kilo kish is restless, ambitious, and unstoppable

Through her exploration of life online and sensory overload, Kilo Kish has become the voice of millennial discontent and discovery.

by Amy Campbell
Sep 6 2016, 1:12pm

Kilo Kish claims she thinks more than she feels. And chatting to her, you do get the sense she has a lot on her mind. That's not to say she's stressed — she seems to approach life with a telling mix of intuition, openness, and logic — but rather that she's swimming in ideas. She wants to travel the world learning about artisan textile methods, she wants to open a department store. She's navigating how to be an artist who reflects on the world around her, while still being present in it. She's trying to work out what she's doing, but is by no means lost.

Like many of us in our 20s, she's got a lot of ideas and creative problems. What makes her unusual is that she unpacked them in public, on her acclaimed, and aptly titled, debut album, Reflections in Real Time. It was her personal attempt to make sense of the sensory overload that marks so many of our lives. Apparently, it worked; she's feeling a lot better.

Reading up about about you before this interview, it struck me how many nouns are associated with your name: vocalist, songwriter, painter, designer. What do you see your job as?
I just see myself as someone who makes things and really enjoys art and design. I think the multi-hyphens are kind of an intense idea because they are labels that come with expectations. I think any indie music artist in 2016 has a strong grasp on all of the aspects of who they are and what they are "selling." Doing graphic design, and web design, and merch design, and coming up with song ideas and video concepts are all interrelated.

I suppose logically that makes sense — you're more than just a song, or a verse, or a look — but it feels like a lot to fit in.
I don't really fit it all in, I wish I could. Music was something I started with no expectation as an adult so it's the newest kind of art I make.

You actually started doing textile design at FIT. Can you take me through how you moved from that being your focus to music?
I just went with the flow of what was already happening — if I got an offer I would just do it, and I did all of the interviews and kept making things and the next thing I knew it was my life. I think I am just now making a true decision to pursue what I'm doing with an honest effort; I think I floated around for some time figuring out the pros and cons of what I was doing.

That seems like a very familiar feeling for people our age. Music came later, but it's clearly something that clicked. Does it feel more natural than your other pursuits?
I would say music in the beginning was natural because it wasn't something I nurtured with school or practice really, but as I grow in what I'm doing it takes the most nurturing. Although, I think my natural process is from my design brain; I tend to think more than I feel.

Do you have a long-term vision for your design work?
I only really expect to explore, learn, and collaborate at this point. I would love to create a department store one day, but that's one day. 

That would be amazing. You are existing in a really great time for collaborations between designers and musicians. Are there any people you dream of working with?
I'm really inspired by everyone's creative process and there are always things to learn from anyone working and thriving in an industry. I am more interested in learning and understanding technique, it would be cool to travel and meet heritage artisans who for example make rugs, dye yarns, or make dish-ware as a tradition and collaborate with them after living and working with them for an extended period of time. Would love to do this in Japan!

You've taken your social media accounts offline a couple of times. What's your relationship with the internet like? Is it creatively stimulating, distracting, stifling?
It's all three honestly at different times. Sometimes I feel it is stifling because everything is perceived to be a direct representation of who you are, which is hard because artists and all people change. Ideas and thoughts are fleeting and the permanence of things on the internet and their stamp on you as a person can box you in a bit. It's stimulating because it is a database of imagery and information that can be inspiring. And in general phones are super distracting because being an artist is riding a fine line between where you stand in the world and forgetting where you stand in the world long enough to impose an original mark on it.

It feels like there is so much pressure for young artists to be connected to the virtual world, like, if you're not posting, you're non-existent. Is the title Reflections in Real Time a reference to this?
Reflections in Real Time definitely relates to the nature of a timeline: if you blink you'll miss something, or everything. This is an album of ideas and creative problems that exist and would usually get missed in the vast amount of sensory information available to us. We are all really busy building a world around how we would like to be perceived. For this record I just tried to expose all of my own issues with how to navigate as an artist in 2016 — where the relationship between art and the public is quite strange and emotional togetherness in a real way is strained.


Kilo Kish will be performing at Red Bull Music Academy Weekender in Sydney, Australia on Thursday, September 8 for Night Moves, alongside Bok Bok, Kllo, Marcus Whale, KUCKA, Cliques, Lewis Cancut, Low Ton and more.


Text Amy Campbell
Photography Emmanuel Olunkwa

Kilo Kish