Time is TBD | Victory North Savannah

POSTPONED | KISHI BASHI

Kishi Bashi is the pseudonym of singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter has recorded and toured internationally as a violinist with diverse artists such as Regina Spektor, Sondre Lerche, and most recently, the Athens, Georgia-based indie rock band, of Montreal.
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POSTPONED | KISHI BASHI

Time & Location

Time is TBD
Victory North Savannah, 2603 Whitaker St, Savannah, GA 31401, USA

About the Event

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  Sonderlust (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  month 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  under 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  understand  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.

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