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Mastering all trades: Kilo Kish on metamorphosis, creativity and computers having souls

17 Dec 2018

Los Angeles is known for its vibrant colours, constant sunshine and creative persons, something that was incredibly evident through the range of stalls over the ComplexCon weekend. Recovering from the soft launch of her clothing brand ‘Aggy’ at this event (which is considered Hypebeast central) Kilo Kish spared some time to sit down with us in a brunch spot in the Los Angeles Flower District – the perfect setting.

As her most recent release, Mothe, demonstrates, Kish is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to conceptual music and art: “The name ‘Mothe’ kind of popped into my head out of nowhere. I wait for my project titles to come to mind then I start working on the content. I felt as if I was going through a metamorphosis period with a lot of changes and a lot of growth. Also a moth is a creature that goes through all these changes but it’s not as glorified as a butterfly. In French, ‘moth’ means the butterfly of the night, and that’s how I felt in my career. It’s never been an over heightening experience for me.”

The third track from the EP, entitled ‘Void’, is accompanied by a music video that features Kish having an all-out brawl with an identical twin. Of course, the visual is open for interpretation but the main concept was within the mind of Kish.

“For my last album, myself and Elliott Sellers had the idea of self-importance but never got to portray it, and so the song ‘Void’ was a perfect soundtrack for it with a fight video. It’s being interpreted as fighting your own inner demons and pushing through things. I think we get in our own way the most in terms of getting things done and being who you’re gonna be because it’s all reliant what you do and how you handle situations. That’s why I wanted there to be a victor at the end of the video. Initially, the video was gonna be super Black Mirror but we decided it would be more ambiguous if we just kind of left it open.”

Kish’s creative side has always been vivid and clear, from the storylines of her visuals to the  direction, but also in the fashion. Which is something that has been prominent in her work for a long time, unsurprising given that she actually graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. When reflecting on her route into music, she reveals that it wasn’t always part of the plan.

Taking a year off in her sophomore year, Kish wandered the Big Apple and eventually music found its way to her. Making music with well-respected artists such as Matt and Syd from The Internet, her first project exceeded her own expectations: “By the time I graduated, my project came out and it kind of blew up at the same time and I didn’t have job lined up for textile design so I thought to carry on with music for like a year or two and here I am still doing this!”

“It was kind of like a happy accident. I had always written poems and been creative… I never feel like I should’ve stuck to just fashion because so many doors have opened up because of music that have been once in a lifetime opportunities.”

Photo by Kiran Gidda
Illustration by Kimmie Hoo Creative

Born Lakisha Kimberly Robinson, Kish has now worked with the likes of Childish Gambino, Vince Staples and most recently UK indie legends Gorillaz. But when it comes to collaborations, Kilo Kish is very specific due to the fear of the partnership feeling forced. “Working with everyone is different – when I work with Vince, he kind of just calls me and he knows exactly what he wants me to do. He has great taste so I’m never worried about seeming weird. I don’t really do too many collaborations unless they’re super natural.”

“With Donald, I met him through a friend and we became good friends. We’re quite similar and have ideas on what we want to do. All the artists I’ve worked with have great sense of self and what they want to achieve.” Next, Kish dreams of joining forces with a few unexpected talents, from Massive Attack and Tricky to Death Grips – delving into the production side of music rather than vocal features.

When exploring the world of Kilo Kish on social media, I discovered something slightly out of the ordinary. Namely, the fact that she follows several NASA accounts. When I broach the subject, she goes on to explain her view that different forms of technology have souls: “I like the way NASA speak about their technology as if they’re alive. I nearly cry every time a rover has to be decommissioned. The idea of technology having a soul or a spirit helps put my life into perspective because we’re so small and all this stuff is happening outside of our human existence.”

Photo by Kiran Gidda
Illustration by Kimmie Hoo Creative

Regarding her future, she had a very refreshing response compared to the usual answers of stardom and legacy: “I feel like I’ve started to fully gel into who I am as a music artist. I like my design style and production style and I love refining that and moving more into other fields, things I initially started doing as a creative. Moving into more direction and creative direction for other artists, because I feel like it’s more pressure to do stuff for yourself, than it is for others. You have much more freedom when you’re not putting your own ego and your own situations and your own sense of yourself into the art.”

After directing a number of her own music videos, being involved in the design of her new website and her fashion line, it appears that a creative drought is highly unlikely  for the 28-year-old singer. Her breadth of outlets for expression is something incredibly rare nowadays. “When I’m 50, I’ll just work in an office and have a creative agency in Portland and be in the rain and work on Photoshop all day. That’s perfect to me.”