Singer/songwriter Takako Minekawa avoids many J-pop cliches, crafting her unique sound from her personal obsessions -- cats, keyboards, French pop -- and her sweet, girlish voice. A child movie and TV star in Japan, Minekawa was always interested in music and formed her first group Lolita with some college friends. This morphed into Fancy Face Groovy Name in 1990, which also included Kahimi Karie. After playing in a number of groups, Minekawa was ready to strike out on her own. She released her solo debut Chat Chat in 1994, which she followed up with 1995's A LittleTouch of Baroque In Winter and 1996's Roomic Cube (released the following year in the U.S.).
With each album, Minekawa's writing and arrangements showed a more refined mix of innocence and complexity. However, her ideas were still fresh and playful, as the 1998 remix EP Recubed -- which featured Roomic Cube songs remixed by friends like Sukia, the Pulsars, and Buffalo Daughter -- showed. Cloudy Cloud Calculator, Minekawa's most independent statement yet, was released at the end of 1998; it was followed by 1999's Fun 9 and 2000's Maxi On EP. After marrying Cornelius' Keigo Oyamada, Minekawa took an extended break from making music, and resurfaced in 2013 with the fractured, experimental pop of Toropical Circle, a collaboration with former Ponytail guitarist Dustin Wong. The duo returned the following year with Savage Imagination, a more free-flowing set of pieces featuring more samples and textures. ~ Heather Phares