A native of the greater Toronto area of Canada, Al Okada was amongst the founding members of King Cobb Steelie. In his seven years with the band, he had the great pleasure of working with such esteemed producers such as Bill Laswell, Guy Fixsen (of Laika) and Steve Albini and was nominated for a Juno award in 1994 for Best Alternative Album “Project Twinkle”. Inspired by artists such as Brian Eno, Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, he then went on to form a writing and performing collaboration with Tamara Williamson and recorded the self-titled Microbunny CD in 2001 and the follow-up “Dead Stars” in 2004 with additional live musicians King Kong Girio and Cino Evil among others. Together their unique approach to live performances of electronic music earned the band top prize in the CBC 2002 Big Break Contest for Ontario out of 700 entries. They also appeared live on the CBC television show ZeD, and have had numerous placements in various films and TV shows (most notably “The Shield“).
“49 Swans” (Al’s latest work as Microbunny), is a continuation of the belief that the musical compositions be reflective of his tastes, playing and personality to maintain their unique identity. As with the previous two releases, he plays virtually all of the instruments. However this record is an increased departure from the robotics of the electronica genre, opting instead entirely for real time spontaneous performances captured over a number of years. Much of the album was composed as it was recorded. He also adhered to an ethic to utilize only analogue instruments and source samples that pre-date the “digital age”. Computer technology was used only as a means to capture, edit and mix the performances as opposed to looping and sequencing the music. More overt attention to the incorporation of “drone” elements was also made, further enhancing its experimental edge. However, most significantly, this work features a fresh writing collaboration with the multi-talented Rebecca Campbell (Jane Siberry/Fat Man Waving/Porkbelly Futures), who has provided a new vocal, lyrical and instrumental strength for the forthcoming CD, as well as re-envisioning much of their past repertoire for live performances. The band also includes long-time drummer Cino Evil (King Cobb Steelie/Kinnie Starr) and new members Mike Taylor (Loomer) on Wurlitzer electric piano/samples and Pete Kirkpatrick (Tristan Psionic/Heimlich Maneuver) on upright/electric bass.
The latest album “49 Swans”, is now available on digital online sites everywhere.
Meanwhile, an interesting collaboration with former King Cobb Steelie band mate Kevin Lynn has been released. Both have remixed two of each others tracks using almost opposite approaches, yet meeting somewhere in the middle. This 4 song “Microbunny vs. The Straggler” Magnatech EP is now available on the independent Static Clang label and can be downloaded on all digital download sites everywhere.