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Letter To Jane: Interview With Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono is not a name that needs much introduction. She is arguably the most successful modern artist. As long as The Beatles remain popular it’s destined that Ono’s name will also remain a household name, but it’s really a shame to only know her for her fame. I fell in love with her work in college when a professor showed me some of Ono’s installations and performance pieces from the Sixties. They were in typical Yoko Ono fashion: daring, original, and always positive. Through the decades she has kept herself ahead of the curve and worked with every notable artist in every art form known to man. Amazingly all of that is still only a fraction of what she has accomplished when you add the fact that she’s been a champion of human rights and other causes as well. With her recent album she teamed up with her son Sean to bring what might be the most eclectic album of the year. With so many different sounds and styles, the 73-year-old Ono created an album that is more aggressive and unique than what most 20 somethings turn out these days. As you can clearly tell, Yoko Ono has been one of my heroes in my young art career and it was great to be able to talk with her as part of our Artist Interview Series.

The title of your LP Between My Head and The Sky, What about that phrase that stuck out to you when naming this LP?

I thought it was a cool title.

Is it true that you improvised all the lyrics on this album?

Almost. There were three songs which were something I’ve scribbled one summer, and I changed them into songs in the studio this time. But other than that, all songs just came to me at the studio.

As I’m listening to your latest work again, I’m struck with your presence on each track. You’ve always remained such an independent spirit throughout your whole career and as a young artist I wish I had more of that. Has that always been there or was it a progressive process?

I was very independent from a very, very early age. I think it had something to do with the environment I was brought up in as well.

How was the dynamic of making music with your son Sean?

It was a total surprise. It went very well.

With your latest LP there are so many different styles, what was the overall concept?

Like life. I wanted the LP to reflect reality.

You are releasing remixes of Gimmie Something which is a track that I always loved. What made you want to bring back this song now?

Because it is expressing the emotion we all have now. GIVE ME SOMETHING THAT’S NOT COLD!

These remixes take the original punk inspired sound into a modern dance scene, I guess both really want to make you dance. What do you like to dance to these days?

I dance to the wind, the sky, the sun. We are children of nature.

I know you are someone who is always looking into the future, but I was wondering if there is something you’d like us to remember about Double Fantasy, because it still is an underrated record I feel.

I think it was what we were then. I don’t look back.

Do you like to hear your voice in auto-tune?

The very fact that it is something new, that lets you hear your voice in a changed form excites me. Yes. I would like to hear my voice in it.

Being a conceptual artist and you’ve made a lot of strong “whole” albums. How do you feel about this shift to smaller releases? It feels like music is almost going back to the beginnings of rock when it was just singles.

If it changed once, it will change again. Change is the nature of life. So enjoy what it is now.

I was recently watching some of your films from the 60’s 70’s, and you were such a pioneer of experimental film back then. The way video is used socially these days there seems to be new venues for to reinterpret the artform. Do you think you’ll get back into experimental film/video?

No. I already did that one. So I’d like to move on. I am moving on.

You recently celebrated the release of The Beatles Rock Band game. Would you ever like to see a video game of your solo work be released?

I don’t have the need to see it happen, but if people want to do it, I won’t be stopping them.

I’d kick myself if I didn’t ask this last question. For a lot of us in a creative field, the pressures and outside distraction are enough to make a lot of stray over the years. You’ve gone through it all and keep on growing and getting better. I was just wondering why you think that is? How were you able to focus on the work and not let the business get you like so many others did?

I really don’t know the answer to this. But I guess the fact that I’m moving on all the time, being super-active may be helping!

Original interview here.


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2010-05-20T05:19:42+00:00 May 20th, 2010|Interviews & Articles|