Miho Hatori (New Optimism) photo by Kimisa H

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is originally from ultra cool cyber kitsch Japanese pop group Cibo Matto, a band that I first loved after reading about them in Grand Royal magazine and fell further when I saw their Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) directed video for “Sugar Water”: a truly mind bending classic of split screen and perfectly intact choreography. Long timed based in NYC she’s also worked with the Beastie Boys and John Zorn, and more recently was the voice of Noodle from Jamie Hewlett / Damon Albarn cartoon supergroup Gorillaz. Now back with a brand new outfit, working with many of Beck’s backing band, it’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, and I’m feeling good for New Optimism. To mark the release of new / debut EP “Amazon to LeFrak” on new Brighton based label Phantom Limb I’m honoured to welcome to VS, the inestimable skill and class of Miho Hatori!

Check out the retro vector action of the new vid “Invisible Tan”…and the crunching Handsome Boy Modelling School meets Mo’Wax vibes.

And if you haven’t seen it (ps where you been?) here’s the infamous “Sugar Water” video by Cibo Matto. It’s a pleasing conundrum – both a whodunnit and a how-dunnit?

“Amazon To LeFrak” – a title which seems like a Chic-y nod to both Nile Rodgers and a river/retail combo, is out now and is an immaculate alchemy of musical isotopes and narrative tropes collected from an exotic path well trodden. Chamber pop, experimental noise and backpack hip hop all rub shoulders in New Optimism and it feels very 2018. Maybe only Ssion is doing anything quite as in yer face/out there/on it right now.

Miho’s sweet singing voice hits its stride most strikingly against the strains of Caribbean/Brasilo-beat which are a hangover from a 2003 bossanova duet album with Smokey Hornel and the calypso world music feel is complemented further by the beats and production by ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij.

Miho is mega inventive and super busy, having dovetailed the recording of “Amazon To LeFrak” with mixtapes for RVNG Intl’s Commend store in Manhattan and numerous sound installation projects. I’m glad this quintruple and more threat found time for Velvet Sheep!

Without further ado, here’s Miho’s “song for ewe”…

Mariya Takeuchi – Plastic Love

“I think this song is so hip and one of the best soul funk song of Japan. I really love this era of Japanese pop music before the word, J-pop was born. This song is perfect for summer and driving in the island or by the beach!”


Miho will be playing a special EP release show at Elsewhere (Zone One) in Brooklyn, NY on August 7.

Miho will also be performing at this year’s Basilica SoundScape, held in New York’s Hudson Valley on September 14-16th, alongside Lightning Bolt, Grouper, Haxan Cloak x Nick Zinner, etc. European dates planned for later this year.

You can get the EP “Amazon to LeFrak” here: