Sawako Kato

MAY 27, 1978 – MARCH 31, 2024

“I would like to create the 0.1-second sound which condenses all emotions in the universe. When I listen to it, maybe my mind and existence itself will collapse.”

It is with great shock and sadness that we say goodbye to our dearest Sawako Kato, who passed away quietly at her family home in Tokyo on March 31, 2024. Sawako liked to call herself a “sound sculptor” and always approached her music making from a dreamy space that floated between her daily life and a vivid, fantastical realm of stars and colors. Song titles like “Way Home From School” and “Wind Shower Particle” show us where she found inspiration.

I met Sawako in Tokyo in 2003 and spent time with her and her music as she worked on her master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications at New York University. She returned to Tokyo to continue her music career and ultimately ended up teaching music technology and coding to young women at Ferris University in Kanagawa. I had the pleasure of releasing three of her albums on 12k, touring with her, recording with her and sharing countless meals with our close-knit musical family throughout Japan.

Sawako’s diminutive demeanor hid her fierce passion for sound and technology. She had the confidence of a natural leader and teacher and seemingly never looked backwards, eschewing anything self-consciously “retro.” As playful as she was serious, she made us all feel loved and inspired when we were around her.

From all of your friends and family at 12k, you will be missed, dear Sawako, our pilot, our starfinder.