Smokey Hormel and Miho Hatori come from very different worlds. Hormel sowed his oats playing all-American roots rock with the Blasters and X in the mid-80s LA music scene and has recorded with Beck and Tom Waits, as well as scored for films by David Lynch (The Straight Story) and Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck). The Japanese-born Hatori hip-hopped in ’90s NYC as one half of the critically revered, Beastie Boys-endorsed duo Cibo Matto and more recently her vocals have graced tracks by the Baldwin Brothers, Handsome Boy Modeling School and Gorillaz. What they both share is a love of music of all twangs and beats, and together make beautiful sounds as Smokey & Miho.
Hormel and Hatori met during the Beck/Cibo Matto tour in 1996 and bonded over their mutual passion for music, specifically ’60s Brazilian samba and bossa nova; from there began a friendship that launched into an ongoing and delightful experiment. “After playing a lot of loud shows on tour with different bands, this music was soothing to my nervous system,” explains Hormel. “I found myself listening to it as a refuge and it felt like the right thing to do at the time. After 9/11, these songs were what I needed. The soft guitar. The drum like a heartbeat. This music is sensual…like a warm summer rain.” In 2002, Smokey & Miho released the stunning, eponymous EP that featured mostly originals and one Angolan cover, and included “Ocean in Your Eyes” which appeared on the soundtrack to Y Tu Mam? También. Hatori makes an impeccable sambista, singing in three languages – Japanese, English and Portuguese — and in a voice that’s lovely and emotional, so contrary to the rap-style performances for which she’s best known. As Smokey & Miho, they both shine, and their love of the music is undeniable.