Ichiko Aoba

Ichiko Aoba

Raised in Kyoto, Japan, Ichiko Aoba learnt to play classical guitar aged 17. She found inspiration from Disney and Studio Ghilbi soundtracks and was mentored by Japanese singer songwriter Anmi Yamada. Ichiko released her first album, “Kamisori Otome” (Razor Girl), in 2010, aged only 19, and went on to receive much acclaim for her folksy, jazz-influenced songs written for nylon-strung classical guitar and voice – including her 2013 album “0” and on 2018’s “qp”. She has collaborated with Japanese legend Ryuichi Sakamoto and American sound artist Taylor Deupree; with Sakamoto’s Yellow Magic Orchestra colleague Haruomi Hosono; with Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco; and with Japanese producer and multi-instrumentalist Cornelius. There have been collaborations with Japanese hip hop producer Sweet William and with Japanese indie band MahiToThePeople. Canadian violinist Owen Pallett has cited her as an inspiration, comparing her compositions to those of Burt Bacharach. She was also featured in the soundtrack of the 2019 Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

Her latest album “Windswept Adan” co-written and produced by Taro Umebayashi, is a singer-songwriter album, and a contemporary orchestral work heavily influenced by jazz, by folk and by impressionistic classical music. It is a soundtrack to an imaginary film; a piece of fantasy science fiction set to music; a sonic voyage through the East China Sea.

The release of Windswept Adan on her own label hermine was a gamechanger for Ichiko, triggering her popularity snowball amongst music fans around the world, attracting critical acclaim from some of the world’s leading media.

Ichiko Aoba will perform at our 2022 Kiezsalon season on 7 September 2022 Haus der Kulturen der Welt.


1. There is an ocean inside my body.

2. I was born under a new moon on 28th January.

3. I like to sing.


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?

The surprise and joy of being alive.

2. How and when did you get into making music?

When I was 18, my mentor encouraged me to write my own songs.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?

Love Sounds – The Love Strings of Mort Garson
Djangology – Django Reinhardt
Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo – Raul Lovisoni & Francesco Messina
Cinemashka, chika-chika cinemashka – Umitaro Abe
Sea – Slawek Jaskulke

4. What do you associate with Berlin?

I visited Berlin in 2016 to shoot a music video for Mahoroboshiya with a wonderful director called Hayano. I recall being in a beautiful cemetery in the glistening sunlight, with wings on my back and dressing up like a rabbit. I remember eating something sweet outside and I was surrounded by bees. I also remember the smiles of the people that came to my show during my EU tour in 2021.

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?

High places.
Flower shops in Ebisu.
Flower shops in Naka Meguro.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?

I might not have been born.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?

Love Sounds / The Love Strings of Mort Garson

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Marine Mammals

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?

The Windswept Adan Concert at Orchard Hall, Tokyo, 21 June 2021.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?

I want to use what is available now to it’s full potential. I enjoy experimenting with technology, but if I’m my myself, just enjoying the sounds of acoustic instruments is plenty for me.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?

I have a sister, four years younger than me. When I start to sing a phrase from a song, she always finishes it for me.
She’s the only other person in this world to come from the same parents as me and I love her dearly.