Engage!’s Artist Spotlight is on Shiro Fujioka, aka VoltageCtrlR, AfroJapanese composer and producer based in Los Angeles. Shiro is a pioneer of the ModBap genre, or Modular BoomBap, i.e. beats made with modular synthesis. I was working on a score for a friend’s film that is set in LA, and it came to me––modular hip-hop! I had never even heard of it before, but I figured somebody must be doing it. So I did a quick search, and Shiro Fujioka came up on BandCamp’s exploration of this elusive subgenre. Of all of the composers presented, Shiro was clearly the best and my favorite.
So I dug a little deeper into the mind and music of Shiro Fujioka. Not only is his ModBap complex and subtle, introspective and impressionistic–it’s emotional and spiritual range goes far beyond most modular music. Because of his hip-hop roots, Shiro’s modular has groove and depth. It is also deeply spiritual, with titles that reference Asian philosophy and religion.
One of Shiro’s projects has been performing ‘sound healing’ meditation sessions, with modular synthesizers, Tibetan singing bowls and guided meditation. This video is a recording of one of his sound healing sessions:
Shiro explains the origin of the title of his album, Negroshima;
“The origin of the album title came from a funny conversation between a friend and I.
We were reflecting on an argument that transpired earlier that day. My friend asked me how upset I was on a scale from 1-10… I replied to her with a sarcastic smile and said, Negroshima!
We both laughed and she said that should be the name for one of my albums, I laughed even harder and agreed it was an excellent idea because of my African / Japanese roots.
For those that don’t know Hiroshima is a city on Japan’s Honshu island that The United States of America dropped an atomic bomb on during WWII, and on the African side of the spectrum I’m a descendant of slavery, and in a similar fashion my culture, language, and spiritual practices were bombed out of our memory as African Americans.
This combination contributes to a very explosive mix of creative energy.”
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