With her appearance on The Internet’s Navy, New York’s Kilo Kish had many wondering ‘who’s that girl?’. But while Eve was that mystery chick then, Kish is now following the release of HomeSchool EP. She caught up with SB.TV’s Editor, Lily Mercer to talk about her early aspirations to be a mixtape rapper, being mistaken for a drug lord and why you shouldn’t refer to her as a ‘femcee’…
LM. You seem to not take yourself very seriously as a musician. How did you get into music?
KK. I definitely do not at all. I started doing it when I lived with Smash Simmons, who’s in my group KKK (Kool Kats Klub) and also J.Scott, my manager. We had a studio in our house and just made music. He was an awesome rapper, I kinda took that from him and was making weird songs in my house. I don’t even know how it took off. I don’t take myself seriously, I feel like the minute I do, it will go really bad.
LM. Do you think it helps to take a break from the visual and work only on aural creation?
KK. That’s kind of where it started because I took a year off school and I was just at home working around SoHo every day just trying to make it in New York. And I would come home and be like, ‘Fuck, I don’t have anything to do’. I could draw but I would much rather keep that in a school setting so I started to make music in the house. It was something I fell into because I needed something to do that time of my life. I feel like music’s much quicker to get out when you need to get something out. A song is like 3 minutes long; you don’t need to spend 3 weeks painting.
LM. But you can be an artist in any sense, is it like you’re applying your artistic nature to music?
KK. Exactly, that’s how I try to put it to people. When I’m in school, I’m doing tactile things with my hands, working, making things. At the same time, music is putting stuff together, it’s like expression and I need to be expressing myself all the time, whether it be painting or drawing or decorating. I have to be doing something creative.
LM. Do you think it allows you to express a different side of yourself?
KK. Yeah a completely different side, I’m a really chilled person and I haven’t had a performance yet. The idea of performing must come from some strange part of myself because I’m not one to be showy or perform or be in front of crowds of people. But I guess Kilo Kish, she’s a lot more bubbly and boisterous but really not at the same time, she’s cynical and sarcastic like my sense of humour. So it’s fun to explore that through music.
LM. Your name was adopted as a joke initially. Do you feel Kilo Kish is an alter ego?
KK. Well it was my Twitter name and then people would be like Kilo Kish whenever I played them music, so it seemed to stick. It’s something I got from Kilo Ali, the rapper.
LM. So you’re not secretly a drug lord?
KK. [Laughs] No, but I think its petty cool that people think that. That would be awesome.
LM. How did you feel when you first made a track?
KK. It was really a joke, this entire thing was. I was at the house and we did a bunch of songs, I was fucking around and after we were done, they were like, “These are actually pretty good.” So I put them on my iPod. This was like two years ago; I really wanted to have a mixtape. Like I wanted to be a rapper that would give out mixtapes on the street. I wanted to be that person just for kicks to go to parties like, “Check out my new mixtape” and they’d be like, “What the fuck?” But that was a long running joke that I would have and I still haven’t put out that mixtape but that was a point in time. Then I worked at a store in New York and we would play it there and joke around and people would be like, “Who’s this?” And I was like, “You’re kidding me right now, you can’t be serious.” My friends were like, “This is actually good.” I happened to enjoy it and as I did it more, I got better. I’m still always getting a little bit better, I feel like the song I just put out is the best I’ve done but I’m still really experimental.
LM. You’re making music with friends, does that make it easier for you to do music without making it your main job?
KK. Exactly, that’s what I would like to do because I’ve really started to enjoy making music. It wasn’t like that before but now it’s getting to that point and I like it.
LM. Do you think you’ll ever consider yourself a musician?
I think I’m gonna have to at some point! Personally I’ve never introduced myself like, I’m Kish, I’m a musician and this, this, this. I feel like I have a million jobs.
LM. I personally have a problem with female rappers having to be masculine or be feminine and sell their sexuality. How did you separate yourself from those artists?
KK. I really didn’t think about it at all actually, until you just said that. [Laughs] I just do me, I’m kind of a tomboy, I don’t do sports but as far as personal style, I don’t really feel like I need to be that girl like ‘oh look at me’. I don’t fucking care, so I take that along with me and work that way.
LM. What if you got offered an amazing deal and someone wanted to turn you into that girl?
KK. Personally music was never my dream. I have my personal dreams in life and music is not one of those but while I’m doing it right now and enjoying it, I’ll take it as far as it goes. But for someone to ask you to change yourself for money, it was never my dream anyway so I don’t care there’s no reason for me to have to do that so I’d probably tell them to shove it. I’m just glad that from the start I’ve been this way so I wont have to change or be any different. You know what you’re getting with me, I’m not trying to sell something that’s not real.
LM. Tell me about KKK?
KK. KKK is a group with me and Smash Simmons, my old roommate and Mel who goes by about 20 million aliases, Mel McCloud, Hotel Mel, Todd the Surfer; he makes our beats and sometimes he raps. Smash is a rapper and I’m doing, whatever I do.
LM. How do you define it because it has a spoken word element to it?
KK. Yeah, I wouldn’t call myself an MC. Some interviews have said, Kilo Kish the femcee and I’m like, “Oh God’. It makes me want to shoot myself. I don’t consider myself that, it’s just me talking for like 3 minutes. That’s it. I feel like people box themselves in too often there’s no reason that you can’t just do what you want. People take cues from other people, change 2% and try to be a cookie-cutter version and they don’t have to. Song structure doesn’t have to be a verse and a chorus structure, that’s for radio. Who said that people can’t memorise strange other things too? It doesn’t have to be repetitive. If I don’t wanna have a second verse, I don’t have to. Who cares? It’s my song.
LM. Do you still aspire to be the mixtape rapper of your past?
KK. I’ll never be able to hand it out now, I’ll have to hand one copy of HomeSchool EP to a random person. I’ve been sitting on these songs for a really long time and I’m a bit of a perfectionist and because I’ve had them sitting there. I’m like, ‘I could have said this differently’. And because I haven’t been doing music that long, something I would record in the summertime would sound completely different to now and I’m like ‘did I really say that?’. The space related stuff is because Matt’s beats are so intense and celestial so I get that from working with him.
LM. You once said that you’re not all puppies, kittens and butterflies. So you’re not Mariah Carey?
KK. [Laughs] Definitely not, I wish I was Mariah Carey! I’m sarcastic and witty and dry. A lot of people would put my music into a cute rap category but I just hope that when people meet me they don’t… like have this perception of me that ‘she’s so cute’. I am cute and nice but that’s just one side of me, I’m also a really hard worker and I take a lot of things very seriously.
LM. But I like girls with a tough side to them and you seem like the type to not take any shit.
KK. [Laughs] That’s definitely true.
Download HomeSchool EP here.
Interview by Lily Mercer