Yoko Kanno菅野 よう子
|Birth name||菅野 洋子|
|Also known as||Gabriela Robin|
|Born||March 18, 1963|
|Labels||Captain Duckling Records|
Yoko Kanno (菅野 よう子, Kanno Yōko, born March 18, 1963) is a Japanese composer, arranger and music producer best known for her work on the soundtracks of anime series, video games, television dramas and movies. She has written scores for Cowboy Bebop, Terror in Resonance, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Wolf's Rain and Darker than Black. Kanno is also a keyboardist and the frontwoman for Seatbelts, who perform many of her compositions.
Yoko Kanno was born on March 18, 1963, in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Her earliest experiences with music came from attending church with her parents. She studied keyboard from a young age on both the piano in her home and the organ at her kindergarten. In elementary school, she began participating in composition contests, but in high school, Kanno began to take more of an interest in literature than in music.
Kanno attended Waseda University, where she majored in literature, but she transcribed music for various student groups at Waseda in her free time. During this time, Kanno—whose parents had only allowed her to listen to classical music—was introduced to rhythm by a friend who played drums in a school band. She spoke of this experience in an interview with Akihiro Tomita:
I thought my friend was a genius. I had heard drums on the radio before, but it was like I had never really noticed them. Then I see drums performed live, and was able to experience a beat for the first time. I started to take heavy interest in music that wasn’t classical and joined the band elective.
While with this band, she studied the composition and style of popular music.
Yoko Kanno's soundtrack themes include "Kiseki no Umi" (Lodoss War), "Voices" (Macross Plus), "Tank!" (Cowboy Bebop), "Yakusoku wa Iranai" (Escaflowne), "Gravity" (Wolf's Rain), "Inner Universe" (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and Stand Alone Complex O.S.T. In regards to making the Stand Alone Complex soundtrack, she said:
I had this image of a formal and rigid 'manly' world for the original comic. So I tried to think of ways to destroy that world. The theme I had in mind was, 'be human.' It represented the sentiment of 'why don't we take it easy and be more like a human being?'—instead of being a workaholic salaried man working for his company. Or be it Tachikoma wishing to become human. I wanted to express these 'tangible fuzziness,' sort of. For the opening theme song called 'inner universe,' I had an image of digital bits and composed a score consisting of recurrent quick beats.
Having composed in various genres, including blues, classical, jazz, techno and J-pop, she was once asked if she favored a particular genre:
Ah ... I hear everyone talk about how many genres [I work in] like classical, jazz and others, but personally, I don't divide music by genre when creating. I don't create by saying, 'I must create a classical piece here,' or 'I must create a jazz piece here.' When I create music, I don't consider at all which genre I like best, but what the scene or the anime calls for, like a love [theme] or a mood. There isn't one genre I like more than the others. I find all of them satisfying and all inspire me in different ways.
Since she works in the animation industry, she only receives instructions and storyboards from directors which helps her with composing. However, it is uncertain if all of her works are to be included in the finished project. She once said that this is a way she likes to work, for she does not have to deal with rules during composing. In reference to this, she once stated:
In my case, the creators talk to me and ask me to do a soundtrack a year or two before the animation is finished. At that time, I think of the plot in my brain, when the characters' names—everything about the characters—has not been decided yet. This is even when the title has not be decided yet.
She has composed for Koei games released during the late 1980s to early 1990s and for Napple Tale, a Dreamcast game. Due to her close involvement in the Cowboy Bebop anime, the game released by Bandai also features her work.
Apart from anime and games, Kanno also composes for live-action films and television commercials. Some popular brands she has composed for are Canon, DoCoMo, Fuji Xerox, 7-Eleven, Microsoft, Nissan, Toyota, Shiseido, Avon and MasterCard to name a few. Her contributions to films started in the 1990s but only since 2002 has there been a trend towards the medium, with some of the latter being shown in international film festivals.
She attended Otakon and Anime Expo in 1999, as well as Anime Expo New York in 2002. In 2010, she made a surprise appearance at Anime Expo. Yoko Kanno performed her solo PianoMe concert at Otakon 2013.
