Submitted by Danny Hooley — Correspondent
Violinist, singer and composer Kishi Bashi is seriously dedicated to creating beautiful music that makes people happy.
It appears hes onto something. His 2012 album 151a (Joyful Noise) has earned him a lot of new fans, and that includes some prominent critics.
Bob Boilen, host of National Public Radios All Songs Considered called Kishi Bashi his favorite new artist of 2012, and described 151a as a radiant, uplifting soundscape.
Kishi Bashi, who performs Friday at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, says the NPR endorsement was huge for him. And he likes that description of his music especially the uplifting part.
For this album, I definitely took a positive approach, he says. Because I could have taken it to a really dark place, but I also, like, wanted it to be beautiful and happy, and kind of uplifting. It makes me really happy when people write to me, and theyre like, Thank you for the music this got me through the hard times. Thats kind of like, my job now.
His job is also supposed to be a moneymaking proposition, and thats become more and more elusive for recording artists in the Internet age. Thats not so much of a problem for 37-year-old Kaoru Ishibashi (his real name, but he often goes by just K), a classically trained musician with a background in commercial music.
I used to make jingles and sound-alikes and stuff, he says. So when his latest album came out, he had contacts and know-how when it comes to commercial licensing. Before long, Microsoft came to him with an offer to use the irresistible tune Bright Whites in a Windows 8 commercial.
Its easy to imagine a lot of soon-to-be new fans aiming smartphones at the TV, pulling up the Shazam app, and discovering the artist behind the happily strummed acoustic guitar, dreamy synthesizers and catchy melodies sung all over the place by layered angelic voices.
Kishi Bashi has a couple of other songs off 151a featured in recent ads for Sony tablets and Smart cars. He says that fan acceptance of indie music in advertising has come a long way. People grow up, and they come around to the idea that artists have to eat and sometimes support families.
Still, hes aware that theres a fine line, and thats why hes glad hes not credited for the song in the ad.
You put your name on something, you look like youre selling out too much, he says.
It doesnt look very cool. Id rather have people kind of wonder about it.
His growing success as a solo artist has forced all of the other bands hed been playing with recently off his schedule. Those include Of Montreal, Regina Spektor, and his own band, Jupiter One.
Im just focusing on my solo project right now, he says. Its kind of, really, taking off.
For the rest of the year, there will be some touring here, in Europe, in Japan and Australia. He also wants to finish his next album, which he hopes will be ready by the beginning of 2014.
I think music will never get old, Kishi Bashi says. Its so important to people. It really helps people feel better, or like, fall in love. Its a really powerful thing. Im glad to be involved in it.