Arts and Entertainment

Hiro Savage, Homegrown Talent

A profile of senior Hiro Kimura, otherwise known as Hiro Savage, a self-made musician for the modern age.

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“It would be nice to be a superstar, but I’d be content to just have a dedicated fanbase,” Hiro Kimura responded when asked about his aspirations as an artist. Kimura, who goes by the moniker “Hiro Savage” (which is his first name and middle name), is one of Stuyvesant’s most prominent musical artists. Initially inspired in elementary school to create music through Nintendo video games, Kimura went on to produce instrumentals in Apple’s free GarageBand software.

Kimura’s musical trajectory transformed when he entered sixth grade and met Danny Renkas, who would become his best friend and closest musical associate. When they entered seventh grade, the duo began to write music, and Kimura started to play the guitar. Together they formed a band that seemed unable to keep a name for more than a week (with “Cobalt Sex God” being the most memorable). Though that band was dissolved when they found themselves at different high schools, they would later reunite in Kimura’s current band—formed during the summer of 2019—under the name “South Ferry.”

Since he was working less with Renkas in high school, Kimura took advantage of the relative artistic independence to focus more on himself as a solo artist. He is equally passionate about both South Ferry and his independent work, though he considers the world of Hiro Savage to be largely different from that of South Ferry.

His solo music is produced almost exclusively on GarageBand, which he still finds to be the most natural digital audio workstation to work with. When inspiration strikes, he’s able to open up the app on his phone and quickly get to work. He begins by finding a default sound close to what he wants and then tweaks it to his liking. Often he uses a synth sound to emulate the vibe of ‘80s pop (this vibe is especially apparent on his songs “wonder,” “start,” and “ego death”). Next, he writes either a lead melody or a chord progression, occasionally based on something he has stuck in his head. If he writes a chord progression first, the melody comes next, and vice-versa. After this, he adds more sounds to complement what he already has, contributing to a generally more textured atmosphere. He adds the rhythm section—bass and drums—near the end of production, as he doesn’t find percussion to be his forte. Vocals come last, always. He masters the mix and then records vocals right into a microphone from a pair of headphones. This doesn’t bother him, as he thinks that vocals should take more of a backseat in his songs anyway. He wants his voice to function “more as an instrument within the song than the driving force.” His use of various effects intends to capture what he describes as a “lush atmospheric sort of thing.”

Though his music doesn’t fit into any single genre, Kimura will tell you that his music prominently features elements of dream-pop and shoegaze, variations of the indie rock genre that feature vocals obscured by heavily layered sounds and effects. His discography is reminiscent of artists such as Beach House, Slowdive, MGMT, and Foster the People. He listens to a wide range of music and tries to implement elements of each genre into his own songs (not necessarily all at the same time, however). One of the most critical ideas he stressed when describing his sound as an artist was the concept of combining recognizable musical ideas with novelty and unfamiliarity. He knows that music needs to progress forward in order to stand out, but he also understands that it needs to be familiar to the listener, so that it isn’t immediately rejected. Kimura doesn’t make dime-a-dozen songs that are indistinguishable from those of other musicians and bands, but he also doesn’t take his experimentation to drastic, uncomfortable extremes. “The ‘80s, but futuristic,” he said, perhaps abstracting the essence of his musical vision perfectly.

Moving forward, Kimura plans to put out music on a frequent—maybe even weekly—schedule. He, however, will continue to only release what he is most proud of. Though his music is currently only on SoundCloud, he intends to move to platforms like Spotify and Apple Music once he has amassed a larger following. He would also love to do more shows with his band in the future. He describes the concerts that he has played with South Ferry as the most fun he’s ever had. “There’s no feeling like that,” he said. Though he wouldn’t mind being the next big rockstar, he’d rather just reach as many people as he can with his music. If he can, he would like to prove his versatility and branch out to other artistic realms. He wants to dabble in clothing design, music video direction, soundtrack creation, and more. Pay attention, because if his ambition is any indication of his future, it seems safe to say that Hiro Savage is going to do big things.

Hiro Savage can be found on Instagram and Soundcloud as @hirosavage, and South Ferry can be found on Instagram as @southferrymusic.