Photo By Singular Balance

As far as independent and underground alternative artists are concerned, none are making quite the same moves as those who fill a particularly significant niche. More than a few alternative acts are discovering ways of taking what were once reserved sounds and styles and making them gradually more appealing as their audience grows more accustomed to them. 

These atmospheric, dense, and instrumentally-motivated artists are combining the sounds of contemporary R&B, lowercase electronica, and various pop sensibilities to create what can only be described as the sound of the new age. Though artists within this scene such as Instupendo, Jack Larsen, and Maxwell Young have established themselves as the forerunners of this trend, a substantially large mass of talent sits just below them — and they are growing in stature by the minute.

One such artist is Tokyo’s own Singular Balance. After seeing himself moving from New York to North Carolina, graduating high school in the latter, he has now settled overseas and is currently making some of the most creative, dynamic, and simply forward-thinking music within the scene he currently inhabits. 

We sat down with the 20 year old upstart for a lengthy discussion that details his unique perspective regarding his creative process, how he views the scene today, and other various insights. 

You and your music have some sort of “mysterious” element to them. Being that it’s the beginning of your career, is this feeling intentional on your part?

Making art is one of the most intimate things you can do, and I always try not to hide anything when I do it. Kind of shedding my skin in a way. You’re putting your life and soul into it. Making music/art is just a way for me to materialize all of my unshaped feelings and emotions into a more concrete structure, I guess. It helps a lot for me to be able to do that, kind of like therapy.

Are you concerned at all with communicating a personal sentiment with your audience, both present and future?

Lately I realized that I want to develop more as an artist and add more of a persona to my music. I was super scared of attaching a persona to my music before, but seeing a lot of my good super talented friends around me inspired me a ton. I want more out of music and more out of being an artist and a big step towards that in my opinion, is establishing more of a persona with my music.

Does that feeling result from any past experiences?

It’s kind of tied to my high school life I guess. I was a shy kid and was worried about what people would think of me and letting that affect how I act… like getting creatively restrained. I’m growing out of that now, and being in Tokyo really helps that. There’s so many inspiring people here doing a lot of creative stuff, all standing out in a way. There’s a lot of people here that are on the same frequency as me and I never really felt anything like that too much when I was in my hometown. So being there I truly felt like I couldn’t be myself all that much. It was exactly like that creative restraint I mentioned, I felt like there was a chain on me that limited what I could do and what could be accepted from me. 

What sparked your move to a place like Tokyo?

Photo By Singular Balance

After graduating high school I decided to move (here) because in all honesty I really wanted to get as far away from my high school/hometown as possible. High school was so hard for me and I struggled so much. Seeing the people around me at school with college applications, it seemed like a lot of people were just sort of staying in the same place, following the same path. My mom is Japanese and moved to New York when she was like 24 or so. She couldn’t speak English and knew nobody there but she just packed her bags and went because she wanted to. She was super intrigued by American culture from the time she was a kid. I’ve been to Japan a ton in the past, and I would enroll in the elementary school there during the summers. I think it was like 2 months at a time, it was so fun and I made a ton of friends and memories that I still cherish to this day. 

The ways in which your songs and projects as a whole are constructed leave so much for a listener to grasp in just one listen. Take me through your creative process when developing a piece. 

I always try and start with an empty mind, like not thinking about anything. Thinking about stuff like “oh if I add this, it’ll become this due to this’’ formulates the whole creative process of making art into something that has rights and wrongs, positives and negatives, and I don’t like that. It takes away the emotional aspect of making art in a way and intellectualizes it instead. Having my head empty, I can just try to channel whatever I’ve been feeling. That’s definitely what makes everything so raw, especially with my album Aura. I’m so excited for everyone to hear it because nothing that I’ve released by myself up to this point really matters to me or fulfills me in an artistic sense. It was all kind of just practice for this. The whole album is about heartbreak, relationships, human connections, and stuff like that — not that I planned it out or anything. 

Would you say there was an intimate feeling when developing the project?

I just tried to express what I felt in the time that I was writing it and I feel like I did a good job at materializing and making sense of the feelings that dominated me throughout that stretch of time. It’s always so much easier for me to write about raw stuff like that, like what I’m feeling in my heart, but it’s difficult because it takes courage to write about more intimate stuff, you know? I’ve never really told anyone, but I was always afraid of people “making fun” of stuff like that, like my school friends finding my music and making a joke out of it but I don’t really care anymore about what other people will think, and this is me, this is what I’m proud of. This ties back into with how I want to develop as an artist. Aura is a project about me shedding my skin.

