Interview: Ikue Mori


You’ve worked with an eclectic array of collaborators throughout your career. Is it always easy for you to adapt to different collaborative company?

It’s not always easy. Sometimes the chemistry doesn’t work so well and you have a hard time making music together, but fortunately that didn’t happen too often..

Having made the transition from being a live drummer to working with drum machines and now laptop/electronics, do you feel there were any aspects of playing drums that have influenced the way you approach your current instrument setup?

I still use many beats, rhythm patterns and sound files from the drum machines. I am still a percussionist in heart – I love to work with beats, clean beats and noisy beats both.

You once remarked that you intend to make the drum machine “sound broken”. Are you still trying to achieve this “brokenness” with your music?

I meant broken rhythmically – broken beats, not to make it actually sound broken. “Brokenness” may have been one element of the music I made, but it was never the overall intention.

Do you still feel as though you’re experimenting, and breaching new territory, in terms of the capabilities of the laptop as an instrument?

I’m still trying to improve my playing and my instrument and experimenting in certain ways.  Also expanding the possibilities as technology progresses – for example making not only the sound but also the image controlled by the same program, amongst other things.

How easy is it to retain the spontaneity that improvised music demands when using a laptop?

I made it so that I can react fast, and trained myself to use it when playing with various instruments, not just for programming as that would make it easy. You have to know your instrument very well.

Are there any differences in the way in which you approach solo performances compared to collaborative ones?

Yes of course. Solo is all about you, but in collaboration, music must come before your ego, you know what I mean?

To what degree do you consider the environment in which you perform? Do you feel that particular venues or live environments are most complimentary for your sound?

A decent sound system, a very understanding and nice sound person and a warm audience makes the best performance environment for us. I have been playing in UK for many years with many different projects, including a few recent occasions at Cafe Oto (the venue for the London date of this tour). The audience has been very supportive and positive, I felt.

Do you have any expectations as to how your sound may entwine with Maja Ratkje’s in these upcoming live improvisations?

Playing together we can stretch our normal “characters” as ‘drummer’ or ‘singer’ – you’ll be surprised what we could create when the boundaries are opened. Our sensibilities are similar, and I love Maja’s playing. It will be like an imaginary sound landscape, and you will be tripping in the world of unknown…



Ikue Mori’s website –