphex Twin, The Prodigy and early Metalheadz releases. But again, after producing several hundred Techno tracks, he found himself tracked within the confines of the genre and started to itch for something different. Everything changed upon hearing Ed Rush & Optical’s legendary ‘Wormhole’ LP – merging successfully the worlds of Techno and DnB. Finally, Billain’s direction had changed forever.
In the year 2000, Billain became a part of the legendary Sarajevo DnB collective known as ‘Kontra’. This entity brought some of the finest artists in DnB history to his country for the first time – including Matrix & Optical, Optiv, Teebee, Stakka and Skynet, Corrupt Souls and many more. His own DnB production started to emerge around this time, initially just for his own enjoyment and development. But after a tragic hardware failure, and the loss of his work to that point, he set to reinvigorating his creative process – exploring new and exciting sounds and re-emerging on the other side stronger than ever. His creative vision and complex sound design started to get noticed by major companies such as New York’s Q Department; which led to him taking on new film, documentary and advertising projects.
As a result of his ever-increasing internet exposure, the world started to awaken to the fresh and unusual sound of Billain. Initial signings and 12” releases came on DnB labels Breed and
C2D, and after further development of his sound; he grabbed the attention of established Dutch labels Syndrome Audio, Citrus, and the London labels Rise Audio and Bad Taste. The International DnB community also started taking note, with regular plays from the likes of Tech Itch, Audio, Ed Rush, Cause4Concern, Concord Dawn, Teebee, Phace, Misanthrop and Allied amongst others.
Despite a vast number of requests for bookings and his considerable abilities as a DJ, Billain prefers to keep his sonic pursuits as his main priority; dedicating the significant majority of his time to production and hand picking the shows he plays. But this hasn’t stopped him sharing stages worldwide with artists such as Calyx, Bad Company, Phace, Black Sun Empire, Nocturnal, Loxy, Kryptic Minds, Kulak and TN1 – as well as playing high profile events such as MTV Music Depot, Red Bull showcases, Kontra, Exit Festival, Outlook and LED Festival.
In 2014, demand for Billain is reaching astronomical heights, with his ‘Colossus’ EP on Bad Taste recordings securing him airtime on BBC Radio 1, as well as his debut feature on the
world-renowned UKF platform - leading to colossal numbers of plays on Soundcloud and social media. With this release, and his previous Bad Taste ‘Machine Room (Level Two)’ release alongside Teddy Killerz and Neonlight; this year the bar is being raised to a new level.
The fact that robotics have that natural widespread culture feeling in Japan is something I appreciate a lot. From education to state of the art robotics from industrial to humanoids and entertainment; It is something that inspire us all and the world can look up to. The presence is felt in arts sciences and has a roleplay on wide scale from sumo and fight robots, to icecream servicing robots. Even on the funny side i had a lot of laughs as im enjoying watching Muda Zukuri creating her funny machines on instagram. Then there is a giant statue of gundam in Odaiba that I'm looking forward to pilot one day hahaha. On the other interesting discoveries i love to see sumo robots competition, as they are programmed in various ways to outsmart the competitor. On the inventive recycling and upcycling ideas i really like what ikeuchi products is doing.
2. Everything from Masamune Shirow and Katsuhiro Otomo
I think the centerpoint has to be Ghost in the shell 1995. This type of futuristic philosophy is of highest quality, because it portrays real intelligent questions and answers of the future world we could experience very easily. I was blessed to meet Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, the cofounder of I.G. Production. At that moment in a full circle i presented him with three copies of FiberTwist tracks that have been done with sole inspiration towards AI portrayed in deep philosophical Masamune Shirow's point of view, upscaled to a very technological depiction of artificial processing. We had a 3 signed vinyl giveaway. The track itself is made of complext patterns in spectrograph showing joining of dna strands evolving into a new transcendence form. On the other side we all know what impact has Akira done to the animation industry, a dark future prediction with brinks of hope, and humanity in the center of it all. And as still grow older, I get back to enjoy more and more details.
