Tone Glow 032.8: Eiko Ishibashi

An interview with Eiko Ishibashi for a special midweek issue

Eiko Ishibashi

Eiko Ishibashi is a singer-songwriter and composer who has worked both solo and collaboratively with artists such as Jim O’Rourke, Merzbow, Yamamoto Tatsuhisa, and Darin Gray. Throughout her 20s, Ishibashi played drums in the art rock band Panicsmile. She has also created music for numerous plays, installations, and films, including the Japanese theatrical release of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire. Throughout the past year, Ishibashi has released numerous albums, including Hyakki Yagyō on Black Truffle. Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Ishibashi on September 18th, 2020 to discuss the films and albums that impacted her as a child, her recent albums, and more. Special thanks to O’Rourke for interpreting.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hi Eiko! How are you?

Eiko Ishibashi: Hi! Thank you for having me.

Of course, I’m a big fan. You’ve been doing a lot of great stuff this year so I wanted to talk. You’re probably my favorite artist of the year.

Eiko Ishibashi: Thank you, thank you.

I was wondering—did you two watch an episode of Law & Order last night (laughter). [Editor’s note: O’Rourke mentioned watching Law & Order every day in our previous interview].

Eiko Ishibashi: I didn’t see it! I usually go to an onsen every day, and during that time Jim is cooking and watching Law & Order (laughter).

Jim O’Rourke: They don’t have it here with subtitles anymore.

Eiko Ishibashi: But I like to watch it, always (laughter).

What do you like about it?

Eiko Ishibashi: [Jack] McCoy (laughs). I just love McCoy’s character. I love how the show always has the same structure, how the first half is about pursuing the criminal and the second half is about how they’re gonna get him in jail (laughter).

Thanks for sharing that (laughs). I wanted to start off by asking you—what’s the earliest memory you have of creating music?

Eiko Ishibashi: I made 8mm films but I didn’t want them to be silent, so I made music with a cassette multitrack recorder. So it was at first for these films.

What kind of films were these? And how old were you when you made them?

Eiko Ishibashi: I was 19 when I started making them. They were more abstract, like me shooting spiral staircases and other architecture—there was nothing narrative.

What was the music like?

Eiko Ishibashi: Mostly just field recordings with piano.

I know you’ve talked about films being a big influence in your work. Do you see films as being the primary influence for you when you create any art?

Eiko Ishibashi: I was always more personally connected with film because I watched films from a young age, and would sometimes watch them with my mother. And especially, it was these stranger films I watched that I felt had a direct relation to my life. I wasn’t ever as close to music as I was with film at the time.

Of course, there’s an influence that film has on my art but it’s never the case that a film inspires me to make something—there isn’t a direct correlative. It’s more so that film has shaped my aesthetics and way of looking at life, and that affects how I make music. Music has to go through the filter of me being me before it comes back out again.

Was your mom really into film as well?

Eiko Ishibashi: Both of my parents watched a lot of films. A lot of war films, especially. (laughter). It wasn’t so much that the whole family would sit down and watch a movie together—it wasn’t that kind of cheery image.

Jim O’Rourke: Film was a really big part of the culture in Japan up until maybe the late ’80s—an enormous amount of magazines, lots of critics.

Eiko Ishibashi: Right, right.

Jim O’Rourke: That’s just some context, sorry.

No, it’s all good, I appreciate it! Would you say that you were close with your parents when you were younger?

Eiko Ishibashi: (laughs with O’Rourke, the two talk at length in Japanese).

Jim O’Rourke: You might be able to tell that it was a bit complicated (laughter). Japanese families are very difficult in the first place. It’s very normal for the father to be absent, and if the mother doesn’t pick up the slack for that, then there isn’t much of a feeling that kids were really wanted in the first place (laughs).

Eiko Ishibashi: My father was considerably older than my mother, about 12 years older. He was definitely from a different generation so it felt like my parents were and weren’t there. Nonetheless, I still feel like I was lucky.

Lucky in what way?

Eiko Ishibashi: My mother was ridden with angst, so I felt like I had the chance to create my own world because my mother wasn’t imposing her world on me.

What was the world that you formed for yourself, then, when you were a teenager?