She composed a three-movement suite, entitled "Ray of Water," for the ascension of Emperor Naruhito. It was performed for him and Empress Masako at the enthronement celebration on November 9, 2019. Yoshikazu Okada wrote the lyrics for the vocal portion, which was performed at the celebration by the idol group, Arashi.
Connection to Gabriela Robin
On many of Kanno's tracks, a woman named "Gabriela Robin" was credited as a lyricist and vocalist, but whenever these songs were performed in concert, either Maaya Sakamoto or Origa would perform them instead. In a 2009 written interview, Robin proclaimed that she would perform for the first time live at Kanno's 2009 Tanabata Sonic concert. However, at the end of the concert - which featured Kanno directing the Warsaw Philharmonic - Kanno turned to the audience and sang "Moon", a song previously attributed to Robin from the Turn A Gundam soundtrack, revealing that "Gabriela Robin" was simply a pseudonym Kanno used to write songs mixing English and Japanese freely. In a later interview, Kanno said she picked the name because the first orchestral recording she had heard was the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the time Yitzhak Rabin served as Israel's Prime Minister.
In addition to Japanese, she speaks a little English and some French, but claims that her English is "poor" and she needs translation help to converse in French. In regards to spirituality and religion, she said:
I'm not religious at all. But Japanese don't believe in one God, but in gods everywhere in plants and animals. That's right. In Japan, Christianity has a wonderful image. People enjoy the image of Christ and Christianity in picture books, but not as a religion.
Besides music, Kanno also enjoys photography and writing. She has written a number of journals for Newtype magazine, of which photos for illustrations are done by Kanno herself, and a selection of photos taken by Kanno of her protégé (and former production partner) Maaya Sakamoto were featured in the special event program for Sakamoto's 2010 thirtieth birthday concert at Nippon Budokan.
In 2011, Kanno expressed her support and wishes to the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, composing a song titled "Kimi de Ite, Buji de Ite" (きみでいてぶじでいて, Stay With Me, Stay Safe). Later, she composed NHK's official support song on the occasion of the first anniversary of the earthquake entitled "Hana wa Saku" (花は咲く, Flowers Will Bloom), including lyrics by Sendai film director Shunji Iwai. The song features notable natives from the affected areas of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate.
|January 1, 1998||Song to Fly||All songs composed and conducted by Yoko Kanno; track 8 performed by Yoko Kanno.|
(Tracks 1–7, 9–11 performed by Cosmic Voices from Bulgaria, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,
Warsaw Chorus, Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch, Franco Sansalone, Krzysztof Ciupinsky,
Steve Conte, Jadwiga Rappé and Gabriela Robin).
|May 22, 2002||23-Ji no Ongaku||All songs composed and conducted by Yoko Kanno. Vocals performed by Maaya Sakamoto. Album released by Victor Entertainment. |
The title translates as "11:00 pm music".
|May 2, 2008||CM Yoko||Compilation album of music for commercials done by Yoko Kanno over the years. All songs composed by Yoko Kanno.|
|April 22, 2009||CM Yoko 2||Compilation album of music for commercials done by Yoko Kanno over the years. All songs composed and/or arranged by Yoko Kanno.|
|May 27, 2009||Space Bio Charge||Compilation album of Yoko Kanno with Seatbelts.|
|June 8, 2011||Yoko Kanno produce Cyber Bicci||Compilation album of previous works with Ilaria Graziano, along with new materials.|
