Kishi Bishi Goes It Alone

Here is a sneak peak of an interview that will be up on The Wild Honey Pie later this week.  If you’re around, come see him perform tonight at 7 pm at  (le) poisson rouge in New York City, opening for The Barr Brothers!

You won’t hear any electric guitars in the music of Kishi Bishi.  Not now or ever.  What you will hear are lush textures from synthesizers, layers of alluring violin and vocal melodies and stirring rhythms.  What you will see is just one man: Kaoro Ishibashi.

“To see someone be able to do a show with just a violin and a voice is part of the performance thing I’m going for right now,” he shares over the phone from his home in Virginia, on one of his few breaks from touring as the violinist with the venerated rock band, Of Montreal

Going Solo

Years ago, while his pop-rock band Jupiter One was opening for Regina Spektor’s tour, Ishibashi fell into solo performances out of necessity.  “Jupiter One was a very heavy beast to tour around the country so I wanted something mobile and independent,” he explains. 

When the Spektor tour went to Australia, he had to leave his band behind.  “I was playing solo, basically like a stripped down version of Jupiter One.  And I got this huge response- it was ridiculous.  I had to bootleg my CDs because I was selling over 100 a night.”  His drummer, Dave Heilman, joined at the end of the tour and suggested that Ishibashi do a solo album.  “The more I thought about it, the more it made sense,” he recalls, “I had a lot of songs, and this whole other side to me, that wouldn’t really work with Jupiter One.” 

Soon afterwards, Ishibashi jumped on board with Of Montreal and was immediately inspired by lead singer Kevin Barnes.  “There was a whole new style, a level of complexity that I’d never thought of before.  I never understood just how dense his compositions were.”  And, like Barnes, Ishibashi was “into the idea of self-producing, instead of being a slave to a producer or being pressured for studio time.” 

A New Way of Song-Writing

In 2011, while touring with Norwegian band Sondre Lerche, he was invited to play solo as their opening act.  “I’m a procrastinator unless I have a deadline,” he admits, so he frantically started putting together some songs to perform, which led to an EP and then his first Kishi Bishi album, 151a.

Along with many other artists, he found a new way of song-writing afforded by looping machines.  “The whole style is based on improvisation and I think that’s great.  It feels really fresh to me.  If I think something is cool, I’ll just hum a melody over it […] sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not good.  Most of the time, it’s really not good.”

<< stay tuned for more! >>

And check him out on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts!


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