Eiko Ishibashi: During early high school, the radio was banned in my house but at night, while in bed, I would tape things off the radio and make my own edits with the pause button. Until maybe 15 years ago, there was a culture in Japan where you could rent records and tapes and CDs—there were rental shops because records were very expensive. I would go to the rental shop and form relationships with those who worked there, and I’d bring in my cassettes and tell them, “I want this” or “I want something like this.”

Near the end of high school and in college, I was almost completely spending free time going to movie theaters. I was trying to see as many films as I could, and I’d also rent video tapes too.

When you were in high school, do you remember any albums that really expanded your understanding of what music could do or be? And the same question for films too—what really opened the doors for you?

Eiko Ishibashi: With music it was Genesis’s Foxtrot, especially the sidelong track “Supper’s Ready.”

Oh my gosh, you’re also a huge Genesis fan? (uproarious laughter) [Editor’s note: O’Rourke cited Genesis as a huge influence in our previous interview].

Eiko Ishibashi: And in high school I saw John Cassavetes’s Opening Night and that was a really big deal for me. Oh, and also Joni Mitchell’s Hejira.

Ah, man. That’s my favorite album of all time.

Eiko Ishibashi: It’s a great record!

What about Foxtrot and Opening Night and Hejira spoke to you? Do you remember how you felt when you experienced these things?

Eiko Ishibashi: With Opening Night, there’s an actress [Gena Rowlands] in the film who is an actress within a play, and everyone around her is telling her that she’s not a woman, that she’s over, that she’s not worth anything. But because of the dual structure, there’s a dialectic that forms between the two. This was nothing I had seen before, at least up until that time. I’d never seen something that had such a foregrounded structure that was inherent in both the material and what it was saying about the material.

When I was younger, I had to watch a lot of war films at home because that’s what my parents watched, and it was always this structure of someone dying and someone surviving and going home. The thing that struck me about Opening Night was that the cruelty in the film truly related to my spirit—it had real implications and consequences. I hadn’t seen a film where a depiction of cruelty went beyond just surviving the cruelty, like in a war film. It had real, concrete consequences in Opening Night and it had a profound impact on me. As I was watching the scene at the end of the film—when they throw away the script and she and Cassavetes improvise on stage—it really felt like a true manifestation of the rebirth of my spirit.

You say that it moved your spirit—

Jim O’Rourke: That’s hard to translate, the word kokoro. It could be translated to soul or spirit but it’s not tied to religious thinking like it is in the West.

Right, that makes sense. When you were young, Eiko, did you feel like you couldn’t be yourself, be it with your identity as a woman, or with regards to pressure to be a daughter your parents could be proud of? I’m trying to understand what you mean by feeling rebirth.

Eiko Ishibashi: At the time, I had no ambition to do anything with my life. I had no path, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I thought I might as well just die (laughter). Watching Opening Night made me feel like there was a way out, a way to survive. It wasn’t like I saw myself in the character; it was more that I hadn’t seen that possibility before.

Let’s talk about Foxtrot, then. What did you like about that?

Eiko Ishibashi: I couldn’t understand the lyrics—or even the translation—and because of that, the experience was different. Foxtrot was different from other music I had heard because just from the music alone I could hear these images that the lyrics were talking about and they really jumped out at me. It was the first time I heard music that was storytelling as opposed to just music.

Oh, I totally get that. I love hearing music where I can’t understand the lyrics because I have to concentrate really hard on the music to see what it can tell me.

Eiko Ishibashi: Right, I understand. It was also the same for Hejira because the lyrics are very difficult. A lot of the lyrical imagery that Joni has can’t be translated, but despite that, the music and the artwork can tell you a lot. Like with “Amelia,” you can really sense this girl being in the desert and having nowhere to go—I could get a lot of the nuances just from the music. Both Foxtrot and Hejira are about storytelling through music.

That’s exactly the same reason I love Joni too. The way she plays guitar… it often feels cyclical, like there isn’t a true resolve, and because of that it really allows for the storytelling aspect of her music to come through.

Eiko Ishibashi: Just from the sound of her guitar you can smell the smoke, you can see the landscapes, you can feel the atmosphere. It’s similar to Loren Mazzacane [Connors].

