Kishi Bashi. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Kishi Bashi. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Best Picks: Oct. 6–19

Updated: May 17, 2018 - 3:54 pm

What to do downtown after work

One-man-band Kishi Bashi takes First Ave

Kaoru Ishibashi, a multi-instrumentalist and singer who performs as Kishi Bashi, returns to Minneapolis with a Wednesday, Oct. 12 show at First Avenue’s mainroom, bringing new music from his latest, “Sonderlust.”

Kishi Bashi, once a touring violinist with Of Montreal, has made a name for himself with accessible, brightly lit electro-pop music since first releasing his first full-length solo album in 2012.

Rather than continue with the sound of the artist’s previous violin-driven releases, “151a” and “Lightght,” the new album, released last month, ranges from haunting disco-pop (“Ode To My Next Life”) all the way to slick back beat-driven rock (“Who’d You Kill”) to deliver something more eclectic. “Sonderlust” opens with “M’Lover,” a song that would be at home on an Of Montreal album with its restless vocals, lush strings and samples. By the end of the swoony 10-song album, produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, Ishibashi is singing toe-tapper “Honeybody” and closing out “Sonderlust” with a little optimistic romance.

We caught up with Kishi Bashi before his show to talk about his new record.

The Journal: First off, why did you name your new album “Sonderlust”?

Kishi Bashi: I was searching for a special word that both had significance to me as well as aesthetic beauty. I stumbled by chance on this incredible blog called “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.” (Blogger) John Koenig creates words to describe feelings that we don’t have words for. “Sonder” [the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own] was one of these words.


Production-wise, much of “Sonderlust” feels similar to “151a” and “Lighght” with violin loops, piano, guitar, etc., but there’s a greater range of sounds and moods. Did your approach to songwriting change this time around? 

I took an approach that involved starting songs with samples, as opposed to violin loops that I had previously done. “M’lover,” “Honeybody” and “Ode to My Next Life” are examples of songs that started like this.

This is your first time headlining a show at First Avenue’s mainroom solo. What have you learned about performing as a solo act after touring with your previous albums?

I love performing solo. There’s a beautiful intimacy that you can achieve through being in complete control of your sound, and I completely keep that in mind as I bring in more musicians to tour with. This time, I’ve added a cello, in addition to drums and bass, and we are definitely ramping it up, as well as performing acoustically with ukuleles and acoustic guitars.

What artists were you inspired by in creating “Sonderlust”?

I’m a huge fan of the record label Creed Taylor International. It’s the golden era of instrumental funk, and “Say Yeah” is a perfect example of a direct influence. Hubert Laws is my funk flute hero, and the solo at the end of the song is a tribute to him.

Photo courtesy of Butcher & The Boar Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Butcher & The Boar Facebook page

Bourbon, beer — and bones?

In case you needed another reason to visit the beer garden at Butcher & the Boar — beyond the house-smoked meat, beer and $3 shots — you can also help puppies when you visit. On Mondays in October the bar and restaurant near Loring Park is opening its doors to dog lovers to raise money for Pet Haven, a non-profit animal rescue organization. A portion of the proceeds the event’s sales from sausage, Fulton beer and cocktails will benefit the organization’s pups, but you can get your own pooches in on the fun too with some housemade dog treats and free toys at Butcher & the Boar. The beer garden opens at 4 p.m. for a post-work happy hour.