As a cursory Google search will tell us, Ukiyo is a term that is used to describe "the urban lifestyle, especially the pleasure-seeking aspects, of the Edo-period Japan" and while the Australian-born musician, DJ and producer who uses that moniker isn't as seedy as that description suggests, his music is all about unabashed fun, but with a cinematic scope. At any time, his productions and DJ sets can call on pop and dance music, but the unifying idea behind it all is to create atmospheres with an approach that's closer to scoring a film than anything else.
Last year, Ukiyo released Ukiyo Mixtape, Vol. 1, a project of dreamy pop instrumentals with a hip-hop bounce and cinematic scale, and this year was supposed to build on and surpass that success with a new album and an accompanying tour. However, like so many things this year, COVID-19 put a stop to that — but he's not letting it get the best of him. A tour may not be possible, but the album will still be dropping very soon (although an exact date has yet to be confirmed) and his music is still finding its way into soundtracks for the likes of Netflix, HBO and Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
23-year-old Ukiyo came through with a mix full of soothing electronics, leftfield pop and club-ready selections for the latest Complex Sessions. Dive in below.
Tell us a bit about your selections in this mix.
Some oldies-but-goodies to take us back to when the world was a little less chaotic, and some new favourites I've had on repeat.
What was the one track you absolutely had to include?
I'm an absolute nostalgia addict, so tracks like the Wave Racer remix of "Always" by Panama and "Big Catzz" by Rustie are essential to me. They bring back memories of when I was really just discovering electronic music; huge inspirations. I'd say the one I absolutely had to include, though, is TEED's "Los Angeles" right at the end because it's just so damn beautiful.
Any tracks that narrowly missed the cut?
"idontknow" by Jamie xx, "Bummed" by Chet Porter and "Miracle" by Madeon. I could've added half of Tame Impala's new album as well, but that probably wouldn't make for a very good mix.
What's the first single or album you ever bought?
I know it was a movie soundtrack. Probably Star Wars. It wasn't the first, but I remember one of the first CDs I bought was a Harry Potter soundtrack box-set and I cried to my mum when I realised it was another orchestra that was playing it instead of the original score.
What's the last physical record you bought?
Tame Impala's The Slow Rush. Love the music, love the theme of time, and love the visuals. Can't go wrong.
What do you want to see happen musically over the next 12 months?
A tour! Playing live scares the hell out of me, but I miss getting to share my music with people like that. I've ended up having to leak my album to a lot of friends to satisfy that itch in the meantime.
What trend or scene absolutely needs to die right now?
Cancel culture. Sometimes it's absolutely warranted but, in general, people need to give people a bit more of a chance to at least defend themselves. Oh, and this little trend you might've heard of police doing the opposite of what they're meant to be there for. Let's leave that in 2020 as we enter the next year.
1. Ukiyo - Good Enough
2. Touch Sensitive - Before U Met My Body
3. Rando - Imagine
4. Baynk - Go With You
5. Fascinator - Beyoglu
6. Young Franco - Juice
7. Aluna - Warrior
8. Tame Impala - One More Year
9. CALIBR - Glitter
10 - Flume - Quits
11. Hayden James - NUMB
12. Panama - Always (Wave Racer Remix)
13. Rustie - Big Catzz
14. ID - Ukiyo
15. Robotaki - Identity
16. Slumberjack - Hide and Seek
17. Petit Biscuit - Jungle
18. Louis the Child & EARTHGANG - Big Love
19. OTR X Ukiyo - Midnight Sun
20. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Los Angeles