A Jazz Violinist Meets Of Montreal, Literally.
Name: Kishi Bashi
Where He’s From: United States
Genre: Violin Beatbox Indie
When He Started: 2011
Most Similar: Of Montreal, The Beatles
The Sound: The Marriage of Figaro on loops, produced by Swizz Beatz. But wait a minute. Sometimes it’s actually not like that at all.
Favorite lyrics: Oh in the desert/We try to love like they do in the movies/Face-to-face, end of story (“Atticus, In The Desert”)
Over the course of these early milleni-teens, I’ve seen a long line of artists doing that “alone, singing up there with loops and laptop” thing. And to be totally, totally honest, they haven’t been great. (I saw Thom Yorke do it and it was cool. But yeah, it was Thom Yorke, and he only played one song like that, not an entire set.) Most of the time, these multi-instrumentalist multi-taskers just look tired up there eventually, forcing an audience to wonder where all the artists’ friends are and why they don’t help a guy out.
But if I may make a grand statement here: I think Kishi Bashi might be the savior of that lonely sub-genre, bringing to it a grace that more than meets the technology halfway. An accomplished violinist who studied jazz violin at Berklee School of Music (after flunking out of Cornell engineering/devastating his Asian parents), K has opened for Regina Spektor and currently tours with and produces for Of Montreal. Last year he put together a Kickstarter campaign to fund a second EP, 151a, and instead of the $12,000 he aimed for, he made $20,000 in three weeks.
Take one peek/listen at any of his live performances, and you’ll see why. He has the voice of an angel, writes melodies like Paul McCartney, and beatboxes during the breakdowns and intros to keep you going, what thaaaa…? He also plays his violin like a ukelele, his songs inevitably have a moment that brings tears to your eyes, and ya know what? Dude looks like an Asian Thom Yorke!
Download “Bright Whites” free from KEXP.