Yoshimi first came to prominence as co founder of legendary Japanese experimental psych ensemble The Boredoms, who in recent times have been performing epic ritualistic large scale happenings with anything from 10-100 drummers. She would also formed OOIOO in 1997, a chameleon like ensemble who seemed to change markedly with each of their 7 albums, including 2013’s Gamel, which featured the Indonesia gamelan. Possibly my favourite album of Yoshimi’s is 2003’s A Flower with no Color (Ipecac), a sparse, gentle collaboration with Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto) that combined field recordings and keyboards on a trip up Mt Ikoma. She’s coming to Melbourne to perform at The Book of Daughters, so Cyclic took the opportunity to email a few questions to her a couple of days before her show.
What does percussion mean to you, and why are you so attracted to it?
Yoshimi: If I play the drums in line with what’s in my soul, they’ll make a sound. A sort of primitive impulse. Drums are troublesome to set up, but a drum kit can convey the drums, bass, guitar, and vocals of a normal band, as just one instrument. I think that’s what makes the drums unique, and I’m interested in that aspect. I always have fun playing within a set of limitations.
How would you say your understanding and approach to percussion has changed or developed over the years?
Yoshimi: I think it’s changed a bit, but I think it’s more about how I feel on the day. Which direction I’m facing, what the weather is like. If I’m indoors, the shape of the room. Or am I outdoors; am I in nature? What kind of people will be there? It’s influenced by everything.
Can you tell me what you will be doing in your solo performance at Jolt? Will it be improvised or will you be performing something pre arranged?
Yoshimi: It will be improv. I’ll hit a drum set connected to a bass amp, listen to the feedback, and then take it from there. I’ll use drums, keyboards and my voice.
Can you tell me what’s happening with Boredoms?
Yoshimi: We did a lot of shows in Japan and Europe this year. For next year, we’ll do all that we can next year.
What continues to inspire you to make music?
Yoshimi: I never know what I’ll be inspired by. It’s always unexpected.
You have also collaborated with a number of other artists. How does playing with new people help shape your approach to music?
Yoshimi: I think making sounds with people is never an ordinary occurrence. So I never have the ease of mind to see if I’ve discovered a new feeling inside of me. If it’s being recorded, you can judge what happened. Whether I discovered a new sense and was able to broaden my abilities…I’m not thinking much while I’m in the midst of it.
I really enjoy your use of non western instrumentation in both Boredoms and OOIOO what inspires you to opt for something different?
Yoshimi: What makes you say that I choose something different? I may simply be inspired by the instruments and making sounds with them.
Yoshimi is playing as part of Book of Daughters in Melbourne which begins Thursday 10th November. You can find out more here.
This interview was kindly translated by Ryotaro.