Electronic music that brings peace of mind
Forging his own space in the realm of electronic, Sam Goku is building his explosive sound from a deep sense of peace and serenity. As clear-headed as it is intoxicating, his latest project The Things We See When We Look Closer revels in ethereal soundscapes and adventurous productions that make Goku’s talent so gripping. Driven by nature – a thread running through the titles as well as the musical landscape – the album takes the listener on a journey that unfolds with tranquility and an imaginative edge. So, feet firmly grounded the mind lets go – into the meditative heights of scattered breaks, brewing hand-drum beats and traditional Chinese instrumentation.
Hey, lovely to be in touch! What have you been up to?
The last weeks have been quite stirring and exciting. There was the album release, of course, and then a couple of shows that I have been anxiously looking forward to for a long time, including the Panorama Bar gig I just came back from.
Ah how exciting! Congrats on the album – tell me more about its conception.
Thank you so much! The title of the album is Things We See When We Look Closer and that is pretty much what the album is about. When we find the time and capacity to take a closer look (or for some it works better to take a step back and see the whole picture), we tend to see things from a different, often more hopeful and joyous perspective – especially when our minds are calm and at ease.
How would you describe your music in one sentence?
It’s optimistic music, based on the beauty of distant memories and the idea that everything can be in harmony.
This is only your second album, but your style already feels so established and distinct. Tell us about your journey in music and what draws you to these sounds!
I started to listen to a lot of music from an early age. When I was younger, my mother used to listen to a lot of Chinese pop-music from the 70s and 80s and sing along at home. As a kid I started to buy hit-compilations on CD called Bravo Hits. I remember illegally downloading music on my MP3-player, which even got me in trouble once. It wasn’t until later in high school that I discovered electronic music through going out with friends. I was never a trained musician apart from playing the piano for a couple of years in high-school, but music was always a big part of my life. I think my productions are a result of all these previously mentioned influences but most of all I try to transmit a feeling of harmony and clarity with my music – a feeling that I strongly associate with times I spent with family in China, especially in my childhood years.
I also love how you incorporate elements from traditional East Asian instrumentation both in your own work and throughout your DJ sets. What is the influence of your heritage on your approach to music?
As a Chinese kid growing up in Germany, I always wanted to be ‘like the other kids’ and was annoyed by the cultural differences that had come with my upbringing in a Chinese household. As I grew older, I luckily learned to appreciate and love my Chinese heritage a lot more. Now I feel proud of the uniqueness my roots and upbringing have entailed, and it has become something I want to present in my music.
Listening to your work gives me a somewhat unexpected sense of stillness and serenity, no matter how sonically complex and busy it is. Is there an intention behind how you want to make your listener feel with your sound?
I want the listener to feel the way that I felt while making the music. And since I am often inspired by good memories, by happy memories or memories of times when I had an elevated sense of clarity and peace, I am glad that you felt that way!
I think the elements of nature – even in the titles, from Lotus Drive to Silver Rushing Streams ,– also very much add to this sense of peace. Why is nature a such a big inspiration point for this project?
I started writing sketches for the album in fall 2021 in the middle of lockdown, after spending a lot of time walking in the woods and doing little trips in nature with friends. It was at a time when everything felt a bit slower than usual. It also felt like a time of increased clarity with some of the everlasting noise fading away due to the lockdowns. It seemed like life as we knew it was sadly gone but at the same time there was this blissful feeling underlying it – a feeling that everything we needed was never as tangible. I felt this way especially when spending time in nature.
Tell us more about the music scene in Munich at the moment. You don’t hear about it often but I’m sure it deserves way more recognition…
To be honest, I am not that much entangled with the scene in Munich. I have never been that much of a scene person, since I feel like I am kind of a bad networker – but Munich sure has its treasures. There is the community radio/collective Radio 80000 (where I run a monthly radios show) who do an incredible job of broadcasting all sorts of wonderful sounds to a receptive audience, certainly there is BLITZ club with one of the world’s best club sound-systems, and then there are labels like Permanent Vacation, Public Possession and Ilian Tape, who have build a loyal fan-base all over the world.
What’s on the horizon for the rest for 2023?
For now, I am looking forward to hopefully playing more gigs. DJing as been giving me an incredible amount of joy and inspiration and I hope to be able to tour a bit more. I also want to spend a lot of time in the studio and develop my sound. It took me a while after my first album until inspiration hit me again so I am really excited to see where it will lead me this time!