In today’s era of chart-toppers, blending genres is natural, if not expected by the grooving masses. Pop artists collaborate with dubstep kingpins, rockstars bring gospel singers on stage, and rappers cater to the country crowd. Creatives aren’t as commonly pigeonholed, and every popular track seems to be a group effort, with multiple names in the artist column.
To say that Seiho blends genres are true, but also woefully understated. The very fashionable Osaka-born musician is nothing if not versatile, and has been pushing the envelope since the moment he stepped into the world of boundless electronica. He collaborates with rappers and J-pop stars, with pianists and jazz crooners.
He starts a song in one tempo, lets the audience get nice and comfortable, and then speeds it up or slows it down without warning. He’ll start adding swift drum beats or quiet vocals to make you scratch your head and perk up your ears, like a melodious puzzle begging to be solved.
Hell, as if his innovative underground shows aren’t cool enough, back in 2018 he opened a tasty Oden shop called Sonotouri in youthful Shibuya. He did this alongside fellow Sugar’s Campaign member Akio.
If Seiho is going to be put into a box, it’s going to be one of his own revolutionary makings.
Seiho has Always Pushed the Limits of Sound
It’s become pretty easy to make beats on a computer or tablet, and even buying a Launchpad or downloading a music program is pretty inexpensive these days. In Seiho Hayakawa’s case, he did things a little differently, making music on his childhood cell phone. I can remember putting some notes together to make a ringtone, but I can only imagine his creations were a little more complex.
In high school, his passion for music only continued to grow as he immersed himself in the landscape. He started with traditional jazz, learning how to play the trumpet. Slowly after, he found kinship with more experimental riffs, which led to his debut album Mercury in 2012. This was the first of his albums to be released on his own label, dubbed Day Tripper 2011.
The album title wasn’t random, with the musical journey intended to sound like a trip into outer space. Right off the bat, it had listeners hooked on Seiho’s already signature sound, nearly indescribable in its eccentricity.
It was around this time that Hayakawa also began another project, a more pop-sounding group of four called Sugar’s Campaign. Alongside Takuma Hosokawa, also known by his soloist moniker of Avec Avec, and two other performers, the group has aimed to debut on a major label, and enjoys bringing listeners a more unique kind of chart topper.
Lately, Sugar’s Campaign has been a bit quiet, with most of the members hyper-focused on solo projects. For those aware of the virtual Youtuber Kizuna Ai (and come on, who isn’t in 2020?), Avec Avec is the one we can thank for ‘over the reality.’ Thank you.
His Performances and Collaborations Keep Evolving
While Seiho began his live music career playing basement shows in Osaka, he found his way to the US relatively early, touring all the way back in 2014. He thanks American audiences, actually, for giving him an insane amount of confidence back then–we apparently reacted very well to his bops.
He also credits the SonarSound Tokyo Music Festival in 2012 for a boost in tour dates and recognition, picking up plenty of gigs in the Japanese capital after. At that time, his sound also started to morph, with jazz replaced with more danceable compositions. Also, there was no lack of bass.
In 2016, Hayakawa released his highly anticipated album Collapse to rave reviews.
It took things to a new level, mixing in ambient bird and water sounds in one track to unpredictable house beats in the next. It can be warm, it can be cold, it can transport you to the 1980s or take your mind on a journey to the distant future.
It’s just one of those things you need to hear to believe. And even then, you may not.
Today, Seiho’s a Fuji Rock Festival alumni and has continued to play in the US and Europe. He’s played a plethora of well-loved music houses, from Cakeshop in Seoul to the formerly beloved experimental stage of Low-End Theory in Los Angeles.
His unpredictability is his strength–in 2018, he played a show at the Japan Society in New York City with pop diva and jazz pianist Akiko Yano, who has been singing to audiences since the mid-1970s. It should be noted that she’s a huge fan, singing his praises since he collaborated on her 2015 album Welcome to Jupiter.
In 2019, Seiho teamed up with talented rapper 5lack to create Wareru, a single that combines the feeling of concrete and clouds. If you don’t know what I mean, give it a listen.
Where to Listen to Seiho’s Discography
Luckily, Seiho’s incredible body of work is available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music. Be careful though–you’re about to fall right down a rabbit hole.