There is a lot of hostility to migrants and movement just now. Sometimes it is cloaked beneath talk of security. Increasingly it is rank bigotry. In the struggle against aggressive nativism, I offer … Sandii and the Sunsetz. Yes, really.
Sandra O’Neale was the child of a Japanese mother and an American father, a Navy man. She grew up in Japan and later Hawaii. There she became passionate about the dance and music of Polynesia. Returning to Japan in the 1970s, she became a DJ and performer, part of the emerging techno scene, collaborating with the likes of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. In a range of bands and under different names she recorded and performed an eclectic mix of styles and traditions.
It was as Sandii and the Sunsetz that she had her one hit in Australia, “Sticky Music”, in 1983. It probably counts as the first example of J-pop making an impact in the west. Indeed, apart from Yoko Ono, Sandii must be the first Asian woman to enjoy mainstream success here.
It often happens on Planet Vinyl: artists I know only for one or two songs turn out to have unsuspected depth and range. “Sticky Music” is a clever pastiche, full of sly irony. This completely missed me (and, I suspect, almost everyone else) in 1983. It is not representative of Sandii’s work, though – indeed nothing is. Eclectic is the essence. A daughter of different cultures, she borrows from everywhere and anywhere.
Have a listen to this B-side, “The Mirrors Of Eyes”. It is a subtle, low-key mix of percussion, vocals and (guessing here) Japanese stringed instruments. It is mysterious, engaging.
Sandii is still with us, performing and teaching dance. She is witness to the good which comes when people are allowed to travel, to love who they wish to love, to move between cultures, and express themselves freely.
- Artist: Sandii and the Sunsetz
- A Side: Sticky Music
- B Side: The Mirrors Of Eyes
- Format: 7”, 45 rpm, vinyl, stereo
- Label: Sire
- Made in: Australia
- Catalogue: 7-259701
- Year: 1983
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