NYC's most famous recent art school graduate looks ahead
Kish Robinson, known to hip-hop fans as Kilo Kish, is pretty excited for this summer. She just graduated from art school and has that feeling of glorious freedom that anyone who has ever earned their degree knows well. Now she finally has time for all the real life she’s been putting off.
In her case, that means giving full attention to the post hip-hop-ish career she sort of accidentally started while in school. The young artist and musician, not to say rapper, started out contributing verses to Odd Future affiliated projects and making tracks with her friend Smash Simmons. The response was positive and Matt Martians and Syd tha Kyd of The Internet and Odd Future affiliate Hall Williams offered to help her develop her sound and produce a fitting backdrop for her lyrics.
As an aside, we’re not saying rap, because Kish doesn’t see her soft-spoken rhymes as rapping. Bringing an art-school perspective to hip hop, she questions whether it is hip-hop she’s doing at all. Wherever her music actually falls, it’s certain that sort of open-mindedness helped her make something truly fresh. (Her art education helps in another way too. She has the skills to manage all aspects of her musical endeavor in a direct, DIY way, including all the visual materials.)
The result of working with Syd, Matt and Hal was her spacey, trippy EP Homeschool, which became a trending topic at, well, Odd Future speed. And it happened the Odd Future way: On the Internet, as a fan-borne body, driven by the quality of the artistic statement itself. You see, while she might not rap, she can really flow.
Kish has been immersed in the cold bath of fast notoriety: Interviews, more potential collaborators than she can process, and not a few actual suitors coming at her on the Web. It’s a lot, but it’s all for the best and she is adjusting. We were especially glad that she’s cool with interviews after our chat about art, music and her plans for a big summer.
Are you very busy right now?
I’ve been so busy this year trying to finish school and I just graduated. So I have this entire folder on my computer, like this entire email account that’s full and can’t take anymore messages that’s just like full of different music and people that want to work and my goal this summer is to just go through them all and find what I like.
I definitely will always make music with Matt and Syd and Hal and the whole group over there because they’re just my favorite people to work with. And also I’m going to work on KKK stuff which is my group with Smash Simmons and Mel. He produces a lot as well. I want to just spend the summer making music and doing shows and being excited about the fact that I don’t have to be in school anymore and just working.
What are you going to do with KKK?
We have a lot of songs recorded but we just have to put them all together in a tape that sounds cohesive. Also, we’re making an R&B tape where it’s like my favorite type of music, which is like ’90s R&B, were going to take the beats and do our own spin on them. Some stuff by KKK should be out by the end of the summer.
Are you working on any visual art projects?
Next week, I’m focusing on finishing my videos. I’m shooting video for “Navy” and a few other songs. It’s been taking a really long time because I’ve been busy. I’m kind of directing them. I thought up the concept and the ideas for everything so that’s kind of my visual art project right now.
Do you feel like all the buzz and media interest in your music is going to subside?
I know I’m going to continue to make music. I don’t know as far as what the media is going to think of it. I kind of approach everything as a project. I’m an artist so I’ll always be working on various projects, so now music is another thing that I can add to the list of random things that I make.
The Homeschool EP was kind of like an experiment. If people liked that then I think they’ll like some of the new stuff that I’m working on. I’m going to continue making music and doing shows.
I know that people like whatever is new and different, which is kind of what I am right now, so I’m sure that will subside in a little bit.
I’m not going to stop making music, unless it became no fun anymore at all. That would be a reason for me to stop. If it’s not doing anything for me creatively. Like, if I had to fit into a box, like, “Oh, do this for radio.” Then it loses its value for me as a person. That’s probably the only way that I would stop, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.
Are you starting to get acclimated to the stuff that you need to do when you have a music career?
Yeah, I’m getting acclimated. It kind of happened all at the same time. I’ve gotten a lot of practice recently doing stuff. I think it’s better that way for me because I’m not really the most outgoing person. So, it’s kind of good that I kind of just got pushed out there or else I probably would just be like shy and not ever want to pursue it anyway. I wouldn’t talk about it on my own or ever try to pursue it had it not just happened naturally the way it did, I would just be at my house still making random songs.
Actually, how did that all happen?
