Kishi Bashi

by James Duval

Kishi  Bashi is the pseudonym of Kaoru Ishibashi (born November 4, 1975). While Ishibasi currently lives in Athens, Georgia, he spent most of his formative years calling Norfolk his home. After graduating from Maury High School in 1994, Ishibashi earned admission to Berklee College of Music where he majored in film scoring. His prowess with the violin soon found him sharing the stage with acts such as Sondre Lerche, Alexi Murdoch, Regina Spektor, and of Montreal. After an opening act failed to show at a Regina Spektor concert in Europe, Ishibashi volunteered his services and his career as a solo performer was born.

As his star continued to shine, Ishibashi released his first EP with the help of of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes. He returned to Norfolk after falling out of love with the daily grind of New York City and successfully Kickstarted his debut album, 151a. raising over $14,000 in under a week. While performing songs from the album live, he would use multiple loop pedals and effects to create multi-layered mini-symphonies of violin, voice, and beatboxing. After a performance at Austin’s SXSW Festival, NPR declared him one of their “Top Acts of SXSW” stating, “I really felt like I was witnessing history... in a couple of years we'll be talking about, 'Man, I saw him at this intimate little show.’” A national tour of his own followed, hitting major markets. While performing at the Attucks Theater, he announced to the crowd that a jingle he wrote for a Japanese cell-phone commercial had begun to take on a life of its own. An overseas tour was booked and the success of the jingle led to him writing “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize In It!”. The song subsequently became his first number one hit in Japan and served as the first single for his new album, Lighght, which debuted at Number 52 on the Billboard Top 200.

Ishibashi’s intriguing method of composing music has also presented him with various opportunities in the art world. In May of 2013, he was invited to speak at the prestigious TEDMED conference in Washington D.C. His audience has grown to the point where he now sells out theaters in major markets on each coast of the United States. Still, not one to forget his roots in the area, he took the opportunity during a September 2013 stop-over in the area to do an intimate solo set at the Chrysler Museum’s glass studio during their Third Thursday (formerly Third Wednesday) events, as he has done in the past. The line for the event stretched from the front steps of the studio to the fountain in front of the museum proper. More recently, he made a return to Hampton Roads for his third headlining performance at the Norva for the penultimate date of his US tour. Currently, he is making several appearances in the summer festival circuit, interspersed with more dates in Japan and a full overseas tour beginning in October.

Footage from his last stop at the Chrysler Glass Studio

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