Were there any direct sources of influence for the project, musically-speaking?

One thing that’s really inspired me is seeing how Instupendo isn’t afraid of showing his true feelings, with his Boys By Girls project. Earring is such a good song. I’ve probably listened to it like 800 times. He’s a huge inspiration to me, and so is Lontalius. He always writes about such raw and intimate stuff, and it’s shown me that I can do that too. Like the deepest parts of him are getting put into his music. That’s what draws me to Eddie’s music so much. I can do that too. (His) music is one of the most raw sounding things I’ve heard. I got to hear a lot of his music that he’s never released, and his album throwaways, and it’s all literally so good, it makes me stop and catch my breath. 

Is there a particular aspect of your artistry that you would say individualizes you? 

I try to avoid doing things that I see a lot of other people doing. When I was starting out, I would try to copy other people but I would just end up getting frustrated. I kind of found out what I could somewhat do and what I couldn’t do, and then learned how to polish the things that I can somewhat do. I’ve worked so hard at music this year though, and learned so much. I’m taking a year off of university this year to work on music. I’ll be a junior next september. It just became clear to me that my goals and outlooks towards life are so much different than the people that I was surrounded by at university. A lot of people at my university want to get in these top companies and stuff. I’ve seen a lot of people around me achieve their goal of doing that and they just seem super miserable after doing that. There’s nothing I want to do with my life but music. Making such talented, creative friends online have helped me realize this and also made it clear to me that I can chase my dreams, I can make my dreams come true. It takes a lot of courage to go after those dreams though. 

How do you plan on using the environment that you find yourself in within the music industry today to elevate your career?

I try not to think of that kind of thing too much and just try to make as much music as possible. The past two months, I would wake up at like 5 in the morning and set a timer — 25 minutes working on music, and 5 minutes resting my ears and reading a book. I would just do this all day aside from like eating and taking breaks and going outside, so I think there were times where I was working on music like 12 hours a day or so. I’ve burned out a bit now and I’ve been giving myself a hard time because of that but I’m trying to accept that burning out is okay. Lontalius once told me something like, being an artist involves the same struggles as someone starting a small business, I mean that’s essentially what we’re doing. We put so much blood, sweat, and tears into it and get out so little. So much time, money, energy spent and only so little comes out, sometimes nothing even comes back. But that doesn’t matter because we’re just doing what we love to do, for the sake of passion. There’s nothing I want to in life besides this, so I want to work as hard as I can at it. There’s nothing I want to do in my life as much as I want to be an artist and keep making art.

With your biggest release on the horizon, describe what we should expect and how you will deliver on that statement.

Photo By Singular Balance

I’m so excited for everyone to hear Aura. I worked so hard on it and it’s so much more developed than anything I’ve released alone. It’s the only thing I’ve (made) that I’m completely satisfied with on an artistic level and that’s a feeling that’s completely new to me, I’m super excited. Even with Pulse, it was just me stacking together some songs that I thought would fit nicely. I really thought out everything with Aura and it feels so nice to have done that. There’s a lot of super super sad songs in it and I love that about it. The whole thing is about heartbreak and I feel like what I felt during the time that I was writing it, and the sound of it, are super parallel. The whole stretch of time that I was writing it was the most emotional time of my life. I went through a lot of hardships during that time and it was difficult, but I’m glad I went through it. I grew as a person and learned more about life.

What effect might this project have on you when you look back at it in the far off future?

Aura will always be tied to the feelings and things I was going through during the time I was writing it. Like the correlation between the songs and the feelings that I was feeling throughout the time are so strong and I’ll never forget it. In this way it makes it such an intimate project for me, I’ve never shed my skin like this. I don’t care if people judge me or not, this is the purest thing I’ve done. It’s me.

With the new album and proceeding EP with the aforementioned Lontalius filling out his release schedule for the near future, the bountiful amount of material from the unbelievably promising up-and-comer will serve to showcase all of the sentiments he’s now laid down in his own words. If there is anything we can know for sure regarding what is to come for Singular Balance, it is that his intimacy combined with an entire sense of place and realization are making for a career already full of prospect and promise.