Taku Hirano is the master of all things percussion and knows of what he speaks having studied with some of the greatest drummers in the world. The partial list of world tours & studio credits include Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Fleetwood Mac, Whitney Houston and Nelly Furtado to name a few.
How did you first come across Goldenchild Audio?
I first became aware of Goldenchild Audio online about a year ago, scouring the web for sounds that would provide me with some cool and different options in terms of “jumping off” points for ideas and inspiration.
what’s your music production setup?
I am constantly on the road, touring with various artists, so I tend to do most of my programming on my laptop. I run Propellerhead’s Reason 5.0 (sometimes in conjunction with record), as well as Ableton live. Then I use all of that programmed content and rewire through Protools, where I record audio or collaborate with my co-producer Daniel Pearson.
Give us a taste of your musical background
I started at the age of 9 on Classical percussion, studying everything from timpani to marimba to concert snare drum. Attended Berklee College of Music as one of their first Hand Percussion principals and studied under the tutelage of conga master Giovanni Hidalgo for four years. At this time, I also began studies in Indian percussion, West African percussion, and Middle Eastern/North African drumming. I later did graduate studies in World Music Performance at California Institute of the Arts, studying West African percussion and Indian percussion (tabla and kanjira). I also studied secular and sacred Afro-Cuban percussion in Havana at the Escuela Nacional de Artes, as well as with percussion master Jose Luis Changuito Quintana.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
Upcoming projects include more production work with Tao of Sound, doing both remixes and producing a few different artists. I am also joining Cirque du Soleil in the late-summer as a percussionist for their upcoming tour “Michael Jackson: THE IMMORTAL” World Tour. On that tour, I will be the only rhythm section member that is not an alumnus of Michael
Jackson’s band. It will feature longtime musical director Greg Phillinganes, and various musicians from the Bad, Dangerous, HIStory, and This Is It shows. You went on tour with international famed composer A.R. Rahman (“JAI HO”).
TELL US ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH A.R. RAHMAN
Working with A.R. Rahman was an absolute thrill and treat. Oftentimes, my job is to recreate a recorded performance for the live stage. That may mean emulating grooves or even triggering actual samples from the recording, and strictly dealing with a musical director.
ecause A.R. is not only an onstage artist, but also a composer and producer, I was in a unique situation where my parts were created for the live show, and could be made through consulting directly with him. Also, for the first time in my touring career, I was called to use all of the styles of drumming that I have studied or honed onstage. In addition to my usual live percussion rig for pop/rock music (consisting of congas, timbales, bongos, handheld small percussion, cymbals, electronic pads, sampler units), I also played Japanese taiko, Middle Eastern instruments such as tar, doumbek, and riq, Brazilian instruments such as surdos and berimbau, and Indian instruments such as the dhol.
It was also a thrill to get to share the stage with so many talented individuals, including personnel from India who had sung or played (i.e.- sitar, flute, tabla, bass, guitar) on Rahman’s various film scores and recordings. I first started working with A.R. on his promotional run to the Oscars, after the worldwide success of Slumdog Millionaire.
I was originally called to play Japanese taiko drums and auxiliary percussion for his live appearances, performing “Jai Ho” and “Latika’s Theme” on everything from The Tonight Show and Oprah, to the TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential People Gala and at the White House for President Obama and the First Lady’s first State Dinner, in honor of the Prime Minister of India. I later got the call to play multi-percussion for the “Jai Ho: The Journey Home” world tour. A.R. Rahman is a very conscientious and introspective artist who is always thinking and composing. His talent is obviously legendary, given his body of work, but he is also such a kind and easy-going person as well. I definitely feel blessed to have worked on such an amazing project.
SHARE YOUR PRODUCTION TIP
I think that the key, oftentimes, is to change it up. Different programs have different layouts and subsequently will force you to program differently. For example, drum programming or chaining loops is entirely different in Ableton than it is, say, on Reason’s Dr. Rex or REDRUM units. When creating beats, I often fuse together ideas on different platforms so that the resultant groove has an entirely different feel, texture, and thickness to it that couldn’t be achieved by using one unit. I also mix up programming with playing live performances via MIDI or with live audio (i.e.- live percussion).
DR. DRE (ON HIS “2001” ALBUM), NELLY FURTADO,
JAY-Z, FLEETWOOD MAC, BETTE MIDLER, WHITNEY HOUSTON, STEVIE NICKS, LIONEL RICHIE, UTADA HIKARU, LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM, THE TEMPTATIONS, AND ON VARIOUS FILM AND TELEVISION SOUNDTRACKS AND SCORES.
KANYE WEST, KITARO, AND THE AHN TRIO.