Yoko Kanno is considered a veteran in the Japanese music industry. In an illustrious thirty-year career, she has produced scores for several anime works, films, advertisements and more in the music business. Her works are mostly made in the domestic setting, but over the years, several international organizations such as Google and Nissan, have had Kanno work on some of their commercial scores. A woman of multiple talents, she has also mastered the keyboards, serving as the lead player in a Japanese band called Seatbelts. Not just that, Kanno has collaborated with several other domestic artists such as Kyoko Endo and Maaya Sakamoto on a number of pop music albums over the years.
For Kanno, her primary motive to enter the music industry as a composer was to create music that was relevant to and addressed pressing themes commonly existing in the world. She is particularly adamant of not favoring any one genre, while also being a strong proponent of rampant creativity when making a score. The former characteristic that Kanno possesses has worked well for her in the industry of today, as being flexible with genres often results in several opportunities with high-profile directors. Although first developing an ear for Jazz music, she decided to explore other avenues in music by collaborating with Pop icons in the 1980s. Kanno’s career has shifted interests from composing solo albums, to collaborations with other pop artists, to producing scores for films and video games.
Kick-starting her career at the age of 22, Kanno built on her childhood talent and fondness for the piano and became lead player for a band called Testu in 1986, a band with which she produced music for the next three years. At the same time, she became interested in composing her own scores, producing collections for a video game called Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The first years of her career also sought to focus on producing scores for other video games and films with her husband, Hajime Mizoguchi. In this period, she worked on video games such as Nobunaga’s Ambition (1994) and movies like Asalto (1996). However, what really gave Konno’s career a massive push was an earlier production of an anime score for Vision of Escaflowne (1996), after which several offers came pouring in the anime sphere of things. For the next ten years, she thus decided to channel all her potential and skill in to making hit anime sound tracks for Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight (1998), Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002) and Macross Frontier (2008), amongst 30 other series. Not long after though, she returned to making scores for video games such as Cowboy Bebop (2001) and films such as Kamikaze Girls (2004) and Honey and Clover (2006). An interesting development in her ovationary music career also seems to have taken shape at the same time she became interested in the anime scene. Her first solo album came out in 1998, titled Songs to Fly after which she released several other popular albums such as CM Yoko (2008) and Space Bio Charge (2009).
Besides making several outstanding films, video games and advertisement scores in her far-famed career, Yoko Kanno has also occasionally enjoyed writing jingles for large Multi-National Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Nintendo, Sony and Toyota among others. A close observation of how fast and far Kanno’s influence has spread in the music world simply proves the magnificence this great artiste possesses. Penetrating several different realms in the music industry and leaving a perpetual mark in the hearts of the audience, as done by Kanno, cannot be done by many these days.