A Few Words With...Yoko Ono

Interview by John A. Wilcox

If you don't know who Yoko Ono is, you have just arrived from another galaxy. Greetings. I had the opportunity to do a brief interview with Ms Ono in conjunction with a remix of her song Wouldnit topping the Billboard dance charts. I sent a few questions her way, and the pioneering multimedia artist replied with much charm & a gentle sense of humor...

PS: 15 years after it's release on your album Rising, a remix of Wouldnit goes straight up the Billboard charts. How did you feel upon hearing that news?

YO: Lovely!

PS: Let's talk about the remixers a bit. Rob Rives - I associate him with his remixes of Kraftwerk. How did he become involved & what do you feel he brought to the piece?

YO: He is so creative. I was very impressed with his sensitivity.

PS: Richard Morel from Deep Dish's remix really takes a futuristic tack, turning the piece inside out. It's a total reinvention. Were the DJs given total free reign with their remixes?

YO: Of course. That was the whole point for me. I enjoy listening to the metamorphosis of my songs, and the surprise that brings me.

PS: Tell me a bit about the process itself. Do the DJs seek you? Do you seek them out? Both?

YO: I believe that it is symbiotic. We are drawn to each other.

PS: Also, what are they given to work with? Are they provided with copies of the original multi tracks? Do you have any sort of approval during the process?

YO: It all depends on what they need, Case by case.

PS: Last year you released Between My Head And The Sky with a new incarnation of the Plastic Ono Band that included Cornelius and your son Sean. Any plans for another album with this line-up, or perhaps a tour?

YO: Maybe next year. I already have some idea of the next album, so we'll see. This year has been too busy to think of making the next one.

PS: I'd love to ask about a few projects you've done. What inspired the concept behind Onochord?

YO: Morse Code. You use Morse Code when you are desperate for help. The world is now desperate for love. We are a planet in shipwreck.

PS: The Imagine Peace Tower is in Reykjavik, Iceland. What about that location made you feel it was the right place for the memorial?

YO: It's from the old Chinese knowledge of directions. Like Feng Shui. But this is to do with the countries position on the map. Iceland is in the Northern most position and it is easier for the power of knowledge to spread to the whole world.

PS: Dipping waaaay back to 1964, from the Grapefruit book. In one of the "event scores" you suggest to let others copy or photograph the artists' painting, then have the artist destroy the original. I recall my initial shock when I read that years ago. At age 50, I understand the intent much better now. What sort of reaction did that event score draw when the book was first released?

YO: Many of my ideas in Grapefruit were not understood at all except as a line to tickle your funny bone. Well, that was not that bad. I supplied some humour.

PS: As a musician with her own body of work, as well as the caretaker of her husband's work, how does one deal with protecting the rights of your music in the age of illegal downloading?

YO: People like to buy things. Even T shirts. They will of course, download music, because they can. But they will also want to buy the CD, too. I'm sure of that. So we'll see what happens. But still the most important thing for us musicians is to make good music. In a way we can't help doing it! How that act of making music would be translated into business, is something we will find out.

PS: As an advocate of both artistic freedom & freedom of the individual, is it tough to balance the desire for as many humans as possible to hear & enjoy your work and the right for you and the musicians working with you to get paid for your work?

YO: I use to think that music making was a sacred act. Not an act to necessarily make money. now it's getting like that world wide. Well, we can always get a job doing something else just to make a living while we still make music on the side.

PS: I have a single John related question. I'm assembling a piece on the song I'm Only Sleeping, where musicians around the world are sharing their feelings on it. I'd surely love to have your thoughts on the song as well.

YO: I'm only dreaming that I'm asleep.

PS: Here in 2010 you've had great success with remixes of both Wouldnit and Give Me Something. What can we look for next?

YO: I think I already have a good one that you might like.

PS: Lastly, looking at the artists and musicians currently on the scene, who do you see carrying on your vision of invention and expanding the perception of art & music?

YO: I can't think of just one musician. This is the age when so many musicians are becoming so wise and creative. We are all together in rising.


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