Thursday 30 January 2020

I have been listening and compiling all the music I have written for Be Water. Between the music that is featured in the film and the music that has been rejected (we will call it 'music inspired by'), it is quite a cool soundtrack that I have now. Add this to what Goh Nakamura composed and I say yay!

Monday 27 January 2020

(No) Holiday - Celebrate (what?)

I think I can officially say that ... I can now have a well deserved break from work. Two months. I don't know when was the last I actually had a real holiday - or went on holiday. A decade ago perhaps... But after three intense years, seven long feature films, two albums, two art installations and two short films, I think that not to have to compose a single note for a certain given time is what I need.
Whether I go on holiday (unlikely) is another matter. But there's Paris, soon (no holiday there, though...)

Saturday 25 January 2020

Year of the Ratata

The Year of the Piggy has just passed. 
Piggy was fast, Piggy was crazy, Piggy was mad and all over the place, Piggy was intense and Piggy never rested!
In terms of work alone, there was four long feature films: Ròm, Goodbye Mother, the Bruce Lee documentary, and Naomi Kawase's Asa ga kuru. There was an album for Ray Kang, music for Will Pham's art installation in London... There also was the Golden Melody Awards for Sam Liao's album Forgotten West. The Third Wife was being released around the world, and would face a nasty trolling campaign in Vietnam. Ròm and Goodbye Mother went to the Busan Festival and Ròm won best film, whilst facing troubles with the Vietnam government. And more and more and more music...
Some dear ones passed away, I took my parents to our first and only trip to Vietnam together, I was rushed to the ER, I met new people who brought light and joy into my life.
This could have easily filled a whole lifetime, but it all happened within one single year.

I don't know what's in store for the Year of the Ratata, but one thing is sure: with all its contradictions and imperfections, life is beaut... nah I will not use that word... Life is colourfully exciting!

Thursday 23 January 2020

Paris soon...

I just booked my flight for Paris, finally. EVA Air, direct flight. I shall arrive... soon.  
I hope the strikes in Paris will have let up by then.

A heartwarming sight: a mother reading a story for her two captivated children. 
It reminds me how my brother and I loved it when our mother would read us a story from a book we considered as keeper of magical worlds, wrapped in crystal paper. I just loved the sound it made.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Asa ga kuru 朝が来る (Comes Morning) - to be continued

I think I may have talked too fast regarding being on holiday. 

I received several emails from Naomi Kawase, telling me that she was starting to warm up to my music and that she was considering using it for her film. So far, she wants to use what I have done for the last reel, including the arrangement I did of a song by J-pop band C&K - they didn't seem to be so delighted that a total stranger re-arranged their song...
It's to her credit that she opened up to something that was totally foreign to her. I still nurture the wild hope that the whole score I wrote will be used. I did share my thoughts with her (that having two composers would like starting building a house with one architect and finishing it with another... not so good for coherence) 
Now I have to complete what I have done and add a few things I felt were still missing...
If I can say something: ALWAYS stay connected to what you believe in, and NEVER let go of your integrity. 

Monday 20 January 2020

Boy reading. 

He stepped into the cafe, a book in his hand, and sat a table as his mother was ordering breakfast for him and his little brother. He immediately opened the book and immersed himself in the story he had started to read earlier on at the public library, barely paying attention to his younger bespectacled brother who kept asking him all sorts of questions.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Saturday 18 January 2020

Thursday 16 January 2020

Tuesday 14 January 2020


One day in Hayama to see the big sky, the sea, to breathe new air, to refresh my soul. 

I still feel sad and empty inside, but the sight of the beautiful and deserted beach filled me with a sense of peace. I'm glad that Nolico was there. She's always game when it comes to visit places and explore. Her presence was soothing and uplifting.

Sunday 12 January 2020

A line from Jean Echenoz's novel Au Piano that got me laughing for a long moment, a couple of days ago. The main character is a concert pianist, talking about his agent:
"He has as much artistic sense as a yoghurt".

Friday 10 January 2020

Asa ga kuru - Asa wa konai

I guess there will be no morning coming for me with Naomi Kawase's film. We had our first live meeting together, with the producer, Roman and the translator. Roman and I had just left the studio after the screening that Naomi was supposed to attend - she requested one three days ago, to see the film complete with all the edited and mixed music. It was an impossible task for just two days, but Roman and I managed. Naomi didn't come because she was too busy between all her appointments and her ongoing restrospective at the cinematheque. If that was a bad omen... but I was so elated and enthusiastic after the screening... "I have this music in my veins now" Roman said, "I can't imagine the film otherwise".