3. Artistic Synaesthesia - Ken Ishii Extra by Koji Morimoto
I have discovered Ken Ishii's works through the single Extra that has been made by Koji Morimoto of Studio 4°C. It was a very unique experience to have such videos for electronic music at the time, that is done in such a good abstract ways and connects with music and it still holds strongly to test of time. I also enjoyed later works of Studio 4°C in "Genius party" series. Of course.
4. Fashion - Teatora
Between chaotic predictions and utopian efficiency stands a japanese brand that totally surprised me. Teatora stands for everything one would expect the future has to offer in clothing. Intelligent simplification of clothing is just visible on every single thread of decisions and materials; And most of their clothing even their shop in Tokyo and musical mood looks like something out of Blade Runner series. The unique scifi magnetic hooks for clothing are made by amazing friend designer Yuta Tobari of 1000 toys. Which brings me to industrial design of wide application.
5. 1000Toys and Tsutomu Nihei.
Being able to work with these amazing people is another blessing. The level of design put into figurines requires tremendous thinking out of the box to invent something that haven't been around before, and then to reinvent it, refine it until it becomes an entity that turns designer's heads in terms of quality and new ideas, but also it tells a story. Yuta Tobari and 1000toys does just that.
On top of everything, they worked with Tsutomu Nihei and Kojima Productions, Produced Hellboy, and keep giving amazing creations every year. This type of design has the biggest ripples in Japan compared to the rest of the world, as the scale of it is just quite unmeasurable by the level of production for each anime and hobby enthusiasts of any kind.
The language to me is something that I was always attracted to, and I still wants to learn it seriously. I was always attracted to this very efficient and scholar feel to it, it seems quite visible and technical and it seems that is perfectly placed in various suiting ways. I don't really feel this with many other languages. Probably because I am a technical person in search for technicalities. This is probably why i was able to memorize so many Japanese words just by watching so much media, and i haven;t even started learning. This was quite useful when I was in Tokyo for the first time.
7. Art and work appreciation
I feel that in Japan If you are doing and working hard on something, it will be respected. You will get a feedback, and it will be followed and taken seriously. I don't know to what level I might be wrong because I don't live in Japan, but it certainly is more respected than in Europe - in percentage I might say everything is 60% more respected. People are curious about the work, and because of that people from different fields are more open to various collaborations, therefor people collaborate more and this brings more interesting results in every corner of art. I had my first release in Japan on Kaizan recordings with my friend Masanori Dama AKA McD2, and I was very thankful for this friendship.
8. Nature appreciation
Not many cities have understood how much nature is important, and how nature works in favour of inventing new things. Often i get out of my studio just to excite my senses by a smell of forests in the hills above my city. It keeps me focused on the complex works that I have in the studio. I also draw a lot in nature. This is why I really like parks and shrine areas in Japan because people are aware by being educated through generations to know what important role nature has in dense urban environments and beyond. I visited lifework in home of Fumio Asakura that is a museum in Taito shows it best how his natural garden surrounding give results to his works.
9. Games and Game developers Yoko Taro and Hideo Kojima.
There is so much to say how the best writers shifted from films to games, as game became a new nest of original stories, the game themselves became movies that started giving more to the audience than just being films. Yoko Taro is one of them with amazing world of Nier Automata who consumed your empathy for the machines that you never wanted to leave the realm.
And then Hideo Kojima did something else as well with Death Stranding, by being creatively free finally to bring his dreams to life in his own production company. On top of writing their game marvels as movies, both of them understood the importance of music in it. This gave result to some of the most amazing and immersive games people have ever experienced.
10. Copic markers and Pigma.
I can't thank enough for the existence of various markers and art materials that made my creative process easier from drawing to design. I'm still always drooling in front of big stack of copic markers. Last time i was in Tokyo, i bought 2 years worth of copic markers to secure my working area. I bought some brushes as well. The whole journey in Tokyo gave me so much inspiration to draw that I got new commissions for artworks for various labels to finish.