Yoko Ono

yoko ono: "let me dream"

 

All rights reserved. © Sari Gurney / AIU

Yoko Ono kindly gave AIU a quite intimate e-mail interview in the middle of her ultra-busy schedule in April 2002: thank you again Yoko! I tried to get her to answer to the questions I myself am interested in, mainly "what has happened and what is going to happen next in the world of Yoko?", but she was very reluctant to give any answers to these kinds of questions and clearly wishes to stay a mystery... It's okay because we love being surprised by you Yoko!

AIU: Yoko, you have been getting a lot of positive feedback on your YES Yoko Ono retrospective which is currently touring the US and Canada. It also won an award for Best Museum Show NYC Origination presented by The US Art Critics Association. This year you have won a Skowhegan's award 2002 for assorted mediums in art, and the club remix of Open Your Box has been a huge success bringing a lot of new ears and eyes for your music and art... What does it feel like to get so much positive feedback on your work now, and are these good vibes affecting your current projects somehow? All artists need feedback on some level... How much is the feedback affecting you as an artist? How much does criticism in general affect you and you work?

Yoko Ono: My concern was: "will I become less creative when the world finally accepts me?" No, actually, that was never my concern, since I never even dreamt that the world would accept me in my lifetime. My concern lately was: "I hope I won't get too busy to the point that I would lose time to daydream and/or do my creative work." Now I'm discovering something very important. It seems I'm basically not too effected by how the world treats me. I'm breathing, dreaming, walking and thinking just as I did in the past when the attack from the outside world was severe. That's something nice to discover.

The Yoko Ono remix project

AIU: I know you're very excited about the remix project currently in the process in the studios of Mind Train Records: your songs are being remixed by the DJs Danny Tenaglia and Peter Rauhofer and many others. Have you been spending a lot of time in the studio, listening to the remixed material and their ideas? Have you suggested any songs to be remixed? Are they remixing also songs from your latest album, Blueprint For A Sunrise?

YO: I do know that nobody has thought of remixing something from Blueprint For A Sunrise...yet. There are a lot of talks, but I don't know what's coming next.

AIU: In a recent interview you said that you feel a certain rapport with the DJ culture. Your work has always been "unfinished", meaning that you have wanted to leave the "finishing" of the piece to the audience. You have been creating your art and music almost like side by side with your audience, you have started something and we have finished it in our 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... Is this one of the exciting sides in this remix project for you?

YO: 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.

Blueprint For A Sunrise

AIU: Blueprint For A Sunrise is a very powerful and emotionally intense album. Your very unique and personal approach to music and art as well as the philosophical perspective have always fascinated me, and this new album is no exception... The new versions of your old songs on Blueprint were intriguing and also fun, like Wouldnit "swing" which truly swings! Why did you include older material as new versions on the new album?

YO: I just wanted to give you the message and the musical experience of the highest quality possible. To do so, I intentionally defied all conventions and did things such as 1) Putting a heavy and long song (not a single material) as the first track, 2) mixing live music and studio takes 3) stringing older material and new material together 4) going on and on with a language very few people understand 5) mixing something like Mulberry in a basically rock album without editing it.

Peace billboards

AIU: The Imagine billboard in London with the line "Imagine all the people living life in peace" from John Lennon's famous song Imagine has received a lot of publicity -- most newspapers from Finland to the US to Africa have published the news about it, with your comment "The world certainly needs peace and a lot of love now". People will now pass by the billboard in the middle of their busy day in London, read the words, and even without knowing what John&Yoko have done for pacifism they will react to the billboard and its message, with a smile or more serious thoughts, but they will react to it. I think it's beautiful in its seemingly simple message, and I linked it immediately to your War Is Over billboards first put on view in 1969. The time is different, but the world and your message are basically the same. Our time is perhaps more complicated to live in, so we need to be stopped to think and feel with strong simple messages. How different are the responses now from your original War Is Over campaign in 1969? There seems to be a lot more "patriotism" now...

YO: You'll be surprised that the reaction is about the same. Only, it's expressed differently. I'm happy to say that the billboards in London, Tokyo and New York are giving people tremendous hope and inspiration.

The lady is a mystery

AIU: Tell me about your current projects: describe what is in the works, bubbling in your mind, right now? Any new art pieces or songs you could tell me about? I'm waiting to see another exhibition by you in Europe -- it's been over three years since I saw my first Yoko Ono exhibition, titled Have You Seen The Horizon Lately?, here in Helsinki. Anything coming to Europe in the near future by you, art events or new exhibitions?

YO: Don't kill the goose by examining how it lays the egg. I need time to not think what I'm doing. I need to have the time to just be a rootless vagabond wandering around the planet in my head. Let me be.

AIU: How about in the music field? I'm hoping to see you perform your music live in a club in Europe some day soon... Is there any chance of a club tour in Europe and the US? Are there new Yoko Ono record releases coming up in the near future, apart from the remix project releases?

YO: You're starting to be a journalist. I don't give away my life to journalists. (AIU note: In other words, "No comment" :-)

AIU: Your fans often wonder about the autobiography you have planned to publish earlier -- an artist telling about her life with her own words is an intriguing thought, especially as there is so many publications with gossip, myths, and even lies about Yoko Ono around. Is the Yoko Ono autobiography a possibility in the near future, within the next ten years maybe?

YO: Just now, I don't have the time to look back.

AIU: When you were in your twenties how did you see your future? What kind of dreams and plans did you have at that time? What was your life like then?

YO: Let me dream without coming out to explain it.

AIU: Is there anything special you would like to say to the people who read this interview? What's on your mind today, right now, that you would like to share?

YO: I just want you to know I love you. Let's stay well, and dance together...forever! Y

 

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Photo by Cheryl Dunn. © 2002 Mixer Magazine

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