[interview] A.Y.A: Makoto Kawai

Here's FXDB's interview with Makoto Kawai of A.Y.A:

How did A.Y.A start?

I'm a real professional musician. But I didn't have money when I was younger to buy expensive pedals. So I thought I could make them myself and save some money. I started making pedals 8 years ago, as my own company.

Where do the name and logo come from?

"Aya" in Japanese means "decoration." We were trying to convey the feeling of "color" -- which is why the pedals are so decorative and colorful.

Each pedal has a different logo/design. It's supposed to convey keeping an open mind.

What sets A.Y.A apart from other builders?

All handwiring, made by a professional musician.

How do you start on a new pedal?

I think about what pedal I'd like to have and build that. Sometimes I get an idea from my distributors.

It takes me anywhere from a week to 6 months from idea to realization.

How do you name your pedals?

Every spring, by the Japanese Emperor's "Ote" gate, beautiful white and peach flowers bloom. It's a very Japanese scene. That's where the name of the FrontGate Bass Drive comes from.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

I build all the pedals myself.

Circuits are PCBs and hand wired, enclosures are bought and I use decals to finish them.

How important is the look of your pedals?

I am Japanese and think the look is very important. I want to show the four seasons of Japan.

Is parts selection important?

Before I finish a model, I try so many different wiring patterns. As long as the parts match, I don't care about brand.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

I'm most proud of the FrontGate Bass Drive for the bass guitar. The artwork, circuit design are great and even when crunching, it keeps a fat sound.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Warm Chorus was toughest. It's hard to build a pedal that keeps a fat sound and is small.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

AYA R-Comp is the most popular. Probably because it keeps the guitar's own sound/tone, but makes it fat.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I make pedals for everyone, but there are some famous users: Tim Pierce, Carl Verheyen, Michael Thompson,  Allen Hinds, etc.

What does the future of A.Y.A look like?

I plan to make a special model for my 2000th model.

Are you working on any new products?

Not right now.

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