In 2021, Saka swept across the country like a technicolor tornado; as 2022 progresses, he continues picking up speed with no signs of slowing down. With an unforgettable and truly unique signature sound, Saka dazzles crowds with tones of glistening pinks and purples, meanwhile mesmerizing with metallic shades of blue, green, and dashes of red. Listeners find themselves entranced as he retains a familiar style that grows and shifts constantly; different angles of sunlight morphing colors on an iridescent surface. Saka gives us a peek into his enigmatic mind and creative process in this exclusive interview.
Toni Nittolo, Electric Hawk: Firstly, thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Would you please introduce yourself to new listeners and readers?
Saka: Hi! My name is Eric, I go by “Saka,” and I’m a music producer from Hong Kong.
TN: Where in your music is the intersection between your Hong Kong and American roots? Your music is incredibly vivid – full of imagery and emotion. While your sound is distinctly yours, it is also growing and morphing constantly. What different things inspire you to produce music? Can you talk about the latest influences on your sound?
Saka: More than ever, especially recently, inspiration mostly comes to me via other ways than music I consume. While it varies from track to track, It’s less about the sounds or composition I hear, and more about the context I see from media around me, as well as my environment. I spent this past year mostly living and working in my hometown of Hong Kong. During this period of time, I spent more time alone than ever before, and it led to a lot of discoveries about my artistic purpose.
To be honest, most of the music I wrote prior to this came out of conscious attempts to emulate the things I heard or liked. While this was always fun, I never felt quite like myself artistically, until I found it more than ever when I finally went “home” after spending the past two decades in America.
Upon my return, I found that Hong Kong had changed. There were things about it that were the same, but there was a stark difference in the air in light of recent events. This put me on a path to try and engage with my cultural heritage more deeply. I started rewatching old Hong Kong films from my childhood, finally started reading my grandfather’s books (he was a Hong Kong journalist & activist). Combined with the cityscape, the people, the food, and the political strife around me, I felt like I had to somehow figure out how to capture all of this. As a producer, I feel more inspired than ever to tell my own story with the tools I have now.
TN: In your opinion, which producers/labels in the underground are making/hosting truly groundbreaking music?
Saka: Label-wise, VALE, YUKU, and Unchained are putting out some of my favorite electronic stuff as of late. Some underground producers who are slept on right now and making cutting edge stuff: Nvctve, Mirror Maze, scheme, and Result.
Saka boasted many firsts last year, including his EDC debut as well as breaking ground in cities across America alongside the mythical duo, Ivy Lab. Indeed, he shines bright next to some of the most notable names in electronic music. In lives sets, Saka masterfully mixes a slew of genres that accompany his idiosyncratic style and mirror his vibrant personality. Crowds are hypnotized by his highly energetic sets that are balanced with experimental mischief.
TN: The Saka project has been securing and performing two of the biggest festivals in America. Between EDC and the Ultra announcement, what is it like sharing your craft live with these massive audiences?
Saka: Honestly, it feels completely surreal. I didn’t even think playing festivals like EDC or Ultra were possible for the kind of music I make. But, of course, I’m deeply honored that I’m getting this kind of platform. Even if the reception is mixed, I’m going to play the stuff I want to play, and if one person walks away from my set happy with being exposed to this weirder shit, then I think I’ve done something worthwhile. Big up to Gud Vibrations for giving me such crazy opportunities & for believing in my sound and in the project!
TN: In addition to these festival bookings, you’ve been joining Ivy Lab on their tour, slowly making your way across America. What has this been like?
Saka: These opportunities have been by far some of my personal biggest wins for this project. While mainstream festivals are cool, I think a lot of us more experimental producers are typically looking for a different sort of catharsis, much of which is getting to meet artists you’ve genuinely admired. Of course, playing the actual shows has been amazing, but I think getting to meet and chat with Gove from Ivy Lab has been the real blessing – the man is incredibly articulate, deeply intellectual, and well-traveled. While I’ve always been deeply inspired by the tunes (on all of their individual projects as well), getting to really speak about deeper motivations, artistic/career advice, philosophies, and life in general has been the most significant part of the experience.
TN: You’re breaking ground in new cities all across America, whether it be on tour or standalone bookings. Which cities excited you the most to perform in for the first time?
Saka: I most recently got to play at Republic in New Orleans as well as at Aisle 5 in Atlanta, and both venues have been a dream for a very very long time now. It’s been such an awesome experience getting to perform in places I’ve never been, getting to meet so many internet friends I’ve known for years in real life, and getting to eat my way through these places with such a rich community and culture has been an absolute blessing.
Closing out 2021, Saka released “Damage,” a collaboration with fellow LA-based producer sumthin sumthin. Both artists share incredible talents for detail-oriented composition and impeccable sound design, but each has their own approach to production. Together, they compose a track containing perfectly complementary elements – delicate expertise and destructive chaos.
TN: Tell us more about your relationship with sumthin sumthin. How did this finally evolve into a collaboration?
Saka: CJ (sumthin sumthin) is one of my best friends. While we’ve been friends for a long time, we really got closer when we ended up living together for 4 months out of the pandemic (along with Mirror Maze [Izzy]). I still look to that period of time as one of the most inspiring moments of my artistic career – waking up every day with people just as gravely serious about their craft; with people whose breadth and depth of knowledge helping inform my own; with slightly differing tastes which then helped inform my own as well. It led to what I saw as an exponential level up in my abilities. Not only as a producer but also as a songwriter and composer. Over that time, we’ve written countless collaborations, but this is the one that made it into the light of day, and I’m so happy it’s finally out now.
TN: How does your sound complement his? How does it contrast?
Saka: I would say I’m more in the realm of wanting to just break shit and make the craziest bass patches imaginable, but sumthin sumthin has the finesse on phrasing and musicality, so when we work on shit together I feel like it really balances everything out nicely.
TN: Are there any artists/people/teams you would like to shout out for supporting your explosive success this past year?
Saka: Foremost, I want to thank all of my family and my friends for believing in me more than I believe in myself this year. I have so much gratitude for so many people, and I truly am blessed with so many authentic people in my life that see me for who I am. If I had to get specific with a shorter list, I’d like to thank you, Toni, Electric Hawk, the DIK P LAND boys, my manager Chaz, my agent Maxx, Izzy, Liz, Shai, my roommate Connor, the SLANDER boys and the Gud Vibrations team, and last but not least, my family and wonderful girlfriend. Thank you all for helping me in immeasurable ways, I’m deeply grateful.
From incredibly special sound design to vivid sonic storytelling, Saka has a repertoire of talents coveted by many and paralleled by none. “Masamune” drops as his first track for this year, and as the first single from his upcoming Anti-Hero EP; another body of work fans have excitedly awaited. After watching his fan base and nationwide exposure exponentially increase during 2021, all eyes are on this seminal artist for 2022. In a star-saturated universe, Saka shines unlike any other – lustrous, opalescent, iridescent.
Listen to “Masamune,” the latest single from Saka off of his upcoming EP!
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