Oh wow, yeah that’s a great comparison. Just for context, what year were you born?

Eiko Ishibashi: 1974.

Gotcha, thank you. Earlier, you said that when you were a teenager you had no ambitions or ideas for what you wanted to do with your life. Was it making music that gave you a sense of purpose? Did it even give you one, when you were in your 20s?

Eiko Ishibashi: During my 20s I played drums in a band.

Right, Panicsmile.

Eiko Ishibashi: Yeah, Panicsmile. When I was at home I would play with my 4-track recorder, but it was just for myself. I was in Tokyo during this time, working as a care worker in a nursing home. I didn’t think of music as anything beyond a hobby—I didn’t think of it as something I needed to do with my life, it was just something I did during my life.

Did working as a nurse give you a sense of purpose, then? Were you happy with that job?

Eiko Ishibashi: I didn’t dislike it but it took a toll on me and my psyche. I never felt like it was what I was supposed to do with my life, though. At that point, I didn’t understand that you could have a life doing something creative because there weren’t examples of anyone living that way. During this time, a friend asked me to make music for their film, but it was very difficult to do something that required more time since I was working as a care worker. So, I decided to quit the job to make this film music.

Wow, how long were you a care worker and when did you quit?

Eiko Ishibashi: I started when I was 24 and quit when I was 27.

Were you scared about quitting that job?

Eiko Ishibashi: No, there was no fear (laughs).

Can you tell me about the film your friend made?

Eiko Ishibashi: (laughs) It was a war film (laughter). It was made by someone who was at a film school in Hokkaido. The soundtrack had two songs but it was mostly instrumental—it was almost completely piano-based.

I’m really curious about Panicsmile because I’m not exactly sure when you joined.

Eiko Ishibashi: So the band is really from Fukuoka, and it’s really just one guy [Yoshida Hajime]. And I was the drummer for about five years when he was in Tokyo.

Where were you born Eiko?

Eiko Ishibashi: In Mobara, Chiba. Close to Narita airport.

Jim O’Rourke: It’s like the Schaumburg of Tokyo (laughter).

So then you moved to Tokyo in your 20s then?

Eiko Ishibashi: Yes, for college.

You’ve talked about playing piano when you were younger, so it’s interesting that you played drums while in Panicsmile. Did you play drums prior to being in the band?

Eiko Ishibashi: No, I didn’t (laughs). My piano teacher when I was young had a drum set, and when the piano lesson was over I’d go over to the drums for a while, but other than that I never had drum lessons or played drums. I didn’t play drums after Panicsmile either.

What about the piano do you like that the drums can’t do? And what do you like about the drums that the piano can’t provide?

Eiko Ishibashi: I can directly play the drums without thinking, I can just play it. With the piano, I have to think a lot about what I have to play so it’s sort of a scary instrument. The drums, however, are a very friendly instrument (laughter).

What do you like about the piano, then, if it’s a scary instrument?

Eiko Ishibashi: There’s probably nothing I like about the piano (laughter). It’s just unfortunately the thing I have to use because I can play it (laughter).

Wow, she is so similar to you, Jim (laughs). Eiko, what do you feel like you learned from being in Panicsmile?

Eiko Ishibashi: Even though the music we made was in regular time, it gave me a framework—with the influence of John French and Captain Beefheart—to play around with time by stretching and pulling it, by deviating from the pulse of the music. It was my first experience of being able to do that because it was in the context of other people who were, relatively, playing it straight.

It was a tradition of bands from Fukuoka to use extremely high tempos. These fast beats were called mentai beats—

Jim O’Rourke: Like mentaiko, the fish eggs (laughter). They’re a popular food all over Japan but especially in Fukuoka.

Eiko Ishibashi: So we were coming from this tradition of mentai beat, which gave me opportunities to screw around with all this.

Jim O’Rourke: Mentai beat.

Eiko Ishibashi: Mentai beat (laughter).

Was there anything else you wanted to add?

