Susumu Hirasawa (平沢進, Hirasawa Susumu, born April 2, 1954 in Tokyo, Kantō region) is a Japanese electronic artist and composer.
In 1965, he started playing guitar, inspired by The Ventures, he joined a band with "older people" the following year. In 1972, he enrolled at Tokyo Designer Gakuin College. From 1972 to 1978, he performed in his first band Mandrake, a progressive rock/experimental group influenced by King Crimson, Yes, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. In 1979 he formed a synthpunk/psychedelic rock/new wave/techno/electronica/electronic rock/techno-pop band called P-MODEL, along with two former members of Mandrake and a fan of the band/close friend. They released a string of albums through the 1980s, and in 1989, Hirasawa began releasing solo work, while also continuing to work with the reactivated P-MODEL beginning in 1992. The P-MODEL project continued until 2000; in 2004 Hirasawa started a new unit known as KAKU P-MODEL, which is effectively a solo continuation of P-MODEL.
Compositions and performances:
Starting with Mandrake's last years, Hirasawa has favored guitars designed specifically by Japanese instrument manufacturers (there was a movement in the early 80s were electric guitar makers moved away from mass producing copies of foreign guitars and into original designs), most notably Tōkai Gakki's Talbo aluminum guitars, which he has said is due to him being attracted to the Talbo's unique material and design. After Tokai discontinued production and customer support for the Talbo due to financial difficulties in the mid 90s, Hirasawa requested Fernandes Guitars in 1994 to make him a guitar of his design called PHOTON, a Talbo-shaped guitar with a wooden body. In 2004, Hirasawa requested TALBO Secret FACTORY, a manufacturer of Talbos created in 1996 by the IKEBE music store with HISASHI and CAP-iNA, musicians who also liked the Talbo and wanted to continue to use it, to build a Talbo of his own design, called ICE-9 (named after the material of the same name from Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cat's Cradle), which Hirasawa used to make an album to showcase it. Hirasawa has continued to work with the TALBO Secret FACTORY, requesting the conversion of one of his older Tōkai models into the ASTRO in 2011, adopting the HISAHI designed EVO 0101Z in 2012, and asking for the renewal of the PHOTON after two decades of usage.
Hirasawa has used Amiga computers extensively in his work, starting out with CG production in 1987, and later on using applications such as SCALA, Bars and Pipes, and OctaMED in the production of his music; he stopped using Amigas in his live shows on the LIMBO-54 shows of 2003 and on his albums with the Byakkya/Paprika albums of 2006. Hirasawa transitioned from using Amigas to using Microsoft Windows, using programs such as Bars'n'Pipes (an unofficial continuation of the Amiga program), Cakewalk Sonar, Synth1 and EASTWEST's line of Symphonic sounds. One of the factors that set him apart from other Japanese electronic artists is ever-changing production techniques. For 2001's SOLAR RAY album, his recording studio was outfitted to be powered completely by 2 solar energy-capting panels. Since then, Hirasawa's works have been recorded with solar energy, although he has since added 2 more panels to his studio. To reduce pollution, Hirasawa also transitioned to working exclusively with Software synthesizers.
His subject matter can be equally unusual. A constant source of inspiration for his music has come from Thailand. The concept behind his 1995 album Sim City was drawn from his experiences traveling there, and more specifically, from Thai transsexuals. Guest Thai vocalists participate throughout that and subsequent albums, including 1996's SIREN, which was also a concept album based on Thailand. As for his lyrical inspiration, Hirasawa references the philosophies of yin and yang, his travels and the principles of nature vs. machines. Hirasawa has also been inspired by the works of Carl Jung, Hayao Kawai, Kenji Miyazawa, Kurt Vonnegut, Theodore Sturgeon, George Orwell, Frank Herbert, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Nikola Tesla.
Hirasawa occasionally stages interactive live performances. They merge computer graphics with his music to tell interactive stories, and involve heavy use of computers, particularly Amiga systems, motion capture cameras and video projectors. The flow of each live show is determined by audience participation; for example, Interactive Live Show 2000 Philosopher's Propeller was formatted as a maze, and the audience was allowed to choose which path to follow. Sometimes, audience participation plays a part in the performed music, as it did in Interactive Live Show 2000. He provided the phone numbers to four cellular phones during one song, and the audience was allowed to call the numbers to have him play the corresponding ringtone. This provided an improvised harmony between the background music and the ringing phones.
