Born Akiko Suzuki in 1955, (Tokyo, Japan), Akiko Yano studied jazz piano in high school and recorded her first album, Japanese Girl, in 1976. To the familiar wispy, girlish voice of Japanese idoru, Yano added something different: a whimsical sense of mischief and the ability to simultaneously sing and improvise on the piano. Japanese Girl caused a sensation in the Japanese music scene, with Yano standing out from the J-pop scene of the time as something entirely original and different. After a failed marriage to Makoto Yano, the producer of Japanese Girl, she went on to become the wife and musical partner of Ryuichi Sakamoto, soundtrack auteur and former member of legendary '80s ele-pop unit Yellow Magic Orchestra. The partnership saw Yano join YMO on tour worldwide in the early '80s as support keyboardist, and she began to cultivate her own following in the US. Little Feat supported her on the West Coast, and she also participated in recordings with UK rock band Japan, led by David Sylvian (who still writes songs with Sakamoto), and Thomas Dolby. Separating from Sakamoto, she moved to New York in the '90s, where she now gigs regularly and records with a range of musicians, mostly in the jazz field.