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Kishi Bashi: Unique Performances In Time

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Kishi Bashi: Unique Performances In Time

Music Interviews

Kishi Bashi: Unique Performances In Time

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Consider this name. Kishi Bashi. Kishi Bashi. It has a pleasant, repetitive character. A nice, if unusual, little loop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "CHESTER'S BURST OVER THE HAMPTONS")

KISHI BASHI: (Singing) All day, every day, breeding like a curse...

SIMON: Which makes Kishi Bashi an apt stage name for a musician who's creating something that's haunting, beautiful; maybe a little off-kilter through the technology of looping.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "CHESTER'S BURST OVER THE HAMPTONS")

SIMON: Kishi Bashi is also known as K. Ishibashi. He's a multi-instrumentalist who's toured and played with some of the biggest names in indie rock including Of Montreal and Regina Spektor. When he's on his own, the sound he makes comes from his voice, his violin and his looping machine.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "CHESTER'S BURST OVER THE HAMPTONS")

SIMON: He recently released his first full-length solo album as Kishi Bashi. It's called "151a". And he joins us in NPR studio 4A, no relation that I know of. Thanks so much for being with us.

KISHI BASHI: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: May I call you K?

KISHI BASHI: Sure.

SIMON: "151a" isn't exactly like "Thriller" or "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts." I mean, as titles go, there's "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Where does it come from?

KISHI BASHI: It's actually a play on words. There's a famous Japanese phrase called (speaks Japanese) which is one time, one place and it basically translates as a performance aesthetic of just having a unique performance in time with imperfections and basically enjoy it while you can.

SIMON: Now, you incorporate a lot of elements of Japanese music but you're from Virginia, aren't you?

KISHI BASHI: Yeah. I grew up in Norfolk but my parents are Japanese, so...

SIMON: Yeah.

KISHI BASHI: I discovered Japanese is a great percussive instrument, and I use it as an instrument on my album.

SIMON: The Japanese language is the instrument.

KISHI BASHI: The language. Yeah. Yeah.

SIMON: I can't wait to get to your music. Is there something you want us to know before we hear it?

KISHI BASHI: Well, I mean, I guess the song I'll probably start with has a lot of Japanese things in it and I guess I'll walk you through the looping part of it, and...

SIMON: I mean, we're going to prepare people a little bit because you pile loops upon loops.

KISHI BASHI: Sure.

SIMON: And it's kind of a symphonic landscape and yet as people listen to your music they should remember it is just you.

KISHI BASHI: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I do my best.

SIMON: We're set up to hear a song, "It All Began With A Burst."

KISHI BASHI: OK. So basically I'll start with a violin loop.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIOLIN MUSIC LOOP)

KISHI BASHI: And then I'll double-speed it.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIOLIN MUSIC LOOP PLAYED FASTER)

KISHI BASHI: Then I'll add something.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIOLIN MUSIC LOOP WITH PERCUSSION)

KISHI BASHI: Then I'll sing for a second.

(SOUNDBITE OF "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

KISHI BASHI: Then I'll sing another verse.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

KISHI BASHI: The kind of cool thing about this pedal is you can do a half-speed thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST," WITH VIOLIN)

KISHI BASHI: And then you loop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BURST," VIOLIN MUSIC LOOP)

SIMON: Ah.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLAPPING)

SIMON: Hey, K.

KISHI BASHI: Thanks.

SIMON: Can you loop my applause?

KISHI BASHI: OK. Yeah. Seriously? Yeah.

SIMON: Bravo.

(APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

KISHI BASHI: It does, sometimes, because that's the nature of live performance and looping, and...

SIMON: 'Cause one of the things I wondered about with looping, you know, great symphony musicians will tell you that sometimes they drop a note and they just keep on going. But if you drop a note it keeps playing and playing and playing.

KISHI BASHI: Yeah. It's terrible. It's like it's terrifying but, you know, it's a live show. So it's like if you want to hear a perfect performance you should just go home and listen to an album, you know? I think. And if you want to see somebody actually going for it then, you know, that's kind of what I offer.

SIMON: Kishi Bashi. His new album is "151a." He joined us here in NPR studio 4A. Thanks so much. Good luck to you.

KISHI BASHI: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

SIMON: We wanted to hear another song.

KISHI BASHI: Sure.

SIMON: One I really like on the album called "Manchester."

KISHI BASHI: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANCHESTER")

SIMON: You can hear more of Kishi Bashi's music and watch him loop his violin at a special Tiny Desk Concert at nprmusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANCHESTER")

SIMON: This week the entire music team will announce their choice for the best music so far this year. Be the first to know. Follow them at nprmusic on Twitter or visit nprmusic.org. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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