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Kishi Bashi: Unique Performances In Time

Kishi Bashi is the stage name of Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist K. Ishibashi.
Jennifer Leigh
Kishi Bashi is the stage name of Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist K. Ishibashi.

Consider this name: Kishi Bashi. It has a pleasant, repetitive character with a nice — if unusual — little loop. It's an apt stage name for a musician who's creating something haunting, beautiful and maybe a little off-kilter through the technology of looping.

Kishi Bashi is also known as K. Ishibashi, a Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist who has toured and played with artists such as 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.

"If I have a lot of idle time, I'll tinker with the violin a bit," Ishibashi says. "Usually, I'll just hear something and the words come later. For some reason, my mind works where I don't hear words; it's just sound, so I'll pick a word and then I'll create a story based on that word."

The first full-length Kishi Bashi album is called 151a — not exactly Thriller as far as titles go. But as Ishibashi explains, the name has hidden significance: It's a riff on the Japanese expression "ichi-go ichi-e," which roughly means "one time, one place."

"It's a play on words that translates as a performance aesthetic of having a unique performance in time, with imperfections, and enjoying it while you can," Ishibashi says. "The saying reminds me to embrace my mistakes and move forward."

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