I really have no clue. Matt and Syd of The Internet, we put it on Twitter, like “Oh, we’re working on a tape.” Because I was on their album. I think that’s kind of where it started. I was on the Purple Naked Ladies album and I was on another tape of theirs before that, just little things here and there that I’ve done with other Odd Future affilates like Vince Staples but there was never anything of mine out. So, that whole fanbase of people was kind of hip to the idea that I was going to put something out and they kind of spread it.
I didn’t really set a release date for it or anything. I was like “Oh, I guess I’ll just put it out on the first of April. I just picked that day randomly. And that week it had like a little bit of a buzz. It took like maybe another month or so for like all the interviews and stuff. A lot of publications put it up, which was really cool. And Matt and Syd did a lot of promoting for it which was really cool but other than that, I really don’t know how it got so crazy.
How did Matt Martians and Syd tha Kyd help you develop your sound?
They gave me free rein to do what I wanted, which was cool. And they didn’t really put any box around what I was doing, so I kind of said whatever came to mind. I write my songs pretty quickly and then I just record them however I think of them and they’re like “That’s cool. Alright.” They gave me confirmation that it wasn’t bad, because I’d be like “I don’t really like this.”
And they’re like super chill to work with. They’re like “Oh, you don’t want to finish this song? That’s fine.” And that’s kind of where it came from. They were there to help me reassure myself that what I naturally wanted to do was okay. I try to be as natural as possible. If it feels weird then I just won’t do it.
Do you feel like people in hip-hop are more ready to work with young women, and listen to them than in the past?
Yeah, I feel like it’s definitely changing. There’s a lot more people that I could name now than I could name a couple years ago. I think the Internet is good and bad. It’s bad because it doesn’t have a staying quality. One moment this person is here, then the next moment this person, and this person, and next, next, next. It’s good because it opens people’s minds to different things. I think people are a lot more accepting now of different styles than they were before.
I know I’m one of those different styles of, I guess, female rapper. I don’t want to call myself a rapper, but whatever people call me. But I know it’s a lot different than what people usually hear. It’s like girls who rap super hard and they’re older. It’s really great that people embrace me, but it’s just a sign of the times.
So, if you’re not a rapper, are you doing hip-hop?
It’s hip-hop I guess. I don’t know if I consider The Internet’s music hip-hop. All the beats that they give me are like super musical and super jazzy. I don’t know if what I do to it makes it hip-hop or if it’s rhyming, then it becomes hip-hop.
People ask me all the time what kind of music do you make. And I’m like “Uh, it’s like talking-rappish singing … me just being weird for five minutes.” And they’re like “Ha ha ha, no really.” I’m like “no that’s really what it is.”
I wonder if you would call Kilo Ali an influence.
I listened to Kilo Ali a lot and then I just recently listened to his album Organized Bass again. And I was like “This actually is kind of similar.” It’s weird, but a couple of the songs I’m like “That’s kind of spacey and he’s kind of whispering.” That’s kind of weird that it sounds so similar or it has at least a connection.
I didn’t realize but I guess maybe he did influence me more than just the name. Which is cool. I love Kilo Ali. I’m happy that he’s my influence and not like some random other person.
I just listened to it the other day because I was thinking of different drops for shows and what I wanted to play if I had a DJ set before my show and I’m like “We have to play Kilo Ali,” so I was like finding different Kilo Ali songs and I was like “Wow, it actually goes with the set, which is crazy.”
Do you have any conscious influences?
I listen to R&B in my house, like boy bands. I listen to Michael Jackson, Shalamar. I listen to random stuff at my house. I feel like I would be influenced by more if I listened to the radio more. I don’t have a TV.
People seem to spend a lot of time on your Tumblr basically trying to figure out if they have a chance with you. Is that flattering, hilarious or annoying?
It’s pretty flattering and also hilarious, but not so much annoying. It’s kind of hard to annoy me in that way. I have this one guy who wrote a song for me. And I was like crying laughing. It was really funny and actually a really good song. “It was like ‘Kish can we go on a date’.”
It’s kind of funny that people see me that way. They’ll be like “Oh, you have such a sexy voice.” And I’m like “really?” I don’t even get it, but if that’s how they feel then I’m not going to stop them.
Just to let all the inquiring minds on the Web know what level you are on, what is your dream date?
My dream date would have to involve food. Really good food, because that’s like super important to me. If the food is bad I’m going to be really pissed off. Just as long as it’s good and not a chain restaurant. And healthy. I like healthy food.
I don’t like movies because I get kind of distracted. Boys should never take me to movies because I’ll be super bored.