Artists take on pseudonyms for a multitude of reasons, but in Zach Saginaw’s case, those reasons run deeper than most. Zach records under the name Shigeto. It’s his middle name; it’s also his grandfather’s name, a tribute to the Japanese branch of Zach’s family tree. Shigeto also means “to grow bigger”—appropriate, given Zach’s premature birth-weight of less than a pound. Today, Shigeto stands for Zach’s vividly beautiful electronic music. Beat-driven but given to richly textured sound design, rhythmically fractured but melodically sumptuous, Shigeto’s music is a bridge between the past and present, bringing the artist face to face with a creative legacy that spans decades. Shigeto gave a stunning album-release gig on the Ship in May. Now he returns to create an even bigger magic.
Artists take on pseudonyms for a multitude of reasons, but in Zach Saginaw’s case, those reasons run deeper than most. Zach records under the name Shigeto. It’s his middle name; it’s also his grandfather’s name, a tribute to the Japanese branch of Zach’s family tree. Shigeto also means “to grow bigger”—appropriate, given Zach’s premature birth-weight of less than a pound. Today, Shigeto stands for Zach’s vividly beautiful electronic music. Beat-driven but given to richly textured sound design, rhythmically fractured but melodically sumptuous, Shigeto’s music is a bridge between the past and present, bringing the artist face to face with a creative legacy that spans decades.
Chester Raj Anand has always been a precocious creative soul. At the age of six, he discovered music production when his older brother showed him software like ACID and Fruity Loops. That knowledge coalesced with a background in piano, keyboards, and jazz percussion—as well as a fascination with “really raw, scary Aphex Twin” and the “lavish creative energy of the ‘90s”—setting Anand on his path to becoming the producer we know as Lord RAJA.
Now 22, Chester lives in Red Hook, NY, the place where he grew up. “It’s a small, rural town,” he shares, “and if you’re not good at sports, there’s nothing to do at all.” Which goes to explain how he quickly immersed himself in creating electronic music: He had all the time in the world to hone his skills as a beatmaker. “I just continued to make music every day in my basement on a custom computer,” he continues. Along with a drum set, keyboards, and his grandfather’s collection of old Indian records, the young artist worked tirelessly to craft his musical identity.
2011 was a big year for Chester, as it saw him issuing his first actual releases. Under the name InfinitiRock, he contributed an installment to Asthmatic Kitty’s library music series, Intonations: Music for Primordial Recollection, a drum-focused barrage of 22 sketches exhibiting his preternatural sense of rhythm and texture. Soon afterwards, Chester changed monikers for a class project while he studied at SUNY Purchase, donning the name RAJA to release and self-promote a string of songs leading up to Halloween. His newfound interests in
Prince, R&B, video art, and sculpture gave fresh layers of inspiration to the three-part October series, but Chester was still realizing his potential. “I just wanted to make songs that sound like visuals,” he elaborates. “Help take people somewhere bigger than their standard headspace.”
A quick stint with the audio engineering program at University of Hartford and time spent living in Brooklyn continued to broaden Chester’s horizons. However, he is ultimately a producer who thrives when allowed to stay in his own head. “I was on some type of quest for sincere isolation,” admits the producer. “A lot of my thoughts were tangled with existentialism and capitalism, and what it means to be human. Kind of the big questions, but the big arbitrary questions that seem impossible to answer.” And this is where he discovered the next chapter in his story, changing his name to Lord RAJA and teaming with Ghostly for his official debut album, A Constant Moth.
“A lot of my focus was to pursue granular synthesis, trying to explore perspectives with particles,” Chester says of the music on his first Lord RAJA LP. He also talks about using “world instruments for the spiritual effect” and how spontaneity and travel invigorate his production work. Add to that list his use of tape processes, custom-made pedals and circuits, an interest in composers Jon Hassell and Iannis Xenakis, and something he calls “pirating analog sounds,” and it becomes apparent that Lord RAJA is an evolving artist with a wide-range of knowledge and abilities. His is undoubtedly a career worth keeping tabs on.
Heathered Pearls is Polish-born Brooklynite Jakub Alexander, whose career in music was deeply rooted before ever releasing his own. Curator for Tycho’s ISO50 blog, co-founder of the Moodgadget label, and A&R at Ghostly International, Alexander has been entrenched in the industry since 2002. He was first introduced to the power of ambient music by his mother at an early age, discovered techno as a teenager living in the Detroit area, and gradually learned to create his own vision of the genres.
In 2012, Heathered Pearls wrote and released his first album. Loyal mimicked the hypnotic and swelling motions of ocean waves at night with melodic, loop-based ambient music, and was well received across the board. But Alexander would only move on from there, inescapably drawn to dancefloor ideas and memories of the engrossing techno mixes he pored over as a kid. The second Heathered Pearls album, Body Complex, was conceived in that mindset—transforming Loyal's gritty, soporific textures into immaculate 4/4 figurines, glacial tone drifts, and starry synth plateaus. It's the beginning of a new phase in Alexander's ever-evolving project, the possibilities of which expand seamlessly into the realms of music, art, and performance.
In 2011, after 10 years of being a drummer in different bands he wanted to extend the usual methods of songwriting and soundscapes to catch specific moods more precisely. After finishing imPro Budapest School of Music Technology, he has met the main characters of the Budapest underground music scene and started to make DJ sets while figuring out what sounds, genres, styles fit better to his own musical vision.
After playing at all the main local clubs and at the biggest Hungarian festivals (Sziget, Volt, Balaton Sound), making remixes for well known Hungarian bands he started working on his first release. The first EP, titled 'Cold Summer', was released in 2013 and it got positive reviews from both the audience and critics in Hungary. His fan base started to grow anticipating following releases, so he spent more time on writing songs and released 2 more EP-s in 2014 titled 'City of Nobody' and 'Last Song'. All of them got featured on the biggest Hungarian music sites and got positive feedback as well.
At this point, he has already started building up his live performance show which later gave him the chance to share stage with his biggest inspirations, such as: Mount Kimbie, Caribou, Nosaj Thing, Om Unit, Synkro etc.
In the middle of the year 2014, he started a collaboration with POSSIBLE GAMES and together they worked on an adventure game for his next release. After 8 months of team work, on 2nd of March 2015, iamyank released "Lost Sounds" in an exceptional and unique way: the EP was packed with an iOS / Android adventure game titled 'Adventures of Poco Eco' which got featured on the biggest Hungarian news portal. The feedback was extremely positive: it got featured in Apple Store's 'Best New Games','Editors' Choice' and later it was in the 'Best of March' selection of the store. In the first month, hundreds of articles from all around the world were talking about the graphic and musical world of Adventures of Poco Eco. After the succesful launch party and local Spring Tour he started to plan a Western Europe Tour in July with the IAMYANK LIVE show.
Besides, in the meantime he keeps teaching music production in imPro Budapest School of Music Technology, he founded Unframed Records with AMB and he is also an active member of ASAN Art Community, a fresh member of Selected Sounds crew and teamed up with the greatest local musicians to build IAMYANK LIVE BAND.
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