So many of us grow up as “others”. Questioning where we fit in, who our tribe is and how our identity meets the world. For me, this was the story of much of my life as a Japanese-New Zealander who was never Japanese enough to be Japanese, or white enough to be white. My teenage love of jazz, hip hop and drum’n’bass all stemmed from the same needs - these were music forms where I could find comfort and community through diving into albums created from artists’ own searches for belonging and identity: sonic offerings that decried the status quo and mainstream seeking something more. This premise has been my foundation as an artist - creating music that looks to answer my own inner questions and reflect the world I see, while knowing that emulating the status quo does little to help me understand my own past, present and future.

Motherland is a 43-minute film, a meditative audio-visual exploration of my Japanese ancestry and culture. Presented as both a super-NFT film and audio NFTs, Motherland features my Japanese roots-inspired music through a solo performance, set to footage shot during an artist residency in Kaga, Japan, during Summer 2019. It’s a series of instrumental tone-poems and immersive audio-visual moments to let your imagination play.

The collector of the super-NFT Motherland film will also receive additional content and a share in the entire collection’s revenue (more about that below). As well as sharing the project to share my art, I’m excited to experiment with different ways to present, share and incentivize music in the web3 space.

* Due to file size, please allow up to two minutes for the film to buffer before it plays - alternately you can view it on YouTube

The Film

We begin Motherland on the train ride to Kaga, and then on to an immersive journey of soundtracked sights following outdoor pathways to temples, rivers and lakes, accompanied by the sounds of nature and the eight compositions.

The footage of Japan featured in the film was shot in two locations - Kakusenkei Gorge, a beautiful forested valley with a river running between, and Natadera Temple - a Buddhist temple established in 714 AD with sprawling grounds, temple buildings and a distinct feeling of spiritual homeland. Along with the visuals, I’ve incorporated all the field-sound - the summer breeze rustling the trees, cicada song in the air, and the river’s running water. These create an integral connecting of the music with the visuals, and underpin the film with the sonic signature of nature.

Each composition included in the film is introduced with shodo (traditional Japanese calligraphy) by visual artist Kuniharu Yoshida. The visual of the shodo and sight of Kuniharu’s hand in motion captures so much of the spirit of ancestry and roots which this project focuses on, and I’m grateful to have his contributions here.

The Music

Motherland features eight instrumental compositions. Each piece has its own story - shared in storytime twitter threads:

  1. Motherland [storytime]
  2. Kodama Shade [storytime]
  3. Mizugaki [storytime]
  4. Akatombo (trad.) [storytime]
  5. Bushidō [storytime]
  6. O-Edo Nihonbashi (trad.) [storytime]
  7. Natadera Spirit Walk [storytime]
  8. The Offering [storytime]

My performance was filmed in Los Angeles, utilizing my Ableton rig that, as well as emulating my first love - the piano, allows me to live-sample, play synths, program rhythms and essentially gives me a palette to paint whatever sounds I imagine. Where some of my work dives heavily into beat-culture and the dancefloor, Motherland is an introspective offering, leaning primarily on the sound of the piano and subtle use of electronics to tell the story.

The NFT Collection

Motherland is a deeply personal project for me and it’s important to present it in a way that preserves this meaning. Shout-out to my friend Sirsu who helped me put this collection together and encouraged and supported me to enter the NFT space.

The collection consists of:

The winning collector of the Motherland Film Super-NFT will receive:

  • the full-res film digital file (non-commercial use only)
  • individual WAV files for all eight audio pieces (non-commercial use only)
  • edition #1 of the hand-pressed translucent vinyl
  • share of all sales of the audio NFTs consisting of: 5% royalty share on all eight 1-of-1 single-audio NFTs + 2% royalty share on the open edition Motherland digital mixtape NFTs. The assigned share from primary sales is held in wallet 0xbd5E9c1C43Ded1E9656e24281Ad378F9Ab364A64, for transfer to the winning collector.

Every bidder on the Motherland Film Super-NFT will also go in a draw to win edition #2 of the hand-pressed translucent vinyl (to be drawn following a successful auction).

The 1-of-1 Audio NFTs

Each of the film’s eight pieces of music has been minted as a 1-of-1 audio NFT. Auctions hosted on Catalog.

Every bidder on any of the audio NFTs will also go in a draw to win edition #3 of the hand-pressed translucent vinyl (to be drawn when all eight 1-of-1 audio NFT auctions close or one year after initial minting, whichever is sooner).

5% of all sales of these NFTs will be credited to the collector of the film super-NFT. Auction reserve set to 0.5 ETH each.

The Open Edition Digital Mixtape

This is a continuous 40-minute audio-only digital mixtape of Motherland (limited edition of 50).

2% of all sales of these NFTs will be credited to the collector of the film super-NFT. Priced at 0.1 ETH each and hosted on Rarible.

For those with an acute eye for detail and wondering “what happens to edition #4 of the hand-pressed Motherland vinyl?” - That one I’m keeping for posterity :)

Thank you for checking out Motherland. I love to be offering something that speaks to both the past and the present, and have it exist in this form as we explore future possibilities with web3 and music.

Through all this, if there’s one idea that I hold especially dear, it’s the wealth of insight, guidance, protection, strength and inspiration we get from our ancestors. As Kuniharu’s closing shodo posits, a thought for us to take away...

先祖から受け継いだもの… (senzo kara uketsuida mono)… “what I inherited from my ancestors…”

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