Every eight counts, he added a new element — drums, keyboard, guitar, beatbox — building a one-man orchestra from the ground up. Melodies swelled over harmonies, strings danced with drums, and he pedaled and plucked along.
In the front row, a woman was moved to tears. People in the back stood for a better view. At the end of his last song, the audience rose with a thunderous standing ovation. He was the opening act.
“That was a special night for me,” Ishibashi said. “I told my wife I was only playing synagogues from then on.”
When we speak on the phone, Ishibashi, whose stage name is Kishi Bashi and who goes by K, is signing hundreds of CDs. He’s in Atlanta to rehearse with the indie-pop collective Of Montreal (Ishibashi has been a member since 2010) but needs every spare minute to tend to his mounting solo career. Ishibashi is opening for the band on its current tour, which comes to the 9:30 Club on Tuesday for a sold-out show.
Ishibashi, 36, isn’t new to the music scene. Born in Seattle but raised in Norfolk, he began playing the violin when he was 7. After flunking out of Cornell’s engineering school, he transferred to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he studied with renowned jazz violin instructor Matt Glaser and met Keiko, a pianist. After a string of strange jobs that included a seat in the orchestra of the Big Apple Circus, Ishibashi and Keiko married in 2002 and moved to Brooklyn. There, he and a fellow circus musician founded the band Jupiter One.
The group’s rise was too slow for Ishibashi, though. He and Keiko had a daughter, Sola, in 2006, and the pressure to support a family drove him to test the waters with a solo act. As Kishi Bashi, he scored touring spots opening for Regina Spektor and Sondre Lerche, which connected him to Of Montreal founder Kevin Barnes.
The duo hit it off. Barnes asked Ishibashi to provide violin for a few tracks on Of Montreal’s newest album, “Paralytic Stalks,” which was released in February.
“K’s a perfectionist, so working with Of Montreal has been good for him,” Barnes said. “We’re less conventional, we want that experimental sound . . . and I think that was liberating for him.”
It was. Last May, Ishibashi released his first solo EP called “Room for Dream.” In August, he and his family moved back to his parents’ house in Norfolk so that he could focus on a full-length album. “I had this ‘it’s now or never’ epiphany that I imagine a lot of rockers in their mid-30s have,” he said. “So I just went for it.”
But first, he needed money.
Ishibashi turned to the online platform Kickstarter to raise funds. Its premise is simple: Entrepreneurs pitch their cause in a video and offer prizes based on how much supporters donate. Ishibashi promised a signed CD to those who donated $25 to the creation of his independent record.