Like a lot of other Australian musicians, Japetus has done the usual rounds of A&R departments and wasn't overwhelmed with positive support. So, in 1983 he decided to take his music in his own hands - through his eight-track home studio, his own label, and entrepreneurial skills born out of necessity.
So far, he's released 11 solo cassette/albums and collaborated on various audio/visual projects. It's hard work but "once you get over the initial knock backs from radio, record companies and the industry in general having to do it all yourself is quite positive."
He doesn't mind being labeled New Age although he thinks the term is confusing because it's applied carte blanche to any kind of instrumental music.
"I think new age is about transformation . . . with this music I'm trying to take people through a process so when they get to the end of an album they feel like they've been somewhere. But a lot of stuff called new age isn't concerned with that, it's really ambient jazz."
He usually begins by sketching the entire piece/s on the eight-track and then gradually colours them in. No bouncing or premixing.
"I choose and develop sounds carefully and for specific purposes. I don't use any factory sounds, even on my DX7: they've all been 'tampered with'. That's why I use old synths because I like to make my own sounds."
Perversely he owns two of the most unfriendly machines around - a DX7 and a Mirage. "But I've found ways of getting sounds from the DX7 that aren't so complex, like going through the algorithms and changing them and the envelopes.
"The Mirage is hard to sample with, but it's easy to get into the envelopes and mess around with them. I think the Mirage has a special quality. Okay, it's not 16-bit, but I've tried several more expensive samplers and I've found they don't work so well with this music. They're too clean and clear and don't blend."
Live, he uses an MSQ700 sequencer which feeds the same data to the DX7, Mirage and JX3P which he then mixes and plays over. He also uses the sequencers in the JX and Mirage to play out of sync with the MSQ and mixes in taped effects without sync too.
"Most musicians spend their whole lives trying to get in time, but when you listen to the sounds of nature you find very few are 'in sync'. So, like nature, I use sound that is 'out of time' but in perfect harmony."
Japetus started off playing pop music, drums and guitar. "I've resisted learning music because I love to explore it, to have it happening in front of me. Even if it's something that's been discovered by other people millions of times, for me to discover it for myself is much more satisfying than sitting down and playing scales."
He doesn't like being called a keyboard player. "I'm a synthesist. That just means being able (and willing) to pull a particular sound for a particular colour."
In 1985 he was commissioned to create music for a book by Nevill Drury called Music For Inner Space which became a three-part series depicting symbols of the Egyptian Book Of the Dead, the Zodiac and the Tarot.
"It was interesting because I had to think of sound in an elemental way, rather than as colour. It's very specific when you're writing a piece about air, or earth, fire, water, or spirit. You have to create sounds which make you feel those elements."
The recordings were released locally and in Europe.
But music is just a part of the picture, he says. He has just completed shooting a video to accompany his album 'Visions Of Paradise' in short and long form which he hopes will get aired on television. He currently plays live around Sydney at venues ranging from the broadwalk at the Sydney Opera House and Darling Harbour to shopping malls.
"That's hard because my music is quite subtle and it doesn't really belong in a shopping mall with trucks roaring by. It works better in conference or workshop formats so I can incorporate visuals."
People are accustomed to listening to music for pleasure which is fine, but music can be much more than that."