Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kishi Bashi Interview with K. Ishibashi

K. Ishibashi at The Earl in Atlanta. Photo by Stephen Lindley
Soon after being turned on to Kishi Bashi's latest album, 151a, I had the opportunity to see K perform at the Earl in Atlanta. Not really knowing what to expect, I had relatively low expectations going into the show. I mean, after listening to the record on repeat for the entire week prior to the (cramming for the show, in usual mousertime fashion), I had no idea how an artist could recreate the lush sound found on the album, without playing backing tracks. I couldn't have been more thrown off. K, armed only with a violin and a looping pedal setup and a little help from Tall Tall Trees, Elizabeth Ziman, managed to wow the crowd with intricate arrangements of each of his songs. Truly breathtaking. 

We recently caught up with K. Ishibashi, and were able to get some pressing questions answered. Check out for the latest news regarding Kishi Bashi. 

You just finished up a headlining tour, how was it overall? Have you had a chance to rest?
The tour was incredibly successful! It was almost 95% sold out and a great feeling to know that I was connecting to so many people around the country.
Were there any specific shows or crowds that blew you away while on tour?
The crowds were all amazing. I noticed that some crowds are consistently crazy and wild regardless of how close the show is to a weekend (Austin, Houston, Chicago) and then there would be some sleeper cell cities that completely got me by surprise (Minneapolis, St.Louis). The Atlanta crowd was really listening with all their heart, which I love. 
 I had the opportunity to see you perform in Atlanta and found your show to be mesmerizing! I couldn't believe how well the music translated to the live setting. Do you have the live performance in mind when you are writing and recording?
I try and keep my compositions simple so that I can perform them solo if I have to via looping. I have been working with Tall Tall Trees consistently, so I'm definitely beginning to branch out into more traditional song forms again for my next album.
How did you get hooked up with Tall Tall Trees and Elizabeth Ziman? Did you intend on utilizing their talents during your show, or did that just happen organically?
TTT and I have been buddies since our jazz days (he's an incredible upright bass player) and we recently joined forces as we developed into singer/songwriters. Elizabeth is extremely talented and had expressed to me that she loved my music, so I had her join me for this tour... and beyond :)
Who are some artists that you look up to in regards to stage presence and live performance?
I've had the unique honor of having worked with some fierce and inspiring solo artists in succession. Regina Spektor is amazing. She had her audience in the cup of her hand and showed me a level of intimacy that I learned to enjoy and have always strived to achieve. Sondre Lerche could kill the audience with just his guitar, and he showed me the highest level of raw showmanship and stage presence. Kevin Barnes and of Montreal are just completely committed to provoking and entertaining their audience and just putting on a fantastic musical/visual/theatrical show.
How does the writing process normally pan out for you?
I'm generally a very lazy person, so I have to combat it by setting myself up with a "writing schedule" sometimes. I'll give myself 30 minute blocks to come up with song ideas and then I’ll demo them very quickly and think about them later.
Are you a continual writer, or do you write in spurts?
Definitely spurts. Deadlines are my impetus for creation. :)
I am assuming that you originally began playing the violin in a more classical setting, but I am curious if you remember a specific time or period when you realized that you could "make it your own"?
I studied improvisation and jazz on the violin and I had been struggling for a while as an instrumentalist for years when I moved to New York City. After that I focused on my songwriting and being in a band with my old group Jupiter One. Now, I think I've found a place where I've combined the two and it's inspiring me to create music that is both exciting to myself and my audience.
Are you currently working on any new material?
I will be making an album this year come hell or high water.
What's next for you on the schedule?
Europe, Australia, and Japan in one month!
Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?
Nick Drake? Just kidding... I actually listen to top 40 dance music a lot now. I actually love club music and electro so I'm glad there's a lot of it on the radio now.
K. Ishibashi at The Earl in Atlanta. Photo by Stephen Lindley

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