Honda and Miho had started playing the improv nights and small
clubs in New York City for fun. In preparation for their first
Matto" release on Warner Brother Records, they realized
that they needed to get more serious about their musical production.
More energy went into working out their musical arrangements
and they struggled to write some fresh new songs. They had
gained some experience in the studio, but they both realized
that their release on Warner Brothers was going to have to
be something special. For although the lure of the bright
lights was not their main motivation, the knowledge that they
had a chance to perform on a new level drove them to work
earnestly at preparing their first major CD. They brought
in two top recording producers, Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake,
to assist them on their project. Mitchell and Blake had already
attained a bit of notoriety in the recording industry. Mitchell
is a famous producer that has done work for Paul McCartney,
Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Elvis Costello, and Los Lobos, among
others. Meanwhile, Tchad had some more minor success with
his production of a album for a band called Soul Coughing
in 1994. Miho and Yuka had to lie all their cards on the table
and head into the Warners Brothers studio to either "Boom
Cibo Matto went into the studio to record their first major
release, "Viva! La Woman", they pulled in all their
markers. They relied on the network of friends they had made
to back them up in the studio. The guest list at the sessions
included Bernie Worrell of "Parliament" and "Funkadelic"
fame, Rick Lee of "Skeleton Key", Dougie Bowne of
the Lounge Lizards, members of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion,
and several other noteworthy musicians were also included
in the recording sessions. The production team of Mitchell
Froom and Tchad Blake masterful guided Cibo Matto and the
backing musicians through the course of the sessions. Yuka
and Miho made all the artistic choices on the album's production,
but they also realized the importance of listening to new
ideas and approaches that the producers brought to the table.
Having the experience of the mini album behind them, they
had already done a dry run on producing an album. Now they
pulled all of the loose ends together to create one of the
most imaginative albums of the mid 1990's, "Viva! La
I met a lover.
One night, she made me dinner.
Licking finger, I wondered
where she got the chicken."
know my Chicken!
You got to know your Chicken."- CIBO MATTO(Copyright
© 1995 Soul Urchin Song)
hard work that Yuka and Miho had put in over the years came
together in the release of the CD, "Viva! La Woman",
in early 1996. With the distribution resources of Warner Brothers
behind them, Cibo Matto found a great deal of new success
and popularity. Material from the album found radio airplay
on the FM and College airwaves in America. A small tour of
Europe also helped to establish the band's foothold abroad.
And of course they had also found a following in their homeland
of Japan. Via! La Woman was composed of an eclectic musical
collection that ranged from a cover of Sammy Davis Jr.'s "The
Candy Man" to the stormy bleating rap explosions of Cibo
Matto's "Birthday Cake". The production included
deep grooves, techno samples, guitar riffs, and a complete
assortment of musical dialogues. Cibo Matto demonstrated their
ability to weld their off course sense of humor with the art
of creating catchy tunes and off beat lyrics. Sometimes the
music of Cibo Matto is spacey and ethereal, while other times
it is spastic and manic. Food was the theme of the album and
the songs titles included such like as "White Pepper
Ice Cream", "Beef Jerky", and "Artichoke".
The successful release of "Viva! La Woman" launched
Cibo Matto into the public eye.
the music critics tried to pigeon hole the band into the same
class as the already successful Japanese girl band, "Shonen
Knife", Miho and Yuka just shrugged off the comparisons.
Although they have some fun by playing into their crazy Japanese
girl image, there is little musical comparison to the peppy
punk sound of "Shonen Knife". Of course, as Miho
continued to struggle with her mastery of the English language,
her singing often came out in broken particles and a thick
accent. This seemed to be more of an advantage than a disadvantage
to Cibo Matto, as it further defined a very unique quality
and sound for the band's musical presentation. The women's
musical presentation could be viewed as sexy, but Yuka and
Miho consider themselves feminist oriented musicians, as opposed
to cute, sex symbols from Japan.
and Yuka had made friends with one their idols, a Japanese
expatriate of avant garde art music fame, "Yoko Ono".
They met Yoko after Capitol records invited Cibo Matto to
perform a remix of the song "Talking To The Universe",
on Yoko's "Rising Remixes" EP. After hearing Miho
and Yuka perform, Yoko invited them over to visit her at the
Dakota. Through this interaction, Miho and Yuka met Yoko's
son, Sean Lennon. After a short time, Yuka asked Sean to come
play bass with them at a Cibo Matto concert. Following that
performance, they asked Sean to go on tour with them as their
bass player. As they began work on their next studio experiment,
they brought Sean farther into the Cibo Matto fold. As they
rode the wave of their now more widespread fame, they began
work on their next CD release, "Super Relax". Cibo
Matto relied on the same successful formula that had created
the Via! La Woman CD to produce their mini CD, "Super
Relax". This CD was released in 1997. Sean joined Miho
and Yuka in the studio to provide the bass lines on most of
the CD's cuts.
second release on Warner Brother record was the mini CD titled,
"Super Relax". The second CD could be considered
an extended re-mix album as it contains four different versions
of the song "Sugar Water" (originally released on
the Viva! La Woman album). Yuka took on production of most
of the material for the album. She was assisted by MarioCaldato
Jr. in some of the songs production, and Mike D. of the "Beastie
Boys" helped produced one of the mixes of Sugar Water.
