Kazuto Okawa, who performs as LLLL (pronounced “four-el”), has spent the past two years since releasing his sophomore album, “Faithful,” getting in touch with his personal side.
The electronic musician, who spent 10 years in Canada, says when he came back to Tokyo, he was mainly inspired by the city. In fact, the video for one of his songs, “Only to Silence,” consisted of nothing but footage of the capital. But Okawa no longer wants to focus on his surroundings. Instead, he’s taking a more intimate approach to writing songs.
“When I first started making music as LLLL, my music was like a soundtrack to the city,” he says. “But I feel like that’s kind of in the past now and to me, right now, my inspirations are far more personal things. And in a way, I just don’t want to think about my surroundings at this moment. I want to be more personal.
“What I personally fear or hope for, or what my friends express to me, that’s way more interesting to me now.”
This approach is evident in his most-recent single, “For F.” It’s a collaboration with artists Meishi Smile and Calendula, and was inspired by the German film “Christiane F.,” which is about a teenage girl who becomes involved with drugs in Berlin. The film is based on “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” (“We Children of Bahnhof Zoo”), the autobiography of the real Christiane F.
“When I watched the movie, I was quite moved,” he says. “The soundscape was so beautiful and the film was so beautiful. It was very inspiring and I just wanted to make something for her, because she’s a real person.”
The luminescent, crystal artwork on the single’s album cover was created by New York-based visual artist Brenden Savi. Okawa recently worked on the soundscape for Savi’s short film, “Awake,” which came out last month. The short film, which was shot in Iceland, depicts artist Abi Laurel wandering through an otherworldly, mysterious landscape as the world begins to glitch around her. The film explores the relationship between technology and nature.
Okawa says Savi was easy to work with because the artists share similar aesthetic visions.
“The way he uses colors is very distinctive and I feel like he is conveying some sort of emotion through his colors,” Okawa says. “The way he uses colors in his photographs, especially his blues, strikes me in a very emotional way. And that feeling that I get from seeing his art is something I want to convey through my sound as well.”
Okawa says he and Savi are planning more projects together, and that their similar views of the future help them create artwork together.
“I’m a very optimistic person,” he says. “I see the future as something very bright, something beautiful. I believe in humanity.”
Earlier this year, Okawa released the first of his “Chains” EP via the Los Angeles-based Zoom Lens label. Parts 1-3 are online now, with the fourth part expected sometime this month.
For more information, visit soundcloud.com/lllltokyo.