Yoko Ono

ono remixes


Written by Sari Gurney / AIU in 2002

The year 2002 began for Yoko Ono with her early 70s' song Open Your Box becoming a dance hit. Yoko Ono's music in the charts in the US and Britain? Yes, you'd better believe it. Four guys known as the Orange Factory came to Yoko one day and asked for permission to remix a song she wrote thirty years ago. As she toyed with the idea of giving these cutting-edge DJs a chance to remix her oldie, she thought from "a conceptual point of view that it was great but I didn't know how they were going to do it, but they did a great job. And I think it was a great idea, because Open Your Box is exactly the message we need now." And she said yes. Saying yes can lead to many beautiful things, and this one led to an internationally successful Yoko Ono remix project.

Dance music is not that far from Yoko Ono's way of thinking and working, as she explained to Mixer Magazine in March 2002: "In the beginning, I believe there was music, and it created the universe - two sounds playing with each other, generating energy. I think dancing is a very important part of life. When you're making music in the studio, when something is really cooking, all the people around start to move their bodies. John would say that when that happens, you know you've made good music." There has always been a healthy dose of sampling in her music, like back in the Plastic Ono Band days, which she commented to Mojo Magazine in the July 2002 issue: "Do I like sampling? Well, you should go back and listen to Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band. I sampled, I did a lot of electronic tricks. It was very much like dance music. I called it Unfinished Music, which meant that you were supposed to put your own thing on, in the same way that remixers do today. Tracks like Why and Paper Shoes could be dance tracks. I don't feel that any of these things are particularly new, because they were always there for me."

With the Superchumbo and Orange Factory remix of another Yoko Ono golden oldie, Kiss Kiss Kiss from the 1980 Double Fantasy album with John Lennon, the success story is being continued. With guest appearances at clubs in Miami, New York, London and San Francisco in support of the Open Your Box and Kiss Kiss Kiss remixes, Yoko Ono has been thrilled by the current dance club scene. "It's inspired me in a different direction spiritually," she told Rolling Stone. "Seeing people dancing and enjoying it, I just love that. There were many times I felt like dance music was so important. John and I actually once were thinking, 'Why don't we create a dance, you know a dance movement and put the instructions of how to do this new dance on the back of an album.' And he started to roll on the floor, trying to find a unique kind of action. But it just didn't happen. It was a bit difficult."

Her music has not always been in the charts, of course. In an interview with Independent News Yoko Ono remembered the days when her music was not understood, "When I first made Open Your Box in 1971, I used to get sent photographs from Japan of people dropping my record in the trash can, and now that's all changed. The people doing that were probably the older generation, and now the younger ones seem to really get it. There's a relentlessness in my music which is precisely what people used to dislike - now, when a lot of energy has been lacking in recent music, maybe that relentlessness is welcome." Independent News continued with a nutshell analysis of the current phase in Yoko Ono's musical career: "In one of those spectacular back-flips of pop fashionability, the music of Yoko Ono is now being sourced by a new generation for whom her uncompromising vocal intensity is the perfect match for the complex architecture of their sampled beats. In short, Yoko Ono is in vogue with young clubbers from Los Angeles to London, and winning a rapturous reception on a whole new scene which is as hip to the Beastie Boys as it might be to the Beatles."

What I have personally loved about the Yoko Ono remix project, even more than the music itself, is the fact that more and more people that have never heard Yoko's music are getting curious and being tempted to really listen to her music, dive into the multidimensional pool that her over 20 albums are to me. I know that Yoko herself has been very excited about the remix project currently underway in the studios, and in my exclusive interview with her for the AIU website I asked about her views about the club culture. Her work has always been "unfinished", meaning that Yoko Ono has wanted to leave the "finishing" of the piece to the audience. She has been creating art and music almost side by side with her audience, she has started something and the audience has finished it in their minds and hearts. This process resembles very much what goes on in the club culture: the music piece goes from the composer to the mixer to the DJ to the audience... I asked her if this is one of the exciting sides in this remix project for her, and she replied "Yeah, I love it. I get a nice surprise. It's rather like life itself... You don't get to control it, you're just given a chance to enjoy." This applies to music as well, "you're just given a chance to enjoy."

There are many more Yoko Ono remixes coming up, so open your box and dance.


Updated in April 2003

Walking On Thin Ice (Remixes) conquers the Billboard Hot Dance / Club Play Chart gaining Yoko Ono's first #1 charting dance single!



Yoko Ono
Yoko live at Arc. © Tina Paul

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