Miho went ballistic on a live version of the song "BBQ",
and then sang the part of an international siren in her subtle
handling of Antonio Carlos Jobim's song "Aguas de Marco."
The song, Aguas de Marco, was sung in Spanish. A happy go
lucky version of a Rolling Stones song, "Sing This All
Together", gave the album an even greater dimension.
Super Relax further defined Cibo Matto as a multi talented
band with diverse musical styles.
The diverse natural of Cibo Matto's styles, make them a band
than can not be easily defined. They do not pander to a certain
gander or trend, instead they blend the best of many different
popular music cultures into the material they write. This
type of experimentation makes widespread commercialism and
Top 40 chart busters difficult to produce. The band is happier
to have a chance to continue to have fun creating and performing
music, than they are to take on a full assault on stardom.
Moreover, their international smourgouboard of delights is
not easily defined and marketed through normal industry channels.
Their desire to create good live performances and their obvious
enjoyment of playing music has created a very loyal fan base
for Cibo Matto. They enjoy being spontaneous and don't believe
that a song should always be performed the same way. While
heading on stage they are often are still deciding the type
of presentation to bring to a song's performance. While in
concert, the band's songs can take on a life of their own.
In this way, songs that have been written are developed over
time and can remain in a constant state of evolution.
After the release of Super Relax, Cibo Matto went back to
what they enjoyed doing most, playing live gigs. They started
taking Sean Lennon along to accompany them on bass guitar.
Over time, Sean came to be recognized as a member of what
had been a two person band. While touring and performing they
continued to write and build on their musical repertoire.
They have continued to play live gigs both as Cibo Matto and
Butter 08. They joined their friends, "Buffalo
Daughter", and went on tour with Luscious
Jackson, Pavement, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Their concert performances in America , Japan and Europe continued
to be well received by their fans. Cibo Matto joined Yoko
Ono and others for the "Tibetan
Freedom Concert" tours. Further concerts included
opening for acts like Philip Glass, Patti Smith, Michael Stipe,
and Natalie Merchant. Yuka and Miho continue to perform and
build a following for Cibo Matto, and still find time for
numerous other projects.
Matto has continued to build their network of supporting musicians
by working on various side projects. They worked with their
side band, "Butter
08", as time allowed. The band Butter 08 is made
up of of Yuka and Miho, joined by Russell Simins of The Jon
Spencer Blues Explosion, Rick Lee of Skeleton Key on guitar,
and Mike Mills on bass. They recorded a new song for the soundtrack
of a film titled "Half Baked" by Tamra Davis. Sandra
Bernard was working on a film, "Lover Girl", and
Sugar Water found a spot on the sound track. Included on a
special tribute album to the French pop star, "Serge
Gainsbourg", Cibo Matto performed the song "J'Etaime".
Mitchell Froom invited Miho to sing on a track for his CD.
In her spare time, Miho also joined Arto Lindsay and Kat Bjelland
of "Babes In Toyland" to record a song for the soundtrack
of the film "Witchblade". In her off hours, Yuka
continues to learn and experiment with her production talents
and sampling tricks. In this way, Cibo Matto remains very
visible despite the lull in time that has passed since the
release of their second CD.
1998, Sean completed working on his own solo album, "Into
the Sun". He brought Yuka into the studio to produce
Into the Sun. The new album is handled by Grand Royal Records.
Yuka helped Sean to bring out the emotional thoughtfulness
in the quality of his album. Together they painted a picture
of an introspective, young man's vulnerability in a chaotic
and ever changing world. Like other Cibo Matto projects, Sean
choose to diversify the project, instead of following one
particular musical style.
breaks from their performances, Cibo Matto began work on their
third Warner Brother album that was originally scheduled for
release in early 1999. Instead of rushing the album, the band
decided to further incubate the material through live performance
and pushed the release schedule into the summer of 1999. Yuka
has become an ever increasing perfectionist, and labored endlessly
on bringing together the final masters to completion. Cibo
Matto has a need to remain in artistic control of their presentation,
they don't leave the work to outside chance by outsourcing
to third parties. Instead they prefered to take the extra
time to personally oversee the application on the album's
finishing touches. This included paying attention to cover
artwork, design, and ensuring the proper credits are included.
Like a fine wine, it improved with time. While their fans
waited for the new album, they had plenty of chances to see
Cibo Matto on tour in their native element.
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