Improvised Music from Japan / Haco


Vocalist/lyricist-composer/multi-instrumentalist/sound-artist. At her studio, Mescalina, in Kobe, Japan, she has created numerous recordings both as producer and engineer. As a musician and sound-artist, Haco has also given performances and created live installations throughout Japan and the world. With her unique sensibility, Haco has developed her own genre of art based on principles of post-punk, electroacoustics, the avant-garde, improvisation, post-rock, environmental sound, and technology. Haco also frequently lectures and gives workshops on various sound-related topics. In 2005, her CD Stereo Bugscope 00 was awarded a prize in the digital music category at Prix Ars Electronica in Austria.

In the 80s, Haco formally studied acoustics, electronic music, and recording technology. She earned a large following for her recorded work and performances as the composer/lyricist/vocalist of After Dinner (1981-1991), one of the first Japanese indie bands to tour abroad. In 1990, Haco appeared in the film Step Across the Border, a documentary on Fred Frith, which was selected as one of the top 100 films of all time by Cahiers du Cinema. One of Haco's songs, which she played on piano, was also included in the soundtrack CD. A DVD version of the film was released in 2003.

In the 90s, Haco worked as a sound exhibition and installation curator at Xebec, an innovative hall and presentation space for computer music and sound art, which was profiled by the writer David Toop and others. In 1995, Haco released her first solo album. Around the same time, she began performing improvisations with compact samplers, self-produced electronic units, electric mandolin, percussion and toys along with voice. Her "howling pot" performances, which make creative use of feedback, have been compared to sound art. Since her first solo tour of Europe in 1996, her live performances have been hugely successful at the LMC Festival (London), Le Weekend (Scotland), Vooruit Geluid Festival (Belgium), Isole Che Parlano (Italy), and other events.

In addition, she is involved with the guitar improvisation duo Mescaline Go-Go (Christopher Stephens), the odd-song unit Happiness Proof, and the all-female collaboration Hoahio (Yagi Michiyo: koto, Era Mari: percussion). She has collaborated on recorded work or in performance with numerous musicians, including Ash in the Rainbow (Hiromichi Sakamoto), Yesterday's Heroes (Terre Thaemlitz), Kam-pas-nel-la (Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Samm Bennett, Zeena Parkins), Peter Hollinger, Pierre Bastien, Carl Stone, Seiichi Yamamoto, Otomo Yoshihide, Ikue Mori, Aki Onda, Martin Tétreault, Diane Labrosse, and Yoshimi P-we. Her original style of vocalizing, experimental pop sound and improvisation surpasses conventional genres and national borders, and continues to attract new listeners.

In a sound-art context, Haco established the "sound collection and observation organization," View Masters, an environmental sound project which seeks to select, extract and define sounds from daily life. In 2002, she began to curate and produce a four-year series of View Masters lectures, concerts and workshops at Aka Renga Soko (Red Brick Warehouse) in the Osaka Port area. In the first installment, she premiered a performance of "Stereo Bugscope," which captured oscillating sounds emitted by the circuitry of an electronic device, and thus, established herself in a new genre of art. In 2003, she gave her first performance using the "Pencil Organ," an instrument created from a home electronics kit that uses test leads (+/-) to produce sound, at the Festival Beyond Innocence in Osaka.

In 2007, she released a whispering vocal-based solo album with acoustic instruments and electronics called Riska. This was followed in 2011 by Forever and Ever (on Disk Union's Arcangelo label), a solo album centering on laptop electronica (including ambient sounds and glitch noises) and vocals. Since 2004, she has used voice and self-programmed electronics as an "organic method" in her performances, sometimes accompanied by video images shot and edited with Mariko Tajiri.

Major recorded works:
1984/1991 After Dinner / Live Editions (ReR Megacorp, UK)
1995/1997 Haco (P-Vine, Japan; ReR Megacorp, UK)
1999/2000 Happiness Proof (P-Vine, Japan; ReR Megacorp, UK)
2000 Hoahio: Ohayo! Hoahio! (Tzadik, US, 2000)
2001 After Dinner with remixes: Paradise of Replica / Paradise of Remixes (Bad News, Japan; ReR Megacorp, UK)
2003 Haco and Sakamoto Hiromichi: Ash in the Rainbow (ReR Megacorp, UK)
2003 Hoahio: Peek-Ara-Boo (Tzadik, US)
2004 Yesterday's Heroes (Haco and Terre Thaemlitz): 1979 (La Louche, France)
2004 Haco: Stereo Bugscope 00 (Improvised Music from Japan, Japan) [awarded Honorary Mention in digital music category at Prix Ars Electronica 2005, Austria]
2005 Synapse (Haco/Ikue Mori/Aki Onda): Raw (CD, Tzadik, US)
2005 Diane Labrosse, Martin Tetreault, and Haco: Lunch in Nishinomiya (Improvised Music from Japan, Japan)
2005 After Dinner: Glass Tube (CD & mini CD, Arcangelo/Disk Union, Japan)
2007 Haco: Riska (CD, Arcangelo/Disk Union, Japan) 2011 Haco: Forever and Ever (CD, Arcangelo/Disk Union, Japan)

