5 Minutes with Cibo Matto

On February 12, 1996 Jean-Paul DuQuette and Jonathon Wu interviewed Cibo Matto at Spaceland in Silver Lake.

JP: Wanna give us an introduction?

Yuka: Hi, this is Yuka and I play instruments.

Miho: I m Miho Hattori, and I play ... voice. (laughter)

JP: What are you trying to accomplish with your music?

Yuka: We just try to do whatever we want, and by doing so, we re hoping that more people will basically not worry about categories in music.

JP: I read an Entertainment Weekly review of your album ....

Yuka: I haven't seen it ....

JP: Well, they give you a good review, but they call you something like as cute and cuddly as Hello Kitty. Do you think that ever since Shonen Knife became popular, every Japanese female performer has automatically been perceived as cute and harmless?

Yuka: It is true that everybody compares us to Shonen Knife ....

Miho: Or Pizzicato Five ....

Yuka: Because we are Japanese and we are girls. That s as insane as comparing Hootie and the Blowfish to Lou Reed or James Brown; to put them in the same category because they are male and they are American.

JP: Exactly.

Yuka: We can t wait for people to realize how narrow their window, their view, really is.

JP: I heard one of you has a new solo project on John Zorn s label ....

Yuka: Right, I do.

JP: When s it coming out? What s it like?

Yuka: (laughing) Let s wait to hear it ...

JP: Do you at least know when it s coming out?

Yuka: Maybe later this year.

JP: Why do you use food as a metaphor so often?

Yuka: It's nothing strange to us, it s not a put-off for us. We just kinda like to talk about food a lot, and we really like this aspect of how food relates to our lives.

Miho: It's really connected with life, you know? We have to eat.

JP: Have you done any gigs in Japan?

Yuka: Yes, we have.

JP: Any difference in crowds? Are they more receptive, or ... ?

Yuka: It's a little weird for us because we are Japanese people singing in English, so it s a little more natural, in a strange way, in the United States. That s maybe the main difference.

JP: I know you put out an EP before Viva! La Woman. What label is it on and what's on it?

Yuka: It's on El Diablo, and it has a demo version of Beef Jerky," a demo version of Birthday Cake, and a live version of Know Your Chicken ....

Miho: Black Hole Sun ....

Yuka: Which is a cover, and this song called "Crumbs".

JP: What music did you grow up listening to? What are your influences?

Yuka: I listened to a lot of kinds of music, but mainly I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and soul music, until I got into Talking Heads and all this new wave music. I think maybe soul music influenced me the most, and of course, The Beatles were also my passion.

Miho: I heard a lot of rock, like Sonic Youth and Pussy Galore ... Beastie Boys ....

JP: So you have various influences.

Yuka: We really like to listen to a lot of different kinds of music all the time, and that s how we want to play music, too.

JP: OK, everyone s asked me this question. Know Your Chicken -- what does it mean?

Miho: It's an Italian expression. It's like "I know my shit" ....

Yuka: It's a real expression in Italy. They say, like, "Don't worry, I know my chicken".

JP: That's cool ...

Yuka: Yeah, it's a cool saying.

JP: What do you see for the future?

Yuka: I just want to stay as natural as we can be. Like right now, we just recorded a bossa nova song, and we just want to do what we re into. Whatever we do will be Cibo Matto, and genre-wise, we don't really want to worry about what we're going to do.

Miho: I think next is polka music ....

Jean-Paul DuQuette and Jonathon Wu host Turning Japanese, which can be heard every Saturday from 400 PM - 600 PM.