Kishi Bashi is constantly evolving. Newly birthed by Project Jupiter’s K Ishibashi, this unique musical brainchild combines falsetto vocals and violin to a beat box rhythm looped and synchronized live to create something entirely innovative. His ethereal, intriguing and haunting sound sticks in your brain and has you coming back again and again.
Ishibashi’s live performance is exceptional, as he weaves thin strains of violin and vocals into a complex web of music that captures you and then has you dancing in less than a minute. It’s no wonder that this Japanese-American musician, who is classically trained in violin and studied film scoring and composition at the Berklee College of Music, is fast receiving international acclaim after touring as an opening act for Regina Spektor, Of Montreal and African rebel band Tinariwen last year.
On these tours, Ishibashi, in an effort to keep flight costs low, incorporated beat boxing into his performance as an inexpensive substitute for his Roland SPD-S drum kit.
“I decided what the hell, I’ll try this whole tour beat boxing, and then … it had a much better impact than my drum pad. Then all I really needed was a mike, and I realized I could just fly anywhere and play a show with a little suitcase. So, it came out of necessity but I enjoy it now, it’s part of my show,” he says.
The evolution of Kishi Bashi, which is a variation on K Ishibashi’s own name, continued when he took his live show into the recording studio.
“I originally started with the idea of only violin and voice and then I quickly realized that was just stupid. There are a bunch of other instruments that I play,” he explains.
While developing Kishi Bashi’s first LP album, 151a, released on Joyful Noise, Ishibashi was influenced by his love of synthesizers and the psychedelic music of the ‘60s. “I modeled this album after ELO [Electric Light Orchestra], Vangelis and Pink Floyd, you know, lighter rock with orchestral sounds. ELO is, like, my hero. They made a lot with gangway guitar, acoustic guitar and rock synthesizers,” he says.
Indeed, 151a is deliciously deep in synthesizers. Specifically, Ishibashi uses a Minimoog, a Korg Delta, a Roland Juno-106 and a Korg MS- 10, which features heavily in “Bright Whites”.
Kishi Bashi’s metamorphosis will continueas he tours.
“When I started my solo project, I didn’t want to be a singer/songwriter type of person so I tried to create a name that could be a band, possibly something Asian or anything really, who knows,” he says.
The shape of Kishi Bashi continues to change. While in Vancouver, Ishibashi will be sharing the stage with singer Mike Sivino from Tall Tall Trees and Elizabeth Ziman of Elizabeth & The Catapult sharing vocals, percussion and keyboard. Maybe the next incarnation of the Kishi Bashi is a group project. The only thing that is certain is that Kishi Bashi is on its way to the top, with Ishibashi steering it the entire way.
Check out Kishi Bashi Saturday, February 23 at the Biltmore Cabaret with guest Shugo Tokumara.
By Liz GoodeBC, British Columbia