Anchorsong is the creative moniker of Tokyo-born, London-based electronic musician Masaaki Yoshida. Yoshida signed with the legendary UK label TruThoughts in 2011 and has since released three full-length albums on the imprint. The most recent, this year’s Cohesion, draws inspiration from Bollywood soundtracks and traditional Indian percussion. It follows 2016’s well-received Ceremonial, which made a number of end-of-year lists, including BBC 6Music’s Albums of the Year.
Hot on the heels of a mesmerising live performance at this year’s Folk Forest in Endcliffe Park, Anchorsong returns to Sheffield on 30 November, bringing a string quartet to Abbeydale Picture House to help us celebrate 10 years of Now Then.
The live space seems really important for you, like it’s the place where everything else flows from, rather than being an after-thought. How has working with a string quartet opened up new possibilities for you on stage?
I’ve been playing with a string quartet from a fairly early stage of my career because I instinctively knew that it would work well with my live sets. Strings can work well both in the background and foreground of my music as they are able to be both bold and subtle. My live performance weaves lots of different sounds together, so the flexibility of strings is very important.
Can you imagine building the string quartet into your recordings more closely?
It’s a possibility but I like to differentiate between live performance and recording. Even though my music isn’t necessarily for the dance floor, I want to make the audience move. Rhythm is the central part of my record and melodies are built around this concept.
“I now try and create electronic music which captures an organic groove”
You tend to approach albums as self-contained projects, with the most recent two albums taking an obvious inspiration from 70’s African music and Bollywood. How have your inspirations changed over the years?
I was making more straightforward electronic music at the early stages of my career, but I realised it didn’t fulfil everything I wanted. I grew up listening to music from live performance, so I felt I should reflect that more clearly in my own style. I now try and create electronic music which captures an organic groove and I found both African and Bollywood music helpful in that respect.
Do you record lots of your own samples which then become the building blocks for your tracks?
I have my own percussion collection which I use a lot on my recordings and I ask other musicians to play the bits I can’t provide myself.
What’s next for you, once you’ve finished touring this album?
I aim to start making a new record. I only have a vague idea what it will be at this point, but I believe it’ll be clearer as time goes by.
Anchorsong performs at Abbeydale Picture House on Friday 30 November as part of the Now Then 10th birthday celebrations, alongside The Breath and Renegade Brass Band. Tickets via Tickets For Good.
Photo by Masa Hamanoi