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[Music] An interview with: Hinako Omori

Introducing the sound healing compositions of Hinako Omori.

The multi-dimensional UK based musician, born in Japan, has performed at the likes of Womad Festival and most recently headlined London's prestigous South Bank Center alongside the London Contemporary Orchestra.

Hinako has gained a reputation in the world of electronic music for her ecological approach to recording, sampling the sounds of nature from her travels alongside floaty and ethereal synthesisers with the intention of inducing a calm and tranquil state in the listener. Her debut album 'A Journey..." was released last month on March 18th and is a beautifully reflective ambient project inspired by the Japanese practice of Forest Bathing. It became clear from speaking with Hinako that beyond the surface of her music there is a spiritual philosophy and ethos to her method of creativity.

Read on below for our new interview with Hinako Omori...

How are you feeling so far in 2022? Any realisations, feelings that you're tapping into?

Hi Psychic Garden! How are you? I’m feeling optimistic so far in 2022 - Spring is here, the sun is shining and am feeling hopeful that we’re on our way out from these strange few years that we’ve had ✷

When did you first start making music and how long did it take you to develop your personal style and execution?

Making music is fairly new for me - perhaps in the last 4 years or so - and I’m still learning day by day, experimenting and embracing the happy accidents that come from creating. As for my personal style, I think it’s still very much something I’m figuring out - I’m very open to change, and to see how things may evolve in a natural way. At the moment I’m really enjoying making ambient music with synthesisers, and experimenting with different soundscapes and textures.

How much of an influence is nature on your creative process and general state of being?

Very much an influence! During touring or travelling in general, I love wandering around and getting to know a new area or neighbourhood, finding parks and local areas of nature. I always take my phone or portable field recorder with me to create little sonic postcards of the places, and often revisit these recordings in projects to create sonic architectures and atmospheres. On a trip back to Japan a couple of years ago I took some hydrophone microphones with me, which also opened up a whole new world for me - it’s so magical to hear the sounds that are hidden to us, underneath the surface.

Your new project references the Japanese practice of forest bathing as an inspiration, could you tell us about this practice and what you have found out about it?

In Japan we call the art of forest-bathing “shinrin-yoku” (森林浴), a term that was coined in 1982. There’s scientific research that show the wonderful implications forest bathing has on our health and wellbeing, in lowering your cortisol levels, sympathetic nerve activity, blood pressure, pulse rate and more. Even just being shown photos of natural environments has been found to boost our positive emotions, which I think is incredible! Plants and trees emit phytoncides, which literally means “exterminated by plants” - essential oils that are generated for their protection, which carry natural antibacterial properties. The responses of breathing in phytoncides on the human body include anti-inflammatory qualities, reducing our nervous system activity and stress levels, and boosting our immune response. It’s also been discovered that forests have a high concentration of negative ions, which is said to ‘purify’ the air.

You can just feel the amazing effects by just going for a walk in nature and being enveloped by trees, connecting with nature and taking in the surroundings and the restorative environment. The feeling of fresh air, sounds of the gentle movement of the trees, the sounds of bird calls, the smell of a forest on a rainy day… It’s so therapeutic, and brings a sense of peace and happiness, allowing us to reconnect and realign. I couldn’t recommend it more!

It's interesting looking into studies around how sound/music releases dopamine, could you elaborate on how/why you incorporate sound healing into your music and the intentions behind that?

I think perhaps the inspiration came from the first gong bath I experienced, in the middle of a hectic touring schedule. It was so beautiful and meditative, and completely reset my mind and body - I totally lost where I was for the entire session, and I don’t think I fully realised how much I needed it. Since then I’ve been reading into sound therapy and healing, and have become even more interested in the application of sound waves in entraining our bodies back to their natural states and frequencies. Our brains emit frequencies, or brainwaves - there’s a wonderful ‘feedback loop’ that occurs between our brain, our bodies and our minds, in that they all influence each other, and when our bodies relax, the frequency of our brainwaves decreases into a more relaxed state, and vice versa. Our brains can be guided into different states with different frequencies - for example, delta waves (between 0.5-4Hz) promote healing and deep restorative sleep, theta waves (between 4-7Hz) promote creativity, intuition and emotional processing, and alpha waves (between 8-12Hz) promote relaxation.

In consideration of 'om' as the sound of creation and thinking of Nikola Tesla's quote around "thinking of everything in the universe in terms of vibration and frequency", could you tell us your thoughts around the divinely mystical elements of your study into sound and some of the fascinating insights you've gained over the years?

I love this beautiful quote by Tesla - and also Albert Einstein’s quote, “everything in life is vibration” - we are all made of atoms (and broken down further, particles - protons, neutrons and electrons) which are constantly in motion, and energy on an even smaller scale. Everything in nature vibrates at different frequencies - sound is also a vibration.

We can be impacted by the vibrational energy around us - the dominant vibration and energy will affect our energy by way of entrainment. We naturally take on the stronger vibrations around us, so when we’re in a stressful environment or scenario for example, this can negatively impact our energy. We can use sound and sound therapy to balance the body’s energy and restore it back to its natural vibrations - some examples of different methods include the use of crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, or binaural beats. Looping back to the gong bath we spoke about previously, we’re immersed in the vibrations of the gongs - the sounds from the gongs enter our ears and lead to brainwave entrainment, guiding us into relaxed and meditative states. It can relax our bodies into a deep state of rest, restoring balance and releasing tension and blockages. It’s really powerful!

I read that some scientists in Sweden artificially constructed a single atom and discovered that its sound is a D-note, about 20 octaves higher than the highest playable note on a piano! I also recently learnt that Pythagoras was the first person to use sound as medicine, teaching that music has the ability to “bring the faculties of the soul into harmony with these structures, composing and purifying the mind and body, and thus restoring and maintaining perfect health”. At the end of the day, he would play calming music to his disciples to “produce deep sleep and prophetic dreams”, and would play them stimulating rhythms and melodies to awake them from their slumber in the morning.

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