Kishi Bashi is making a statement about America today by writing about Japanese internment during WWII.
On his fourth album “Omoiyari,” the musician examines the America of today against the America of the 1940s.
“It’s not justifiable to lock up citizens who are basically just innocent—just want to have a better life for themselves,” he stated.
He focuses on the lives of the Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes and imprisoned after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
“[The album] is for somebody who has never heard of this whole event of, you know, somebody who is not in that community, you know, to kind of bring them into this minority identity and to have these lessons so they and, you know, now make these mistakes again,” he explained.
After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, Japanese immigrants and their U.S.-born children were rounded up. Families were forced to leave their jobs, homes, and businesses and relocated to isolated camps and “assembly centers” out West. The camps had armed guards, barbed wire, and roll call.
Despite the Painful nature of the subject matter, he says the stories featured on the album are heartfelt and optimistic.
“Ultimately, I just wanted to portray the inhumanity of it or the injustice, but then I realized I can’t write a bunch of sad songs,” he said. “I started to look for the resilience of the people and also love stories and kind of tried to emphasize with history in a way by kind of imagining what love and loss and desire and all these very universal themes would’ve been like back then.”