Eiko Ishibashi: During the last period I played with them, I started singing in the band, which I didn’t like. I thought it was funny, though, because I was playing really loudly on the drums but singing really quietly. In this abstract way of looking at it I thought it was interesting, but I didn’t like doing it.

So you were a part of Grasshoppers Sun and Eats Tokyo Alive!, were you a part of Best Education too?

Eiko Ishibashi: Yes, I was. Or… maybe (laughter). I don’t remember! (laughter). I didn’t keep the records.

That’s okay (laughs). So you didn’t like singing back then, do you like singing now?

Eiko Ishibashi: No, I don’t like singing.

Is there anything with music… you like doing? (laughter).

Eiko Ishibashi: Mmmm. There’s never a moment where I enjoy it, but I do like it when a sound I don’t expect arises. What I do love, though, is editing sound. Since Imitation of Life, I’ve been using Pro Tools more and more myself, especially on the non-song records. I like editing, and in the more recent stuff it’s a lot of editing.

What about the editing process is exciting for you in a way that playing music isn’t?

Eiko Ishibashi: It’s because it’s dealing with something that’s already existing, even if it’s something you had to create yourself. Once you’re editing it, that piece of music isn’t yours anymore, it becomes material and it doesn’t have that direct connection to yourself. All those bad feelings you have from making music are gone and it’s now much easier to work unrestrained.

I love that. It’s interesting that you mention how this was happening from Imitation of Life onwards because that’s around the start of you being in your 40s. You talked about your 20s already, and then in your 30s you have these earlier solo works—Works for Everything, Drifting Devil, Carapace—so I’m wondering how you feel you’ve grown throughout all this time. How were you as an artist and person in your 20s, how does that compare to who you were in your 30s, and how does that compare to who you are today while in your 40s?

Eiko Ishibashi: During this second period that you mentioned, there was always something going on—I was doing music for plays and films, I was improvising. I don’t feel like I changed as much as separate things started to converge and coexist. It’s like all these things that were coexisting in myself weren’t coexisting in one piece of music. The Dream My Bones Dream was the point where all the things that were always there finally converged.

What are these things that were converging? I’m a little confused about that.

Eiko Ishibashi: Different methods of doing things, different interests, different ways of working with material. Something you learn from improvising is different from something you learn from making music for a play, but eventually they all feed into each other, and that takes time.

Jim O’Rourke: Just give me a second, I need to do a tobacco run.

[The two go on a tobacco run]

Jim O’Rourke: And we’re back.

Eiko Ishibashi: Hello.

Hello. I’m wondering, is The Dream My Bones Dream the first album you were happy with?

Eiko Ishibashi: It’s maybe the only one I can listen to (laughter). Not that I want to, but it’s maybe the least disappointing.

Are you similar to Jim then in that you see a lot of flaws in your older records?

Eiko Ishibashi: If I never heard those records again I’d be fine (laughter).

Is there an artist you’ve worked or collaborated with that you feel like you’ve learned from the most?

Eiko Ishibashi: Of course it’s Jim.

Jim O’Rourke: No, no (laughter).

Eiko Ishibashi: Haino Keiji. I learned a lot from his strength, his resolve, and his determination to do what he wants to do. Even if an instrument falls over when he’s playing, it’s okay. It’s striking to see that happen and it be okay. For him, mistakes are okay.

What do you feel like you’ve learned from Jim?

Eiko Ishibashi: He doesn’t want to translate (laughter).


Jim O’Rourke: Tobacco break (laughter).

Eiko Ishibashi: Having someone to bounce things off of is nice. If Jim wasn’t around, most of the records would’ve never come out—I would’ve thrown them away.

Is that because Jim’s been supportive, because he’s helped flesh out ideas?

Eiko Ishibashi: If left to myself, the music I make would be thrown away after a week. But once someone else is involved, it has to continue.

Jim O’Rourke: With me, if I throw something out it’s because of guilt (laughs). But with Eiko, it has to become something bigger than her.

You’ve done these soundtracks for films and plays… so I’m wondering, do you always need music to be of a greater purpose? Are you disinterested in music just for yourself, for personal reasons?