Hirasawa's live music is based on samples he activates with various hand-crafted sampler machines, pre-recorded tracks without vocals, and no regular backup performers. For the Hirasawa Energy Works - Solar Live LIVE SOLAR RAY concerts, he used solar power and a power-generating wheel, inspired by bicycles, to power his electronic equipment. DVDs are available of his innovative award-winning live performances via his website (and ordering through TESLAKITE).
During the PHONON2555 concert, he had two backup performers for the first time since 2000 (discounting those who participated as part of the plots of his Interactive Live Shows).
In 1988, Hirasawa sold a Cassette Book at a flea market in Yoyogi for charity, it contained 3 New Age songs composed specifically for that release and came with a 36-page long booklet written by Hirasawa that chronicles his self-analysis of his dreams and reality; all profits were donated to the Village of the Awakening Earth Human (人間大地・めざめの里, Ningen Daichi Mezame no Sato) volunteering welfare facility for the mentally ill in Gunma Prefecture, which gave Hirasawa counseling during the production of the P-MODEL album KARKADOR.
Hirasawa spoke out against "the nations that are headed towards carnage while ignoring international law" and the actions of the Japanese government in aiding such actions. Specifically, he pointed to the American response after the September 11, 2001 attack, which he believes to involve excessive murder of innocent people. As a result of his convictions, Hirasawa has offered free downloads of his music, which he hopes will be used as tools of objection. One of the these downloads is a 2003 version of the 1994 song LOVE SONG, a song about children in the battlefield; the other is High-Minded Castle, a song about a man that can not know the truth and true background through media, while he tries to face the real tragedy on the other side of the world; the latter was taken from Hirasawa's BLUE LIMBO album, which showcases an anti-war, anti-brutality message influenced by the U.S. government's retaliation against terrorist attacks.
In the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Hirasawa started travelling around the country with a Geiger counter, measuring the radiation levels and reporting them in his Twitter account. Around the same time, Hirasawa started making his own homemade yogurt from soy milk, reporting on the progress of his yogurt-making bacteria on his Twitter account, with him updating often at odd hours of the night in Japan Standard Time; In an update, he said that he'd wake up his followers at 3:30 am again to update them. On June 24, 2011, at 3 PM, a post was made on NO ROOM by a person who called itself "The short-term contract worker of parade punk, Stealth Man", the post included what this person called "My debut/retirement work", a song titled "Nuclear Power" (原子力, Genshiryoku), a remix of the P-MODEL song "BOAT" made in the style of "The Aggregated Past - Kangen Shugi 8760 Hours" project with the song's lyrics changed to protest against Japan's use of nuclear power and to criticize the government and the media; the song and its lyrics were available as a free download on the condition that users agree with the statement written on the download button; which was "I believe that this work is by Stealth Man and will download it unquestioningly", the song could be freely distributed, unless it was for profit, or with its sound source altered, distribution ended at 3 pn on June 29, 2011. At the same time, Hirasawa updated his Twitter account telling a story where Stealth Man had struck Hirasawa in the back of his head with a blunt object on June 23, 2011, at 3:30 am; when he woke up, his hands were bound and his wallpaper was changed to include a boat and the katakana ス was written on it. Hirasawa also claimed that he couldn't take down the song due to Stealth Man hacking that section of NO ROOM with what Hirasawa thought was a Stuxnet-like virus, which led to server maintenance of the TESLAKITE online shop; Hirasawa updated his Twitter account with "I will refrain from making vulgar remarks. I'll be noticed by him. Feign complete ignorance.", he also described the song as a "Hirasawa rip-off". Hirasawa later claimed on his Twitter account that, as distribution of Stealth Man's song came to an end, Hirasawa was attacked by Stealth Man once again, this time, Hirasawa stayed awake and made Stealth Man trip over and fall while he escaped. Hirasawa also took a disc from his pocket, containing the instrumental version of Stealth Man's song, which he posted on NO ROOM using similar terms and conditions as Stealth Man, with the statement written on the download button being "I can manage just fine without Stealth Man" and the file's distribution ending at 3 pm on July 4, 2011. Hirasawa let the song be used on Japanese karaoke service provider Xing's JOYSOUND online song library, crediting Stealth Man with the vocals and lyrics of the song.