Major concerts, tours, art performances:
1989 After Dinner tour: Switzerland, Austria,Germany, France, The Netherlands, Denmark, Italy*
1990 After Dinner concert: Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville," Canada*
1997 Haco & Neatopia tour: Switzerland, Italy*
2000 Hoahio concert: the Festival "City of Women," Ljubljana, Slovenia*
(*Supported by the Japan Foundation)
2001 solo concerts for Japanorama tour: UK, Begium
2002 solo concert and live collaboration with Alex Mackenzie (multi-projector film): "Images Festival of Independent Film & Video," Toronto, Canada
2002 solo concerts, composition for "Upstream" - VOC (the Dutch East Indies Company): Hoorn, Amsterdam, The Netherland
2002 sound and video performance "Bugfield (Stereo Bugscope)" (for "View Masters" concert): Aka Rengo Soko (Red Brick Warehouse) Osaka, Japan
2003 sound and video live collaboration with Tajiri Mariko "Howling Rose": "The 2nd Women's Performance Art Osaka," Japan
2003 solo concerts for "String Reverb": Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; U.S. - La Antigua Bodega De Papel, Tijuana, Mexico; "San Francisco Alternative Music Festival," U.S.
2004 solo performances of "Pencil Organ," Off Site, Tokyo; and Kawasaki City Museum, Kawasaki, Japan
2005 live installation of "Bugscope at Sputnik": "Trollofon festival", Bergen, Norway
2005 sound and video performance "Stereo Bugscope - version 3", Sydney, Australia
2006 solo concert (voice, laptop, effects): "Serralves em Festa," Porto, Portugal
2009 sound installation "Barrow Vibrations" for artist residency, "FON (Full of Noises) Festival," Cumbria, UK
2010 Haco (vocal, electronics) + Hiromichi Sakamoto (cello, effests) + Ryoji Arai (live painting), "Jazz Art Sengawa 2010," Tokyo, Japan

Major sound design for contemporary dance:
2005 composition and sound performance of "Opera Shadow" (choreographer and voice performer: Claudia Triozzi): "Montpellier Danse," Montpellier, France.
2006 composition and sound performance of "Setting" (choreographer: Lucy Guerin) (for Australia-Japan Dance Exchange project): Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne, Australia
2007 composition and sound performance of "Up To Date" (choreographer and voice performer: Claudia Triozzi): "Rencontres Choregraphiques International de Seine-Saint-Denis", Theatre de la Commune, Paris, France
2008 composition and sound design of "Corridor" (choreographer: Lucy Guerin): Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne, Australia
2008 composition and performance of "Fais une halte chez Antonella" Claudia Triozzi (choreographer and voice performer: Claudia Triozzi): "Nomadic Nights - programmation Patti Smith," Fondation Cartier, Paris, France; "Nam June Paik Art Festival," Seoul, Korea
2009 composition and performance of "Mushingai" (choreography and dance: Hoshi Mittsu - Hironori Miura & Masanori Hoshika): Beppu Contemporary Art Festival "Mixed Bathing World"; Maizuru Red Brick Warehouses; Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Japan; Patravadi Theatre, Bangkok, Thailand

Major lectures and workshops:
2001 voice collaboration with Carl Stone for his composition, "Adana Urfa," and lecture: Xebec, Kobe
2002-2005 curation and direction for a four-year series of View Masters' lectures, concerts and workshops: Aka Rengo Soko, Osaka
2003 planning and teaching (with Yuko Nexus6) of "Picnic for Sound-Spotting," a series of workshops as part of Nature Art Camp (organized by the Kobe City School Board): Mt. Rokko, Kobe.
2004 documentary exhibition "Nature Art Camp 2003": Kobe Citizen's Gallery, Kobe
2005 workshop for field recording and sound composition, and solo concert of sound-art: Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Yamaguchi
2006 "View Masters Osaka-Melbourne Remix" (exhibition, lecture, concert, and workshop): Hamadera Koen Eki Gallery (Hamadera Park Station Gallery); Inside a tram on the Hankai Line, Osaka, Japan
2010-2013 workshop for improvisation and sound-art "Haco's Sound Bugscope Workshop": "Jazz Art Sengawa" Tokyo, Japan
2012 lecture and workshop for field recording and direction of an audio CD (with Mariko Tajiri): "Kamitakao Hometown Project," Mie, Japan
2012 artist talk & presentation of "Stereo Bugscope": International Festival of Media, Arts & Deign "Spark," Wintec, Hamilton, New Zealand
2012 "The Biotec Orchestra," workshop-laboratory (Olivia Oyama, KH Jeron, Haco, Kaffe Matthews, Don Hill): "CC N1 Festival," Ausland, Berlin, Germany

performances of "John Cage 100th Anniversary Countdown Event 2007-2012" (Japan)
2007 The National Museum of Art, Osaka
2008 Kyoto Art Theater (Shunjuza), Kyoto
2011 The Museum of Modern Art,Toyama
2009 & 2012 Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto

Last updated: July 17, 2013