How do you translate「発熱巫女〜ず」?
“Hatsunetsumiko’s” is a perfectly fine romanization, but if you did want to translate it, would you write ”Burnin’ Hot Shrine Maidenz?” “Feverish Miko~s?” Or maybe it should be ”Burnin’ Hot Shrine Maidennnz” with a bunch of Ns because of the tilde.
It seems like a simple question, but when you try to get into it, the answer turns out to be not very simple at all. The same goes for Hatsunetsumiko’s music. What would you call their style? Electro Funk? Nu-Soul? Nu-Disco, even? All of those are kinda true, but none of them are quite true. Tim Vegas, the Composer, Arranger, and the Producer of Hatsunetsumiko’s, says he’s got a lot of very firm tastes behind his music, but doesn’t like to talk about them. In fact, he says he seems to forget all about them afterwards. Part of this is because it’s very difficult to talk about music in any language besides music itself, but another part is that he wouldn’t want to limit the number of ways people can interpret his particular kind of experimental music. After all, one of the reasons he likes making doujin music as much as he does is because he gets to hear direct reactions.
Hatsunetsumiko’s contributions to the Touhou cultural vernacular began in 2008, when he released his first album by CD number Synchronicity. It’s an odd mix of dramatic orchestral swelling, swing, and straight up rock rhythms, with bossa nova vocals featuring Condor King joining Tim Vegas on his nylon string guitar. It’s good stuff, but you couldn’t in a million years read Hatsunetsumiko’s current style from what he did here. Maybe if you pay close attention you can find some essence that unifies Tim Vegas’ music, but at this point, it seems like he was simply happy to be trying a bunch of different ideas. Luckily, the Doujin and the Touhou music is the kind of scene that encourages a lot of experimentation.
He began thinking about what he truly wanted the circle to be by the third album, and by the fourth one, Unchained Melody, his feelings began to solidify and form the basis of the sound his circle is currently known for. This is where his old friends Maurits ‘禅’ Cornellis and NAGI☆ of the circle FELT first appear - the first of many times. MZC not only came to contribute his flavor of arrangement from that point forward, but also his excellent bass playing. You cannot do funk without a good bass player - especially slap bass - and boy does he deliver. Even on tracks where he seems to be using a software instrument, his technical knowledge seems to have helped out.
That didn’t stop the experimentation entirely. Back then there were glitchy breaks, straight forward pop (for lack of a better word), heavy guitars (by way of hiro☆yuki), and a lot of something Tim Vegas calls “piano house.” Now to me, being a 90s rave music fan, the words “piano house” have etched in my mind an image of Korg M1 pianos banging out chords to diva vocals, but his vision of piano house is somewhat more sedate. The term seems to point out something completely different in Japanese - it’s almost more like piano trance.
As the circle developed, he became acquainted with and made us of a very large number of talented vocalists. 陽花(Youka), Chen-U, 舞花(Maika), Vivienne, Ark Brown, and SAKURA_bot are familiar names today, but narco and capo less so, despite singing some really hard-driving duets early on.You should also not forget Tim Vegas' original works as the circle Mikazuki Sofa, with the vocal Millie. Along with Tim Vegas' tastes, these vocalists have helped shape Hatsunetsumiko's aesthetic over the years
<Vivienne> <Ark Brown>
<millie(as Mikazuki Sofa)> <millie(as Hatsunetsumiko's)>
A lot of Hatsunetsumiko’s songs are in English, which isn’t very unusual. What is unusual is that the English, pronunciation aside, is really good. Credit for the English lyrics goes to “Laura April,” which raises a few questions. Tim Vegas is a pseudonym, but Laura April may legitimately be an anonymous westerner working behind the curtains to make cool music with Tim Vegas. It doesn’t particularly matter who she is though, only that she’s quite good.
I’d say it was right around 2014 and the release of DANCE with WOLVES that hatsunetsumiko’s really dived into funk. It was always there, but that’s when it became to focus. That said, Tim Vegas isn’t the kind of person to limit himself to only one style, as his past work shows. The funk comes through a bunch of different lenses, showing off his (and frequently MZC’s) tastes. They’ve been very successful so far, and all of their albums since DANCE with WOLVES have been various shades of fantastic.
Where will Hatsunetsumiko’s go from here? I’m not entirely sure. Tim Vegas continues making music because he’s in a place where he can make what he wants and people appreciate it. As long as that remains true, Hatsunetsumiko’s will keep going on, doing its thing for eternity – or at least into the indeterminate future.
Another fact that we tend to forget, is that for all his guest arrangers and performers, there’s only ever been one member behind it all: the producer, Tim Vegas. He’s the one arranging all the tracks, choosing the best fit vocalists for the song, working with illustrators to make that rad cover art, and injecting the Hatsunetsumiko’s essence so the album matches the concept and the philosophy he has intended.
He is the reason Hatsunetsumiko’s has such a distinct feeling - from the front of the jewel case to the finest details of the audio mix. Indeed, music is only a part of it. This persistent effort as a producer, allows the creation of a completed and perfected piece of art. Tim Vegas told us that he won’t hesitate to change his color and style if requested, as long as he stays on-brand for his listeners. He can go back to his original style at any time, but if he did, he’d want to prove that he’s gotten better.
There’s a lot of things Tim Vegas wants to do –pop arrangements, for instance, and revisiting old material.
Let’s see what he’s going to come up with his next album. We may find a new aspect, or maybe feel nostalgic in an unexpected way.
At any rate, however long Tim Vegas keeps making his music, you’ll be able to find it on BuyDoujin.
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