Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Making The Pieces Fit

music KishiBashiViolinist and looping master Kishi Bashi to play Moe's Alley

It took the virtuosic violinist Kaoru Ishibashi—a man known for his work with indie-prog masters such as Of Montreal and Regina Spector—more than a year to get to the point where he was comfortable enough to play his solo material in front of an audience.

It wasn't writer's block, nor was it due to him being a perfectionist. To understand why it took so long before Ishibashi, who goes by the stage name Kishi Bashi, was ready to tour, one needs to simply look up his performances online. His NPR Tiny Desk Concert is a good start.

There, viewers will see Kishi Bashi sitting on a stool with an array of looping pedals at his feet and a road-worn violin tucked under his chin, creating loops of alternately plucked and bowed strings. Then he grabs a microphone, sampling a sung melody and laying down a thumping beat-box, which is just as quickly turned into a loop—and presto! Before the unacquainted listener even realizes what has happened, Ishibashi has constructed an entire backing track for himself to play songs such as "Bright Whites," which many will recognize from a Microsoft commercial, and the mournful, haunting "I am the Antichrist to You."

"I developed my set over a good year or so," he says. "It was kind of rough in the beginning, but I've gotten used to doing it. I'll always make mistakes (on stage) but it's the nature of the live show."

Born to college professor parents, Ishibashi was raised on a steady and varied diet of music in his Norfolk, Va. home. "I'm very blessed to have easy-going parents, who love music," the 37-year-old musician says, remembering how as a child he was exposed to pop and world music—"from The Beatles, to Tunisian music, to (new age Japanese musician) Kitaro, and my father loves (Japanese folk genre) Enka."

This disparate assortment of influences is apparent in Kishi Bashi's sound—in as much as his songs are wild collages of the aforementioned violin samples, crooning, yelping, and vocal "booms" and "baps." All of these sounds are frequently run through FX processors to the point that they appear more like keyboard tones than anything produced by a human voice or stringed instrument.

It also shouldn't surprise fans of the eager experimentalists Of Montreal and Spector, that Ishibashi might gravitate toward such brightly colored, kaleidoscopic pop sounds. Another possible comparison can be drawn between Ishibashi and the Brooklyn pop-tinkerers Dirty Projectors. Like that band's frontman, David Longstreth, Ishibashi is steeped in formal music knowledge. He was trained classically and dedicated a near decade to jazz violin.

In the same vein as the Projectors, Kishi Bashi finds beauty in the ragged, the roughly hewn, and the puzzle pieces that have been forced to fit in a place where they weren't meant to go. And it works.

In fact, this illustration of Ishibashi's work is more than just a metaphor. Explaining why he beat-boxes, instead of simply using a drum machine, Ishibashi says one day he simply had to make due with his own vocal percussion, and it stuck.

"I used to use a drum machine until one day it didn't show up at the airport and I was forced to use (my voice) out of necessity," he shrugs. "I like the simplicity of just the voice and violin idea too."

Although Kishi Bashi can work as a one-man show, Ishibashi says he is excited to be on tour with two additional musicians—Mike Savino from Tall Tall Trees and Elizabeth Ziman from Elizabeth and the Catapult—on his current tour, which is making a stop at Moe's Alley on Feb. 27. 

Kishi Bashi will perform at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $9/adv, $12/door. For more information, call 479-1854. Photo: Shervin Lainez

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location