For the past year and change, Ben Gibbard has been busy working on his passion project: a Yoko Ono tribute album. Paying respect to one of the most misunderstood artists of the past half-century, Gibbard enlisted high-profile artists like David Byrne, Yo La Tengo, his bandmates in Death Cab for Cutie and Japanese Breakfast to record Ono covers. Japanese Breakfast’s tender piano-driven take on Ono’s “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do” showcases a depth of knowledge for her catalog.
Ahead of that album’s release, Gibbard and Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast sat down to chat about all things Yoko Ono. The duo discussed the project’s formation, their mutual respect for Ono and digging in to her vast catalog. They spoke about their takeaways of Ono as an artist and what they appreciate about her music. Gibbard shared how he first discovered her music at a record store while looking in the “O” section and was impressed by the album art. He continued to say how he appreciated how vast her sound is.
After studying her sound, Gibbard said it became a “pet project to turn people on to these [Ono’s] records” and the challenges of creating a proper tribute with an eclectic group of artists. They also ruminated about how difficult it would be to put on a live, one-night-only show with all of the album’s participants on the bill [but never say never].
Check out their full conversation below.
On our previous Artist x Artist episode, Yola and Natalie Hemby discussed working together on the former’s acclaimed album Stand for Myself. Watch previous Artist x Artist episodes, including Jonah Ray chatting with “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sting with Shirazee and Paris Jackson with Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra, here.