Born in Tokyo in 1969, Keigo Oyamada, known as Cornelius, is one of Japan's leading musical mavericks. His influence is worldwide and he is noted for his work as a musician, multimedia artist, producer, and founder of Trattoria Records. His music has been described as experimental and exploratory, and incorporates dissonant elements alongside more familiar sounds. This, along with his practice of bringing in sounds and samples from mass culture, pure electronic tones, and sounds from nature has led him to being sometimes categorized as an acquired taste.
Oyamada started out as half of the duo Flipper's Guitar. After the break up of Flipper’s Guitar, Oyamada produced songs for the Bridge, Pizzicato Five, and Kahimi Karie. In 1993, he became Cornelius and issued his first solo release, the mini album Holidays in the Sun. Cornelius’ name was taken from Roddy McDowall’s ape scientist chractaer from the movie Planet Of The Apes.
His first two albums sold well, but it was his third full length album Fantasma, that provided a breakthrough. Containing a hodgepodge of styles, Fantasma was seen as one of the most original, cohesive, and culturally significant records of the year. Oyamada signed to Matador Records in the US and UK, although he continues to run Trattoria, which serves as a vehicle for innovative Japanese musical acts, and has also taken on other projects like the release of the Planet of the Apes soundtracks.
Live performances act as an extension of Cornelius recordings. The tour for Fantasma ws a visual and musical presentation that returned to the stage antics of bands from the 1970s. Attendees received printed programs, including buttons for playing song samples, and two pair of 3D glasses. The show included costumed martial arts acrobats dressed in ape suits, giant video projection screens, and light shows. The also show included an extra drum track broadcast by a local radio station and concert attendees were encouraged to bring walkmans.
Oyamada has collaberated with numerous miksicians including Beck, Blur, and The Avalanches. He is also involved in designing and marketing of merchandise, including a limited edition cardboard turntable, unique watches, action figures, and headphones that accompanied the first pressing of Fantasma in Japan.
He is a second cousin of the entrepreneur Joi Ito.
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