For Qrion the last two years have been an opportunity to look inward. The Japanese producer had settled comfortably within the role of touring DJ ahead of the pandemic — securing a slot at CRSSD, headlining a Japanese and North American tour and supporting the likes of Deadmau5, Porter Robinson and Tourist.
Hailing from Japan and moving to the US to pursue music, Qrion worked on her debut album 'I Hope It Lasts Forever' while in lockdown in San Fransico - she delves into feelings of nostalgia, sentimentality and the struggle of being so far from home. The new album has been released on Anjunadeep and follows releases on the likes of Mad Decent, Last Night on Earth, and This Never Happened.
“I connected with my old memories" she says. "The feelings of spending time with my Dad, the time I lived with my family in Japan, and the small but important moments of my life from my life in Sapporo.”
Read this next: Qrion releases her debut album, 'I Hope It Lasts Forever'
We caught up with Qrion to talk about Nostalgia, going against the grain in her home country of Japan, and expressing feelings through music instead of actions.
She's also curated an exclusive playlist of feel-good synth tracks that she says have inspired her through the creation of her new album - with woozy tracks from Murlo, Koreless, Elkka, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Dusky.
You've said that lockdown affected your creative process, what do you think it was about lockdown that had this effect on you?
I was able to think about my life deeply and be aware of mental health I needed to work on it. I was fortunate to have gigs every weekend at the end of 2019 - right before the pandemic hit, then like everyone, I lost the gigs. The impact it had on me was huge but it was a good turning point where I could reflect on myself. I think the pandemic made many artists stronger and stable.
Did the pandemic make you feel sentimental? how do you think this comes through in your music?
Yes, especially because I haven't visited my family for almost two years. It’s a lot of planning and logistics to go back to my hometown since it's a northern island where I need to take two flights. I had to give up my opportunities to see them because of the pandemic and that made me super sad. But I could use that sad energy towards my creativity and finish my album. My music became more emotional and meaningful than before.
Do you think lockdown allowed you to be retrospective? how do you feel now things are opening back up again? do you think your attitude towards your music is better
Yes, I would say it allowed me to be retrospective. Even though things are opening back up It's still difficult at times. There are many changes these last few months. I moved to Texas a few months ago and it's completely “normal”, it’s way different from San Francisco where I used to live. I'm still very careful and wear masks when I can when I go out to play shows or attend shows locally. I'm happy that the venues are reopened now and that many of them are taking safety precautions with fans. I appreciate everyone’s efforts to adapt and do what they can to keep our business going.
For 'Hope It Lasts Forever' you focus on themes of nostalgia - what is a time you wish you could go back to? or relive again?
I would love to go back to when I was in the high school. I was in a rebellious phase - fought with my parents for no reason every day. The typical teenager attitude. I was always “mad” at them, ditched our dinners often and ignored them. Sadly, my father passed away during this rebellious phase I was going through. I wish I could relive those parts of growing up to spend time with him and be nicer. I think everyone who experiences these losses has similar regrets. I really wish I could go back to that moment and say thank you to him.
You grew up in Japan, and this album focuses a lot on your cherished memories - how do you manage to bring that through into your work? and how does your childhood continue to inspire you?
Recently, I found out that reflecting on the memories we had and tapping into how they make me feel emotionally allows me to use them as inspiration for the music. It makes me feel mentally connected with my family even though we are on other sides of the world. Since I wasn't able to be on the tour during the album producing time, my inspirations shifted more to my family and memories and not the environments around me. Even when I’m not working on music I enjoy cherishing my favourite moments with my family and childhood. I'm glad that I was able to find a way to express those feeling in music.
You describe yourself as a bit of a rebel, have you always positioned yourself as going a little against the grain?
I think since I was a kid I wanted to do the opposite of things that people were doing or liked. This was abnormal back then in Japan, especially in my small hometown cause being the same as the others are seen as a good thing culturally. Growing up looking at my father who was such a “weirdo” (and I love how he was of course) gave me an idea of life that I should do whatever I want even if people say I'm weird or different. I'm glad I proceeded on this music career path and took a chance on it.
Tell us about your playlist.
These track selections have such nice melodies and really inspired me to use more synthesizers. I hope you'll like it!