|Tetsu 100%||Tokyo Taco Blues||1986||Composer for one track|
|Tetsu 100%||1987||Composer for four tracks|
|Ato3cm||1987||Composer for five tracks|
|Jack in the Box||1988||Composer for three tracks|
|Manatsu no Santa Claus||1988||Composer for one track|
|Sunao||1989||Composition credited to band|
|Chiyono Yoshino||Montage||1988||Composer for two tracks|
|Keiko Nakajima||Keiko Nakajima||1990||Composer for all tracks|
|Kyoko Endo||Renai||1990||Arranger for seven tracks|
|Kobitori ni Naritai||1993||Arranger for all tracks|
|Fuyu no Miwa||1993||Arranger for all tracks|
|Hashire Hashire||1999||Arranger for two tracks|
|Aki Okui||Lost Melodies||1994||Arranger for two tracks|
|Straw Color||1997||Arranger for one track|
|Tsuki no Mayu||2000||Composer for all tracks|
|Hitomi Mieno||Hajimari no Boukenshya-tachi
~Hikari no Chizu~
|1995||Composer for two tracks|
|Miki Imai||Love of my Life||1995||Arranger for four tracks|
|Thank You||1996||Arranger for four tracks|
|IMAI.MIKI from 1986||1998||Arranger for one track|
|Blooming Ivory||2000||Arranger for one track|
|Yuri Shiratori||Atarashii Kutsu||1995|
|Caramel Pop||1995||Composer and lyricist for two tracks|
|Samply Red||Perfect Rouge||1996||Composition credited to band|
|Ah-ra ii Kimochi||1996||Composition credited to band|
|Kiseki to Taitsuku||1996||Composition credited to band|
|Happy Go Lucky OST||1997||Composer for eight tracks|
|Kemeko no Uta (Happy Go Lucky)||1997||Arrangement credited to band|
|It's for my Ego||1997||Composition credited to band|
|Perfect Rouge I, II, III||2002||Composition credited to band|
|Kyōko Koizumi||Otokonoko, Onnanoko||1996|
|For my Life (Single)||1999||Composer for two tracks|
|Maaya Sakamoto||Grapefruit||1997||Composer for all tracks|
|DIVE||1998||Composer for all tracks|
|Single Collection+ Hotchpotch||1999||Composer for all tracks|
|Lucy||2001||Composer for all tracks|
|Easy Listening||2001||Composer for all tracks|
|Single Collection+ Nikopachi||2003||Composer for all tracks|
|Shōnen Alice||2003||Composer for all tracks|
|Kazeyomi||2009||Composer for two tracks|
|You Can't Catch Me||2011||Composer for one track|
|Akino Arai||Sora No Mori||1997||Composer for five tracks|
|Sora No Miwa||1997||Composer for two tracks|
|Hiru No Tsuki||1998||Arranger for two tracks|
|RGB||2002||Composer for one track|
|Yasui Inoue||Kyuu Dan||1998||Composer for one track|
|Crystal Kay||Eternal Memories||1999||Composer for two tracks|
|Komichi no Hana||1999||Composer for one track|
|C.C.L. Crystal Lover Light||2000|
|Kei Kobayashi||Nagashime Play||2003||Composer for all tracks|
|SMAP||Say What You Will||2005||Composer for two tracks|
|super.modern.artistic.performance||2008||Composer for one track|
|Yukawa Shione||Yuki No Waltz||2007||Composer for one track|
|AKINO from bless4||Lost in Time||2007||Composer for all tracks|
|Chitose Hajime||Cassini||2008||Composer for one track|
|Origa||The Songwreath||2008||Composer for one track|
|Yoshika||World||2008||Composer for one track|
|May'n||May'n☆Street||2009||Composer for two tracks|
|Natsumi Kiyoura||Juuku Iro||2010||Composer for one track|
|Megumi Nakajima||Be with You||2012||Composer for one track|
|Clammbon||yet||2015||String arranger for one track|
|1992||Porco Rosso||Ending theme song arranger|
|1994||Please Save My Earth||Composer|
(other tracks by Hajime Mizoguchi)
|1995||Memories: Magnetic Rose||Composer|
|1996||The Vision of Escaflowne||Composer|
(other tracks by Hajime Mizoguchi)
|X Clamp Character File||Composer|
(other tracks by various others)
|1997||Clamp School Detectives||Second ending theme song composer|
|Noiseman Sound Insect||Composer|
|1998||Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight||Opening theme song composer|
