Kilo Kish, making pop music cool again
When it comes to the most creative and boundary pushing sounds that music can offer, people, myself included, tend to overlook pop music, and why wouldn’t you? The majority of it is scientifically engineered songs that use the same 4 notes to make money for record labels with little to no heart or human input. This ‘popular music = bad’ sentiment has really been done to death at this point, something that I am guilty of, so instead of focusing on the worst parts of the genre I’d like to celebrate the great and unique artists coming out of the genre. Artists like Lorde, Grimes and Janelle Monáe are often hailed as the saving graces of pop, people labelling them as ‘Art-Pop’ (because if it’s good it cannot possibly be just ‘pop’, no course not) and while I love all of these artists and thank them for bringing a bit of authorship to the often-faceless genre, there is one name that I don’t hear in peoples mouths enough. Kilo Kish.
I, like many others, first heard Kilo Kish from her features with other hip-hop artists such as Childish Gambino in 2013 or Vince Staples, whom she has appeared with on almost all of his projects. But along side all these fantastic features, she has been slowly curating her own solo career from the fantastic, hip-hop influenced K+ released online for free in 2013 onto her debut album Reflections in Real Time in 2016. From listening to any of these projects it becomes clear that she has a distinct sound, using both dark and bubbly synths to create an ever changing audio environment, to which she accompanies her energetic vocal delivery to wonderful effect. I mean listen to one of the first tracks off of Reflections in Real Time, ‘Hello, Lakisha!’, a bouncy, jazzy song that sounds like the intro sequence to a Netflix original sitcom as Kish fills you in on pretty much everything that’s happened in her life up up until this song. Now listen to the very next track ‘Distractions I: The Opposite Sex’, with an ominous and dark synth underlying Kish’s lyrics about a ghost “creeping in” next to an equally hollow drum pattern. If these two brilliant tracks aren’t enough to convince you that Kish is one of the most diverse artists currently working then I don’t know what is but that's not even the best part, get this, she is only getting better and her recent EP is the best thing she has released to date.
In early September of 2018 Kish released mothe, a 6-track EP draped in psychedelia and synth-wave to absolute perfection and even thought it only just released at the time of writing this, I can confidently say it’s one of my favourite releases of the year and Kish’s best work. Condensed into the tight track list are these beautifully crafted basslines that Kish seems to ride perfectly with her soft vocals and mysterious lyrics. The whole EP seems like a throwback to 80’s synth-wave but not in a way that seems too forced and in a way that is entirely new for Kish. The tracks ‘Like Honey’ and ‘Void’ are up-tempo, loud and to be honest, absolute bangers, something that I wouldn’t associate with her generally slower approach to songwriting.
Working with producer Ray Brady for the second time since her debut album, they craft this sound that feels so familiar while also being entirely new and fresh, especially for pop music. The track ‘Elegance’ uses conventional pop chords to form it’s lead melody combined with a potent bassey synth to create one of the catchiest and hardest hitting songs of the year. Kilo Kish is an artist that has everything to prove in a landscape where the most successful artists are often the least interesting and with a clear and unique voice, mothe proves that not only can pop music be creative but most importantly, pop music can be cool.
Listen to her latest work, mothe below: