With the 2017–18 international release of her album Voice Hardcore (on her own BeReKet and New York’s Mesh-Key labels), legendary Japanese musician Phew consolidated her binary interests as vocal performer and, latterly, analogue electronics improviser. Indeed, since her 2013 conversion to analogue electronics Phew has continued evolving her live solo project around the world, charting her progress in a series of self-released CD-Rs sold at her concerts. In 2015 she released her first almost entirely solo-driven CD, aptly titled A New World, on the Japanese label Felicity featuring nine songs backed by herself on electronics and drum machine, with contributions from Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich, and synthesizer/electronics player Hiroyuki Nagashima, among others. Including Finale 2015, her remake of her 1980 debut single Finale, it turned the Phew story full circle, even as it moved it onto her current phase.
In 1978 Phew started out as the singer in Aunt Sally, the Osaka punk group she formed after exposure to The Sex Pistols infected her with punk’s self-belief that music was all about doing it yourself. Aunt Sally split up shortly after releasing their self-titled album in 1979. A year later Phew released her debut solo single Finale/Urahara, produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto. In 1981 she travelled to West Germany to make her debut solo album Phew at legendary producer Conny Plank’s studio near Cologne, accompanied by Plank, and Can’s Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit. She returned to Conny’s studio to make Our Likeness (released by Mute in 1992) with Jaki Liebezeit, former DAF/Liaisons Dangereuses member Chrislo Haas, Einstürzende Neubauten’s Alexander Hacke, and their ex-Crime And The City Solution colleague Thomas Stern. And in 2011, she and Erika Kobayashi formed Project UNDARK to record the texts of Radium Girls with music by the late Dieter Moebius, of Cluster.
These international albums are of a piece with Phew’s career as a performing and recording artist. In Japan she has made a series of acclaimed records under her own name, or leading bands such as Novo Tono and her contemporary punk group Most. Her other projects include the electronics and voice duo Big Picture with Hiroyuki Nagashima.