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Oh-oh-eye-oh-oh

Yoshimi's the coolest. Besides her already legendary drum/trumpet/howling work with Japanese noise band The Boredoms and the art-rock supergroup Free Kitten, Yoshimi fronts an all-girl band called OOIOO (say it like: "Oh-oh-eye-oh-oh") that started...
December 1, 2001, 12:00am

Yoshimi’s the coolest. Besides her already legendary drum/trumpet/howling work with Japanese noise band The Boredoms and the art-rock supergroup Free Kitten, Yoshimi fronts an all-girl band called OOIOO (say it like: “Oh-oh-eye-oh-oh”) that started when she brought three good-looking friends of hers (bassist Maki, guitarist Kanyan and drummer Yoshico) to model as a rock band for a fashion shoot. They all liked pretending to play instruments so much, they thought, what the hell, let’s do it for real. Since then there have been three amazing albums (8, on Kill Rock Stars, and Feather Float and Gold and Green, both on Birdman) that follow the band’s development from fast, jerky electro-punk to a more grandiose psychedelia that incorporates so many different sounds, from modern (electronic) to ancient (banging on things), that I’m reluctant to describe it at all. Yoshimi herself describes it as “Good music that is friendly to the earth.” On the eve of OOIOO’s first-ever show in NYC, Yoshimi’s wearing baggy sweatpants with white high-heeled dress shoes and her hair is in a sideways ponytail. When she pulls out her sparkly silver guitar from its case, Lisa Frank rainbow unicorn dolls come tumbling out. When she opens her mouth to sing, I notice that her teeth are all snaggley and cool-looking, but then I’m startled by the noises she’s making—they’re such physical sounds that you can almost see them! Sometimes they’re Yoko Ono screeches, sometimes surprisingly rich, guttural wails and sometimes just a rhythm of phonetic jabber and heavy breathing. Fittingly, Yoshimi sites Yma Sumac, the shrill “diva exotica” with a four-octave vocal range, as a big influence. Throughout the night’s incredible show, Yoshimi whips out blood-curdling hot rock guitar solos with sweat trickling down her neck and blows her trumpet so her cheeks get all puffed out and she looks like a crazy little baby. Her performance is so riveting; it makes me feel things. Also, broken English is totally rad. VICE: How is OOIOO different from the Boredoms? Yoshimi: In Boredoms I drum, in OOIOO I play the guitar and the vocals. And mix. Is it different being in an all-girl band? Different vibration. And how do you like New York this time around? Before, I like it. Now I don’t know. Food is great. Yuka from Cibo Matto has been taking us around to very good eating places. It’s not very rural. You guys like to “celebrate mother nature,” right? We try to go pick up some spring water. Not just from the tap, we are going to get the actual spring water from the spring. To drink… for life. Real nature things. But there’s no natural spring water in Osaka, is there? Regular we go to the stream, but it probably gonna take five hours to get to the stream. We go because it taste good. Whatever I eat or drink, it goes into the music I am creating, like the water creates me. The water is the most important to my music and the rhythm. What other projects are you doing that involve the water? I have lots. Zero o’clock Zero Zero. Can I write down? (Writes the names of her other bands: Sun.PM 0:00, Alphabetical, Psychobaba). Sun.PM 0:00 is really new band with Eye from Boredoms playing steel guitar and I play trumpet and keyboard and singing. We call this band the Hawaiian band, but your Hawaiian maybe different from our Hawaiian… Alphabetical is punky… I am the singer from Psychobaba and another guy play tabla, like traditional kind of Indian music. And do you do the artwork too? The artwork for OOIOO is beautiful. Feather Float I drew. I like Lisa Frank. I even ask Lisa Frank to do the cover, but they say she won’t do anything with age over eight years-old. So what’s next? After the USA, I will go to Nepal. I visited mountain people in Thailand. Those kind of musics really influence me. I think I heard it before, long before. I kind of know I am from the mountainside, not from the sea. AMY KELLNER