yoko ono: "let me dream"
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!
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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"
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.
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
I just want you to know I love you. Let's stay well, and dance together...forever!