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Yuka Honda (Musician)

Updated on August 28, 2011

Yuka Honda: Life after Cibo Matto

Yuka Honda is a Japanese musician who resides in New York City. She is a multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, record producer, and co-founder of the band Cibo Matto. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with a diverse array of musicians, including Petra Haden, former boyfriend Sean Lennon, Tricky, Harper Simon, Beastie Boys, Los Lobos, Mitchell Froom, Medeski Martin & Wood, Marc Ribot, Arto Lindsay, Edie Brickell, Vincent Gallo, Luscious Jackson, Dave Douglas, Bernie Worrell and Caetano Veloso.

I am a big fan of Cibo Matto so I kept tabs on the two women who made it up, Yuka and her partner Miho Hatori, and have followed their careers even after the band's demise. Both of them have had fairly successful solo projects with Yuka concentrating on instrumental/electronica efforts and producing albums and sessioning and forming side bands with her other musician friends. If you want to learn more about what she's been up to since the break-up of Cibo Matto, please do read on.

Yuka Honda knows her water, pass the Volvic!
No wonder her fingers are smooth like butter It's specific.

- Sci-Fi Wasabi by Cibo Matto, 1999

Facts are from Wikipedia / Photos on this page are from Yuka's Myspace page

Yuka Honda was born in Tokyo, Japan, and spent a few years of her childhood in Germany and Denmark. She went to school in Aix-en-Provence, France then moved to New York City in November 1986. She had some classical training in her childhood but never thought that she would become a musician. When she came to New York, she initially wrote for a Japanese food magazine.

In 1988, she hit her first stage at CBGB's as a keyboard player with Greg Cohen and Michael Blair. In 1989, she started the band The Flaming Hoops with her then boyfriend-and-later-husband Dougie Bowne, E.J. Rodriguez and Erik Sanko and recorded a self-titled album. In 1990, she joined Jazz Passengers in their musical play "Jazz Passengers in Egypt" and appeared in their album Live at Knitting Factory. She also joined a live hip-hop band called Rhythm Method and a funk band Brooklyn Funk Essentials, though her main focus was the band she started with Dougie Bowne and Marc Anthony Thompson, Hope is a Muscle.

In 1993, Yuka met Miho Hatori while working with the band Leitoh Lychee. The two formed their own band, Cibo Matto, in March 1994 by which time Honda had already divorced from Bowne. The band became a quick sensation in the city, signing a record deal with Warner Brothers before the year was over. In 1995, they recorded their debut album Viva! La Woman with renowned producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. In that same year, Cibo Matto met Russell Simins when they opened up for John Spencer Blues Explosion and started the side band Butter 08 with Mike Mills, Evan Bernard and Rick Lee. Yuka produced their self-titled album with Simins. Both Cibo Matto and Butter 08 released their albums in 1996.

Yuka Honda was in a romantic relationship with musician Sean Lennon from 1996 to 2000 and she produced his 1998 album Into the Sun. The two met when Yuka remixed Yoko Ono's song "Talking to The Universe" (from the album Rising), along with Thurston Moore, Tricky, Beastie Boys and Ween. Cibo Matto invited Lennon and Timo Ellis to join the band as they started to tour frequently.

Cibo Matto broke up in 2001. Her work since then seems to be concentrated more in the downtown New York scene, working with musicians such as Dave Douglas, Susie Ibarra, Vincent Gallo, Trevor Dunn, Jim O'Rourke and John Zorn, for whose label Tzadik Honda recorded her two solo albums. In 2003, Honda collaborated with Boredoms drummer Yoshimi P-We, under the name Yoshimi and Yuka.

In 2005, Honda worked for Hal Willner at Expo 2005 for a 3D animation project directed by Robert Wilson. She also sang on the Dopo Yume album The Secret Show.

In 2006 Honda played keyboards on Sean Lennon's album Friendly Fire. She is currently supporting Lennon as a musical director while he is on tour. Honda is also at work on a collection of songs with Petra Haden, apparently with contributing performances by Sean Lennon and Trevor Dunn.

