Music / Yoko Kanno

"You have got to hear this shit. It's like she's hitting you over the head with a sock full of Jonny Quest!"
Alternate John Williams, John and Yoko.

Yoko Kanno (born March 18, 1963) is a famous Japanese composer and musician, known primarily for her work on anime soundtracks. Her name being attached to a project has caused much rejoicing moments for many fans.

Born in Japan in 1964 and having began her career composing video game soundtracks in the late 1980's, she has written or otherwise contributed to the soundtracks of a large number of anime, including (but not limited to:)

Besides soundtrack work for movies, TV, anime, and video games, Kanno has occasionally ventured into pop music; she has released two solo albums, and has served as producer for several albums from other musicians (including writing at least four of Maaya Sakamoto's albums). She sometimes sings under the pseudonym of "Gabriela Robin," which for many years was her Secret Identity. She publicly revealed herself as Robin by singing one of Robin's songs at a venue that Robin was slated to perform at, though she has not otherwise publicly acknowledged the alias.

Kanno can write in any genre known to mankind — and even a few that haven't been invented yet. She is the master of the Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly. Surprisingly enough, she isn't a One Woman Band, something that would make her even more awesome. She is a keyboardist and frontwoman of The Seatbelts, a jazz fusion band created exclusively for the soundtrack to Cowboy Bebop.

Alternate Universe John Williams has a shrine dedicated to her. A slightly more in-depth biography can be found here, and a slightly more in-depth discography can be found here.

Not to be confused with Yoko Ono. Or Yoko Oh No: This one is more like "Yoko Hell Yeah."

Tropes associated with Yoko Kanno:

  • Genre Roulette: Cowboy Bebop's soundtracks are a perfect example of this. While the series' music is anchored around bebop and blues, Kanno spun the wheel and added Hard Rock, drum and bass, chiptune, and Hip-Hop to the score (not to mention several forms of jazz other than bebop.)
  • Gratuitous English: Her titles sometimes slip into Word Salad Title territory.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The Seatbelts has 37 Japanese members, 19 American members, 7 French members, and featured 18 guest vocalists. On the Seatbelts Live 2001@Shibuya AX disc included in the CD box set, 15 musicians and 6 vocalists are credited.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Expect even her most cohesive works to cross pollinate genres at some point.
  • Secret Identity: Gabriela Robin. This was pretty much an Open Secret for years, though Kanno has not explicitly confirmed nor denied this. In 2009, she announced that Robin would perform in front of a live audience for the first time. During said concert, after conducting the orchestra, Kanno turned around and sung Robin's song "Moon" from Turn A Gundam. This was her only public acknowledgement of her secret identity.
  • Sampling: When she does sample, it's usually something intensely obscure, such as opera or underground techno. Macross Plus' "Idol Talk" samples both a 1980's hip hop song by Beside; as well as a phone sex operator's very explicit dialogue, as it appeared on industrial artist Scanner's debut album (with the most graphic words edited out.) Some choices are more overt: "Pop Goes the Weasel" and Pink Floyd's "On the Run" made it into two separate Cowboy Bebop songs.
  • Speaking Simlish: Kanno has written gibberish lyrics for several of her soundtracks and most of these are sung by herself (credited as Gabriela Robin.) Her use of it in Macross Plus is credited to the Zentraedi race present in that work. Examples include "Green Bird" from Cowboy Bebop, "Sora" from Vision Of Escaflowne, "Moon" from Turn A Gundam, and "Torkia" from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. They all have made-up languages.