Food for Thought: Cibo Matto Dishes On Their Tasty Tunes

July 18, 2011


The name Cibo Matto translates to “crazy food,” so it’s appropriate that the Japanese-American duo describe their sound in culinary terms. “We’re trying to make good home cooking,” says multi-instrumentalist Yuka Honda, “as opposed to trying to become a professional restaurant. When you’re a professional restaurant, you have to split into different categories and keep cooking the same food. But there are different freedoms at home, where we feel a little bit freer to explore whatever interests us.”

That’s been Cibo Matto’s ethos since the band’s formation in 1994. Throughout the latter half of that decade, Honda and vocalist Miho Hatori whimsically combined pop, hip-hop, jazz and traditional Japanese ingredients into a complex and imaginative stew. But after notching minor hits with “Know Your Chicken” and “Sugar Water,” the duo disbanded in 2001.

It’s a testament to the sturdy quirkiness of the band’s music that 10 years later, Cibo Matto has reunited to sold-out shows across the country. The old songs still sound fresh and exciting, especially played for fans who weren’t old enough to attend shows in the ’90s.

“It’s like when people say they smell something and an old memory comes back,” Honda explains. “It feels like we never left.”

Cibo Matto has also started writing, with a new album planned for early 2012. Honda promises it will sound just as tasty as the duo’s early albums: “Instead of offering something extremely refined, we would like to offer something a little more robust.”

Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE; Tue., 8 p.m., $20; 202-388-7625, Rockandrollhoteldc.com.

Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

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Fiona Zublin · July 18, 2011