Eiko Ishibashi: There has to be at least some level of investment for the music I make for films and plays; I can’t completely divorce myself from it and think of it strictly as work or something that has to be made, but at the same time I don’t consider it my own work, my own creation. (continues talking with O’Rourke in Japanese and the two laugh).

Jim O’Rourke: Can we stop talking about me after this (laughter). She wanted to add one more thing.

Eiko Ishibashi: I’m impressed by how hard Jim works. He’s always working. Even when I don’t want to do this or that, I see—

Jim O’Rourke: She sees the old man who keeps working all the time (laughter).

Sorry to talk about you two even more (laughs), but when did you two first meet?

Jim O’Rourke: 11 years ago. It was with this Bacharach record [All Kinds Of People ~ Love Burt Bacharach] I did, to get my visa (laughter).

To get your visa?

Jim O’Rourke: I needed work on the books to be able to get my visa, and it was a major label job, so I did it. I forget who told me, but I needed flute for it and someone recommended Eiko. So she came to my house and recorded the flute for the record. And then there was one show for the Bacharach record with [Haruomi] Hosono and everyone and she played organ for it.

Around the same time, I was starting to play with Yamamoto Tatsuhisa and my old friend Sudoh [Toshiaki] and this was the first time I played guitar with a bassist and drummer in years. We were just kind of fooling around, and I decided that I wanted a keyboard player so I invited Eiko. That kind of simultaneously became her band as well. We also played in Phew’s band at the time—Tatsuhisa and us.

Do you two mind sharing one thing you both love about the other person?

Jim O’Rourke: (translates to Ishibashi and the two laugh).

Eiko Ishibashi: I like that Jim does what he wants to do, and doesn’t do what he doesn’t want to do.

Jim O’Rourke: (laughs). It’s very similar to what I think about Eiko. It’s really difficult to find someone like that.

Eiko Ishibashi: If we’re watching a trailer for a crap film, right before I yell “fuck you!” Jim screams “fuck you!” a second before me (laughter). I like that.

Both of you just say “fuck you” while watching a film trailer?

Jim O’Rourke: Sure, if it’s insultingly crap (laughter).

Is there a movie you two have watched recently that you like?

Jim O’Rourke: The last time we went to a movie theater we saw Knives Out, which was good.

Eiko Ishibashi: The best film we’ve seen recently was Aniara, a Swedish science fiction film. And then there’s First Reformed by Paul Schrader. And Uncut Gems!

Jim O’Rourke: Here’s where we diverge. Eiko likes Uncut Gems but I like Good Time. I like both but I like Good Time the best.

Eiko Ishibashi: How about you?

I like both but I like Good Time a little more.

Eiko Ishibashi: You suck (laughter).

I think we should start talking about your new albums. Let’s talk about Hyakki Yagyō, what was the process like for all the research you did for this record? And what were the main things you were taking away from this research?

Eiko Ishibashi: In researching the Manchurian period, when Japan was creating Manchu—the “paradise land” in China—there wasn’t a lot of writing about it in Japanese. So that was partially a problem. I would very purposefully read from people who believed in it and thought it was a good thing, but also from people who criticized it. It’s a little bit difficult because books that are critical of Japanese history are more common in other languages than in Japanese, but I wanted to make sure I got these multiple perspectives, regardless of whether they matched my own. Nothing really changed my mind about how I felt about it, but reading both was very important. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the Chinese perspective.

What’s your perspective on it?

Eiko Ishibashi: The generation before the war, even the generation before Manchu… very much like Germany, the Japanese of that time would go to another place, decide it was their place, build their utopia, not care about the people around them, and bulldoze over whatever was there. That was perceived as a good thing, as something that was almost the definition of happiness, like it was the fate of the Japanese people.

Jim O’Rourke: There’s this word in Japanese called shiawase, which is a key to all this. It would be directly translated to happiness, but describing what shiawase means in Japan is a whole talk in and of itself. It’s nuanced. It’s kind of like the same problem with kokoro. The changing of the meaning of shiawase in Japan from that generation of ruthless people would of course lead to war, and then after the war it was like that entire period of Japanese history was destroyed. Not physically, but like the bubble popped. It was a tragedy.

