Norfolk native hits The Southern
Virginia native K Ishibashi, known onstage as Kishi Bashi, is setting the bar high for an up-and-coming genre of music that blends synthetic violin looping with an epic, psychedelic sound. Although the music has an effervescent, orchestral sound, K’s debut album “151a” was recorded at the makeshift studio he constructed in his parents’ house in Norfolk.
Until recently, he was a one-man act, using pedals and looping to overlay a variety of sounds. With the start of his fall tour, K has added a full band to his set, as well as to his two-track record “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!” which was released last week. The layers of his music aren’t limited to just his instruments, however — K incorporates Japanese lyrics into his musical landscape, creating a soaring sound loaded with depth, similar to that of indie-pop band Passion Pit.
K started out with his band Jupiter One and has since played with Regina Spektor and indie-rock group Of Montreal, among others. He also toured with fellow up-and-comers The Last Bison in 2012.
K was named NPR’s Best New Artist of the Year in 2012, and he experienced international acclaim when his sensational single “Bright Whites” was used in Microsoft’s Windows 8 commercial.
For his fall tour of “151a,” K will swing by The Southern at the Downtown Mall Sept. 21. The doors open at 8 p.m. and the tickets are $10.
I had the chance to ask K some questions before his arrival this weekend.
Arts & Entertainment: How did you get started in the music business, and how has your music changed with time and experience?
K Ishibashi: My first experience really in the creative music business came from my experience with my band Jupiter One. We were signed to an imprint of a major label called Rykodisc, and we got to experience first hand the art of pleasing yourself and the label at the same time. The sustainability of a full band, in our case five members, is extremely tricky. We were so desperate to be successful; we didn’t take as many creative risks as we could have. Now that I’m solo with Kishi Bashi, I wasn’t under so much pressure to stand out, so I could make many edgy moves, which I think helped my album to stick out.
AE: In what way does the place you live, or places you have lived, affect the music you create?
K: I travel a lot and I’ve had the opportunity to see many exotic locations, but it hasn’t necessarily inspired any music. What helps me is to have a lot of idle time. I like to take walks without my phone and just let my mind wander. That seems to work for me.
AE: What has been the most exciting moment for you in your musical career?
K: Being named NPR’s Artist of the Year was a great honor and validation for me. I’ve always loved NPR and it has helped me to widen my audience to unprecedented levels.
AE: What are your major musical influences?
K: I’m honored to have an extremely creative musician with me in my band. Tall Tall Trees and his psychedelic Banjotron 5000 have helped me to push myself to stay creative.