Lullatone is Shawn James Seymour and Yoshimi Tomida, two musical experimentalists who don’t just think outside the box — they’re using everything from boxes and other household items to create melodic ingenuity.
The creative collaborative lives in Nagoya, Japan, an environment that’s equally their compass for inspiration as it is their home. To capture their musical creations at work Marmoset flew all the way around the world to capture Lullatone’s story on film. There, they warmly invited us into their home and creative haven/ music production studio to walk us through their creative process, their approach to music licensing and who they’d love to work with on the next big project.
Marmoset: How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard of Lullatone?
Lullatone: Miniature melodies for everyday adventures.
M: We admire how your studio is essentially part of your home, it sort of just accentuates the warm & fuzzy creative energy that permeates throughout your music. Curious what your dream creative environment might look like?
Lullatone: We always like to joke that we make Home Music, as opposed to House Music.
For a long time we created everything in our real home. But, now that we have two kids, it became pretty difficult space-wise — and noise-wise! At the moment I’m renting an apartment down the street from our house to use as a studio. I like it because it still has the domestic vibes (everyone else in the building really lives there, only we are using it for work) which we need to make something feel home-made.
And most importantly it is really close to our house. I can hear the bells from our kids school to know when it is lunch time, there is a park next door and the view from the window is always full of old people tending to their small community gardens. For me, it is perfect.
Sometimes I wish it was more soundproof though for when a soccer coach blows his whistle in the park a million times and I’m trying to record a quiet instrument… but I guess that is just a sign to hold up for an hour and go outside while it is sunny and re-record in the nighttime.
M: How would you describe the direction you took with your new album? Is there something you've always wanted to try musically but haven't had a chance to dabble in yet?
Lullatone: Our new album was a really exciting experiment. I wanted to revisit songs from our old albums — we’ve been around for almost 20 years, so there are a ton to choose from — and turn them into piano track. We did one a week for a year so the album is a big 52 track double CD massive collection.
We like trying out lots of experiments with music and that is one of the things I love about working with Marmoset. Actually most of our songs with Marmoset are unreleased things that aren’t from our albums. If we have an idea for a beat, or a super ambient track, or something over the top poppy we can try it out and not have to worry about creating a whole album for it to live in.
We can make the one song and it has a home there in your catalog — and then hopefully out in the world as a supporting actor in some video.
M: We’d love to know what artists you’re listening to at the moment!
Lullatone: We listen to Jonathan Richman pretty much all of the time. He is my favorite musician ever. I like to listen a lot of Japanese ambient music while I’m cleaning up and stuff in the studio. Hiroshi Yoshimura and Meitei and super nice.
There is a show on Beats1 radio called Time Crisis which might be our number one favorite thing to listen to though. It soundtracks so many of our road trips and long runs.
M: Do you think living in such a special place like Nagoya influences your work?
Lullatone: Nagoya was recently voted the most boring city in Japan and I think that rules. It is a huge city, but it seems like not as much is going on here compared to other towns… until you live here. It is just that the pace is different. Things are slower here. Stuff isn’t famous. People don’t seem to care. I love that.
Our neighborhood is on the edge of the city, so it is even slower. But there our elderly people in the park in front of the studio every morning playing gate ball (a game like croquet) and people eating ramen and just living a normal life. I’m all in!
M: What would a dream project of yours be? Who’s a filmmaker you’d love to score or create a soundtrack for?
Lullatone: I think everyone around my age might say the same thing… but it has to be Wes Anderson. The attention to detail in every project he does is incredible.
Working with museums or libraries to make sound installations sounds really interesting too. To be honest there are so many people making amazing things now — and it is easier to see them too — that I just want to meet and talk about art and stuff with everyone.