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Discover Kishi Bashi

Imagine walking onto Fisher Green inside Seattle Center where, instead of hearing the pluck of guitar strings, the beat of drums, or the ring of an artist’s voice, you hear the majestic sound of a violin weaving back and forth. The sound catches your attention just long enough for you to pause and think, “Classical? Of course! Bumbershoot and its diverse umbrella of music.” Then you hear a sound that’s difficult to describe at first—a low hum, a buzz, a breath—and you realize it’s the sound of someone beatboxing. Quickly, the beatboxing man steps on a pedal that loops his sounds into a bass line. Next he sings, pressing the pedal again to loop his voice into a chorus. As the song gains momentum, the majestic sound bursts with energy as his violin dances back and forth vigorously. Within minutes, you are witness to an impeccable feat: one individual creating an ensemble of sound that is as foreign to your ears as a wild hippopotamus is to the Northwest.

Meet Kishi Bashi. Part experimental, part indie, part electronic, part acoustic, and completely unpredictable. Kishi Bashi is a musician whose background is as eclectic as his sound. With a heavy dose of classical influence in his early life, Kaoru Ishibashi, who performs as Kishi Bashi, began his personal journey as a classical violinist.

Clearly Kishi Bashi is not a fan of musical borders. In high school he listened to heavy metal and rap before delving into jazz and world music. Next came an exploration of drum and bass. It’s safe to say his musical taste combined with being classically trained has influenced his own music. Who else plays violin, beat boxes, sings, and presses a foot pedal to loop it all within one song? It’s almost like there’s a Kishi Bashi stamp of novelty on his product.

No matter which genre his unique product falls under, Kishi Bashi’s music has been picking up momentum. His reputation for thrilling live performances quickly spread from the United States to Europe and across the globe to Japan. When an artist like Kishi Bashi starts to make this kind of buzz, it can be rewarding for a music enthusiast, like yourself, to share your discovery with someone else. When that time comes, here are three elements that separate him from the pack:

  • In the words of the man himself: “I’m a pop musician, but I’m classically trained, and I kind of view myself as an experimentalist.”
  • He sings in both English and Japanese. Here’s the fun part: he tends to sing in English when delivering a message through a verse. Then he’ll sing a chorus in Japanese that makes no sense when translated literally but sounds beautiful to the foreign ear.
  • Kishi Bashi is both a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who loops his singing, beatboxing, and violin to create a phenomenal orchestra of sound.

Now, the rest of the discovery lane is ahead of you. “Philosophize in it! Chemicalize with it!” as Kishi would say, then make sure to complete your exploration by experiencing his performance on the Fisher Green Stage at 3:00pm on Sunday.