Before settling into the current forum of music collaboration, Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori formed a loose punk jam band know as "Leitoh Lychee". While hanging out writing music or after a night's gig, they often wandered over to one of the many great New York restaurants to relax, talk, and enjoy the food. Out of these late-night snacking sessions came several song concepts and finally, the band Cibo Matto itself.

Cibo Matto recorded their first mini CD on the Japanese recording label, "Error Records" . The self-titled mini album "Cibo Matto", was released in Japan in 1995. The CD included material already prepared in the United States for demos and their two independent 7" singles. The 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 Records behind them, Cibo Matto found a great deal of new success and popularity. Their second release on Warner Brothers was the mini CD titled, "Super Relax", in 1997.

Sean Lennon joined Miho and Yuka in the studio to provide the bass on most of the tracks for the "Super Relax" album. After the release of Super Relax, Cibo Matto went back to playing live gigs. They started taking Sean along on tour to accompany them on bass guitar. Over time, Sean came to be recognized as a member of what had previously been a two person band.

In addition to Sean on bass, Cibo Matto enlisted Timo Ellis to play drums and help out on vocals while touring. When it came time to start recording their third major release in 1998, "Stereotype A", Timo was there. They went into the studio as a four piece band, but by the end of the sessions another full time member, Duma Love, had been added to the band's bill. Duma plays electric drums, percussion, and raps. Duma can be heard on "Stereotype A" doing the impressive rap on "Lint Of Love" and the human beat box on "Clouds".

The band, in its current incarnation now has five main members, Yuka Honda, Miho Hatori, Timo Ellis, Sean Lennon, and Duma Love; with special guest appearances by their network of musical associates and friends, including guitarist Marc Ribot, John Medeski and Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin & Wood, Soul Coughing's Sebastian Steinberg, Buffalo Daughter's Zak and Yumiko Ohno. Each member shares a common interest in the cooperative development of new musical ideas.

Their latest, Stereo Type A is a broadly ambitious pop album. "You can take a hardcore Indian phrase, set it to a hip-hop beat, have country guitar in the back, and make it work," says Yuka. "I really think that technology, if we think about it positively, can give us a brighter future. One where stereotypes will be obsolete."

BAND MOTTO: "No reason."

Cibo Matto is quite frankly, the most fruity, strangeling band. The name itself means "food madness" in Italian, and is pronounced "chee-bo mott-oh" or "chee-bo mah-toh" depending on your accent. It comes from the girls' obsession with a seventies B-grade erotic comedy, named Seso Matto ("sex madness").

With little exception, their songs are about food! (and love). "Food is something you can't escape," says Yuka Honda. "It's there every day." But believe it or not, it could be worse.. of their previous band Leitoh Lychee (translation: "Frozen Lychee Nut"), Miho says, "You won't believe how many food songs we had in that punk band."

Their CD cover reads like a menu, and when they went on tour in Europe, they "ate like pigs" and gained ten pounds each. The girls themselves come across quite odd but appear to be rather normal all the same. Although Miho says she was born on the planet Venus; she claims to be the illegitimate daughter of Sun Ra.

The producers for Viva! La Woman came about in purely Cibo Matto style. Mitchell Froom, after seeing one of their early performances, begged to produce the group. Miho, who had no idea who he was, shooed him away. He kept coming back of course, like a sneak, a stalker..
The other producer is Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Latin Playboys, Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Soul Coughing).

Their music is a "supermarket" of samples looped and pieced together in quirky combinations, with delicious layers, stratums. Honda creates futuristic and urban atmospheres almost impossibly with horns, jazz, shimmery asian music, organs, oboes. Their bilingual pop songs are sticky and sweet. ("Sticky" in that they catch in your brain, and "sweet" as in charming and weird). They tell ridiculous stories in irresistably accented english, such as baking a moldy birthday cake for one's thirty year old son, and telling him to "Shut up and eat! Too bad no bon appetit!" and adding far too much sugar, salt, and MSG. The songs at time get curiously poetic, and are always vivid. They like to try to fuse everything into their music, bossa nova, '40s swing, polka, hip hop, steel drums. They pull off wild riot grrl rap, dreamy pop, bittersweet ballads, mutated jazz and madcap covers, such as "The Candy Man" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Their songs have very tactile and delirious imagery. Their metaphors seem awesomely strong: Ice cream, sugar water, clouds, cakes, Moby, Sunday mornings. Despite their eclecticism, they are stereotyped unabashedly. Primarily by likening them to other j-pop like Shonen Knife and Pizzicato Five, merely because they are japanese, and also by labelling them "the food band". To this Miho says:

We do not think about food all the time. We are using food names as a theme. Everything is important to us, those are just words. We just think people should know their food. The next album will be called Casa Matta, it'll be about interior design, the next album will be a double album -- one side is about car and the other about house. Fifth album will be nature. For the song titles we did not think, let's do food, it was just really natural."

These very stereotypes are what gave birth to the name of their latest album, Stereotype A. Cibo Matto do not like to be labelled cute (although they are, undeniably. As sure as they are the height of "cool", and panache). "We are friendly, but also from New York, so a little mean." They are often dismissed as a novelty act, just bubblegum with a microphone, but the girls insist "have you ever heard of metaphor? ..Cibo Matto is not about food. Cibo Matto is about life". In fact, they hate stereotypes on all levels. For example, it bothers them that Memoirs of a Geisha hit the bestseller list in the US. They say it is like a book titled A Texas Whore selling hugely over in Asia.

Cibo Matto are very very pop culture, but it is more pastiche than serious. I seriously recommend them.



Sources include:
wbr.com
tweak.com
metroactive.com
various interviews

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.