Q&A: Solo artist Kishi Bashi

One of the most surprising albums of 2012 was “151a” by Kishi Bashi. Funded by Kickstarter, this experimental album, crafted with violin and various pedals and sounds, has shot the founding member of Jupiter One into prominence as one of the best new solo artists. He is played a show at the Bluebird Theater in Denver on Tuesday. CU Independent talked with Kishi Bashi about working with other musicians, his Japanese influence and what’s next after a successful debut album release.
You were in Jupitor One and have worked with Regina Spektor and of Montreal. How did working with so many different musicians influence you as a solo artist?

(Josh Shettler/CU Independent Graphic Illustration)
(Josh Shettler/CU Independent Graphic Illustration)
They are all fierce individual artists so it was very inspiring to see their dedication to expressing their vision. I was also fortunate enough to have experienced their unwavering commitment to their fans as well.
Why did you decide to go off on your own and record solo?
It goes along with the previous comment about artistic vision. I got frustrated with compromising or forced to second-guess it. I’ve always trusted my gut when it comes to music so I found it time to pursue what my singular ideas in music
You’re Japanese-American and “151a” references a lot of Japanese culture, even the title is a Japanese phrase. How has that part of your identity and heritage influenced you as a musician? 
Japanese culture is a big part of me, but I’ve never had the opportunity to integrate it into my music until now. I pursued it because I liked how it gave my music another dimension of interest.
You have a very experimental sound. What kind of instruments and tools do you use in addition to the violin? How are you able to make so many sounds by yourself?
At first I thought I would try to create this album entirely from violin and vocal sounds. I like sound creation and signal processing so I took it as far as I could with that idea. Obviously I abandoned that idea partway through, but the experimentalism of it still pops out in places.
You used Kickstarter, a financial crowd-sourcing site, for your debut album. Why did you decide to use it? What do you think of the program, especially for musicians?
I used it because my friend had a successful campaign through it. I think it’s a great platform for musicians because it rallies support for you and your vision. You’re forced to create a humbling interview which helps you connect with fans.
“151a” has been a success and critically acclaimed. How have you reacted to this sudden success? Did you expect the album to be nearly this big?
Definitely had no idea that it would be this well-received. I now understand the power of an album to influence your tour. Never have so many people showed up to listen to my music.
Have you gotten to play abroad recently? What’s been the response outside America?
I have a couple of songs that are charting over in Japan and they are definitely intrigued about this Japanese-American who beatboxes and plays violin. I’ll be going to Australia in April and then Europe after that.
Coming off the of the success of “151a,” what are your plans for this year? Recording? More touring?
I’m looking forward to working on my new album later this year.
Contact CU Independent Editor-In-Chief Isa Jones at Alexandra.i.jones@colorado.edu.
Isa Jones

This is Isa's third year at CUI. She has served as a news reporter, entertainment reporter and Breaking News Editor. She is a senior news-editorial and English major. She has a fear of contracting scurvy and being trapped in walk-in freezers, but that rarely interferes with her reporting. Isa enjoys morning runs, whiskey sours, baseball and avoiding homework at all costs. Her goal is to be able to write and travel frequently and never work somewhere involving cubicles, synergy meetings or the phrase "9 to 5." (@theisajones)

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