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Kishi Bashi

April 9, 2020 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Kishi Bashi, LIVE at Victory North!
With Tall Tall Trees

Imagine being forced from your home. Imagine being sent to a prison camp with no trial, and no
promise of release. Imagine all this happened simply because of the language you speak, the shade of
your skin, or the roots of your family tree. For over 120,00
0 Japanese
Americans this was a reality
during World War II. It’s a reality that Kishi Bashi seeks to reckon with on his latest release Omoiyari.

Omoiyari is Kishi Bashi’s fourth album
following the acclaimed 151a (2012), Lighght (2014), and
(2016), which have garnered serious acclaim from outlets including NPR Music, The Wall
Street Journal, and The Guardian
and his most important yet. Many of the songs were initially
inspired by history and oppression, and he deftly weaves tales of love,
loss, and wanting to connect
listeners to the past. Channeling the hard
learned lessons of history, Omoiyari is an uncompromising
musical statement on the turbulent sociopolitical atmosphere of present
day America.

“I was shocked when I saw white supre
macy really starting to show its teeth again in America,“ Kishi
Bashi says. “My parents are immigrants, they came to the United States from Japan post
World War
II. As a minority I felt very insecure for the first time in my adult life in this country. I t
hink that was the
real trigger for this project.”

Kishi Bashi recognized parallels between the current U.S. administration’s constant talk of walls and
bans, and the xenophobic anxieties that led to the forced internment of Japanese
Americans in the
s following the attack on Pearl Harbor. So he immersed himself inthat period, visiting former
prison sites and listening to the stories of survivors, while developing musical concepts along the way.
The unique creative process behind Omoiyari will be docu
mented in a film scheduled for release in
early 2020.

“I didn’t want this project to be about history, but rather the importance of history, and the lessons we
can learn,” Kishi Bashi reflects. “I gravitated toward themes of empathy, compassion, and
standing as a way to overcome fear and intolerance. But I had trouble finding an English title for
the piece. Omoiyari is a Japanese word. It doesn’t necessarily translate as empathy, but it refers to the
idea of creating compassion towards other people by
thinking about them. I think the idea of omoiyari
is the single biggest thing that can help us overcome aggression and conflict.”

The strong conceptual elements of Omoiyari are driven by Kishi Bashi’s captivating musical score.
Stepping away from his pas
t loop
based production model, he embraced a more collaborative
approach when recording, and for the first time included contributions from other musicians, such as
Mike Savino (aka Tall Tall Trees) on banjo and bass, and Nick Ogawa (aka Takenobu) on cello
. Kishi
Bashi’s spectacular trademark violin soundscapes are still an essential component of his sound, but
the focus of Omoiyari is centered squarely on its songs. The result is his most potent and poignant
collection of music to date.
On “Marigolds,” Ki
shi Bashi contemplates the “differences between generations that are difficult to
comprehend sometimes.” “I wish that I had met you when your heart was safe to hold,” he sings over a
bed of shimmering violins, conveying a sense of deep melancholy over a so
aring melodic line.

“Summer of ’42” weaves a breathtaking orchestral score over a tale of love and loss in a Japanese
incarceration camp. “While times were humiliating and difficult in these camps, they would make time
to find love and happiness amongst t
he adversity,” Kishi Bashi observes.
“Violin Tsunami” builds a single violin line into a cinematic wall of sound. “A Brazilian Japanese friend
of mine is a violin maker, and he presented me with a wonderful violin to play. He had named it
Tsunami, and had
worked on it while the Fukushima Nuclear disaster was unfolding,” Kishi Bashi
explains. “This song is about the chaos that nature can create, and also about the healing and
rebuilding that the human spirit is capable of.”

The songs on Omoiyari overflow w
ith rich sounds and complex emotions, and challenge listeners to
confront a difficult chapter in America’s past while acknowledging the injustices of the present. But
there’s a yearning for better days threaded through several songs, a perspective that mir
rors Kishi
Bashi’s own hopes for a better future. “Part of the project is saying that if you’re a minority there’s
potentially still a lot to look forward to in this country. I believe there’s a paradigm shift coming,
especially for minorities and those wh
o have felt oppression. America is changing.”

But a better future is not guaranteed, and Kishi Bashi wants listeners who hold some economic or
social privilege to be aware of their own role in creating change. “If you’re privileged you need to
that this country is for everybody, and we have to make that space for all people.”

“Sometimes when we look at history, it feels far away and removed. But there are fundamental lessons
of love, compassion and fear that we can learn from the internment an
d apply to issues today
concerning refugees, immigration, and minorities,” he says. “There are so many tragedies and
atrocities that have happened around the world at different times in history, and I think it’s really
important to have the compassion to u
nderstand the suffering that people endured before you, to not
repeat the past, and to really be grateful for the life you have.”

While the theme of Omoiyari is rooted in 1940s America, the album’s message is timeless. In exploring
the emotional lives of
the innocent Japanese
Americans who were unjustly incarcerated, Kishi Bashi
hopes to nurture a sense of empathy, or omoiyari, in all who hear the album.


April 9, 2020
8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Event Category:


Victory North
2603 Whitaker Street
Savannah, GA 31401 United States