Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Charlotte for Kishi Bashi, but set to play Durham

Of Montreal’s show at the Neighborhood Theatre in June was easily one of the best club shows of the year. The lively, colorful art-rock band elevated the concert with dance, costumes, and performance art. 

Eight musicians on stage felt more like 25. One of those - the Asian guy dressed like an extra from the “Sergeant Pepper” album cover - was K. Ishibashi (pictured) who was scheduled to make his solo Charlotte debut (under his stage name Kishi Bashi) Thursday with Passion Pit. But Passion Pit cancellation means the closest place to catch him is in Durham August 7 with Tall Tall Trees during his first headlining tour.  

Sparked by his participation on of Montreal’s latest tour and album “Paralytic Stalks,” the violinist and vocalist for indie-rock band Jupiter One recently went solo.

“Working with of Montreal jumpstarted my solo project. It’s been inspiring,” Ishibashi says calling from his home in Norfolk.

Kevin Barnes, the mastermind behind of Montreal, tapped Ishibashi and Jupiter One’s Zac Colwell to compose instrumental parts for songs on “Paralytic Stalks.”

“He’d leave me a whole space to fill. I really pushed myself to dig into the sound. He plays every instrument except violin and I used my violin to come up with a bunch of interesting sounds, especially using loops. It helped bring me to a new level in production,” he says.

Ishibashi realized the places he could go with just his violin and a loop pedal - an approach that’s grown in popularity with artists like Andrew Bird.

“My (live) set up is a suitcase and a few pedals. I can do a whole show that’s pretty entertaining that’s just three pedals and violin,” he explains. That set up allows for audiences to see something off the cuff and different from his debut album, “151a.”

“It does change. There’s a certain amount of pre-composition and improvisation and error. It used to be pretty bad,” he says in terms of on stage hiccups. “Like something happens where my pedal freezes up if I kick it too hard.”

He’s tweaked the live show, but thinks it’s his lyrics that could use work (although with its ethereal mix of electronics and classical influences and world music and art-rock, “151a” is lyrically eons beyond “Hangin’ Tough” or “My Humps”).

“I’m not a literary person in general. I was just thinking about it today. I don’t have much respect for the English language. My grammar is the worst - run on sentences, (bad) punctuation. My lyrics are a little shallow. They’re rich in imagery, but as far as actual content I think that’s one of my weaknesses,” he says. “There is a type of person who hears the words first and derives meaning from it and music is just an afterthought. For a lot of musicians, the music is first. I’m exactly that way. That’s a shame. You’re talking about the meaning of the song. To totally ignore the lyrics, which I’ve pretty much done for most of my life?”

Barnes has encouraged him to dig deeper. Adds Ishibashi: “When (Kevin) writes a song he thinks about (something like) how mad he is at his wife and then starts writing a song where the riff is based on the anger. I can’t think like that. I have ideas and music I hear and then words form over them and then I make stories out of the words.”