In 2007, she co-produced Irina Lazareanu with Sean Lennon. She also wrote songs and recorded with Edie Brickell on her new album The Heavy Circles.

In 2008, Yuka, along with American violinist and singer Petra Haden, drummer Yuko Araki and guitarist Hirotaka "Shimmy" Shimizu formed a group called If By Yes.

Read more about Yuka Honda on the following websites:

"You Feel Right" by If by Yes (2008) - Yuka Honda's new band featuring Petra Haden on vocals

If By Yes is a new group featuring the extraordinary talents of Petra Haden on vocals and Yuka Honda on keyboards / samplers, who both draw from pop music and the avant garde. Recently joining If By Yes are drummer Yuko Araki and guitarist Hirotaka "Shimmy" Shimizu, known for their work with Ashray, Mi-gu and Cornelius. If By Yes take their name from a poem by e.e. cummings.

Yuka Honda's albums - Get them right here, right now.

Yuka Honda has released two full-length solo studio albums and a collaborative effort with Yoshimi P-We since her most successful band Cibo Matto broke up.

Eucademix
Eucademix

Eleven moody, funky, jazzy compositions from Yuka Honda, a founding member of the popular band Cibo Matto and a vital member of the Downtown scene since moving to NY from Tokyo in 1987. Her second CD for the Oracles Series is her best yet, featuring her soulful lyricism and hip break beats augmented by distinguished guest musicians like vocalists Petra Haden and Miho Hatori, instrumentalists Marc Ribot, Trevor Dunn and a host of others. Eucademix is an intimate journey through the mind and heart of one of the most honest and original musicians working in experimental pop today.

 
Memories Are My Only Witness
Memories Are My Only Witness

A beautiful CD of quirky instrumentals from the hip mind of Yuka Honda, co-founder of the pop band Cibo Matto. Combining a wry sense of humor with wit, elegance and impeccable taste, Yuka's charming instrumental miniatures cross all musical borders hypnotizing you with funky breakbeats, heartfelt melodies and nostalgic soundscapes.

Recorded at her home studio and featuring longtime associates Duma Love, Timo Ellis, Bill Ware and Dougie Bowne, this is a breakthrough project for Yuka Honda, who is moving into a new musical universe on the heels of the demise of Cibo Matto.

 
Flower With No Color
Flower With No Color

Flower with No Color is the collaborative album by artists Yoshimi P-We (best-known for being the drummer of Boredoms) and Yuka Honda (best-known as half of Cibo Matto) as Yoshimi and Yuka. Flower with No Color was released in 2003 on Ipecac Recordings, and contains 7 songs.

 

Yuka in her element.

Yuka in her element.
Yuka in her element.

Watch "Butterfly Alone Together" - A song from Yuka's solo album "Eucademix", released in 2004

Listen to Spy Said One - From Yoshimi & Yuka's 2003 album Flower With No Color

Yoshimi and Yuka was a collaboration between musicians Yoshimi P-We (of Boredoms, OOIOO, UFO or Die et al.) and Yuka Honda (solo artist and former member of Cibo Matto). They released their only album to date, Flower With No Color on Ipecac Recordings in April 2003. It was an ambient project which combined field recordings, keyboards and studio work to form a very sedate and abstract album.

Yuka playing Sean Lennon's Piano Epic

Yuka playing Sean Lennon's Piano Epic
Yuka playing Sean Lennon's Piano Epic

Live Performance videos

Yuka shares her talents with other musicians and sessions/tours a lot with them. Here are videos of some of her live performances.

Buy Cibo Matto albums - The band that brought Yuka Honda fame.

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

Shout out for Yuka Honda! - Any Yuka fans out there? Reprazent here.

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    • Pmona LM profile image

      Pmona LM 7 years ago

      I'd never heard of Yuka Honda before. But, I enjoyed listening to her music on the playlist!