Wed, Apr 15, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Enough computer

Yoshihiro Hanno began writing music for films in 1998 with ‘Flowers of Shanghai’ and is well known for his forays into electronica. Ho Yi asks him about his latest cinematic score and finds out why he’s no longer keen on digital music




A jazz fan from the age of 10 and a member of an experimental hip-hop group in his youth, Japanese musician and composer Yoshihiro Hanno made a splash on the electronica scene in 1997 when he released the highly acclaimed album King of May on Belgium label Sub Rosa.

Since then, Hanno has built an illustrious career based in Tokyo and Paris and enjoyed a substantial following in Europe. His sound has been described variously as jazz, dub, hip-hop, house, minimal, samba and contemporary classical music.

Hanno entered the movie industry when he was invited to work on Hou Hsiao-hsien’s (侯孝賢) Flowers of Shanghai (海上花) in 1998. He went on to compose for Hou’s Millennium Mambo (千禧曼波, 2001) and Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s (賈樟柯) Platform (站台, 2000), Unknown Pleasures (任逍遙, 2002) and 24 City (24城記, 2008).

In Taiwanese director Lee Chi-yuan’s (李啟源) Beautiful Crazy (亂青春), which was released commercially on Friday of last week, the 41-year-old musician uses the piano and string instruments to set the mood for Lee’s cinematic poem about three teenage girls and their friendship, desires and betrayals.

Taipei Times: What drew you to the project of ‘Beautiful Crazy’ in the first place?

Yoshihiro Hanno: The delicate emotional expressions among the three actresses, the equally delicate camera movements, and the inseparable relation between the two.

TT: How did the film inspire you to create the score?

YH: When I compose for a film, I pay close attention to the sense of temperature and humidity the image exudes. It [Beautiful Crazy] inspired me to express musically the feeling of restlessness and agitation experienced by the three adolescent girls.

TT: [Describe] your experiences working with directors Hou, Jia and Lee?

YH: Hollywood movies feed you sad music when you are supposed to feel sad and happy tunes when you should feel happy. [Hou, Jia and Lee], of course, don’t work that way. The visuals in their works are strong enough. Our job is to figure out together where music is needed and make the image complete with the audio. When Lee works, he thinks of the story and music simultaneously. So he already has a clear idea about when and where the music should come out beforehand. Jia is the most meticulous and detailed among the three when it comes to giving instructions. Hou is the most challenging to work with because he doesn’t even tell me what he wants. The only thing he keeps telling me is: “Just do whatever you like,” which makes me less sure about what I should do (laughing).

TT: You mentioned at the press conference for Beautiful Crazy that you also want to make films. What would your first movie be like?

YH: I am not qualified to make a film yet. I need to gain more life experiences and wisdom for that.

I travel intensively. I go to places for the sake of working, performing and traveling. But if [not for] those purposes, why am I there? I want to make a film about the search. If it is a road movie, then can the purpose of the journey be that I have no reason to stay where I am now?

TT: What is your relationship with classical music?

YH: Musically, I was not academically trained. To challenge an academic genre is in itself an adventure to me. In classical music, it is one person who commands dozens of others with a music score that is buttressed by exact theories. How to marry that theory with my own ideas is a challenge.

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