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Popwire Speaks With…MASAtO of ANIMAL HACK, One-Half of Next-Gen Japanese Producer Duo On His Groundbreaking Collab Single, ‘Clubhouse’

The latest audio by-invite only social networking platform, Clubhouse has been making a huge wave in Japan. Japanese DJ and producer TAAR, alongside with MASAtO from next-gen producer duo ANIMAL HACK, recently made music and tech history by producing a collaboration track of the same name with Japanese artists in the music community in only 4-hours during a Clubhouse room session.

The track includes a wide range of styles and genres symbolizing the spontaneous nature of this collaboration as part of early days of the social networking audio-only app, featured Japanese artists include Mitsuki Aoyama, Seiho, Daisuke Kazaoka, CHICO CARLITO, Daisuke Hasegawa, Meiko Hoshibana, madflash, Anna Yano and YOSY POKARI.

Popwire recently spoke with MASAtO of ANIMAL HACK on the release of ‘Clubhouse’, which has been making headlines in both Japan and all over the world,

Congratulations on making music and tech history with the collab track! We are really pleased to be able to see so many artists coming together to do this.

Could you share briefly on what’s the Japanese music landscape like at this time?
With Covid going on, has it affected much of your music activities such as live
performances and parties?

Covid has hit hard on artists and clubs that had been focusing on live music. Many of the clubs that used to exist in Shibuya have closed down.

Major record companies that rely heavily on subscription-based fan clubs and live
music businesses have seen their performance deteriorate significantly, and are
being forced to make major changes such as giving up their own buildings and

On the other hand, there is an example of a record company, which has a high
weight of sound sources in its portfolio, achieving the biggest sales ever by having its artists and staff concentrate on sound source production.

How did you and TAAR meet?
We had just released an EP called ‘Boy’ around 2017, and I think that was the time when TAAR commented about the EP on Twitter. After that, we had met each other at various parties, and started hanging out. Musically we were also in similar music circuits and have worked with the same artists. SIRUP is one of them who has been a feature artist in both our tracks – YOSA & TAAR feat. SIRUP Fever’ and ANIMAL HACK feat. SIRUP, ‘Days Gone By’.


How did this collaboration for ‘Clubhouse’ come about?

TAAR and I had previously talked about making a song together someday, and we thought we might be able to find interesting artists if we made an open room in Clubhouse. The room was an open call every one to casually talk and collaborate and it quickly attracted a number of established singers, rappers, trumpet players and guitarists among other creators.

At that time, I had no idea that I would be able to finish a song that day. At some point, TAAR started playing 4 chords in the room we created, which prompted me to think about actually making a song, and I started to build a beat based on it. After that, a singer named Daisuke Hasegawa prepared 12 choruses and that’s when we all got serious about it.

Many artists were involved in the making of ‘Clubhouse’ including Mitsuki Aoyama, Seiho, CHICO CARLITO, and YOSY POKARI. What was it like working with everyone on this track? Was every one in that 1 Clubhouse room session involved in the making of this single?

Of course, everyone participated. The session in this room started with a basic track
with four chords by TAAR, and drums, bass, and synths by me. From there, each member individually came up with a variety of sounds, which were then compiled as data for TAAR. From there, he reconstructed them and the song was completed. At first, I didn’t think any of us expected the song to be completed in such a short time. Despite the platform’s simple interface, I could feel everyone’s concentration and seriousness growing as we worked towards the completion of the song.

Photo credits: ANIMAL HACK

Clubhouse has been quite a hot topic in Japan compared to the rest of the regions, where the platform is only picking up now. What were your initial thoughts on using the Clubhouse platform when it was just launched in Japan? And what are your thoughts now about the popularity of this platform?

When I first started using the platform, I felt that it was an app that emphasized the
importance of people talking and making speeches about something of value.
I see that in Japan, it is often simply used as an extension of TV or radio. Think of it as a place where people would simply “enjoy the daily conversations of famous people”. I do feel that Clubhouse is also valuable as a platform for one-on-one conversations between individuals, where they can honestly exchange opinions without biases like a social status.

Photo credits: MASAtO / ANIMAL HACK

Now that the collab single is out and viral, do you think you and TAAR will be doing more Clubhouse collaboration sessions with the Japanese music community? Any thoughts on working with artists out of Japan via Clubhouse too?

In fact, I’m currently working on a co-write project titled, ‘#ReroomProject’, which
involves some well-known artists in Japan. It is perhaps not something that everyone can do, as you need to have a certain level of skills to get involved, but we do hope that many musicians can join nonetheless. We are also hoping to work with non-Japanese-speaking artists to create music through Clubhouse.

Photo credits: ANIMAL HACK

You are part of Tokyo-based producer duo ANIMAL HACK who has collaborated with heavy-weight Japanese artists including SIRUP and Ai Otsuka. We also love that your previous 2 albums released sounded completely different from one another where it is clear that the sound has matured so well. As ANIMAL HACK, will you be working on new music collaborations and possibly a new album this year? If so, could you share with us what to expect of your new music?

Thank you for the deep research about us. This year, we are actually planning to
collaborate with a talented singer who has been getting a lot of attention outside of
Japan. I also admire Madeon and Porter Robinson, and like them, I want to write
songs with my own vocals, with themes I want to personally sing. As for the
expectations for my new songs, I hope that they attract attention not only in limited
areas like Tokyo or Japan in general, but also in other parts of the world, and that
they will bring unexpected events such as overseas performances and/or

Clubhouse’ is now available on all major digital streaming platforms. Listen here.


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