When Kilo Kish opened for SBTRKT last week in New York, we took the time to chat to the multi-faceted artist about some of her influences, from Kilo Ali to Egon Schiele.
When it comes to treading the line between hip hop and R&B, Lakisha Robinson has got it covered. Hailing originally from Florida, the now 22 year-old vocalist has made a significant splash in a short amount of time, amassing praise from the likes of Odd Future’s The Internet to fellow buzz-laden rapper (now collaborator) Childish Gambino within a year’s time. Moving from Orlando to New York, Robinson originally had her hands full working a variety of jobs while attending classes at The Fashion Institute of Technology. But that didn’t stop her and flatmates Mell McCloud and Smash Simmons from forming their own Kool Kats Klub collective. After putting out some material under the Kool Kats Klub umbrella in 2011, Kish made a massive impression last April with the release of her debut mixtape, Homeschool. It was a strong showcase of her signature soft vocal style, and with production credits from The Internet and Hal Williams, aka Pyramid Vritra, it showed that her sound was not limited to a specific hip hop sect or sub-genre. A month after Homeschool was released, Kish was sharing the stage with the likes of Rustie and Spaceghostpurrp. Soon thereafter, her name was floating on every music magazine, blog and Twitter feed imaginable.
But while Kilo Kish is best-known for her music, she’s also a gifted artist, and makes no qualms about combining her experiences in textiles, painting and fashion design into the sounds that she creates. However, it’s not just the experiences that have shaped Kish. Her influences – be it the people around her, tracks she adores or her artistic idols – have each contributed something that’s unique towards her ever-changing career. RBMA sat down with Kish to talk about some things that have shaped her towards becoming the person she is today.
Kilo Kish “Watergun” (produced by The Internet)
RBMA: Tell us about three people who have shaped your flow as a vocalist.
KILO KISH: Kilo Ali, I jacked his name out of admiration. He’s this fantastic bounce artist that’s made some great tracks like “Show Me Love”, “Baby Baby”, really making his tracks unique-sounding and unlike the other people who were making bounce at that time. I first heard him around 2010, when I took a year off from school and started working here and there. I’d come home from work and play YouTube videos at our kitchen table to unwind, and when you live with Atlanta natives, you get put onto it quite naturally. My Twitter name became Kilo Kish and I made music just for fun. People started asking me and I thought it was a joke, but then I just ran with it. Ali is on Twitter too, and I’m hoping one day soon I’ll get to at least thank him and work with him.
Smash Simmons is a third of the Kool Kats Klub crew with Mell McLouth and myself; he’s also one of roommates that I mentioned just before. Smash has been there for me since the beginning and it’s been a wild ride; he’s been that guy I can rely on when it comes to a real opinion on what’s sounding good versus what’s sounding great. I don’t really listen to a lot of new music so he really becomes my soundboard in that way, showing me new things and interesting stuff that we can incorporate in whatever amalgamation of KKK we can.
Mell McCloud is amazing at what he does, which is bang out beats. He’s always doing what we ask but I think he always knows what’s good while simultaneously knowing what we want to hear. Mell and I go way back, to the days of AOL Instant Messenger where would have rap battles over chats, emoticons and internet-speak. The thing about Kool Kats Klub is that both Smash and Mell are better rappers then I am, but as a collective it’s always a proper and focused experience. All three of us have never really had time to make music – it’s always us in some combination but usually never entirely together – but when we do finally bring our collective forces together, we’ll hopefully transform into a new-age rapping Shalamar.
RBMA: Describe three tracks that shaped your musical tastes to what you’ve become today.
KILO KISH: Tyrese “Sweet Lady”
As as I said before, I don’t listen to a lot of current R&B and rap much, but when I hear stuff again from when I was a kid, it’s amazing and reminds me of good times, simpler times. I’m always super-late on new stuff, so when it comes to Tyrese, I’ll prefer him pre-Transformers time, and right around Baby Boy, some golden-era stuff.
Marvin Gaye “I Want You”
Undisputedly, the best song ever and there is no chance in hell you can convince me otherwise. The entirety of it screams perfection, from the long build-up to the opening chorus and those bittersweet strings, this tracks brings me to another place and surrounds with an aura of good feelings. I love playing it in New York during the dead of winter; it takes me back to growing up in Florida, hearing my mom blasting Marvin in the house back when I was a kid. Yeah, it’s sentimental, but I dare you not to smile when you hear this song playing. You just can’t control it!
Shalamar “A Night To Remember”
In my mind, this is seriously the happiest song ever made; I dance every single time, no matter where the place is or what time it is. I have danced to this many times at home, in front of my mirror, bathroom, shower, living room, on the streets, and when I hear it, the world around me stops. There’s only a few songs that exist like that to every individual music lover, and to me, this would be that very track.
RBMA: Who are three non-musical figures that have inspired you in some way, shape or form?
KILO KISH: Tom Sachs
Every single time I see a Sachs installation, I marvel at how thorough and thought-out his organisational skills are; not to mention the way he manages his studio. Sachs does everything down to a tee, and I’m similar when it comes to everything, ranging from my notes, my room, my life! You should see the amount of Sticky Notes that are in my room, it’s crazy.
Despite having such a limited legacy in the art world, Egon Schiele is second-to-none in terms of uniqueness. As a painter and designer, I take upon Schiele’s influence and really invoke it into what I do, when it comes to making my own art. When you see an Egon Schiele work, it’s really expressionism at its most intriguing, which is something I really love.
She is the ultimate hard-worker and extremely organised. I talk to my mom like five times a day; it’s kind of insane. I don’t know if any 22 year-old should talk to their mom as much as I do, but I can’t help it. She’s my mama and she’s the best. Mama Kish pushes me to be really creative and drives me to do the best I can. Honestly, I’m just so grateful that she’s supported me this long and really gave me enough freedom to explore the world around me. Also, she really likes my music, so that’s a plus!