Within six months, David Byrne came to see them at a show and Warner Brothers picked them up off the strength of one self-released cassette tape.
This initiated one of the most colorful careers of the 90s.
Cibo Matto exploded internationally, touring worldwide and releasing two classic records, 1996’s Viva! Their live shows and albums were marked by wild experimentation, incorporating hip-hop, Brazilian music, African and Latin jazz, and pop into their unclassifiable mix.
They collaborated extensively with Yoko Ono, as well as the renowned French director Michel Gondry, who lent his visionary style to cement them in the budding consciousness of the MTV generation with his legendary video for “Sugar Water.” They sold over 100,000 of both of albums and graced seven magazine covers.
Both women were raised in Japan, but met in New York’s vivid 90s Lower East Side art scene that included John Zorn, Sean Lennon, the Beastie Boys, and Marc Ribot, a brief period of colorful experimentation at the outset of the Giuliani administration.
Soon after they met, the pair formed a punk band called Leitoh Lychee (frozen lychee nut), which eventually morphed into the post-genre freakout that Cibo Matto would become.
Then, in a bizarre twist of fate, many fans discovered Cibo Matto performing in an infamous scene on an early episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
We’re talking about a surrealist pastiche about magenta chickens set to boom-bap breakbeats and muted trumpet, rapped by a pair of grinning Japanese girls so obsessed with eating that they named every song on their first record after food.
During that 10-year interval, both women worked on numerous interesting projects.
Underneath the lush sonic palate, they have created the soundtrack to an invisible film as they’ve continued to refine their sound and remain fully committed to an ethic of fun.
Unlike most pretenders, Cibo Matto’s music is an entirely self-contained world, a look into the fantasy lives of Hatori and Honda.
It doesn’t exactly spell commercial success, especially for a then-unknown avant-pop act from New York City who’s name is Italian for “Crazy Food.” Self-produced over a two-year period by Miho Hatori and Yuka C.Honda, Hotel Valentine is their most impressive release to date as it finds them constructing a rich concept album, a love story amid the ghosts traversing the hallways of a hotel.