Eiko Ishibashi: In relation to the ghosts [Editor’s note: Hyakki Yagyō translates to Night Parade of One Hundred Demons], after the Edo period war, there was so much destruction so in this time of rebuilding, for people to protect their shiawase

So shiawase is like security?

Jim O’Rourke: Maybe the key to shiawase is that people in Japan think of it as happiness but it actually means security.

Eiko Ishibashi: Yes, that’s right. So, the creation of these ghosts in literature and art, if you look at all this art from the Edo period, they’re all doing this work that no one wants to do, like bringing tofu.

Jim O’Rourke: Sorry, this is hard to translate. (the two talk at length).

Eiko Ishibashi: In the Edo period after the war, these yōkai ghosts were like superstitions. There was this curious disconnect with the way they were depicted; all these ghosts were represented as people who were “getting in the way.” It related a lot to what I was interested in with Manchu because there was a disconnect between what Japanese people believed and the consequences of the havoc they were wreaking. They were just overlooking that, and that disconnect has to be manifested somehow, and during the Edo period it was these yōkai ghosts.

Just for clarification, do these yōkai represent specific people?

Eiko Ishibashi: There’s very little writing from the time about all this that’s survived, so there’s a disparity between the art that’s survived and what’s been written about it from the time. I see a parallel with what we’re seeing right now with the coronavirus. There’s this stupid Go to Travel program from the government to give people money to go to places. There will be rich people without their masks on and their clothes they’ve had from the late ’80s and early ’90s, but amongst them will be a local old lady with a mask on. That’s the contemporary equivalent to the yōkai. It’s this old lady who’s scuttling around with her mask on, being ignored while these people who are living in a fantasy land are coming in with their Mercedes. The ghosts are the true reflection of reality.

To be clear, these rich people who are coming in are those who are already living in Japan?

Jim O’Rourke: Yeah. During the bubble period, when Japan had their huge economic windfall, this area was a resort area with skiing and onsens and stuff. Most of the resort areas throughout Japan collapsed but that doesn’t mean that the onsens closed or that you can’t ski, so a slight sliver of that culture still exists in all these places and they’re usually visited for a few weeks during the year by those from outside.

How are you trying to capture all that with your music? I’m not expecting a direct relationship, but from your readings and the emotions you felt, how did this music then come about?

Eiko Ishibashi: It’s not so much a direct translation from my research to the music, but it’s that the research changed the context in which I was making the sound, or choosing sounds. By doing research, it’s like I’m changing my dictionary, and that then has its influence.

My family has roots in Manchu. My grandfather was working on creating Manchu—working on the railroad—and my father was born there. It’s much less of an abstract thing for me to research; it has fundamental roots based in my psyche—it goes a long way back.

Was making the album cathartic in any way? Did it help you reconcile specific feelings you had about your family?

Eiko Ishibashi: It wasn’t really cathartic. It’s more that it’s a mystery that has always been with me since I was little because it’s shrouded history, both as a country and personally. It’s something that will always continue.

Earlier you said that The Dream My Bones Dream was the least disappointing, do you like Hyakki Yagyō?

Eiko Ishibashi: Oh yeah, I don’t feel that bad about it. I wouldn’t be able to put it on right now—maybe in two more years.

I’m curious about these other releases that you’ve put on Bandcamp. There were soundtrack works but then there was also Impulse of the Ribbon and Satellite.

Eiko Ishibashi: With Impulse of the Ribbon, I was really upset with people on Twitter saying things like, “As a musician you have to take a stand, everyone has to become a politician.” It felt like the same garbage as before when people would say, “I’m against war” and then would… start wars. It’s this basic dishonesty and low-level thinking being shown in all this. It was infuriating. With Ribbon, it’s a recording of Hello Kitty in a park for little kids that’s located in a tiny zoo not far from us. Hello Kitty is saying, “Let’s play together! Let’s play together!” but I edited it so that it says sensō, which means war.

So is this about hypocrisy then?

Eiko Ishibashi: No, it’s more about this mindless march towards happiness.

What about Satellite, then?

Eiko Ishibashi: I had just gotten a Nord Modular from our friend and I simply just wanted to use it (laughter).

Are there any ideas you want to explore with music in the upcoming years?

