Alan Ishii
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Alan Ishii

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016

Los Angeles, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2016
Solo Electronic Jazz




""Alan Ishii Is A Punk" By Alex Edgeworth"

The first time I saw Alan Ishii was by accident.

I’d hustled downtown to catch gleefully opprobrious shock-pop star MOM (hey, on Burger Records!) at Ham & Eggs and, incredibly, arrived somewhat on time. I say “nearly” because I had just missed Charmaine’s Names, a project fresh from the great weird East (like me). Also billed for the evening was Bernard Herman, who was perhaps better known for his intensely personal psychedelic-horror tours of Manhattan than his music. And of course, there was Alan, whose blazing red-light countenance greeted me from the stage as soon as I’d secured a Miller. It was a modest setup–the synth, the mic, the pedal–but there was much to be done with it. Alan Ishii, I quickly realized, is a musician of countless voices. Some of them rotate like a who’s-who of Irwin Chusid‘s classic “Songs in the Key of Z”: The Space Lady, Shooby Taylor, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Tiny Tim. There’s his trilling falsetto, comic baritone, and a Simone-esque croon. For a beat, he looped a few smart blows to the microphone. For other rhythms, he used his voice for a bouncing bassline. On the keys, he made excellent use of his fingers–an understatement, especially when compared to all those ordinary keyboardists making do as ornamental chicken-peckers. The sonic result was a droll, slightly macabre and challengingly absurdist salmagundi of country blues, Tin Pan torch songs, novelty records, boogie woogie, and opera.

So the second time I saw Alan Ishii was entirely on purpose.

I wasn’t quite sure what he was going to pull at Spirit Studios. The occasion was the Pre-Holi-Gay Queer Performance Party, hosted by Planet Queer masterminds Ian McKinnan and Travis Wood. Most of the dense crowd was either covered in blinking, flashing things or in various stages of undress. The stage was kept empty and the program, snappy; when I went to greet Alan, he was noticeably without his toys. Without any inkling of when he might go on, I got comfortable on a folding chair and was treated to several rounds of lovingly vamped musical numbers and burlesques. At intermission, we gathered around the fire pit and flung sage and rosemary nosegays into the flames. But what of Alan? Dead last, of course–the slot of either the forgotten or the victor, depending on how you play it. He nestled behind the house piano, illuminated just barely by a disco ball, and, with a deceptively flip introduction, set about shredding those keys into curly wooden ribbons. Singing from his distinctive vocal carousel and ripping arpeggios and micro-glissandos with the wry calm of Chico Marx, he improvised a few circles around Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” the latter of which was written for and ultimately cut from Abbott and Costello’s Keep ‘Em Flying. “Probably the most depressing Jazz standard out there,” Alan later confided. It was both delightful and rare to see an audience so pleasantly surprised, especially in someplace like L.A, where effulgence alone won’t ever get you noticed. He was swarmed by handsome young stokers as soon as he was finished.

Not surprisingly, Alan has always been an outlier in both discipline and style. After studying piano in high school, he wanted to major in jazz at college. But a stickler for composition and theory had been Alan’s first teacher, and his teacher had been Leonard Stein, expressionist Arnold Schoenberg‘s protégé and assistant. “Jazz is a hands-on, on-the-spot exercise in putting all that knowledge into motion,” Alan said of his ability to synthesize his background. As for his own take on his singing, Alan feels the heaviest debt to opera. “With that,” he said, “you’re prepared for anything!” By the time he entered his jazz program, most compositional tricks lacked that newfangled gloss. Although he demonstrated considerable ability, he got slammed with full-frontal homophobia and sexism from the jazz community, often being slotted in with all the girls or told that what he was playing sounded like musical theater. He soon “told the jazz scene to fuck off” (his words) and chose audio engineering instead, which rewarded him with some terribly useful skills and some much nicer peers. Immediately after graduation, he landed his own show at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.

Alan tripped off to San Francisco for a short time, where he soon worked electronics and the loop pedal into his performances. When he returned to L.A. in June 2015, he was pleased to see how people responded to an experimental-electronic set comprised of jazz standards, improvisational tangents, and originals. It’s been weird and wonderful ever since. He now has a forthcoming EP of originals; in the meantime, his Soundcloud boasts a potpourri of riffed-up standards and other aperitifs. Don’t forget to stumble upon one of his shows, either; if you don’t like it, he’s not too concerned: “Like Bette Davis said, if half the audience doesn’t hate your guts, you’re a wimp.” - Slanted Manor


Still working on that hot first release.



Alan Ishii​ is a singer, pianist, composer, and producer from Los Angeles. Having recently graduated ​summa cum laude​ from California State University Los Angeles with a degree in audio engineering, Alan has bursted out the gate, striking in all directions, making a solo piano debut at The Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, sending a Classical chamber work on a twelve city tour of China’s concert halls by the famed Zodiac Trio as part of their ​Zodiac: Across the Universe​, and proudly has ventured toward whichever vast artistic horizons call.

Alan Ishii Review at Slanted Manor

Lately, Alan has been touring ​Wild Sounds!​, a solo electronic-cabaret performance piece for voice, loop pedal, and synthesizer that sets the voice on fire and lets it burn. Avant-garde vocal pyrotechnics, ​bel canto ​wails, from sub-bass belts to stratospheric, theremin-like coloratura soprano whistles, punctuated by sultry crooning are all utilized to aggressively execute an opus that touches on Jazz, the Blues, Country, Rockabilly, pulsating Dance, Punk, Salsa, to Enka, Bossa Nova, and beyond.

Band Members