If you haven’t heard Kishi Bashi by now, I’m urging you to get on that boat ride — that fantastical, melodic and funk-tastic ride. Kaoru Ishibashi (Kishi) has been in the music scene for a couple decades, but is gaining prominence with the emergence of his gleefully joyous album Lighght, and then this past summer, he dropped the retro album Sonderlust. We got to chat about this album and his upcoming concert in Denver at the Gothic on October 15, 2016. If having an irresistibly great time with strangers while dancing to talented music sounds good to you, then I would snag a ticket here.
303 Magazine: How long did it take you to create Sonderlust? What’s the story behind the name?
Kishi Bashi: It took about a good two months to write all the music and producing it took another two months, but probably six in total.
There’s a blog called “Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” and I’m obsessed with the videos and content he makes. I was inspired to make a new word and I didn’t want to take his word, so I just added “lust,” and made it fun. And it describes my world view; I feel very connected to my listeners, even though they are complete strangers.
[For those who want to know, sonder means “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own — populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness — an epic story that continues invisibly around you…”]
303: What’s your magic potion to creating a song?
KB: I’m all music, first. Then from the music, I think about it, run through it a lot and usually words come out, but they are almost like just sounds. And when interesting sounds and words come out, I’m inspired to think of a story or lyrics.
Beatboxing is a performance thing. That came out of looping, when I didn’t have a backing band. For the Denver show, we will have a party but also a stripped-down acoustic version. I also will have a lighting rig for the first time, which I’m stoked about.
303: Your previous album was light-hearted, like a dance in a dreamland. What differences can fans sense on your new release?
KB: There is a still an uplifting, fun part but the lyrics are more dark; they come from my personal life. I use the music as a distraction… but it is always still a dance party.
303: I’m in love with your song “Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her.” What’s the story?
KB: It was an idea I had of an universe that wasn’t the classic story of “God created…” There is a concept out there that earth itself is an organism, on a macro-scale we don’t understand. So what if the universe and all these galaxies were part of this organism, and what if it was in love with another universe – and the big bang and everything was just a cosmic love affair? That’s where the song comes from.
303: Do you prefer traveling as a solo artist? What do you enjoy about being part of a band?
KB: Right now, I’m with a full band, and I added a cello player and it’s like a big family on the road. But I like solo as well because there’s a level of intimacy you can get with the audience. And it’s effective because you’re without other people.
303: You’ve toured with brilliant artists for years. What did you learn from the tour life?
KB: A big influence for me was when I toured with Regina Spektor, I didn’t realize what kind of education I was getting from her. She commanded complete attention from her audience at all times. I like to get my audiences pretty quiet, shut them up without being mean about it (laughs). I learned a lot from her about performance.
Then I traveled with Of Montreal, and they know how to put on a party. So I learned how to put on a ruckus show. I keep in mind those elements, the School of Touring.
303: What made you start up your own coffee line?
KB: I do have my line; I’m actually working on a new line for Sonderlust. I’m trying to look for a new flavor; I have a bunch of beans that I’m trying out right now. Jittery Jones is great coffee, not super elitist but just great coffee beans; they asked me to partner and I said yes, of course.
303: Your music features many elements of electronica and psychedelic pop; what pushed you into that direction?
KB: I think I got into ’70s soul and funk, instrumental funk that I really love. Jazz fusion and I try to emote “jazz fusion” as much as possible, keep it a little retro sounding. And Stevie Wonder will always be an influence.