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OKI in the studio, May 2012
Born to a Japanese mother and an Ainu father, Oki Kano is known professionally as OKI. In 1992, he was presented with his first tonkori – the traditional stringed instrument of the Karafuto Ainu. He also plays guitar and traditional Ainu percussion instruments.
His collaborations include well-known Native American Flutist R. Carlos Nakai, the Australian Aboriginal band Waak Waak Jungi, the Taiwanese singer-songwriter, Pau-Dull (Chien-Nien), and Ainu singer Umeko Ando, among others.
In 2004, OKI toured the US, and played WOMAD in Australia with his band OKI & the Far East Band. In 2005, OKI Dub Ainu Band were one of the sensations of the UK WOMAD festival and appeared live with the highly regarded British broadcaster Charlie Gillett on BBC London.
OKI's discography includes Kamuy Kor Nurpurpe (1996), Hankapuy featuring Umeko Ando (1999), No One's Land (2002), Dub Ainu (2004), Tonkori (2005), Dub Ainu Deluxe (2006), and OKI Dub Ainu Band (2007). He has also produced Umeko Ando's Ihunke (2001), and Upopo Sanke (2003) albums. In 2006, Oki garnered rave reviews for Kila & Oki, recorded with Irish group Kila.
Through his active participation in the United Nations' Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP), OKI has developed a network with other indigenous artists.