UMMMI Interview: Avant-Garde Cinema, Audience Freedom & Tokyo’s Best Nightclubs
Inside the belly of Pirate Studios in Bristol, I connect to the Wi-Fi and let UMMMI know that I’m ready for a chat. I swipe the green button and she appears on my phone screen, comfortable in her cosy, daylight-fresh London flat. It’s thanks to JAEFF that we’re talking. Her film, Desktop Treasure, is due to screen at the Japanese Avant-Garde and Experimental Film Festival (JAEFF) this weekend, 22nd September 2018, so it’s the perfect time to catch up with her.
An instantly striking aspect of Umi Ishihara’s work is the costume design. She tells me that the main character in Desktop Treasure is a friend of hers, the fashion blogger, @Ikedahirari. When it was shot six years ago, Instagram wasn’t so big. Since then, Hirari has grown with the platform, amassing 30k+ followers and heralding a stunningly subversive visual world of skin and colour. Her violently cute style is the centre of attention in Desktop Treasure, which follows her at home trawling through pop-art tapes and traipsing mischievously around Tokyo. Some of her self-crafted clothing has “UMMMI” stitched into the fabric.
In within the soundtracks of UMMMI lies the never-ending rotation of a completed tape, the hum of an unlocatable extractor fan, or the constant thrum of thought. “In real life, there’s always chaotic noise,” she tells me, “wherever I am, there’s one specific sound that stands out from the rest. In this sense, this aspect of the soundtrack is how I hear the world”. I ask her if she makes any of the music in the films herself.
UMMMI explains that her parents pushed her down that path from a young age, urging her into the world of techno and electronic dance music. Her father works in the music business, involved in the Tokyo nightclub scene. Why doesn’t she want to follow in their footsteps? “Music is my angel. I don’t want to touch it,” she explains enigmatically. With such an eclectic mix of music in her film’s soundtracks and a…