September 16 2022
Koji Takagi of Pictured Resort curates a playlist that dives into the music from the 2010s that has had the greatest impact on his music
In terms of both musical characteristics and visual aesthetics, Pictured Resort posits itself at a crossing between the heedless optimism and silky sheen of ‘70s and ‘80s pop genres like disco, funk and city pop and the texture-heavy mood-boards of ‘10s dream pop and chillwave. Tightly-composed synth funk and Hiroshi Nagai-esque sun-drenched vistas meet rich sonic soundscapes and modern production, amounting to a sound that is nostalgic and indulgent but contemporary and fresh, too.
Previously a quintet, Pictured Resort has been the solo vehicle of frontman Koji Takagi since 2020. He released the project’s third full-length work Once Upon a Season earlier this year and, in the wake of that release, we caught up with Takagi to curate a Selector. The theme for his playlist is ‘music from the 2010s that influenced me’, with the choices ranging from classic chillwave to indie singer-songwriters.
Towards the end of my school days and the beginning of the 2010s, I used to get together with friends from a music club at my house and have almost nightly meetings dedicated solely to music recommendations. With everyone being short of money and unable to easily buy CDs and records, I naturally started digging into internet music and became obsessed with chillwave, which coincidentally was in its heyday at the time. Paracosm, released in 2013, was the first Washed Out album to take chillwave in a more acoustic direction. I was greatly influenced by its stance, which is somewhere between digital and live music.
The above-mentioned nightly meetings have had a huge influence on my musical tastes right up to the present day. One day someone played me Tycho's second album Dive, and I, a ‘guitar kid’ obsessed with electric guitars, began to gravitate towards synthesisers and digitally-produced music. The balance of silky, shimmering synth tones, tight rhythm work and deep delays and reverbs became the sonic image that Pictured Resort initially aimed for. I've been listening to this album for over ten years now, and every time I listen to it I discover something new.
The idea that “you don't need to be uppie music to dance” brought about by chillwave was a kind of revolutionary thing, and Poolside’s Pacific Standard Time (2012) stuck with me in that sense. The slow tempo of most of the album and the strangely languid falsetto of the now-departed Filip Nikolic have an addictive quality that makes me want to listen every summer. It was when I heard this album that I became explicitly aware of the concept of ‘summer music’, and it continues to influence me in every sense of the word.
A friend from music club who I spent a lot of time with started a band called Wallflower also got involved with the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and introduced me to Ice Choir, the solo project of Kurt Feldman, drummer of the Pains. I was immediately hooked by the delicate synth work, the soft-but-deep vocals and the casual – but surprisingly technical – electric guitars. I then became interested in indie pop and ‘80s synth-pop, such as Ice Choir's influences Scritti Politti. Ice Choir was like a hub airport for me at the time and introduced me to all kinds of music.
Masami Tsuchiya and Ryuta Wachi (now known as Still Dreams), members of the aforementioned band Wallflower, taught me about a lot of indie music like Ice Choir. One of the most memorable artists was Heavenly Beat. I can still clearly remember the heart-stopping feeling I had when I first heard “Tradition”... The soft, catchy, languid feel is something I'll never be able to emulate, but I think it was one of the guiding principles in Pictured Resort’s dream pop sound. I like the tune, but I'm also drawn in by the incantatory lyrics: "tradition, tradition..."
Here’s another song from 2012. I was hooked on Breakbot and I wanted to somehow imitate his balance between retro, organic textures and modern production – though I didn't manage to do so at all. Around the time of Breakbot and the online lebel KEATS//COLLECTIVE, I started to take an interest in the disco music of the 1970s and ‘80s, the original source of the music. In Japan, there is a term called onkochishin [developing new ideas based upon study of the past], which is a concept I cherish when making music, and Breakbot is a textbook example of that.
It feels strange for me to include John Mayer in this line-up, but the influence that his music has had on me is immeasurable. Beyond the music, he has become part of my life – it is fair to say that Mayer’s influence from his guitar playing and lyricism has directly shaped Pictured Resort. Mayer’s been active since the early 2000s, but despite experiencing numerous barriers and scandals, his evolution didn’t slow down as he entered the ‘10s. I’m still a fan of his and this song is one of my favourites from his recent releases. I think even indie music listeners can enjoy it.
When I started writing songs for Pictured Resort, Yumi Zouma was a big deal and, naturally, I immediately liked them, and at the same time I started following the CASCINE record label. The band’s early days (before changing their vocalist) are of course good, but it’s this album (Willowbank, 2017) and this song that I like the most. Just before this album, Yumi Zouma released an album that covered Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory in its entirety and I think Willowbank has learnt a lot of melodic catchiness from Oasis. Listening to this album, I was reminded of the importance of melody.