Not even hour after I entered the meeting room, I eventually learned that Naomi thought it "difficult to go one working with me". It took me a few seconds to realise that the outcome was negative. Roman was stunned and remained speechless during the whole meeting. I was devastated inside.
"Your music isn't suitable for the Japanese audience. You don't understand my cinema. It's truly magnificent. But I'm afraid it isn't suitable for my film. It cannot touch the audience..."
Those were her damning words. I was hoping Roman would say something. Naomi trusts him. But nothing came from him. 
Tina, the editor, had told me a day before that if Naomi had been working with my music from the very beginning, there wouldn't have been any problem at all. Paradoxically, she got too accustomed to Akira's score that, even if she felt it was not deep and strong enough, she couldn't let go of her sense of familiarity with it.
My eyes locked to hers, I replied to Naomi that I knew that it must have been challenging to suddenly embrace all the new music - I have the inkling she didn't watch the whole film with the new music. I said that what all that I did was for the film's sake, and that perhaps she wasn't used to work that way with a composer. I told her that she should let it grow in her, that she should allow herself to change her mind later.
I could feel lots of confusion in the room. I really felt alone. My state of mind is leaning towards a darker shade of black. But somehow, I also knew I could be proud of what I had done, the music I composed is good. 
朝は来ない ● Asa wa konai

Thursday 9 January 2020

Asa ga kuru - TOEI studio, Day 2

Today Roman and I 'only' worked for 16 hours. Naomi Kawase asked to see the film with all the completed music tomorrow, so for two days, it has been intense rewriting, restructuring, recycling, recording, re-recording, pitching up, pitching down, editing, blending, patching, testing, deleting, cutting, and of course, composing.
I thought the Bruce Lee documentary had already quite an intense task, but this film is beyond all that I could have imagined. 
But thanks to the intense meditation I have been practicing these past days, thanks to sound in-genee-ius Roman Dymny with whom I love to work, his clam and patience, and eagerness to try anything, I managed to come up with something that looks and sounds like a completed score. 
Done in two days - I can't believe it. 
Fortunately, Naomi Kawase's film is beautiful and inspiring, so despite the lack of time, despite also working on the Bruce Lee doc, I composed and recorded most of the music fairly quickly before coming to Tokyo. However, even with the music in hand, I was still walking in a big fog until today, as Naomi kept asking for more or less, but never seemed satisfied with what she has heard. It didn't help though, that I let Roman try out the music on some scenes. I felt so overwhelmed, so I trusted him to do something good. Bad decision. I shouldn't have let him do it alone. He may be a genius sound engineer, but he is not a composer.
Anyway, we are getting somewhere. Our efficiency in the mixing room is truly astonishing. Is it really us?
There's still work to do, but another big Titan has been slayed.

But yes, I still can't believe I managed it. Right after Bruce Lee...

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Asa ga kuru - TOEI studio, Day 1

Day one at the mythical TOEI Studios in Tokyo. A place I had been dreaming to visit ever since I was a child! All the anime I watched when I was a little boy were done there. I'm very elated and excited, as one would be when stepping inside one of the big studios in Hollywood, or Cinecittà in Rom! Now I'm working here!
Lots to do and fix, lots to write and reimagine. In just two days. Just like in those fairy tales where the hero is tasked to do the impossible by the wicked witch...

I gather all my strength.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Be Water - Get out of the water

Bruce Lee documentary...
I think I can say that my work for the film is now over, after four months steaming on it in tandem with Goh Nakamura, forty plus pieces of music (on my side) composed for the project, and the past two weeks spent rewriting most of the score again because of the panel of producers who see music like mere props and who kept micro-managing Goh and I through Bao. When I think that Bao claimed that he had the final say "at least as far as the music was concerned"... the situation of being told what to do by a bunch of ignorant people isn't new. Goh and I are exasparated.
Anyway, it's the final version, and there will be my music, Goh's music, some of the pieces written together - not much, though. With all the compromises, it will not be the work I'm the most proud of, but I could still retain my style in it. I managed to slay the Titan!

Rest I should, but rest I won't, for I will fly to Tokyo tomorrow to work on Naomi Kawase's film. I need lots of luck, for the game is far from being won. 

Saturday 4 January 2020

I have been working for more than eighteen hours now... Deadline for the Be Water is coming right now.
Dead line, yes. Then freedom.
The Ròm team and their wide group of supportive friends have recently shared pieces of news from the media, who reported that it seems that Ròm will be reviewed (again) and go through the censorship commitee at the Cinema Department. However, nobody knows when the wait is over. The deadline keeps being pushed, one month, then another month and still no result. It's been nearly three months already since we came back from the Busan Film Festival. We will keep standing,  gather our spirits and strength for a positive result, also with the sincere hope that the committee will open they eyes and heart to watch the film, instead of applying rules and asking us to cut out 80% of the film after which, the film would barely make any sense at all. 
And look at us now: it isn't that we haven't suffered long and hard enough. The long wait had Ròm miss the opportunities to be selected at many important film festivals. The production company has been fined and who knows what else will happen...

Give the Ròm a chance to shine!

Thursday 2 January 2020

Bruce Lee documentary, Naomi Kawase film, Naomi Kawase film, Bruce Lee documentary, Naomi Kawase film, Bruce Lee documentary... I can barely manage anymore.
Push me from the bridge.