With Cibo Matto, as a collaborator, and in her solo work, Miho Hatori has always displayed an eclectic, playful touch that's worldly in the best sense of the word: fusing her love of everything from bossa nova to hip-hop to metal and rock with her Japanese heritage, Hatori's musical excursions sound equally well-traveled and organic.
Growing up in Tokyo, Hatori worked at a record store and also spun records as a DJ; early on, she gravitated toward hip-hop, rapping with a group called Kimidori. After moving to New York City in 1993, she quickly became a fixture in the local music scene, singing and playing violin with Leitoh Lychee, a punk band that also counted another Japanese expatriate, Yuka Honda, among its members. The pair eventually became Cibo Matto and released two genre-defying albums, 1996's Viva! La Woman and 1999's Stereo Type A. In between Cibo Matto albums, Hatori also worked with the New York indie supergroup Butter 08 on their 1996 self-titled album, and appeared on the Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty.
After Cibo Matto disbanded, Hatori lent her vocals to Damon Albarn's virtual pop group Gorillaz, appearing throughout their self-titled 2001 debut. She also collaborated with Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel, whom she discovered also loved bossa nova when they were on tour together. As Smokey & Miho, they paid homage to Brazilian pop with a self-titled EP and the Tempo de Amor: Songs by Baden Powell EP, which were released in 2002 and collected as The Two EPs the following year. Other key collaborations include the Baldwin Brothers' Cooking with Lasers and Yuka Honda's 2004 album Eucademix. In 2005, Hatori released her solo debut, Ecdysis -- named for the shedding process insects undergo to continue growing -- in Japan; the U.S. release followed a year later. ~ Heather Phares