My new album is called Separation and it was written late 2014 – mid 2015 and takes inspiration from events, people, places and experiences from that time. It’s a mix of happy and sad songs about displacement, anxiety, longing and being in love I guess (those things aren’t necessarily related!). I wrote a lot of it on my iPad, on an app called Gadget, and recorded and mixed it at my studio in Thornbury. It’s also my first collection of tracks that use Vocaloid, which is a synthesised singing program that provides most of the vocals on the album.
What’s your favourite work at this point in time?
Snow Blue, which I made with Mayumi, the singer from shoegaze band Chelsea Terrace and an artist called Izumi Fontana. Mayumi is an incredibly nice and grounded person and came up with a vocal that really blew me away, it was just perfect for the track. Izumi did the cover art as part of the 3 way synergy of the piece, and it’s a beautiful illustration.
How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
I’d like to say ramen: ramen looks pretty straightforward but there are a lot of layers to it, and each one is something that requires a lot of time and effort to produce. The broth can use a variety of ingredients but takes a lot of careful preparation over hours or days, the pork needs to be cooked just right to make it tender and melt in you mouth, noodle making can take decades of training to perfect, and even the egg needs to be left to marinate for days. When you bring all of the components together, the balance also needs to be spot on to create the perfect ramen.
My album also costs about the same as a bowl of ramen, so next time you’re walking past Hakate Gensuke, you should think to yourself “Do I need ramen, or do I need this new Super Magic Hats album?”. The right answer is obviously to buy the ramen and then Spotify my album, but if you want to take the wrong answer, I don’t mind because I need ramen too and if you buy my album then I can buy ramen.
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
These tend to be really lame when you’re a solo person. Is it the time you spent literally days arguing with yourself over how to EQ your kick drum? The time you finally finished that track only for Ableton to crash and lose your past 8 hours’ work?
Actually I have one: When I launched my EP a couple of years ago in Sydney, I was trying to get past how I could follow Tim Fitz, who was putting on an incredible show, and also that I hadn’t slept the night before by mainlining Hahn SuperDry, and got chatting to the guy next to me, who then said he’d only come out to see if Super Magic Hats had “more than the one song they kept playing on FBi”. I said, “Um well I am Super Magic Hats” and he genuinely didn’t believe me until I got on stage and started playing. He was really nice though, I am glad we chatted.
What, or who, inspires you?
Travel inspires me a lot, I love travelling and wish I had time to do more. A fairly obvious inspiration in my music is Japan – I travelled there in 2011 and in a way Super Magic Hats was started as I way I could reflect some of the feelings that were inspired by that trip. I went back in 2014 with the aim to do a lot of field recordings and shoot a lot of footage too, but I guess I got sidetracked by touristing too and a lot of what I tried to record didn’t turn out that well. It was fun trip though.
Musically, I also take a lot of inspiration from Japan – Japanese electronic artists seem to have a grasp of jazz and a really good understanding of folio and so the music they produce has a sound that’s different to a lot of electronic music, it’s something that seems unique to them.
Which song do you wish you wrote?
Sink, by Qrion, because it’s so beautiful and moving. The chord structure is ridiculous – it’s so intricate. It’s a really unbelievable and transcendent piece of music, especially from someone so early in their career. If she continues at this trajectory, she might eventually make time fold in on itself.
What’s next for you?
I am half way through recording another release, though I’m not sure what form it’s going to take yet. If it’s another EP, it’s almost done, but it might turn into another LP or two EPs. I’m not really sure yet, I’m just going to keep writing tracks until I feel that it’s right to release.
The process behind this was to try and move away from using an arsenal of VSTs to everything being samples of things or sounds from the modular synth I’ve been building for the last 6 months. It’s a nice process because Super Magic Hats was originally based on using a limited sound palate and so it feels good to get back to that, and to be inspired by process again.
Outside of music, I’m also hoping to catch up on all of the episodes of Assassination Classroom I’ve missed over the past couple of months.
What’s your scene?
For me I think it’s good food/good beer/good friends. I don’t really get into the club scene any more and sometimes even gigs can be hard to give my full attention to for long. Spending time with friends is a lot more rewarding for me.
I am a big fan of where I live now, Thornbury on Melbourne’s northside – I think it has just the right sort of hipster vibe for me: not so heavy on the kale or beard and tat combos, but with a great record store, some good eateries and cafes, and plentiful craft beer.
The musical alias of Melbourne-via-London electronic musician Rob Masterton, SUPER MAGIC HATS is ready to unveil his strongest work to date with his long-awaited debut album SEPARATION with the prestigious Hush Hush Records.
Returning to the Seattle-based label that has served as the home for a pair of his previous EPs, Kumori (2014) and Daydream (2015), Super Magic Hats’ colourful and propulsive beats offer an absorbing narrative throughout Separation’s exploratory 10-song set. While his productions continue to carry a bright and generally warm tone, there’s also a stronger undercurrent of melancholy and a heightened awareness of displacement. The themes of emotional uncertainty, insecurity, and disorientation surrounding transition are all tackled through Super Magic Hats’ whimsical instrumental motifs, floating melodies, lush textures, and transportive beats.
“This LP, is in a way, happy songs about feeling sad – a lot of the inspiration for the tracks was in feelings around anxiety, displacement, longing and uncertainty, and I guess how I could come to terms with those things and tried to accept them rather than ignoring them. As such, it was at times cathartic and therapeutic to write. I feel like there’s often a lot of pressure to always present as being positive and this is reflected a little in the superficially upbeat nature of tracks that for me were based on less upbeat sentiment”.