Nozomi Omote and Thomas Green form one of Brisbane's most eclectic musical duos; Shugorei. Their debut self titled album releases through 4000 Records on 4th March 2021 and we have the absolute pleasure of giving you a sneak peak!
Shugorei Premiere (4000 Records)
I originally caught you both at Oscillo Scape in 2019 and was just floored at the absolute uniqueness of the experience. How do you feel the spirit of the project has grown since then with nearly two years under its belt?
Firstly, thanks for being floored by our uniqueness! Seriously, that’s good to hear, because we like the idea that we’re working on something idiosyncratic. Two years is an unnervingly short time in the world of carefully-crafted music. Right now, on this album, we are releasing the sounds that we had brainstormed all the way back when we started, so that’s quite gratifying.
I expect that the major changes in our sound will start to evolve now, having reached this first milestone. But in our future I can see two new areas: more singing, and more collaboration (including more collabs with Chihiro Kasagi, who has sung for us on this album).
How does a Shugorei song usually take shape?
We’re both from a “classical music” background. Nozomi is most definitely the expert performer, where Tom had a formal training in composing. That means that Tom lays most of the groundwork, especially in the early stages.
Even so, once we’ve had a rehearsal, there is still a fair bit of room for each work to develop, and this is where our improvisation comes into play; Nozomi contributes creatively in this way. Not to mention what she brings creatively in terms of her on-stage abilities, her channeling that spirited personality through the music, which provides that entirely unique stage presence.
So Tom does the technical side of the composing and Nozomi’s main strength is her breathtaking performance technique, but Shugorei’s music is absolutely an equal collaboration.
Percussive bricolage seems to be an important piece of the Shugorei puzzle. What are some of the most unique sounds sampled on the record? How many sound sources would you estimate were used?
We both collect (or hoard) musical instruments. We also both love what you might call “sound design” or even “field recording” or “foley” in studio nomenclature, or “extended techniques” or “found sound” in the parlance of chamber music. We are both responsible for that kind of thing, and I guess that is part of what characterises Shugorei.
On this album, we have a century-old Swiss music box, a mandolin, a yangqin, angklung, gongs, Chinese cymbals, as well as floor tiles, hand bells, pad locks, marbles, power tools, hand tools, sheets of steel, wheelie bins, and on the other side of things, an array of synthesizers including a Moog Voyager, an Arturia Minibrute and Microfreak, a Elektron Maschinedrum, and then there are our guest contributions, which are cello, clarinet, bass clarinet and flute. And that’s just what we remember at the moment!
Noz, you are always so amazingly dressed for the performances. Can you touch on what this brings to the space and where you find inspiration for your outfits?
[Noz] I normally wear black tops and pants for my classical performances because I have to. However, Shugorei gives me rare opportunities to wear whatever I feel like. Shugorei’s music is coming from Tom’s sci-fi fantasy world and I want to be in it while I am playing. My outfit is kind of my space suit to be in the Shugorei world.
It is also a good excuse to do some experimental outfits such as Harajuku style, maid cafe girl style and artistic face makeup, which I never have a chance to do in my real life, especially having two little kids and being a busy mother.
What's next for Shugorei?
We want to do another album. It’s worth stating that now, because the next one may be another year or two off! We will only work in a way that means we get the result we want, even if that is slow-going. On the next album there will be slight changes in direction, but it’ll maintain the Shugorei sound overall.