|Macross Dynamite 7||Insert song composer|
|Cardcaptor Sakura||Third opening theme song composer|
|1999||Turn A Gundam||Composer|
(other tracks by Hajime Mizoguchi)
|2001||Earth Maiden Arjuna||Composer|
|Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door||Composer|
|2002||RahXephon||Opening theme song composer|
|Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex||Composer|
|2004||Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG||Composer|
|2005||Genesis of Aquarion||Composer|
(other tracks by Hogari Hisaaki)
|2006||Ōban Star-Racers||Opening and ending theme song composer|
|Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society||Composer|
|2007||Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha||Composer|
|Genius Party||Insert song composer|
|Genesis of Aquarion||Composer|
|2009||Ring of Gundam||Composer|
|Code Geass: Akito the Exiled||Theme song composer|
|Kids on the Slope||Composer|
(other tracks by various others)
|Terror in Resonance||Composer|
|2015||Aquarion Logos||Opening theme song composer|
|2021||Macross Frontier Film Short: Labyrinth of Time||Theme song composer|
|2001||Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari – Mama Shinhatsubai||Composer|
|2002||Mayonaka Betsu no Kao||Composer|
|2004||X'smap~Tora to Raion to Gojin no Otoko~||Composer|
|2006||Chichi ni Kanaderu Merodi||Composer|
|2009||Kaze ni Mai Agaru Vinyl Sheet||Composer|
|2017||Naotora: The Lady Warlord||Composer|
|2023||The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House||Composer|
|Boku wa Benkyo ga Dekinai||Composer|
|1997||Natsu Jikan no Otonatachi||Composer|
|Mizu no Onna||Composer|
|2006||Honey and Clover||Composer|
|2007||The Show Must Go On||Composer|
|2015||Our Little Sister||Composer|
Publicly commissioned works
|2019||"Ray of Water"||Enthronement of Naruhito||Composer|
Companies that have commissioned Kanno for commercial music include:
- AGF Maxim
- Asahi Glass Co.
- Cafe Noevir
- Citizen Watch Co.
- Cosmo Oil
- Daio Paper
- Daiwa House
- Fuji Xerox
- Half Century More
- Haus Ten Bausch
- Japan Medical Association
- Japan Railways
- Japan Telecom
- Kirin Beverage
- MasterCard International
- Mister Donut
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
- Mitsui Home
- National Ionity Nanocare
- NTT DoCoMo
- Ono Pharmaceutical
- Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.
- Platinum Guild International
- Seiko Epson
- Sekisui House
- Seven Eleven
- Taiyo Life Insurance
- Takano Yori Beauty Clinic
- Tirol Choco
- Tokyo Gas
- Tokyo Metro
- Tombow Pencil
- Try Group
- UFJ Bank
- Yukiguni Maitake
Artists who have performed at least one of Kanno's vocal tracks:
- Aki Okui
- Akino Arai
- Anna Tsuchiya
- Aoi Teshima
- Arnór Dan
- Artur Stefanowicz
- Ben del Maestro
- Carla Vallet
- Chinatsu Yamamoto
- Chiyono Yoshino
- Chris Mosdell
- Cosmic Voices from Bulgaria
- Crystal Kay
- Donna Burke
- Egil Olsen
- Emily Bindiger
- Emily Curtis
- Etsuko Yakushimaru
- Feather and Down
- Franco Sansalone
- Hajime Chitose
- Hanna Berglind
- Hassan Bohmide
- Hitomi Mieno
- Ilaria Graziano
- Jadwiga Rappe'
- James Wendt
- Kaoru Nishino
- Kei Kobayashi
- Kyoko Endo
- Kyoko Katsunuma
- Kyōko Koizumi
- Makino Yui
- Mari Iijima
- Maryanne Murray
- Maaya Sakamoto
- Mai Yamane
- Masaaki Endoh
- Masayoshi Furukawa
- Megumi Nakajima
- Mem Nahadr
- Miki Imai
- Motohiro Hata
- Pierre Bensusan
- POP ETC
- Raiché Coutev Sisters
- Raj Ramayya
- Reynada Hill
- Ryo Nagano
- Scott Matthew
- Seika Iwashita
- Shanti Snyder
- Soichiro Otsuka
- Steve Conte
- Sydney Thiam
- Tim Jensen
- Tokiko Kato
- Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch
- Yuho Iwasato
- Yuuki Ozaki
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