Eiko Ishibashi: There’s been an equipment change in the last year or two, so I want to concentrate more on the technical side of things for a while to come out the other end in a different place. I also want to find a way to make something that’s a collage using just voice and piano.

What do you have planned for the rest of the day?

Eiko Ishibashi: Work (laughter).

So you two just work in your separate studios and come back together at the end of the day?

Jim O’Rourke: Yup, that’s usually it.

What movie are you gonna watch?

Jim O’Rourke: Eiko is writing something for a friend’s film magazine so she can finish the article. So probably a Buñuel film.

What’s the name of the magazine?

Eiko Ishibashi: Orgasm (laughter). The previous issue had a New York theme so I wrote about Gremlins 2, After Hours, Hannah and Her Sisters, and Opening Night. This next issue’s theme is “spiritual” so I’m writing about Buñuel’s The Milky Way, First Reformed, and RoboCop (laughs).

Any plans for dinner?

Eiko Ishibashi: Maybe pizza.

What toppings do you like?

Eiko Ishibashi: Beets, bamboo shoots, and watercress.

Whoa (laughs). Literally have never had a pizza close to that.

Jim O’Rourke: I think I’m the only person to have ever made it (laughter).

What do you like Jim?

Jim O’Rourke: I like artichokes and mini tomatoes. I make a lot of strange pizzas.

Eiko Ishibashi: There’s the gobo pizza.

Jim O’Rourke: Yeah, so we get gobo and carrots that have been shaved thin and cook them until they’ve almost become a sauce. Because gobo is very fibrous, it doesn’t completely melt, and it takes a long time to make that one but it’s especially good.

And you just put that on top of that pizza? Do these have a tomato sauce base?

Jim O’Rourke: No, most of them aren’t. I almost never make tomato sauce pizza, I’ve made it maybe only once. During the time of year when there’s a lot of basil, I’ll make pesto, but these are almost all white pizzas.

These pizzas sound super interesting, I’ve gotta try them some time.

Jim O’Rourke: One really interesting pizza is our chana masala pizza. You make chana masala and eat it but then you keep the leftovers, put it in a strainer to get rid of as much liquid as you can, and then you just put it on pizza with as much mozzarella as you can. It’s incredible.

Eiko Ishibashi: That’s our collaboration pizza.

Jim O’Rourke: Yeah, Eiko makes chana masala one night, and then we put the remainder in a strainer and I make the pizza the next day.

I love that. Who’s the better cook between you two?

Eiko Ishibashi: Him.

Jim O’Rourke: (in a disagreeing but loving tone) Ohhh. Eiko’s very good at Indian, and soups and salads. I can only really do Italian.

Eiko Ishibashi: Because Jim is vegetarian, I’ve had to adapt a bit.

Jim O’Rourke: I didn’t make her!

Eiko Ishibashi: I like to adapt (laughter).

That’s nice of you. You didn’t need to make her, Jim—she wanted to do it!

Jim O’Rourke: Well, if we eat lunch we usually don’t eat lunch together so she can have whatever she wants (laughter). But I’m only good at Italian.

That’s okay, there’s a lot of good Italian food! Is there anything else that you wanted to say during this interview Eiko?

Eiko Ishibashi: No. Thank you. Thank you for your patience. Sorry that I can’t speak English well and that it took a lot of time to talk and translate everything.

Don’t be sorry, it’s okay! I like to adapt too (laughter).

Jim O’Rourke: Thanks so much! Have a good evening!

Eiko Ishibashi: Have a good sleep!

Thanks! Bye bye!

Eiko Ishibashi & Jim O’Rourke: Bye bye!

Purchase Hyakki Yagyō at Bandcamp. Purchase Eiko Ishibashi’s other music at her personal Bandcamp page.

Thank you for reading our special midweek issue of Tone Glow. We hope you can have a collaboration pizza with someone someday.

If you appreciate what we do, please consider donating via Ko-fi. Tone Glow is dedicated to forever providing its content for free, but please know that all our writers are paid for the work they do. All donations will be used for paying writers, and if we get enough money, Tone Glow will be able to publish issues more frequently.

Share Tone Glow

Donate to Tone Glow