A journey with Hinako Omori who plays the Workman’s Club this Sunday


Posted 12 months ago in Article, Music, Music Features

Ahead of her upcoming Dublin show, Hinako Omori talks to Rachel Hegarty.

Hinako Omori wants you to go on a journey…

Released in 2022, a journey… is an album that provides an escape of “therapeutic frequencies, forest bathing, and binaural sound”. 

Using field recordings and synthesizers, this lockdown love letter brings the listener on an inner adventure of self-comfort, compassion and care. On a journey… Hinako tweaked the different frequencies on her recordings to further immerse and calm her listeners with a special sonic soundscape. It’s audio alchemy at work. 

Hinako’s work is heavily influenced by the healing power of our natural world. Much like nature, this is a project of happy accidents, synchronicity, patterns, the ecosystem of her collaborators and a surrender. 

Most importantly, Hinako maintains that the journey and the direction that her music takes you on is entirely of your choosing. 

The album

“My friend Oli Jacobs, who at the time was head engineer at Real World Studios, messaged me in the summer of 2020 and said we’re doing WOMAD Festival online this year – would you like to be involved? I had this opportunity to submit 40 minutes of music for this online platform and the whole idea was for it to be an immersive experience. People weren’t really able to leave their homes, so it was a headphone listening party. 

The key thing for me was to bring nature to people because I knew that people were limited in their surroundings. Because it’s a binaural recording, it makes you feel like you’re in that space. Some people might not have a garden or outdoor space and I wanted to create an environment where people could really immerse themselves in nature, wherever they were. 

“it’s a binaural recording, it makes you feel like you’re in that space”

It was synchronicity in that I’ve always wanted to go to Real World Studios and it worked out in the most beautiful way. After the festival, they said I had the rights to the music. So, I sent it to Houndstooth and they kindly took it on board.

What nature means to her  

I find nature calming for me. If I find myself in a situation where I need some space or grounding, I always find that walking in the park or in the forest really helps. There is scientific research to back that up as well; being surrounded by trees is effective on our cortisol levels; it has so many amazing health benefits. I’m originally from Japan and I go back once a year because all of my family are based there. I think it’s very much in the culture there – there are shrines and temples in every city with lots of trees around them; we call them power spots. You get the feeling of being really densely in nature. It’s that kind of visceral feeling that’s just ingrained in my system. 

Recording a journey…

I think had it not been for lockdown, I probably wouldn’t have made the album at all. Most of my time before then was spent on the road touring with artists as a session musician. 

In a way, it’s kind of an amalgamation of a few demos and things I had from before, I had that time to piece everything together. It’s a snapshot of my time at Real World but also superimposed with the music that I had made in my head and had recorded at home.  

The music and lyrics were recorded separately. It was like a puzzle for me. I was thinking if I’m going to present something, what would flow the easiest and for some miraculous reason, I started putting together these musical tracks and they seem to fit seamlessly. It just felt like it was meant to be in that order. So I just didn’t question it and just left the flow as it was.

I used two synthesizers, a vocal mic and effects pedals. I love the sounds of the synthesizer – I get happy accidents from experimenting and I’m learning from experimenting.   

We had the opportunity to use the d&b audiotechnik surround sound system and reamp the music that I’d recorded to make it sound like it was around our heads.

I borrowed a Neumann binaural head and we took a car out and made some field recordings in the countryside. We also recorded some of the sounds in the garden of Real World. I ended up staying there because it’s a residential studio. I woke up one morning at 4 am to record the birds. It was so calming, just to hear them in their natural environment, that was a special thing. 

We were so grateful for the technology that we had access to, so we just wanted to make as much use of it as possible to create that space.

It was eye-opening for me, putting together a body of work that I never really thought about. It was self-discipline, knowing when to finish the tracks as I had a deadline to work too.  

The album title? 

It was the inner journey that it took me on to make the songs. But also I’m really keen to leave it open for the listener – I’d much rather the listener take what they would like rather for me to dictate what my feelings were when I made something.

I always love hearing about how people connect with it in their own way, because it’s all perception isn’t at the end of the day.  I’m more than happy to talk about it, but at the same time, it’s just nice to keep it open. 

a journey… live

I try to recreate the album as much as I can, there are layers of sounds, there are some things that I’ve tried to experiment with to make it sound as live as possible.

There are only really two synthesizers on the record. I bring one of them with me, my Prophet 8, which is my favorite. I’ve loved experimenting with the vocal chains, and the vocal effects, trying to make it sound as organic but as close to the record as I can. That’s been a real joy to play around with. Because it is all played live, it’s different every night, but I think that’s the fun part of it.”

Hinako Omori, presented by Foggy Notions, plays the Workman’s Club on Sunday March 12 at 8pm, €18. Tickets here.

Buy a journey… here.

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