Grant Recipients Roy Lichtenstein Award Music/Sound 2023

Keiji Haino

Keiji Haino looks up toward the right, bathed in blue light, his brow furrowed. He wears dark sunglasses and has long white-silver hair that falls over his shoulders.
Photo by Kazuyuki Funaki.
  • 2023 Roy Lichtenstein Award
  • Music/Sound
  • Musician
  • Born 1952, Chiba, Japan
  • Lives in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

Me and now—which is blurring into which?

By having the 1 fulfilled, you might need the next and move on further. You will want to invite the next (2), which will be completely different, to its side. You will want the speed and shape of the invited to be different. This emerges as the deepest now, which cannot be expressed in numbers (metronome) and is difficult for people to understand. People count on a Japanese word “ma” as a quick definition to it. I used to call it that, too, because I could not fully explain it.

People describe my performance, especially percussion, as improvisation. However, as mentioned above, it is an act of fulfilling each and every sound, and I try to form a universe hitting the floor, jumping onto the wall, or approximating my own body to an instrument from time to time. It is an attempt conceived in the middle of the situation, which cannot be fully described as composition, arrangement, or even transformation (possession). It is then that what is called music becomes something next.

My idea is that I want to connect with everything that breathes. And I think that is a discipline in order to connect also with everything that does not breathe.

- December 2022


Keiji Haino is a musician who advocates for and practices a musical monism that deems each sonic occurrence singular and irreversible, annihilating the difference between composing and performing, and annulling the interpretation (of written music) and improvisation. He draws inspiration from rock, depriving it of negativity, inflexibility, and resentment. Through idiosyncratic techniques, Haino pushes the guitar, hurdy-gurdy, and other string, wind, and percussion instruments—as well as DJ equipment and electronics—to the extreme. This enables him to freely explore, collaborate, and experiment with any genre, style, and tradition.

Inspired by Antonin Artaud, Haino was drawn towards theater, but an encounter with The Doors steered him towards music. He has since examined and absorbed a wide range of expressions, from the early blues—especially Blind Lemon Jefferson—to European medieval music, to popular songs.

In 1970, he joined the group Lost Aaraaf, named after Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, as a vocalist. He also began to work on home recordings and taught himself guitar and percussion. Haino formed the rock band Fushitsusha (which loosely translates to “The Unlost”) in 1978 and has also been a member of groups such as Nijiumu, Aihiyo, Vajra, Sanhedrin, Seijaku, Nazoranai, and The Hardy Rocks. He has collaborated with artists from different musical and artistic backgrounds, including Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Lee Konitz, John Duncan, Fred Frith, Charles Hayward, Loren Connors, John Zorn, Faust, Jim O’Rourke, Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi, SUMAC, Boris, Koichi Makigami, Merzbow, Kazuo Ohno, Min Tanaka, and Saburo Teshigawara.

Haino has released more than two hundred recordings and performed live at least two thousand times.

Keiji Haino hunches over a long percussion instrument holding two hammer-like mallets. He wears black clothing. On the left is a large hanging circle.
Keiji Haino in performance at Cerith Wyn Evans Gallery, London, 2015. Photo by Kazuyuki Funaki.
Keiji Haino stands on a black stage in front of a row of amplifiers playing a cherry red Gibson SG guitar on the far right side of the image, his hips thrust slightly forward.
Keiji Haino in performance at WWW, Tokyo, 2022. Photo by Kazuyuki Funaki.
A black and white image of Keiji Haino bent over a long table covered in pedals, mixing boards, and other electronics. Behind him are several large amplifiers.
Keiji Haino in performance. Photo by Kazuyuki Funaki.
Three musicians play drums and guitar, bathed in red light. Several microphones, two amplifiers, and a folding chair are onstage with them.
Keiji Haino in performance at Shinjuku MARZ, Tokyo, 2017. Performers: Keiji Haino, Thurston Moore, and Tatsuya Yoshida. Photo by Kazuyuki Funaki.
A black and white photo of three musicians playing drums, bass, and guitar. Keiji Haino stands in front of a wall of amplifiers on the far right of the image, his right foot thrust forward.
Performance still at WWW, Tokyo, 2022. Photo by Kazuyuki Funaki.
Keiji Haino stands on a raised platform on the left of the image, dressed in black and holding a microphone. A swarm of performers climbs under, through, and on top of a structure made from metal poles and yellow platforms, crowding each other.
Performance still from Miracle at Sogetsu Hall, Tokyo, 2015. Photo by Hideto Maezawa.

Trailer for Document: Haino Keiji, 2012. Directed by Kazuhiro Shirao.

Keiji Haino in performance at Tomorrow festival, B10 Live House, Shenzhen, China, 2016.

Keiji Haino in performance at FREEDOMMUNE 0<ZERO> festival, Makuhari Messe, Chiba, Japan, 2012. Performers: Keiji Haino and Fushitsusha.