Founded in 1994 between two Japanese expatriates, Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda, Cibo Matto mixes a variety of sounds and feels, but are heavily oriented towards Hip Hop and indie rock, for the most part.
Miho Hatori was born in Tokyo and while working in a record store she had her musical boundries widened. Miho found much of her interests in music gravitating towards Punk, Metal and Hip Hop. Before moving to New York in 1992 she was MCing with a japanese hip hop group Kimidori, in 1993 she joined a local Punk Band in 1993 and regularly played in the underground NYC music scene. The band, Leitoh Lychee, also featured the second half of Cibo Matto, multi-instrumentalist Yuka Hando.
Yuka Hando was also born in Tokyo, however rather than moving straight from Tokyo to NYC, Yuki moved around quite a bit growing up. She lived part of her life in Denmark, Germany, and France, the country she went to school and from which she traveled to NYC. Yuka, 9 years older than Miho, first began performing in 1988 at CBGB. By 1993 she had passed through several bands before joining Leitoh Lychee, the band where she would meet Miho Hatori.
Cibo Matto, meaning crazy food in Italian, released their first EP, Cibo Matto, in 1995 featuring Miho on Vocals, as is the case with the majority of their work, and instruments played by Yuka. The band quickly was signed to Warner Brothers, who would release all of their future material, though they would also work closely with Grand Royal, later on. Their first EP featured varied arrangements of songs that they would revisit on the LP "Viva! La Woman" which they would release in 1996. The EP also contained a cover of Soundgarden's hit song "Black Hole Sun" performed in french and so modified as to almost be unrecognizable.
"Viva! La Woman" would feature a heavily food oriented theme, an obvious call to the band's name. It featured two hits in the form of the songs Sugar/Water, and Know Your Chicken. The track Sugar/Water had a music video produced by Michel Gondry, who later won an academy award as one of the writers for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, and has also worked on videos with Beck and The White Stripes. The video is extremely creative, each side of the screen shows the events of a single day, the left is the day performed forwards, while the right side is the day in reverse. Miho and Yuki meet in the middle of the song and swap sides of the screen as it continues to show the same day passing/reversing.
The second music video is just silly/weird. Then again, so is the song. It's presented as parody of typical 90s television, sitcoms, infomercials, you name it. It also has some straight up classic hip hop bits with the two of them outside with NYC set behind them.
The track "Birthday Cake" would appear on the sound track for Jet Set Radio Future.
In 1996 Cibo Matto performed at The Beastie Boys' / MCA's first Freedom Tibetan movement concert. You can see a brief clip here in this documentary about the event, might even want to watch the whole thing!
In 1996 the duo also formed Butter08, effectively a Cibo Matto side project, it featured both Yuka and Miho as well as Russell Simins of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, not to be confused with the Def Jam owner Russell Simmons, and Skeleton Key's Rick Lee. It also featured appearances by Sean Lennon, and Tom Ellis future members of Cibo Matto. In my opinion, this group is basically just another incarnation of Cibo Matto, and musically it kind of feels like an extention of the band. The rumor of their formation kind of points to this as well, supposedly it came about during a recording of Know Your Chicken in 1995. After hearing demos the band was immediately signed by Mike D into the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label. Sadly, Butter08 would only release one album.
In 1997 Cibo Matto would release the EP Super Relax, at this point having Timo Ellis and Sean Lennon as official members of the band. 1997 would see another semi-Cibo Matto project in Sean Lennon's solo album. The album, Into the Sun, would feature Timo Ellis on drums, Miho Hatori providing some vocals, and would be produced by Yuka Honda.
Working for Vacation was the closest to a "hit" the album had.
Blue Train is a personal favorite from the album with it's fairly harsh sound.
In 2000 Yuka and Sean split up, however their relationship would hardly sour with them working together several times in the future, including on Sean's 2006 album. In 2001 Cibo broke up, feeling it was something they had outgrown and wanted to work on other projects. All of the members went on to create solo projects.
Yuka worked on Sean's 2006 album, Friendly Fire. In 2007 she co-produced The Heavy Circles album, a band that also had her former boyfriend in it. In 2009 she worked with The Plastic Ono Band as an assistant producer on Yoko's album as well as playing keyboards in the band from 2009 to 2010. A band that, yet again, featured Sean Lennon, as well as Cornelius and, of course, Yoko Ono.
Miho Hatori also kept herself busy, releasing her solo album "Ecdysis" in 2006. In the early days of Gorillaz she was the original voice of band guitarist Noodle. She also started a short lived side project Smokey & Miho based on bossa nova and brazilian music. During this period she made many appearances on hip hop albums, including Handsome Boy Modeling School's "So... How's Your Girl?", which would also have a song that features Sean Lennon. Jeez, Cibo sure appears a lot together even when broken up, eh?
In 2011 the band decided to reunit for a relief concert to raise money for the japan tsunami. Shortly after that they conducted a tour titled "Yeah, Basically Cibo Matto." Announcing a new album in 2012 it eventually saw release in 2014, 15 years after their last album. It sure seems like a lot of bands are coming out after an extremely long hiatus and releasing new material. The album, Hotel Valentine, which was released on Valentines Day, has a core group slimmed down to Yuka, Miho and newcomer Yuko Araki on drums, though Sean Lennon appears during some live shows. While Jared Samuel is not considered part of the band he appears on 7 out of 10 tracks on the new album, at least in some form. The album features a handful of guest artists, including comedian, band lander for Late Late Show, and former Co-Host of Comedy Bang Bang, Reggie Watts. In 2015 the group finished two tours, no news has been released since then.
I'll set you free, I think I hear Housekeeping.