Spoleto staffer Anna Brown remembers doing a happy dance when she heard Kishi Bashi would be part of the 2023 season lineup. (An impeccable one, surely—she was a classically trained dancer, after all.) As it turns out, Brown has long been a superfan of the experimental multi-instrumentalist though has never seen him play live.

She’s not alone in her fandom—count in the President of Spoleto’s Board of Directors, for one! The indie darling impresses critics—NPR calls him “a master of building songs from the ground up…From live violin loops to layered singing to beatboxing, Kishi Bashi’s songs are complicated pocket symphonies steeped in classical playing and 21st-century pop.”

Bashi’s sound, however, can be hard to describe. In anticipation of his concert on Saturday, June 3, we asked Brown to create a playlist of her top tracks. Consider this a primer, but Brown suggests digging deeper. You’ll want to.


Track 1: “I Am the Antichrist to You”
“Crazy title, right?! It’s the opening line of the song. This was the first song of Kishi Bashi’s that I heard, and I still think it’s the most beautiful. It’s very slow, entirely with strings. The song was used in a documentary about a surfer, which is fitting. The music is very circular—it ebbs and swells mimics the feeling of watching waves. I always dreamed of choreographing to this song. I’d say a lot of his music is very balletic.”

Track 2: “Manchester”
“Though this song is from the same album, 151a, it’s completely opposite: upbeat, cheerful. It’s a happy, joyful love song. In this track you can really hear that Kishi is playing strings, sampling and looping them, and resulting in superfast, layered sound. He uses technology to transform his playing into something totally new.”

Track 3: “Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her”
“This song is from one of his earliest albums, Lighght , which has 14 songs that all sound completely different—like they were each created by entirely different artists. This one is particularly trippy with silly lyrics.”

Track 4: “Honeybody:
“This is a really cute, quirky love song. You can tell that he’s singing to someone he really loves. It’s also upbeat and dance-y—if he plays this one, I hope people all get up and dance!”

Track 5: “Marigolds”
Omoiyari is probably my favorite album. Kishi Bashi is of Japanese descent, and this album digs into his grandfather’s experience at a Japanese internment camp in the United States. The album reckons his American citizenship with the country’s past. It’s a tough, intense album of extreme contrasts, but this song is so beautiful. It’s nearly wordless, cinematic.”

Track 6: “Penny Rabbit and Summer Bear”
“This is the opener of the album Omoiyari—it’s a sweet lullaby; an innocent beginning to a very thought-provoking, heavy album.”

Track 7: “F Delano”
“This is a difficult song about the dark histories and underbellies of the internment camps—including assault of young women. The narrative focuses on a teenage girl growing up in a camp, pushing back on things she can’t understand. The title, of course, points to President FDR, and his reputation for an excellent presidency who oversaw a heinous moment in our country’s history.”

Track 8: “Winter’s Eve
“This is a newer song. Like its title, it’s dark, brooding, chilly—a welcome fit for the hot, swampy Cistern Yard in June… a blast of fresh air on a summer night.”

Track 9: “This Must Be the Place”
“Definite crowd pleaser. It’s a cover of the song by David Byrne—another great storyteller who pulls from eclectic places to create unique and new work. All in all, Kishi Bashi’s music is simply great pop. It’s dance-y, easy-listening folk. It fits into so many genres, which is what I love about it.”


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