—– Leah Jay, Artist —–

Hey Big Star

When a star influences me, inspires me, and draws me in to his world with his music, what am I supposed to do?
I make art in response. I give him a gift. It’s all I know. It’s the only way I know how to say “thank you”, right.

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It all started in 2014. I walked into Streetlight Records and whiled away some time listening to random selections on their listening station headphones. Upon hearing the first two songs of “Lighght” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Sweet, lush, enchanting tones…complex and full of looped and layered strings. I had never heard anything like it. I don’t think I have ever decided on a CD purchase more quickly in my life. I couldn’t wait to get it home and figure this whole thing out. Who was this Kishi Bashi person?

All I knew was that he made amazing music. Lighght became a cheerful companion, my studio soundtrack, inspiring “the Sun Gave Us the Stars” directly as well as guiding me through many others of the same type. Layered strings, you say? Yes. This. Discovering his first Kickstartered pre-label effort, 151a, gave me even more creative rocket fuel. Gradually, K. Ishibashi (aka Kishi Bashi) became one of my very favorite musical artists – ever. (And that is saying something for me, being a deep music nerd with a collection spanning classic rock through prog and alternative.)

Fast forward to August, 2016.  I heard that Kishi Bashi had an upcoming new album and tour in the works – Sonderlust. A couple of YouTube free listens later and I knew this would have to be mine on release day. I found tickets to his upcoming show in San Francisco and bought them, even though I really couldn’t afford them, and hadn’t been to a show in years. This was exciting, and worth it.   Joyful Noise Recordings, his label, got me on their mailing list and announced a hashtag contest, which I entered by tagging some artwork on Instagram. Surprisingly, I got an email a week later informing me that I had won two free tickets to his next show, plus the meet & greet, plus some other great tour merch.  Did I mention – meet & greet?  Yeah. Heck yeah.

It took me less than two seconds to decide: I was going to gift him some art that day. A few weeks later I had “Hey Big Star” completed. Named after one of Kishi Bashi’s new songs, it’s made of felt, yarn, embroidery thread (stitched through the canvas), gold leaf, silver leaf and white glue. The top of my right index finger was numb for about a week from stitching through painted canvas, so fellow artists: don’t try this at home. (Or do, just know you might cause nerve damage.)

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Hey, Big Star! 😉 10/21 at the Fillmore, SF.

Here we are together, you can see “Hey Big Star” between us. K was low-key and quiet, conserving energy…but he did ask “Can I have this?” and said he would hang it up. I’m hoping it survives until the end of the tour – but I did explain what it was made of – “just white glue! In case anything falls off”…  (I just shouldn’t talk in front of celebrities.  I’m proven on multiple occasions that I am phenomenally bad at it.)

My awkwardness aside, I’m really happy and honored to have given him some of my art and to have met him in person.  As an added bonus – it was a fantastic show that night!  You can hear the song that inspired the art, below.

(BTW… Check out this artwork by Korean artist Ssin Kim.  This original is huge – it basically covers a wall.  It is insane and… I freaking love it.  This is inspiring me too!)

I’ve already done cover art, and I know I’ll get a chance to do more album covers and band art in my life. Hmmmm…..doing some art for K or his label in the future would make sense, since his art inspires mine so much.  We shall see.

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