Twindrums: Ikue Mori and Yoshimio


by Emi Kariya

4 Japanese ladies were chatting up about food and health, catching up, giggling in the green room snacking and drinking and I swear, Ikue and Yoshimi were still midway giggling as they walked up the stairs to play their improvisational Twindrums set at Roulette. Then they sat at their drums and started drumming in sync, just like chatting. It was so seamless I didn’t even know what had happened looking at the packed room of people paying close very close attention with excitement.
I’ve recently been interested in the systematic, well-rehearsed Japanese music entertainment of all genre and that in itself is a far out art but Yoshimi and Ikue’s performance is at a far universe opposite to that, feeling the naturally occurring energy at that moment and whipping it with their wands. I asked Yoshimio and Ikue a set of same questions separately and I think I got closer to understanding their synchronicity.

While you are playing improvisational set with Ikue, what do you most focus on for both of you to naturally synchronize to one another?

YOSHIMIO: To become completely clear, to become clear white.

IKUE: Playing drums with yoshimi is very special, my main focus is to have maximum fun with her.

In such total improv, what are you most paying attention to when you both stop together in an instance?

YOSHIMIO: Breathing.

IKUE: I guess we are watching each other very closely and feel the breath and movement of the body but sometime it just happens like communicating telepathically.

Please explain in your words, what you’d mean by putting improvisational music into shape.

YOSHIMIO: I suppose people could hear it as music if it was in shape. I am only tuning in to Ikue and don’t really know what is going on or if it is at all in shape. Except, when we are facing each other on two drum sets, that is our shape, or rather, our everything.

IKUE: Improvisation is to be playing moment by moment, listening and response spontaneously, and playing music together unpredictably.

What do you feel the main feature that makes the Twindrums, in sound, communication, power, rhythm, etc.. ?

YOSHIMIO: I want Ikue to play however she feels like. And I want do however I want to.
I think the main feature of Twindrums is that it’s no technique and all impulse.

IKUE: I would never play drums with another drummer rather than Yoshimi because with her we can go beyond drumming technics, with her create something like tribal forth, sometime festive (Matsuri) sometime ritual like…
Could you briefly explain the sound effects you were newly using with pedals and such?

YOSHIMIO: I’ve always loved the howling sound of the amp when guitarists make it howl after the first big strike. I can eat rice forever with that (running joke among Japanese because we ear so much rice with it when the meal hits your spot) (laughing). So I wanted to do that with drums where it makes the howling the moment I hit it.
The mic is connected to the bass amp with effect pedals in the middle and I bang! with it. Because it howls immediately that I’m like caressing the howling sound, sometimes harmonize vocal to it! Harmonize the howling, It was so much fun!

IKUE: The sounds I uses with computer are the processing my own sounds from different source materials, each keypad assigned with different sounds and bring up particular sound by typing the key pad. This is my main instrument now for last 15 years.

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