Dugo is the newest project from Tokyo based composer Takahiro Izutani. We were lucky enough to catch up with him about his solo EP, what it was like to re-evaluate his life after recovering from COVID-19 and learn about what inspires him most.
I reviewed Dugo’s track ‘Recluse (Edit)’ for our ‘Late to the Party’ feature a few weeks ago and I was delighted to get the opportunity to interview him as well as get my teeth into his 4 track EP. Filled with intelligent, musically minded yet industrious production, Dugo’s music draws on the vast beauty of flamenco guitar, organic, embellished textures and the endless pleasures that electronic music can provide when used in this genre bending way. If you’re looking for some escape then I can highly recommend tuning into Dugo and letting his music clear your mind.
‘Dugo’ is a project you’ve recently brought back to the forefront of your work as a solo artist. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I was ill with COVID-19 for three weeks and during this time I started to reflect on my life so far, the things I’d achieved and all the things I still wanted to do in the future. Although I’m already working as a professional game composer, I came to the conclusion that I would regret not pursuing the musical project that meant the most to me, so I decided to turn my focus to Dugo once again.
The “Recluse” EP, it is a summary of the songs that I’ve been making for the past two years as a whole, but a large part of it has been done since May when my physical condition recovered. With the idea of releasing more frequently, I’ve chosen to use EPs rather than albums to represent the music.
What first inspired you to use the sounds of flamenco guitar and the style of contemporary electronic production we hear in your new EP?
I originally started my musical career as a rock guitarist, but gradually became fascinated by electronic music and began to make music with a focus on electronic sounds. But when I thought about putting Dugo at the core of my own artistry, I found that incorporating my guitar sound was still the most effective way to create originality. The pinnacle of guitar music, I believe, is Spanish modern flamenco. Above all, I was strongly influenced by the musicality and music by Vicente Amigo who’s been one of the greatest guitarists of modern flamenco in Spain.
I made Recluse’s songs focusing on the influence I got from flamenco, but in the future, I’m thinking of showing off a different style of guitar play in Dugo’s songs.
I think a city such as we see in Blade Runner is already becoming a reality.dugo
Where is home for you? Does where you live inform any of your writing?
I live in the center of Tokyo, but my music is not strongly influenced by where I live, Tokyo or Japan. I have respect and pride in traditional Japanese culture, lifestyle and ancestors, but I don’t feel any relation with current Japanese culture, especially with the music scene. I know that there are many talented artists who produce artistic electronic music in Japan, but there is no big demand for it and there is no scene to support their work, and everyone is looking for opportunities overseas.
Over the last few years, the city of Tokyo has been flooded with advertising video screens and advertising music, and I feel that people have unknowingly lost interest in music due to such terrible circumstances. I think a city such as the one we see in Blade Runner is already becoming a reality.
Is there a song or composition that when you hear it, you’re transported to a particular time in your life? If so, would you share that with us?
There are so many to choose from: Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ and Gary Moore’s ‘End of the World’, ‘Higher than the Sun’ by Primal Scream and Teardrop by Massive Attack all come to mind. However, if I had to choose, ‘Rydeen’ by Yellow Magic Orchestra was the first electronic music song I heard. It was a tremendous shock to me when I was very young. It was the first song that taught me that music can make you feel the future.
You’ve been in a few different bands and projects. Do you still play in those bands? How has it been transitioning to a solo project and what made you begin ‘Dugo’?
Of all the big and small bands and projects I’m involved with, my time in the progressive rock band Happy Family had a big impact on my life, but 2014 marked the band’s third album and final release. The chemistry between members is important for a band, but sometimes, it is difficult for each member to work as they’d like to.
I believe that all the knowledge and experience gained from the music production of other projects and working in video games will transcend into my own music, passing through the filters of Dugo.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
When “Lingua Franca” my first album as Dugo was released in 2017, that’s the proudest I’ve ever felt. Up until then, everything had been such a struggle and I’d wondered how I’d ever get to the stage of releasing a solo album.
You refer to the 2011 Tsunami in Japan as having a profound effect on you. What changed for you from that moment?
2011 was the year when I returned to making music with Happy Family. The tsunami was horrifying, but for the Japanese living in Tokyo, 2011 was a year in which people had to realistically face the possibility that the accident at the nuclear power plant could make Tokyo an uninhabitable city.
I think we all need this one just now: What is a song that makes you extremely happy or content?
I listen to this song when I want to calm down, when I want to appreciate the people around me, when I really want to apologize to someone, and when I swear to take good care of someone.
You can change yourself only when a big change occurs around you.dugo
After experiencing such a tumultuous year as 2020, what are some of your hopes and dreams for you and your music in the future?
2020 was a tough year, both globally and personally, but by experiencing this difficult situation, I was finally able to resume my work under Dugo in earnest. You can change yourself only when a big change occurs around you.
I found it very important to be ready to respond positively when big changes happen. Preparations for me were quitting smoking, abstinence, daily exercise and continuing to learn English. Until a few years ago I couldn’t speak English at all, now I can. Also, three years ago I started thinking seriously about a healthy life because I experienced a serious illness of unknown cause at the time. These have had a huge impact on my creativity and prepared me for starting Dugo again.
Make sure to connect with Dugo: