This Foodman Mix Is a Strange Trip Through Experimental Electronic Music

Themed around "urban indigeneity," it slams together producers from his native Japan, boundary-pushers from around the world, and, uh, Bright Eyes.

by Colin Joyce; illustrated by River Cousin
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May 6 2019, 3:23pm

The Nagoya-based producer Foodman has made a career out of left turns. He first came to international renown as a representative of his country's nascent juke scene—a loopy but reverent attempt at capturing the energy of that Chicago-born music. But Foodman quickly made it clear that he wasn’t into footwork as a formalist. He pulled and twisted at the fleet-footed rhythms, adding unexpected space and sugary synthetics in between the jittery drum breaks, revealing forms old and new in the abstractions.

In the years since, he’s proven himself a capable shapeshifter, releasing a veritable torrent of acclaimed and strange releases across taste-making experimental labels like Orange Milk and Palto Flats. They dip and dive between blissed ambience, frenetic drum workouts, and dizzying sample contortionism. There’s sometimes hints of footwork, and techno tropes, but it sorta feels like everything at once. The major connective tissue between his releases is that he’s never keen to do the same thing twice.

Still, his latest turn is an unexpected one. In March, Foodman released an EP called ODOODO on Mad Decent, the label Diplo founded over a decade ago. It was an unexpected fit at first—for all his stylistic hopscotch, very little that Foodman's made has been remotely adjacent to what one might call EDM. But upon closer reflection, it makes a little more sense. Diplo and Mad Decent have always been about digging across the globe and flexing their varied tastes. They're weirdos and experimenters at heart, so of course they'd welcome another. Foodman, of course, recognized the platform and turned in something a little more straightforward than his usual flurries of clicks and drums. ODOODO more clearly resembles dance music; it has house and disco rhythms in its DNA. But there's still something strange about it. The structures are chopped and twisted—as if he'd taken the component genres and run them through one of those machines that turns vegetable matter into noodles. It's hard to predict, which is part of the fun.

This week, Foodman offers another wonderful detour with his Noisey Mix, a short set that consists mostly of the sort of stuff you might expect from him: fast-moving experimental electronic music. There are tracks from the hyper-detailed composers Visible Cloaks and the singular batida producer NÍDIA. But there's also stuff you wouldn't quite anticipate, like a Bright Eyes song about infant death. The beauty of Foodman's projects is they're always a strange journey. Via email, through a translator, we caught up with Foodman to talk about the philosophies that inform all this genre-hopping, as well as how his relationship with Mad Decent came to be. Read that below, alongside this wild mix.

NOISEY: How are we meant to enjoy the mix? What's the perfect setting?
Foodman: There are various genres in this mix, but please listen while walking around the town with earphones.

Was there any specific concept to the mix?
Urban indigeneity. Also, it contains many Japanese songs.

Do you have a favorite moment on this mix?
I like the part from Visible Cloaks to Talvin Singh.

Is synesthesia a real thing? If so, what color is this mix?
I think there is synesthesia. If you compare it to [a] color, it's marbled paint.

Obviously the big curveball in this mix is the Bright Eyes track. What made you think to include that? Are you a big Bright Eyes fan? What draws you to his songwriting?
I really like the melody and experimentation of [ Letting Off the Happiness] by Bright Eyes. I wanted to include it in this mix, and I thought that the rhythmic noise of Ryoji Ikeda led to the noise at the beginning of this Bright Eyes song.

Could you tell me a little bit about how you came to release on Mad Decent? What made it clear that it would be a good fit for you?
I first got an email from Paul Devro, [who works in] A&R at Mad Decent. They wanted to release [my music] from the new experimental sublabel Good Enuff. I was surprised by the invitation because many of my songs are not dance music, but I found their experimental attempt[s] very interesting. After a few singles on Good Enuff, I was invited to release the cassette at Mad Decent, so I released it.

Mad Decent is a much bigger platform than most of the labels you’ve released on. Did you approach the EP any differently than you might have otherwise?
This time, I added more dance music elements than usual, but I recorded various songs such as non-beat songs and downtempo songs, and collaboration with DJ Ryuw, a trap producer in Tokyo. I tried a new approach.

I saw both of your New York shows the last time you were in town—the more experimental one at Nowadays and the more club-oriented one at Bossa Nova Civic club. Do you think much about how to represent both of those sides in your music?
I like dance music, experimental music and chilled-out music, and I love music itself. So it changes depending on the mood from time to time. For example, "I ate pasta today. Let's eat sushi tomorrow." The feeling at that time is everything.

You’re always releasing so much music—how do you plan on what moves to make or what you want to explore? What is next for Foodman?
Maybe I'll make more dance music next time, or maybe I'll change my mind. I might sing a song or a rap. I just decide with my intuition.

Tracklist:
TOKYO ZAWINUL BACH - MUDUNWALI
KYOTA - Track4
TLC Fam - Isthakazelo saResto (Original Mix)
Spiked Punch - Guinea Pig
Ryoji Ikeda - Test Pattern #1111
Bright Eyes - Padraic My Prince
moshimoss - Your New Era
Visible Cloaks - Terrazzo (Ft. Motion Graphics)
Talvin Singh - Vikram The Vampire
Projeto Mujique - Kongadada
NÍDIA - Puro Tarraxo
Hiren only kougyo - WORKS TENT
Yoshiyuki Osaka - GO GO HEAVEN