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Cibo Matto: Bio, Discography and Videos

Updated on December 30, 2010

Know Your Cibo Matto

Cibo Matto was a New York-based music group composed primarily of female Japanese musicians: vocalist Miho Hatori and keyboardist/sampler Yuka Honda. Their music reflected the melting-pot aesthetics of their origins, resulting in a heady brew of funk samples, hip-hop rhythms, tape loops, and fractured pop melodies all topped off by surreal narratives sung in a combination of French and broken English.

The name Cibo Matto means "crazy food" in Italian and appropriately enough, no other term could best describe the type of music they made. Their first album Viva La Woman had tracks with titles like "Beef Jerky", "Know Your Chicken" and "Birthday Cake". Listen to them and you'll hear a veritable mix of different music genres, sometimes all at once. The music may take getting used to initially but I found myself taking a liking to the interesting melange almost instantly.

I've been a fan since the mid-90s and have followed their progress until the moment they disbanded *sniff*. Even though the band is no longer together, this page is here to showcase the sometimes-crazy but always-fun-and-eclectic brand of music only Cibo Matto is capable of.

Shut up and eat, too bad no bon appetit.

- "Birthday Cake", M.Hatori Y. Honda

Photo from The Blue Dot / information from Wikipedia

Watch Cibo Matto's "Sugar Water" music video - Directed by acclaimed director Michel Gondry

This is the first video of Cibo Matto's that I ever saw and it was also the video that introduced me to their music as well as the genius of director Michel Gondry. Watch it and see for yourself how incredible it is. It utilizes a split screen all throughout -- the left half featuring Yuka moves forward in time and the right half featuring Miho moves in reverse but somewhere towards the middle, their timelines meet at the exact same moment. I've always wondered how it was done and it still baffles me up to now.

Both Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda are from Tokyo but their paths never crossed in their native Japan. Yuka, who was once a member of Brooklyn Funk Essentials, settled in New York in 1987 and Miho, an alum of the Tokyo rap unit Kimidori and a former club DJ, followed six years later. After meeting in 1994, they first teamed in the Boredoms-inspired noise outfit Leitoh Lychee (translated as "frozen lychee nut"). When Lychee broke up, the duo formed Cibo Matto which, in Italian means "food madness" or "crazy food".

Cibo Matto's core group was composed of:

Yuka Honda: Sampler and Sequencer, Keyboard, Piano, Organ, Synth, Harpsichord, Backing Vocals

Miho Hatori: Lead Vocals, Percussion, Acoustic Guitar

Sean Lennon: Bass Guitar, (Electric, 12-String and Acoustic) Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Synth, Backing Vocals

Timo Ellis: Drums, Percussion, Bass Guitar, (Electric and Acoustic) Guitar, Backing Vocals

Duma Love: Percussion, Vocals, Turntable, Beat Box

The group soon emerged as a sensation among the Lower Manhattan hipster elite, and after a pair of acclaimed 1995 independent singles, "Birthday Cake" and "Know Your Chicken," Cibo Matto signed to Warner Bros., surfacing in 1996 with the Mitchell Froom/Tchad Blake-produced Viva! La Woman, a delirious, stunningly inventive record celebrating love, food, and love of food. After touring with guest bassist Sean Lennon and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins, the EP Super Relax followed in 1997. Lennon, percussionist Duma Love, and drummer Timo Ellis were installed as full-time members for the follow-up, 1999's Stereo Type A.

After seven years of playing live and on tour both locally and overseas, Cibo Matto disbanded in 2001, much to the disappointment of their fans. In an interview, Honda stated "Cibo Matto broke up because it was time. We felt the need to move to the next step. It was a healthy decision, though it was sad at the same time. Things just need to grow out of things sometimes." All of the members of Cibo Matto have gone on to release solo material - Hatori collaborating with Smokey Hormel and the Gorillaz, and Honda producing Sean Lennon's Into The Sun; working on her solo albums; and collaborating with the Boredoms' Yoshimi on the album Flower With No Color - and have on occasion collaborated with each other.

That's how we do it,

we got your harmony.

- Sci-fi Wasabi, M. Hatori / Y.Honda

(source: AllMusic/photos are from Cibo Matto's MySpace)

Learn more about Cibo Matto on the following websites:

Listen to Viva! La Woman - Cibo Matto's first full-length studio album, released in 1996

Viva! La Woman is composed of an eclectic musical collection that ranges 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 includes funky grooves, techno tape loops, guitar riffs, and a complete assortment of musical dialogues.

Food is the theme of this album, with song titles like "White Pepper Ice Cream", "Beef Jerky", and "Artichoke". The successful release of "Viva! La Woman" launched Cibo Matto into the public eye.

My top 5 favorite tracks: Birthday Cake, Sugar Water, White Pepper Ice Cream, Beef Jerky, and The Candy Man

Cibo Matto Live Performance Videos

Listen to Stereotype A - Cibo Matto's second full-length studio album, released in 1999

Stereotype A is a mature, instrumentally rich album that sees the group break the novelty mold and achieve recognition for compelling songwriting and interesting arrangements. On Stereotype A, Cibo Matto incorporates such styles as electropop, bossa nova, soul, hip-hop, and butt-waggling funk, expressing a dizzying range of influences that include TLC, Ice Cube, Luscious Jackson, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Isaac Hayes.

This album is considered more ear-friendly than Viva! La Woman. I personally like both but I do however find myself bopping to the songs on this album more. Have a listen.

My top 5 favorite tracks: Working For Vacation, Sci-fi Wasabi, Moonchild, Spoon, and Flowers (which is incidentally my phone's ringtone)

Quick, what do you think of Cibo Matto?

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Complete your Cibo Matto library

Miho and Yuka

Miho and Yuka
Miho and Yuka

Cibo Matto 1999, aye-aye alright

Cibo Matto 1999, aye-aye alright
Cibo Matto 1999, aye-aye alright

Care for some Butter? - Miho & Yuka's side project

Butter 08 was a short-lived musical side project whose members consisted of Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto, Russell Simins of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Rick Lee of Skeleton Key and director Mike Mills. The band released just one album, the self-titled "Butter 08" in 1996 on the Beastie Boys' now defunct Grand Royal record label. The album features guest performances by future Cibo Matto members Timo Ellis and Sean Lennon as well as a performance by filmmaker Evan Bernard who directed music videos for several Grand Royal artists as well as for Cibo Matto and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

In addition to their one album, a remix of their song "Degobrah" appears on the soundtrack for "City of Industry", a 1996 film featuring Harvey Keitel.

The band was allegedly formed when the members spent an evening recording the 1995 Cibo Matto single "Know Your Chicken" together. A demo was then sent to Mike D, who immediately signed Butter 08 to Grand Royal Records.

If you're a completist - The folowing are solo efforts by Miho and Yuka and compilation albums they contributed songs to.

Watch Cibo Matto's "Know Your Chicken" music video - Directed by Evan Bernard

Here's another fun video, directed by directed by Evan Bernard in 1996.

Share your stories, sightings, thoughts, rants, raves...or just let me know what you think of this lens.

Any Cibo Matto fans in the house? - Reprazent right here.

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    • TriviaChamp profile image

      TriviaChamp 6 years ago

      Great tribute lens! Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Well, thank you for the introduction to Cibo. Very nice lens!!!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Weren't they on the soundtrack of the video game Jet Set Radio? Fantastic introduction to them here.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      Great lens! My daughter would love this.