Susumu Yokota passed away in late March 2015 at the cruelly young age of 54 after a long period of illness.
We released six of Yokota’s albums over a period of four years (1999-2002), including three that have come to be considered classics of ambient music: Sakura, Grinning Cat and The Boy And The Tree. Those records helped put us on the map, and are still some of the best selling releases in The Leaf Label’s 20 year history. Their word-of-mouth success was made all the more remarkable by the fact that Yokota barely promoted them, visiting Europe to play live just once in the entire period we worked with him. Yokota returned the compliment by releasing a personally selected compilation of Leaf releases on his own Skintone label (Leaf Compilation, 2001). My personal favourite of his albums was the first we released, Image 1983-1998, a collection of delicate, otherworldly archive recordings.
As well as his ambient work, Yokota was respected for his house and techno music, with releases stretching back to 1993.
I only met Yokota three times, twice in the UK and a third time when I visited Japan in 2001. Yokota drove me (sometimes at alarming speed) through the endless sprawl of Tokyo and Yokohama to the tranquil city of Kamakura, where we visited ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines and an extraordinary vegetarian restaurant (a rarity in Japan) that only served variants of tofu (it tasted immeasurably better than that sounds). Later we visited an onsen (hot spring baths), a real Japanese treat. Though he spoke very little English, he was always a charming and thoughtful companion. A sign on a harbour wall in Japanese and English we saw on the trip inspired the title of a Leaf compilation: "Watch for tsunami when you feel earth quake”, an instruction that would haunt me years later.
As a tribute to Yokota, The Leaf Label and Lo Recordings have joined forces to release My Energy, a 6 track EP featuring selected highlights from Yokota’s varied and much acclaimed back catalogue, most of which were originally released on his own Skintone label. The EP is available now on Bandcamp as a ‘Pay What You Want’ release with all proceeds going to Animal Refuge Kansai. Yokota was a lifelong animal lover, and the charity was chosen at his family’s request.
July 14 2015
DOWNLOAD MY ENERGY EP HERE
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